Category : Portugal
Travel + Leisure Magazine recently published their picks for the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2012—and three destinations on that list are in our favorite part of the world! Forget about Paris or Rome; these are the European travel destinations to keep an eye on in the coming year:
One of the oldest cities in Portugal, Guimarães is actually called the “birthplace of Portuguese nationality.” It has long been known for its rich heritage; however, until recently, the city was often left off the hip traveler’s itinerary. Today, Guimarães is experiencing somewhat of a cultural renaissance—in fact, it was named (jointly with Maribor) the European Capital of Culture for 2012. A younger population is bringing a livelier atmosphere, transforming the ancient urban landscape into one that is sure to become trendier in the upcoming year.
Guimarães has a number of interesting museums and cultural centres, including the Vila Flor Cultural Center and the Center for Arts & Architecture Affairs. The Primitive Modern Arts Museum, the Art Laboratory and the Martins Sarmento Society are also worth visiting for their contributions to the music, theater, film and art scenes of Guimarães. As far as cuisine, the city has something for everyone—if you like seafood, then you must try the city’s favorite dish (bacalhau or salt cod.) Other things to do in Guimarães include the six-mile Citânia de Briteiros hike, which cuts through the fascinating ruins of an old Iron Age settlement, and a visit to the city’s oldest (and still most popular) square, the Largo da Oliveira.
Recommended hotels in Guimarães: the Pousada de Guimaraes – Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, the Toural
Greece has proven that no matter the state of its economy, the country’s tourist industry will continue to thrive. This is because in terms of natural beauty and rich history, there are few places in the world that can compare. A far cry from the major city of Athens or the tourist-ridden beaches of Santorini, the sleepy region of Messenia is now becoming the up-and-coming travel destination. The westernmost portion of the Peloponnese peninsula, Messenia is filled with beautiful valleys, majestic sand dunes and intriguing Byzantine churches. Incredible beaches line the Ionian Sea—beaches that, until recently, have been unknown to most of the world’s travelers.
Costa Navarino, a new resort complex on 2,500 picturesque acres, is single-handedly putting Messenia on the global map. The once-hidden stretch of Grecian coastline is now poised to become Europe’s newest Riviera. World-class hotel chains, including Starwood and Banyan Tree, have chosen Costa Navarino as their newest home—and their hotels are waiting to introduce you to the distinct style and hospitality of Messenia. Consider the Pharae Palace Hotel, the Elite City Resort, or another of the great hotels in Kalamata (the capital of Messenia) for your next getaway.
A vibrant hub of commerce and culture, the big German city of Hamburg is not exactly hidden. However, while it has always attracted its share of visitors, those numbers are about to drastically increase for one reason: HafenCity. The brand-new development is currently being constructed on the docklands of Hamburg. With its completion—which is not scheduled to be until 2025, unfortunately—the city’s skyline will be forever altered.
The 388-acre project-in-progress is already drawing spectators, especially for the obvious modernity it brings to the historic city. So far, the crown jewel of the innovative, eye-catching architectural complex is Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall (where performances are set to start in 2014.) The concert hall resembles a large ship passing through fog; the visual effect is created with the help of treated glass—and perhaps a touch of magic. Surrounding this is the up-and-coming quarter of Am Sandtorkai/Dalmannkai, comprised of 19th-century brick warehouses and newer buildings.
Although HafenCity is still in its earlier stages, it is already changing the way people view Hamburg. See it for yourself—Hamburg hotels like the Radisson Blu Hotel, Hamburg and the Side are available right now at Eurobookings.com.
Whether you know it as kitesurfing, kiteboarding or just having a heck of a lot of fun on the beach, this extreme water sport is becoming more popular all the time. Whether you’re coming at it from surfing, from hang-gliding or just out of curiosity, you’ll find that the most popular spots for expert kitesurfers are also the best spots for the novice to find lessons. Harnessing the power of the ocean and the wind and finding yourself hurtling through the air 20 feet above the water makes kitesurfing one of the most exhilarating activities you’ll ever do, and these are some of the best beaches in Europe to “get your feet wet.”
Weston Super Mare, United Kingdom
Weston Super Mare is known for its year-round access to the water and for its many sports, from surfing to hang-gliding. Known for the extreme changes brought by the changing tides, the beach offers good and bad times to head out kitesurfing. The best time is the two hours before or after high tide. Otherwise you’re going to be looking at either choppy water or shallow muddy water. You’ll also have to be careful of posts that can be hidden by the high tide, but I’m sure you’ll agree after a great day of kitesurfing that the risks were worth it. If you’re a complete beginner and you’re unsupervised, this may not be the beach for you. After quitting time, you can wander and roam through this timeless fishing village, whose picturesque streets and amazing seafood will make you want to stick around as long as you can. Staying in one of the many great Weston Super Mare hotels is a good way to do that.
Boyalik Beach, Turkey
From one end of Europe to the other (actually to Asia Minor if you want to be accurate), we come to the Turkish Riviera resort of Çeşme and the seaside paradise that is Boyalik Beach. Set on Turkey’s west coast on the Çeşme Peninsula, the Aegean Sea is quite beautiful here. More importantly for kitesurfers, Boyalik Beach boasts flat water with periodic small chop and strong northerly winds ranging from 15 to 22 knots during peak season; the perfect combination for everyone from beginner to expert. The best conditions can be found either between December and March or between June and September. For the times you’re not on the water (or in the air), you can explore the unspoiled bays and blue skies of the stunning coastline and the aniseed, sesame and artichoke fields dotted with fig and gum trees that stretch inland. If you’re looking for more urban attractions, the city of Izmir isn’t far. But a Çeşme hotel makes it easy to hit the beach.
One advantage of being located at the southernmost tip of Europe is the wind that blows through the wind tunnel formed by Spain and North Africa. After all, what can you say about a place that boasts over 300 windy days a year? Boasting two prevailing winds, the Poniente from the east and the Levante from the west, Tarifa offers two premium kitesurfing beaches. Los Lances Beach allows you to take advantage of the Poniente, while Valdevaqueros can be kited on both winds. Needless to say, Tarifa offers a variety that is second to none; one day you could be riding the flat waters of Valdevaqueros in a strong Levante and the next you can be surfing meter-high waves at Los Lances. While the water is warm in the summer, winter months require a wetsuit. Whatever the season, many Tarifa hotels are close to the water.
Pounda Beach, Paros, Greece
If you think of the Cyclades Islands as being places for sun worshipping on lazy beaches or partying with the Euro-spring break crowd, it’s time to add a third option. Because Pounda Beach on Paros Island is a haven for kitesurfing. Just an eight kilometre bus ride from the island’s main city, this is one of Paros’s most popular beaches. It’s also ideal for the beginning kitesurfer, offering predominately flat water, making it a great place to learn, practice and get comfortable before heading out to some of the other beaches. There’s no bad season, as the wind blows all year round. But June through October is when you’ll find the most reliable winds. And then there’s the rest of the island. Inhabited since 3200 BCE, strolling around parts of Paros is almost like visiting a vast outdoor historical museum. Most hotels can be found back in the main city, but if you want to stay close to the beach, the Holiday Sun Hotel in nearby Pounta makes an excellent choice.
Most people would never guess that some of the best waves in Europe can be found just 90 kilometres north of Lisbon, just off the coastal town of Peniche. The peninsula boasts five kilometres of pristine white sand beaches which are so beautiful you might forget why you came. But looking at those waves and feeling that strong northerly wind will remind you soon enough. The bay’s unique shape allows you to kitesurf in many different directions, and the variety of waves, from perfect peelers to choppy mush, makes this a great place for all skill levels. Fall and winter offer the best conditions here, though be sure not to forget your wetsuit, as the water can dip down to 12 degrees Celsius – as opposed to an average 24 degrees in the summer. If you’re a beginner and you find yourself overwhelmed, just head a bit to the northeast to the Lagoon of Obidos where you’ll find flat conditions and a kitesurf school. And don’t forget to book your Peniche hotel room!
A major staple of European and other diets around the world, bread is oftentimes the unsung hero of the food world. Hearty, comforting, versatile—there are many reasons to love bread. However, not many seem to know much about the substance—its history, symbolism, or ethnological meaning. Learn a bit about bread, and you may in turn learn a bit about the people it feeds. Here are only a few of Europe’s greatest bread museums:
The European Bread Museum – Varnavas, Greece
There are a few of these European Bread Museums throughout Europe; however, this is undoubtedly one of the more interesting. Focused on documenting the cultural journey of bread over the centuries, this museum has all types of exhibits. Most notably, it houses more than 520 species (many decorated) from different parts of Greece and 22 foreign countries. Embroidered designs depict the region of origin and the purpose for the bread’s creation, such as a wedding or major religious festival. Crosses, flowers, branches and wreaths are particularly common within this interactive historical museum. The European Bread Museum is located within a renovated mansion in Varnavas, and it supposedly attracts 40,000 visitors each year.
The Bread Museum – St Petersburg, Russia
In 2007, Moscow was declared the Bread Capital of the World. However, it is in St. Petersburg that you will find Russia’s only bread museum. Founded in 1988 as part of the Bread Production Trust, the museum celebrates the starchy staple as a symbol of mankind’s harmonious relationship with nature. Archaeological and written artifacts have been kept intact to showcase the long journey of bread in Europe. There are special sections devoted to World War II, the siege of Leningrad and other devastating historical events; in the darkest of times, bread became vital as a source of nourishment (both literally and figuratively.) Visitors to The Bread Museum can see a small-scale urban bakery, see examples of baker’s art, and tour unique cultural exhibits.
Museum of Bread – Pecinic, Serbia
The origins of the Serbian Museum of Bread are actually quite unusual: The site was first founded in 1995 as a place of research and organization for the painter Jeremija. The topic of religious bread has been a great source of inspiration for him for more than 30 years, and so the museum gradually took form out of necessity and joy. Today it serves to gather, preserve and present objects that were once used in the bread-making process in Serbia. Many artifacts are still functioning, and this interactive aspect is part of the fun. Jeremija’s paintings and articles, recipe collections and exhibits of ethnographic objects and religious breads altogether comprise a total of 2,000 items. You can also find a working bread stove, a belfry dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and a souvenir shop on the property.
Bread Museum – Seia, Portugal
As the only bread museum on the Iberian Peninsula, this landmark incorporates local culture and history. Visitors to the Bread Museum in Seia can learn the traditional techniques involved, see artistic examples, and even make (and taste, of course!) their own bread. Large-scale machines, ranging from antique to modern-day, and handheld items comprise the exhibits. The museum also houses an informative library, a restaurant, and a gift shop filled with household products and souvenirs. There is also a child-friendly section with animated displays and hands-on exhibits. All in all, it is a great place in which to spend an afternoon.
Musée Français du Pain – Paris, France
No tour of Europe’s bread museums would be complete without a trip to France! Of course, the originator of French bread has its own unique attractions. Nestled within a courtyard next to a working mill, you will find the fascinating Musée Français du Pain. Varied historic memorabilia will take you on a journey over the centuries, showing the transitions and advancements made within the bread-making world. Artifacts of note include the world’s oldest surviving communion wafers (from the 17th century!) and seven discus-shaped loaves from a 4,400-year-old Egyptian crypt. The Musée Français du Pain also has grains of wheat from Masada in Israel, antique waffle irons, bread-related letters and correspondence between historic figures, and a collection of “breads of the world.”
To find hotels in St. Petersburg, Paris and other European cities, be sure to check out Eurobookings.com!
Most of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions are on dry land. However, that does not mean that we should forget the wonders of the sea. Here are the five best aquariums in Europe that allow you to discover the mysterious depths of the Pacific, Atlantic and other oceans without getting your feet wet.
1. Oceanário de Lisboa – Lisbon, Portugal
The Oceanário de Lisboa is not just one of the best in Europe. It is, in fact, the largest aquarium as well. Its central reservoir is a 1,000-square-metre tank with four gigantic acrylic windows to peer through. Four smaller containers surrounding the main exhibit also contain inhabitants of the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and Antarctic waters. There are more than 8 thousand sea creatures and 500 species of plants for visitors to marvel at. On the first floor of the oceanarium, there are an additional 25 thematic aquariums. Major highlights include two spider crabs, two sea otters, Tropical Indian coral reefs, and a rare sunfish.
the Oceanário de Lisboa's prized sunfish
2. l’Oceanogràfic – Valencia, Spain
The largest open-air aquarium in Europe is actually located in Valencia, Spain. It is l’Oceanogràfic, within the state-of-the-art City of Arts and Sciences. The futuristic compound features more than 110 thousand square metres of aquatic exhibits—and even the architecture was inspired by water! The main building was designed by Felix Candela to resemble water lilies. L’Oceanogràfic is home to 4,5000 fish and marine animals from the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic and Antarctic, and even tropical seas.
3. The AquaDom – Berlin, Germany
Housed within the 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin, AquaDom may not be the largest in Europe—but it is certainly one of the most impressive. Rising up from the floor of the hotel’s atrium, the eye-catching cylinder towers more than 25 metres. With a diameter of 11 metres, the tank holds nearly a million litres of water. Within it are over 2,600 species of fish. However, what makes the AquaDom so incredible is the fact that there is a transparent two-story elevator inside of it! Up to 30 tourists can travel at once right through the water, from the ground floor of the hotel to the upper observation platform.
4. Deep Sea World – Fife, UK
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Scottish village of North Queensferry is the Deep Sea World aquarium. It is perhaps most famous for its collection of large sand tiger sharks (also known as ragged toothed sharks or grey nurse sharks) and other species. Another premier attraction is the 112-metre-long transparent acrylic underwater viewing tunnel, which is one of the longest of its kind in the world. The tunnel runs through a tank that contains 1,000,000 gallons of seawater pumped in from the River Forth. Because of the water’s low temperature, most of the animals on display are from around Britain. However, the aquarium also has rock pools containing exotic fish and a new seal enclosure among other attractions.
5. Sea Life London Aquarium – London, UK
Right on the ground floor of County Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames, you will find the largest collection of aquatic species in London. Sea Life attracts about a million visitors each year, and it is easy to see why it remains so popular. Along with the requisite displays of fish and mammals, the aquarium is also home to eight gentoo penguins that were transferred from the Edinburgh Zoo earlier this year. Other unique attractions include the underwater Shark Walk tunnel and an exhibit of three robotic fish. Additionally, the centre offers classes and is involved in multiple breeding programs (including seahorses, jellyfish, butterfly goodeids, and the Cuban crocodile.)
Golf and luxury hotels go together like… luxury hotels and golf. Dating all the way back to the game paganica played by the Romans, golf’s hold on the world has spread to just about every corner. Even the first written record of modern golf, regarding James II’s banning of the game in 1457, as an unwelcome distraction from learning archery, speaks to the obsession of golf fans. This is a game that drives Japanese tourists all the way to Australia and drives enthusiasts of all nations to its Scottish homeland. Here are five European hotels that provide golf for the golfer and other activities for the golf widow or widower.
Pestana Sintra Golf Resort & Spa Hotel, Sintra, Portugal
Brand-new on the scene, the four-star condo-style Pestana Sintra Golf Resort & Spa Hotel first opened its doors in April, 2006. Though new, the hotel allows you to mix some history in with your golf game, as its proximity to the famous 18-hole golf course is complimented by its proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site village of Sintra. While your partner is hitting the greens, you can be making the seven kilometer trip to seaside resorts Cascais and Estoril, or stay closer to discover the Pena Palace and Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Or just stick around and enjoy the hotel’s outdoor and indoor swimming pools and the massage treatments offered at the spa. If you’re required to fit in a little business with your golfing pleasure, the hotel also has a business centre.
Marcliffe Hotel and Spa, Aberdeen, Scotland
If one wants to get back to the roots of golf, one must get back to Scotland. Golf lovers have been visiting the five-star luxury Marcliffe Hotel and Spa since it first opened its doors back in 1852. Billing itself as “A relaxed and elegant retreat in the heart of Scotland’s Castle and Whiskey Country,” The Marcliffe is also a traditional country estate set on eight acres of land. It also offers a spa, fireplaces, oil paintings, a first-class restaurant featuring Aberdeen Angus beef and game and over 400 wines in the cellar and a drawing room bar featuring over 100 malt whiskeys as well as opportunities to go hunting and fishing. But that’s not why we’re here, is it? We’re here because the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa provides access to the legendary Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
Hotel Golf Chateau de Chailly, Chailly-sur-Armancon, France
If you want to stay in an authentic French chateau when you’re not out on the links, then head to the four-star Hotel Golf Chateau de Chailly. This exquisite residence allows you to visit the past as you visit the hotel’s own 18-hole golf course. Beginners can enjoy lessons, pros can enjoy a challenging course, and everyone can enjoy the excellent cuisine at the hotel’s two restaurants. If you’re not the golfer in the family, the hotel’s location in the heart of Burgundy is perfect for daytrips, as Dijon and Beaune are 30 minutes away, and even Lyon is just a two-hour trip. The Chateau also welcomes business guests and anyone holding a special event, with its terrace and its meeting rooms, function spaces and wedding halls. And don’t forget about the swimming pool.
Golf Und Wellnesshotel Reith, Kitzbühel, Austria
Though the mountain town of Kitzbühel is more known for its skiing, the real fun begins after the spring thaw. That’s when you can play a round of golf 762 metres above sea level on the18-hole Schwarzee Golf Course as you enjoy spectacular mountain views, all right next to the Golf Und Wellnesshotel Reith. Kitzbühel boasts three other golf courses, and there are 19 others in the area. This should keep you busy for a little while. And though golf isn’t known to be the most physically demanding sport in the world, it seems every golf hotel worth its weight offers many ways to relax. As the name suggests, the Golf Und Wellnesshotel Reith is no exception. Here you’ll find a sauna, a Jacuzzi, an aroma steam bath and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as a full fitness centre, a massage centre and three tennis courts.
The St. Pierre Park hotel, Guernsey, United Kingdom
So what do you do when you find yourself in the island paradise of Guernsey, just off the coast of France? Play golf! Welcome to the St. Pierre Park Hotel. Set in acres of parks, woods and lakes, this four-star luxury accommodation boasts a 9-hole par 3 golf course designed by Tony Jacklin CBE. Three tennis courts are available for those rare moments off the course, as well as all the standard luxury facilities we now know to expect, which can be found at the hotel’s Le Mirage Health Spa. When you’re through for the day, you can indulge in that tradition that is as old as golf; telling golf stories. The St. Pierre Park offers the perfect venue for that in its Renoir Restaurant, which overlooks the hotel’s beautiful lake and gardens. If the adults get tired of hearing about your exploits on the greens, there’s also a children’s play area where you might find more sympathetic ears.
A UNESCO-protected Portuguese town on the very edge of Europe, Sintra is more than worth the time it takes to get there. Its majestic, mystical hills and romantic architecture has inspired countless artists, writers, poets and visionaries. Lord Byron called 18th-century Sintra a “glorious Eden” in his epic poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. His contemporary Robert Southey, meanwhile, called the precious town “the most blessed spot on the whole inhabitable globe.” See for yourself what drew such lofty words of praise while taking a tour of Sintra’s most incredible attractions:
First and foremost, Sintra is known for its extravagant fairytale palaces and sprawling estates. The most famous of all may be the town’s National Palace, dating all the way back to the 14th century. The landmark building is most often identified by its two massive conical chimneys; in fact, these formations are among Sintra’s most recognizable features. Inside the palace, you will find a breathtaking array of artifacts and works of art. The formal banquet hall (called Sala dos Cisnes, or “Room of the Swans”) and the Sala dos Brasões (“Coat-of-Arms Room”) are major highlights. The National Palace also comprises a 1,000-person dining room, beautiful interior courtyards, and the world’s largest collection of Mudejar Azueljos (colored glazed tiles.)
the National Palace in Sintra
Other palaces worth visiting in Sintra include Pena Palace, built in the 1840’s, and the 18th-century Seteais Palace. The first is often compared to Neuschwanstein and other medieval Bavarian compounds for its drawbridge, domes, ramparts and gargoyles. Be sure to take in the extraordinary “Arab Room” and the adjacent Pena Park. Meanwhile, Seteais is famous for the soaring arch that connects its two luxurious wings—and the fact that part of the palace is a hotel! This is where the town’s annual “Noites de Bailado” festival is held each August. The Monserrate Palace, whose gardens contain 24 species of palms, and the fantastical Regaleira Estate are also recommended.
Along with palaces, Sintra contains several amazing museums. Among them is world-renowned Modern Art Museum, whose collection is part of the incredible Berardo Collection. You may marvel at original masterpieces by Miró, Francis Bacon, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and even Picasso in an impressive, architectural atmosphere.
For a completely different museum experience, head to Sintra’s one-of-a-kind Toy Museum. The attraction was founded by João Moreira, who believes that the history of toys often sheds light on the history of humankind. The collection contains over 20,000 items that range from 3,000-year-old Egyptian toys excavated from ancient sites to Nazi toy soldiers made during World War II.
inside the Toy Museum
Other Places of Interest
Take a leisurely stroll around beautiful Sintra, and you may notice a great array of stunning fountains. In fact, the town centre contains a number of these architectural decorations. The Moorish Fountain is known for its Neo-Moorish features and geometrical tile patterns, and the Sabuga Fountain provocatively spouts water from two breasts. Sintra’s palatial Town Hall, the Challet Biester (a Gothic villa immortalized in Roman Polanski’s film “The Ninth Gate”) and the ancient Capuchos Convent (nicknamed “the cork convent” for its labyrinthine, cork-lined cells) are also not-to-be-missed attractions in charming Sintra.
Sintra's beautiful Town Hall
Recommended hotels in Sintra: the Tivoli Sintra, Lawrence’s Hotel
Lisbon is a fantastic holiday destination for any lover of art. The vibrant Portuguese city is filled with galleries and museums that celebrate genres, themes and mediums from around the world. Of particular note is Lisbon’s collection of modern art museums. Spread out across the colorful city centre, these museums offer insight into the city’s rich culture and point of view. Easily reached from the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, America Diamond’s Hotel and other wonderful Lisbon hotels, here are five modern art museums worth including in your tour:
1. Modern Art Center
Situated near the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation headquarters and Museum, the Modern Art Center commands a central address in Lisbon. Upon entering the large white building, you will discover an incredible collection of modern Portuguese art and contemporary art. The Modern Art Center (officially known as the Centro de Arte Moderna Jose de Azeredo Perdigão) also features a sizeable collection of 20th-century British art. Among the highlights are works by Almada Negreiros, Paula Rego (arguably Portugal’s most influential contemporary artist) and Amadeo Souza Cardoso. You can also find pieces by David Hockney and Bill Woodrow, and even a Henry Moore sculpture in the garden.
an exhibit at the Modern Art Center
2. Chiado Museum
As Portugal’s national gallery of contemporary art, the Chiado Museum is obviously a popular attraction. Its architecture was recently redesigned by Jean-Michel Wilmotte to better accent the collection of 19th- and 20th-century Portuguese art. The permanent collection is displayed in thematic exhibitions; you can easily follow the transition from Romanticism to Modernism. While the collection is heavily Portuguese, there are also a few international pieces. Be sure to see the Rodin masterpieces, like The Bronze Age, and the Art Deco diptychs by Almada Negreiros. The Chiado Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, and is home to a pleasant café.
3. Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum
Founded by a couple of graduates of the Second School of Paris, the Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum features a unique and comprehensive collection of Modernist art. Back in the 1930’s, Vieira da Silva was at the vanguard of European art, hailed for her vision and innovative techniques. With her husband—Hungarian artist Arpad Szenes—she eventually founded this focused museum. The collection centers around Expressionist urban themes (da Silva’s specialty) and the luminous landscape paintings of her husband’s. Along with their own work, the couple welcomes temporary exhibitions to the 18th-century silk factory that now houses the museum.
the exterior of the Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum
4. Berardo Museum
Home to one of the most acclaimed modern art collections in the world, the Berardo Museum is an important landmark in Lisbon. Within its confines, you will find awe-inspiring pieces by everyone from Picasso and Dali to Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Cumulated by Portuguese magnate Joe Berardo over many years, the collection was once sought after by other major cities. However, the Portuguese government has held on—and for good reason. The Berardo Museum was officially opened in June of 2007, and it is located within the Belem Cultural Center. At any given time, you will find about 250 pieces of modern art on display. However, the entire collection is said to have 4,000.
5. MuDe – Design and Fashion Museum
You won’t find the typical paintings or sculptures here. However, the MuDe – Design and Fashion Museum is one of the world’s leading museums of 20th-century design. Hailed by many as the best in Europe, the collection here consists of pieces by 230 designers. It includes 1,000 design objects and at least 1,200 couture pieces! Highlights include the famous Jean Desses gown that Renee Zellweger wore to the 2001 Oscars, Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look, and other masterpieces by Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Henning Koppel, Charles Eames and Phillipe Starck. The museum is located within the Belem Cultural Center, in the heart of Lisbon.
Posted in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The UK on 15. Feb, 2011
Perhaps you are looking to commune with nature, or distance yourself from the crowds. Or perhaps you are just on a very strict budget. Either way, camping is a wonderful alternative to staying in traditional hostels or hotels in Europe—providing you know where, how and when to do it!
There are many benefits to choosing a tent over a hotel bed. For one, you are able to enjoy more peace and privacy than is available in shared hostel accommodations—without sacrificing location or convenience! Despite what you may think, it is actually easy to find a campsite near the tourist attractions of most major European cities. Overall, camping in Europe is much easier than camping in North America. In Europe, campsites are not relegated to National Parks and remote areas. Instead, they lie within the city limits of many popular destinations: Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam, Venice, etc.
Pricing can be a bit confusing for first-time campers, and prices can vary by city or campsite. However, most campgrounds charge a set price for each tent, each person and each vehicle that enters the site—so be sure to do the math before handing over your credit card! Also be sure to ask about the particular campground’s tent policy, as not all sites allow them (some in Europe are RV-only.)
Of course, a campground will be much more rustic and minimalist in terms of amenities (compared to a hotel.) However, you may be surprised by what European campsites do have to offer. For one, most campgrounds in Europe feature a restaurant somewhere on the premises; this is a great perk for those traveling lightly, relying on local foods instead of cooking for themselves. If you are planning to cook, please keep in mind that most campsites in Europe do not offer picnic tables.
Another perk that you might not expect is Internet access—readily available on many European campgrounds! This may come in the form of an onsite Internet café, or Wi-Fi for campers with laptops. Be sure to bring the appropriate plugs to charge your laptop; European RV’s require a specific plug. However, you will generally find free plugs in the public restrooms as well.
Of course, if you tire of weathering the “great outdoors” and are in need of something a bit more comfortable, you may always find great hotels in Europe at EuroBookings.com!
If you’re like me, one of the most memorable parts of any trip is the food. While you can’t take the Eiffel Tower or the Alhambra home with you, a visit to a European cooking school can have you reliving your holiday over and over again just by entering your kitchen. Most people don’t know that you can get hands-on culinary training from the some of the best cooking schools in Europe, many of which offer short courses for visitors, many in English. Courses can run anywhere between one day and several weeks, but all yield results that last a lifetime
La Cuisine de Marie-Blanche-France, Paris, France
We start, of course, in the city known world-wide for its cuisine. Author of many cookbooks and a friend and collaborator of the late, great Julia Child, Princess Marie-Blanche de Broglie opened La Cuisine de Marie-Blanche back in 1975. Whether you take the daylong class, which features a luncheon, or whether you take one of the three to nine month diploma classes, you will be learning about French cuisine as created by one of the true masters. Classes are offered for the individual and for the group, and there are even classes that specialize in pastry. The school boasts a central location on the Avenue de la Motte Pic, right between the Place des Invalides, home to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Parc du Champ de Mars, home to the Eiffel Tower. Three-star accommodations within a block include the Hotel de la Motte Picquet and the Hôtel Le Beaugency.
L’Ecole de Cuisine Le Chapon Fin, Bordeaux, France
This city whose name is synonymous with fine wine is also famous for Le Chapon Fin, a restaurant that opened in 1825 and was one of the first 33 restaurants to receive a Michelin award, back in 1933. Le Chapon Fin is also home to L’Ecole de Cuisine Le Chapon Fin. As a student, you will not only get to cook, but you’ll also learn which wines compliment different dishes from the sommelier. Though the five-day course is open to all, don’t be surprised to find that many of your fellow students are professional chefs. Speaking of professional chefs, the school is run by Nicolas Frion, Le Chapon Fin’s own professional chef. There are many excellent Bordeaux hotels that are close to L’Ecole de Cuisine Le Chapon Fin.
Granada Cooking & Wine School, Granada, Spain
Heading to Spain, we find ourselves in the ancient Andalucian city of Granada, whose past as the Moorish capital has left it with a unique culinary legacy. Right in the city’s historic quarter is Casa Azahar, which opens its doors to a small number of students each year for its Granada Cooking & Wine School. These lucky few learn to prepare Mediterranean, Sephardic, and Mozarabic dishes using, greens and vegetables from local markets, olives from local groves, and wild herbs from behind the house. Field trips include the nearby Vinos de la Tierra Norte de Granada, where you’ll meet with master wine makers. The school is open from November to April for classes ranging from two to eight students. Some of the other perks include a view of the production of olives, olive oil, and cheese, tastings the famed Sherries from Jerez and Montilla and of course stunning views of the timeless Alhambra Palace. The same wonderful views can also be had from many Granada hotels.
Refúgio da Vila Cooking School, Portel, Portugal
Located just one hour from the Spanish border and two hours from lively Lisbon is the charming village of Portel. This is where you’ll find peace, quiet and some amazing cooking instruction at the Refúgio da Vila Rural Hotel and Cooking School. Here you’ll spend your nights in the historic villa manor house and your days learning from the hotel’s head chef Miguel Amaral. Each class lasts a week, and includes such unique lessons as curing sausage and baking Portuguese bread. The classes take place in the hotel’s homey kitchen, where you’ll take fresh local ingredients and the local flavors of the Alentejo Region and turn them into traditional Portuguese dishes. The hotel’s elegantly furnished rooms also make a homebase for exploring this beautiful corner of Portugal.
Nick Nairn Cook School, Stirling, Scotland
If you’d like a little razzle dazzle with your instruction, Celebrity TV chef Nick Nairn offers personalized attention in his classes limited to eight students. With the philosophy of allowing students to pick and choose classes, the Nick Nairn Cook School allows you to specialize in meats, vegetables, seafood and more. Between the Celebrity Chef Class, Master Class, Nick Nairn Class, Recreational Class and the Absolute Beginners Class, the school provides all levels of instruction, and with a wide choice of chefs (including Nick himself), there’s a wide range of expertise. The school also conveniently located, just 29 miles from Edinburgh Airport, and there are many fine Stirling hotels that put you conveniently close to the kitchen.
Along with high-end fashion boutiques, beautiful beaches, fascinating museums and monuments, and other tourist attractions, Continental Europe is home to some pretty amazing golf courses. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned golf pro, you may wish to incorporate the pastime into your next holiday. Here are the top ten courses on which to improve your game:
Golf de Chantilly – Vineuil-Saint-Firmin, France
One of the oldest golf courses in all of France, the Golf de Chantilly is known for two things: its peaceful, picturesque scenery and its challenging terrain. The two attributes conflict, but in the best of ways. Tackle the three tough par 5’s and four intimidating par 3’s (three of which are over 190m long!) while admiring the spectacular landscape.
the Golf de Chantilly's clubhouse
Club zur Vahr – Bremen, Germany
Host of the German Open in 1975 and 1985, the Club zur Vahr has certainly earned its nationwide reputation. The impressive course was specially designed to integrate abundant natural hazards, and there is a surprising abundance of flourishing trees. Many of the holes are doglegged, creating a challenging course on which to test your golf skills.
Corfu Golf and Country Club – Corfu, Greece
This Donald Harradine-designed golf course on the island of Corfu is just as difficult as it is beautiful. The Corfu Golf and Country Club boasts numerous water hazards amid lovely stands of high cypress; the result is truly unique, and perhaps one of the best kept golfing secrets in Europe.
El Saler Golf Club – Valencia, Spain
Undoubtedly one of the best golf courses on the continent, the El Saler Golf Club has won several awards and spots on reputable lists. Visit once, and you will see why. Situated in the National Park El Saler, the Javier Arana-designed course incorporates varied elements of a diverse landscape. Highlights include pretty groves of umbrella pines and unique holes built right into seaside sand dunes.
Golf seaside at El Saler!
Falsterbo Golfklubb – Falsterbo, Sweden
As the only true links course in the entire country, the Falsterbo Golfklubb draws a great number of golfers each year. It also draws crowds of avid bird-watchers, due to its location in a spectacular nature reserve. The Falsterbo Golfklubb is well known for its dramatic terrain: The course sprawls across the peninsula that divides the Baltic Sea and the waters of the Oresund.
Kennemer – Zandvoort, The Netherlands
Amid fragrant stands of pine trees and massive sand dunes, you will find the oldest golf course in The Netherlands. Kennemer is widely considered one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world—and for good reason. It comprises 3 series of 9 holes, each with its own unique challenges and aesthetics.
Penina – Algarve, Portugal
Frequent host to the Portuguese Open and other famous events, Penina is known around the world for its original sequence of holes: The last nine holes begin and end with a Par 5, and there is a large number of unique water hazards. The course covers 6,439 meters of flatlands and man-made pools (including one that transforms green 13 into an island.)
Pevero – Costa Smeralda, Sardinia (Italy)
When the Aga Khan commissioned Robert Trent Jones to build one of the most beautiful golf courses that Europe had ever seen, he got what he paid for. Pevero is situated between Pevero Bay and Cala di Volpe, on a dramatic stretch of pristine Sardinian coastline. Don’t let the striking views of the sea distract you, however. These challenging holes require immense concentration.
Golf di Roma Acquasanta – Rome, Italy
Kill two birds with one stone at the Golf di Roma Acquasanta, a spectacular golf course amid centuries-old Roman relics. The resort lies at the foothills of the Adirondacks, whose soaring peaks provide an incredible backdrop. The ruins and diverse challenges prove entertaining and fun; whatever your skill level, you are sure to have a great time here.
Ruins in the Distance at the Golf di Roma Acquasanta
Valderrama – Cadiz, Spain
Often compared to the Augusta course in the U.S., Valderrama is one of the most celebrated golf resorts in the world. It was designed by famous architect Robert Trent Jones Senior, and was rated number one on the continent by “Golf World” magazine. The 6,356-metre-long and par 71 course caters to players of all levels, and the scenery is strategically incorporated. The climate can change drastically throughout the year, so call ahead if you are particular.
And whichever course you choose, you can easily find world-class European hotels nearby!