The Epic Hot List: The Must-Do Experiences in Portugal in 2024 

From quiet stretches of the Algarve to far-flung Azorean islands, these 2024 journeys through Portugal go beyond the ordinary. Make this the year you explore deeper by connecting with locals and exploring Portugal in unexpected ways.

Peel back the layers of tradition in Porto‘s cobblestone streets, venture beyond well-trodden paths in Sintra, jet out to Europe’s most remote isles, and chase big waves and small moments with the help of our 2024 Epic Hot List. 

Here’s our pick of the hottest experiences and destinations in Portugal in 2024.

Alternative Algarve

This May United Airlines will launch the first direct flight between America and the Algarve, landing in Faro. We know many landing on one of the four flights per week will be happy staying at overcrowded resort towns where you’ll find more English speakers than locals. But if you venture towards the fringes of the Algarve, more off-beat coastal adventures await.

Portugal’s southern Algarve Coast stretches for roughly 155 km (96 miles), from the westernmost point of Cape St. Vincent, to the eastern border with Spain. In the wild west, Sagres feels like a world apart with towering cliffs, maritime history, and serious surf culture. Over towards the east, quieter whitewashed towns like Olhão and Tavira hide top restaurants and boutique stays that reconnect you with the earth. 

Sit down for a farm-to-table lunch beneath a 2,000-year-old olive tree at Morgado do Quintão, a family-run vineyard. Join a farmer for a local market exploration, then return to the quinta for a Portuguese cooking class and long lunch. Or watch fishermen bring in the catch of the day, learn how olive oil is made, and soak in ancient salt pans. There’s more to the sunny Algarve than meets the eye.  

Melides is the new Comporta

While Comporta is still one of Portugal’s hottest beach destinations, the neighbouring village of Melides is taking a slice of the pie. In 2023 Christian Louboutin opened his much-anticipated boutique hotel, the glamorous Vermelho Hotel. The 13-room palace is filled with treasures selected by the designer, and special pieces or details made by Portuguese artists and artisans. 

While the baroque palace is a destination in itself, other openings are cementing this wild patch of Portuguese coastline as the hottest destination in Portugal for 2024. New spots for your new year radar include the expansive and luxe Independente Comporta, four architectural homes that make up Pa.te.os, and Spatia Hotel’s extension.

Related read: Christian Louboutin’s hotel in Melides

Remote adventure in the Azores

Scattered like marbles in the middle of the vast Atlantic Ocean, the remote Azorean islands offer plenty for the more adventurous. Described as a cross between Hawaii, Iceland and New Zealand, the nine volcanic islands might be on the radar of most, but few venture beyond the main ports. 

In 2024 we’re looking to the far-flung, remote reaches of Flores and Corvo, two lesser-known islands. Corvo is Europe’s most remote island – an untouched verdant, rugged isle that’s home to less than 400 people. Together with its bigger neighbour Flores they form part of the global network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Its extremely rugged coastline hides waterfalls, lakes, and streams all connected by a carpet of yellow goldenrod flowers. 

Here you can go scuba diving, fish for trout, hike between volcanic crater lakes, go canyoning down waterfalls, boat to secret caves, and seek out migratory birds. For fans of natural beauty and wild escapes, there’s nowhere better than the Azorean islands.

Read next: The Epic Hot List: The Must-Do Experiences in Morocco in 2024

Go beyond wine in the Douro Valley 

In the heart of Portugal, terraced vineyards cascade down to reach the serpentine curves of the Douro River. Here the sun-soaked slopes of the Douro Valley count centuries of viticultural history as the world’s oldest demarcated wine region, declared in 1756. 

But the UNESCO World Heritage landscape is more than its cellars and vineyards. Between those rustic quintas, olive groves and almond orchards, intrepid travellers can find serious adventure. In 2023 Epic sent guests beyond the well-trodden path on motorbike journeys following the valley’s curves, and on the water in a river canoe. Picture yourself paddling down the Douro River, just you and nature, with an overnight glamping experience. Reach out and we’ll make it happen.

Stunning Sintra, but without the crowds

How do you explore one of Portugal’s most popular day trip destinations in an off-beat and adventurous way? With the help from some friends, of course. In true Epic style, we love walking the path less travelled and it’s why we’re a huge fan of exploring the famous palaces and castle of Sintra in a vintage off-road jeep.

Connect with locals who know the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park better than anyone else and see the top sights while having a blast. Get to know the stories and legends behind the famous sights with Flamingo while avoiding the ever-growing crowds that flock to the mountain near Lisbon each year.

Laidback luxury in the Alentejo

Modern luxury is time, space, and tranquillity. It’s why the Alentejo is a firm favourite for expansive laidback escapes. It’s here, where the horizon stretches on in an endless sea of cork and olive trees, that time becomes a foreign concept and life’s priorities shift gears.

Making up a third of continental Portugal, the Alentejo is so large that there’s always space to find yourself, whether that be beneath clear starry skies far from the city lights, or while seeking out the marks of ancient civilizations that once called these lands home. There are new eco-luxe stays popping up across the area, but our favourites include São Lourenço do Barrocal, long lunches and wine tastings at Herdade do Esporão, and a micro-seasonal farm project called Terramay.

Read next: A Journey to the Heartland of Portugal

Big waves and winter that feels like spring

Portugal’s off-season is getting smaller as curious travellers discover the country’s mild climate, cosy stays and big waves. Compared to much of Europe, Portugal’s winter is mild, so those willing to risk a few grey rainy days may be rewarded with no crowds and days of January sunshine, cold beer, and afternoons spent with your toes in the sand. 

It’s during the quiet winter months that Portugal’s big waves season kicks off. When the conditions are looking prime, the whitewashed fishing village of Nazaré draws a crowd with days of massive surf, where towering waves roll in at more than 25 metres (86 feet) high. The world’s elite big wave surfers descend on the small town, which claims seven of the 10 tallest waves ever surfed across the world. 

A new address in Porto

In 2024 Porto is firmly cemented as a traveller favourite thanks to its enticing blend of tradition with contemporary charm. Nowhere embodies this better than new boutique hotel The Largo. Top European architecture and interior firms came together to work an eclectic mix of 15th to 19th-century buildings into one cohesive yet unique 18-room hotel.

It took six years to pull off, and the result is a space that feels more like a luxurious home with contemporary details filling historic bones. Better yet, the restaurant Cozinha das Flores is overseen by star Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes. You must try his savoury take on Portugal’s famous pastel de nata. This is the perfect new address for 2024’s adventures in the invincible city.

Will you explore Portugal in 2024? If Portugal is top of your list, reach out to Epic and we’ll create and curate your dream trip.

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