Honeymoon Ideas & Answers

Honeymoons You'll Both Love: Lisbon and the Algarve, Portugal

Couples often have different ideas about what makes for a great vacation. But there are a few compromise-free honeymoon spots that you'll both enjoy—let's call these the intersection of relaxing and action-packed. Afterward you may differ on the "best" part of the trip, but you'll both be smiling like crazy in the pictures.

WHY YOU'LL BOTH LOVE IT You can sightsee and get your culture on in Lisbon, then head south to lounge on the Algarve's beaches.

EXPLORE In Lisbon, seize your chance to sightsee it up. A sample plan: Wander the narrow alleys of the Alfama district (one of the oldest in the city) and visit the 12th-century Sé de Lisboa cathedral, then continue to the Castelo de São Jorge for a gorgeous view of the city. (If you're sharing this experience with a foot-dragging spouse, sweeten the pot by ending the day at a fado café, sipping sangria and taking in the sounds of the country's signature folk music.)

For a more modern snapshot of Lisbon, head to the waterside Parque das Nações, where you can take a cable-car ride over the entire park along the Tagus River, then end the day with an evening at the Casino Lisboa. Other must-see spots include the Belém district, where you'll find historical sites like the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, and the Belém Palace (now the home of Portugal's president) as well as museums like the Museu Colecçáo Berardo at the Belém Cultural Center, which houses works by artists like Picasso and Dalí.

You might also take a palace-themed day trip to Queluz and Sintra. In Queluz, you can wander through the gilded halls of the Versailles-like Palácio Nacional de Queluz (don't miss the mirrored Hall of Ambassadors). Continue on to Sintra, where you can tour the colorful 19th-century Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle, and the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the former summer residence of the country's monarchs. Be sure to sample the town's signature pastry: an egg, cheese, and cinnamon tart called a queijada de Sintra.

RELAX The Algarve, the country's southernmost region, features hundreds of beaches and many coastal resort towns—this is where the "rest and relax" portion of the honeymoon will commence. Start out by hitting the beach at Praia de Dona Ana, near the town of Lagos. Sheltered between dramatic cliffs, the white-sand beach and calm, blue water are gorgeous—take that, French Riviera! In town you can easily while away the rest of the afternoon hopping among the cafés and bars and watching the yachts cruise into the harbor. The coastal city of Albufeira is also populated by modern beachside resorts, although the town's Cerro da Vila, with its narrow streets and whitewashed houses, offers a lot of Old World charm (à la Santorini, Greece).

While you're in the Algarve, visit one of the thalassotherapy centers, where seawater is the basis of spa treatments. For dinner, try the local specialty cataplana (a combo of steamed shellfish and pork). Souvenir hunters (or, shall we say, shopaholics?) should visit Porches Pottery, named for the town it's in, located between Lagos and Albufeira. This studio is renowned for its hand-painted ceramics; visit the farmhouse-style workshop to see the famous majolica technique in action, and pick out a piece of tin-glazed earthenware, which makes a perfect keepsake. If you want a break from the beach, head north for a night in the picturesque Caldas de Monchique, a spa town in the mountains known for its therapeutic hot springs.

See the next honeymoon idea: South Africa

Photos: Courtesy of Jose Manuel; courtesy of Antonio Sacchetti; courtesy of Joao Paulo
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