At the meeting point between three continents – Europe, Africa and America, Portugal is the perfect destination for a Wellness Vacation. A mild climate with about 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, over 500 miles (850 kms) of splendid beaches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, a range of striking landscapes and a healthy Mediterranean cuisine are just a few of its many offerings. One of the oldest countries in Europe – and with the same defined borders since 1139 – Portugal also boosts a unique cultural heritage where the old and the new blend in perfect harmony.
Here are eight reasons why Portugal should be your next destination for a health retreat:
1. The opportunity to enjoy the outdoor activities, such as cycling, year round. Portugal offers a mild climate throughout the year; clean, fresh air with plenty hours of sunshine -excellent combination for good mood, vitamin D, recovery and convalescence. This is a small country easily covered by public transportation and in some areas there are eco-friendly modern public bicycles such as in Vilamoura in the Algarve, an eco-friendly luxurious resort with cycle pathways. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital will soon have its own public bicycle system.
2. Lisbon – the second oldest European capital. This coastal city famous for its unique light is the oldest capital after Athens. It is also the winner of Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination (20140, Europe’s Leading Cruise Port (2014) and Europe’s Leading City Break Destination (2013). The greater area of Lisbon is home to the magical village of Sintra: A UNESCO Word Heritage Site amidst nature and surrounded by idyllic parks.
3. The world’s largest Solar Energy plant. This is an innovative and unique eco-friendly project based in Alentejo. The region is also home to the city of Évora – listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, a place where culture, memories of the past and spirituality take on a singular character.
4. The UNESCO Biosphere Protected Reserve a.k.a. the Azores Islands. These nine green volcanic islands in the mid-Atlantic are characterized by dramatic landscapes, verdant pastures and impeccable preservation.
5. Healthful Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh, tasty and nutritious meals are plentiful along with many fine wines. Portugal offers a variety of fresh fish and seafood, alongside olive oil, fruits and vegetables. Visitors can enjoy healthy and unforgettable meals in a variety of eateries ranging from a simple beach terrace to refined Michelin-stars restaurants.
6. An opportunity to learn a new fitness activity like surfing. Portugal is one of the world’s top surf spots. In October 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara caught the biggest wave (30 m / 90 ft) ever surfed to date at Praia do Norte, near the Nazaré, a fishing village in central Portugal.
7. Hot springs, thermal spas and thalassotherapy treatments. A variety of hot springs with different therapeutic properties can be found in Portugal as well as rich seawater directly from the Atlantic Ocean, an excellent source for thalassotherapy. Thermal spas and thalassotherapy treatments are also available in many hotels and resorts throughout the country.
8. Value for money. Spa and relaxation breaks, detox holidays, fitness retreats, boot camps, weight loss programs, holistic and stress management programs, health and medical programs offering cutting edge preventive medicine and anti-aging programs – along with other options – are available at very competitive prices.
Sara Ismail is the founder of Trip for Wellness, a licensed travel operator specialized in wellness holidays in Portugal. A small and passionate team uncovering the best kept travel secrets for wellness lovers. Expert knowledge, local expertise, selective approach and personalized service are some of the reasons for planning your next wellness getaway in Portugal with TripforWellness.com