The architectural marvels that lie in rural parts of Portugal will have you craving the sound of birdsong all year round. From slopping, lush valleys to terraced vineyards brimming with this year’s grapes, this golden oasis radiates warmth and majesty. Come spend your days off the beaten tourist path, walking along wooded trails and sipping tea in the twilight as the hum of the natural world lulls you to sleep.
Located across some of the most protected regions in Portugal, rich in history, culture and time-honoured traditions, there’s a little something for all parties who venture into this vast wonderland. Whether you’re seeking a rustic country farmhouse with the family in tow, or an architectural spa for endless treatments à deux, all can enjoy the offerings of Portuguese enchantment. Find your way back to peaceful serenity at any of these stunning secluded getaways, rest and relaxation are just beyond the horizon.
THE PACKING EDIT
A Casa de Estremoz
A Casa de Estremoz is a rural gem brimming with stories and heritage in the Alentejo, a region known for its excellent gastronomy. The building’s understated silhouettes can be credited to architect João Cassiano Santos who worked on the meticulous renovation of the property while preserving its traditional Portuguese style. The result is an airy space, the kind with cooling concrete floors and thick walls to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Days here are spent mooching around the grounds or lazing by the pool before a cosy, fireside affair in the living room. This part of southern Portugal is known for its deep-rooted gastronomic traditions and delicious local wine (half of Portugal’s wine is produced here), so a trip to one of the many surrounding wineries is a must when visiting.
São Lourenço do Barrocal
Once derelict and left to abandon, São Lourenço do Barrocal has been transformed into a luxury farmhouse estate by eighth-generation owner José Uva. 200 years later, heritage and rustic refinement remain top of the list as seen in the meticulous use of high-quality materials during the restoration, a process that took 14 years to accomplish due to pesky planning restrictions.
Covering 780 hectares of farmland, the estate offers plenty to see and do. Bikes are on offer and a new beekeeping experience has just been introduced to educate guests about the art of apiculture – a poignant activity that will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside post honey tasting. As for food, breakfast is included and there are two lovely restaurants with a farm-to-table ethos.
A chic stay in a wild and beachy location – Sublime Comporta is where the cool crowd like to bed down for its fashionable reputation. Indeed, Comporta has in recent years become a glamorous hotspot rivalling the likes of St Tropez and Mykonos – though remaining lowkey in comparison.
Once a family home, this bright and airy property boasts 23 rooms and suites and 22 villas with private pools that use aquatic flora to keep them naturally clean. Guests are spoilt for choice with five restaurants all serving locally sourced produce and seasonal ingredients.
The wine list is as appealing as the dynamic roster of activities on offer, a lengthy list that includes weekly wellness programmes, morning horse rides, sailing and tennis. Spa treatments use herbs and sustainable ingredients from the hotel’s garden and there are three super swish swimming pools in case one just wasn’t enough.
Perched high above the Douro Valley, Quinta Nova is a 19th-century renovated manor surrounded by swathes of rolling vineyards. As a former winery, the building has been renovated with care and consideration which shows in the preservation of the old stone interiors, though there are plenty of modern flourishes to balance out the old and new.
A tiny 18th-century chapel is the only other building in sight save for a few neighbouring quintas on a route that leads down to the near-silent Douro River. Trails have been mapped out to include terraced vineyards and streams that go on for miles – if you can peel yourself away from the swimming pool that is.
Quinta da Comporta
For total, off-grid peace and quiet in a beachy location, Quinta da Comporta is the place to visit. Those in the know are drawn to Comporta’s endless white-sand beaches and the fact that Portugal’s west coast is still relatively undiscovered.
Styled like a traditional Comporta farm, locality is key to the rustic design with interiors that are purposefully neutral, combining bright whites to complement the wood. The spa is a crowd-pleaser, stealing the spotlight with its hyper-tailored treatments in a former barn that was brought all the way from Canada.
Quinta dos Murças
This riverside retreat sits on the right bank of the Douro River in the heart of the Alto Douro, a UNESCO World Heritage wine region and the world’s oldest wine region. A dramatic restoration in 2017 transformed the house into a tasteful home, breathing new life into the location. All five bedrooms have direct access to the garden and pool, though it’s the main bedroom that steals the show with its soothing river views.
The long list of activities on offer makes Quinta dos Murças the perfect choice for groups of friends or a family hoping to see more of the region beyond the accommodation. Nature walks have been mapped out and three trekking routes are on offer, along with wine tasting sessions, organised picnics, and boat trips along the meandering Douro River.
A fully immersive getaway awaits at Pedra Salgadas, a sumptuous spa located in Parque Natural das Pedras Salgadas – a centuries-old park rich in natural beauty. Trás-os-Montes, meaning ‘behind the mountains’, is a region known for its thermal springs and good old-fashioned home cooking.
The 19th-century spa, now modernised, boasts a comprehensive menu of treatments, covering the signatures with the option to go bespoke. Wellness is taken to the next level with forest bathing, an eco-antidote to stress and a way to reconnect with nature.
Architectural collaboration is a major theme: while Álvaro Siza Vieira transformed the spa, architect Luís Rebelo Andrade has received numerous design awards for his work on the project, including two sculptural treehouses and 16 eco houses that blend in with the landscape.