The most traditional Christmas dishes in Portugal

Portugal is known for its gastronomical richness and quality, and Christmas is not an exception, between sweet and savoury, from north to south, you’ll find a variety of delicacies.

It’s here, the time of year in which every region of the country prepares to set a table filled with the most delicious traditions of the festive season. We’re presenting you with some of the most typical Christmas dishes in Portugal and a traditional recipe for your Christmas Eve dinner!

Portugal is one of the world’s largest cod importers, which we cook the most varied ways, as we like to say: there are “1001 ways to cook cod”. With boiled potatoes and cabbage, this ingrediente can not be missing from the Christmas table and, for that golden touch, it’s served with a good quality olive oil, for a true national flavour. 

This is the most cooked dish all over the Portuguese mainland on Christmas Eve. In Madeira and the Azores, tradition means preparing meat kebabs on laurel sticks and roasted or stewed chicken,respectively.

When it comes to Christmas Day lunch, the variety of dishes is even greater all around the country.  In Trás-os-Montes, Alto Douro and Minho the tasty  roupa velha is prepared with the leftovers (codfish, potatoes, cabbage and eggs) from the Christmas Eve dinner, sautéed in a whole lot of olive oil and garlic. Even so, it is also very common to make roasted lamb as an alternative option. On the other hand, in the southern part of the country, roasted turkey is the king of Christmas Day lunch.

Both in the north and the south, Christmas desserts are intense and frequently have a cinnamon aftertaste. The fried desserts made with egg, milk and sugar, such as rabanadas (Frenchtoasts), filhoses and sonhos (fried cakes) fill the house with Christmas aromas, while the rice pudding, sweet vermicelli and crème brûlée shine bright on their platters. 

To top everything off, bolo-rei (the traditional Christmas cake) is always present on every Portuguese family’s table, between Christmas and Epiphany. This dessert is the most symbolic and traditional, with the golden crust representing the gold, the crystallised and dried fruits representing the myrrh, and its aroma representing the frankincense, the gifts brought to Jesus by the Three Kings.

In order to encourage you to prepare a traditional Christmas dessert we suggest rabanadas with Port wine. You can find the recipe below.

Rabanadas with Porto wine recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • 500 ml of milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 lemon rinds
  • 1 orange rind
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small glass of Port wine
  • Oil for frying (as needed)
  • Sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle (as needed)

Preparation

  • Start by slicing the baguette. Reserve.
  • In a pan, heat the milk, the sugar, the lemon and orange rinds, and the cinnamon sticks until boiling. Whenit starts boiling, lower the heat for 3 minutes, to let the milk absorb all the flavours. Turn off the stove and add the Port wine. Stir and let it sit until it’s warm. Reserve.
  • Whisk the eggs in a bowl and reserve.
  • Heat the oil for frying.
  • Once it’s warm, dip the bread slices in the milk, drain the excess and then dip them in the whisked eggs.  Fry the slices in the hot oil.
  • Once they’re golden on both sides, take them out of the oil, draining the excess, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Place all the slices in a deep platter, so you can add the syrup.

Syrup

  • 2 teacups of water
  • 2 teacups of sugar
  • 1 orange rind
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons of Port wine

  • In a pan, mix the water, the sugar, the cinnamon stick and the orange rind. Let it boil and then add the Port wine. Lower the heat and let it cook, stirring continuously until it thickens. 
  • Finally, pour the syrup over the rabanadas(French toasts).

Mouthwatering enough for you? Roll up your sleeves, put on your apron and surprise the family. Enjoy!
You rather skip the hard work, but still want to taste this season’s best dishes? Check out HF HotelsChristmas and New Year’s Eve offers at the official website.


Happy holidays!


Learn more at:  https://www.hfhotels.com

5 Christmas markets that can’t be missed

Christmas markets

With Christmas just around the corner, countless activities for the whole family are popping up in markets and fairs, specially designed to provide the best festive experience.

December is one of the year’s most awaited months and the one in which the Christmas spirit is felt everywhere. We came up with a list of the country’s most beautiful fairs and markets where, during this time of year, you can get lost in the most typical Christmas flavours, sounds, lights and colours.

  • Wonderland
Wonderland
  • Where? Parque Eduardo VII, 1070-099 Lisboa
  • When? 1stDecember to 1st January
  • How much? Free entrance

Right in the heart of Lisbon – in front of the capital’s HF hotels – Wonderland market delights kids with its play village, Santa’s house and the Christmas train. Nonetheless, this market is not just for young children and the ice rink is a must visit for everybody. This year, Wonderland added two features to its giant wheel, the cabins are now air-conditioned and have a 360º view, providing more comfort in what is certainly one of the best views of the city, this time of year.

  •  Óbidos Vila Natal
Óbidos Vila Natal
  • Where? Parque Cinegético de Óbidos, 2510-089 Óbidos
  • When? 30thNovember to 6th January
  • How much? General ticket – 7 euros

Óbidos has already accustomed us to the quality of the country’s largest Christmas village. For this edition, the inspiration was the four seasons of the year, ensuring a whole lot of colours and music in a market that hosts both kids and grown-ups in exactly the same way: with loads of fun. In addition to the traditional market, the ice rink and the giant wheel, grown-ups can travel back in time with the carousel and its traditional wooden horses. For the kids it’s easy, every single attraction brings tons of joy. Above all, Óbidos Vila Natal hosts families, bringing them together with an array of activities and a delightful environment, while strengthening the true values of Christmas.

  • Porto Christmas Village
Porto Christmas Village
  • Where? Edifício da Alfândega – R. Nova da Alfândega, 4050-430 Porto
  • When? 24thNovember to 30th December
  • How much? General ticket – 5 euros

This is the first indoor space exclusively dedicated to Christmas festivities and activities in the city of Porto. Located in one of the city’s historical buildings, the Porto Christmas Village includes a dining area inspired by the season’s typical flavours, a market with national products and a food&winebar. The toy factory and the ice rink are the most anticipated attractions for the families that visit this unique event in the city. The Porto Christmas Village brings to Porto an innovative virtual reality snowball fight, as well as the opportunity to try curling, a collective sport that is part of the Winter Olympic Games.

  • Perlim
Perlim
  • Where? Quinta do Castelo, 4520-306 Santa Maria da Feira – 31 min. from Porto (by car)
  • When? 1st to 30th December 
  • How much? General ticket – 7 euros

Perlim -A World of Dreams, this is how the largest Christmas event in Portugal is presented. Located in Santa Maria da Feira, this is Perlim’s kingdom, filled with music, candy and entertainment. As a family or as a group, visitors are amazed by street theatre plays and endless recreational activities with an educational component, carefully prepared for the children. Perlim is truly an enchanted world that takes its visitors to the imaginary of childhood. This year, the atmosphere of legends and fairy tales takes place at Quinta do Castelo, a completely remodelled green space.

  • Cascais Christmas Village
Cascais Christmas Village
  • Where? Praceta Domingos D’Avilez – Av. da República, 2750 – 475 Cascais – 35 min. from Lisbon (by car)
  • When? 6thDecember to 1st January 
  • How much? General ticket – 7 euros

The theme for this year’s Cascais Christmas Village is “A journey to the magic of Christmas” and visitors are welcomed with an atmosphere of fantasy and tradition. The kids will have fun with the treehouse, the carousel and various outdoor activities. A must visit at this fair is the enchanted forest, where you’ll be able to see real reindeers. But, what are the reindeers doing without Santa Claus? Well, he certainly hasn’t skipped the market and will be opening his home to everychild! And for those in search of  “that” special gift to offer, the Christmas market may have the perfect solution.

With all of these suggestions it will be hard not to feel the Christmas magic. Board this journey with your loved ones and share all the joy that makes this time of year so special. And, if in the middle of this adventure you need accommodation, you can always count on us.

7 museums that can’t be missed in Lisbon!

Lisboa

Reading time: 5 minutes

Go for a more historical and cultural tour through Lisbon and make sure to include a visit to the best museums in Portuguese capital!

Travelling, regardless of how it’s done, is always synonymous of learning. Interacting with a different reality from what we are used to, or just a break from our daily routine, allows us to see other perspectives and adopt different ways of thinking and acting.

If you enjoy returning from a trip with more culture and history in your luggage, then you must be a true museum enthusiast. If that’s the case and if you’re thinking of travelling to Lisbon, you should know that the capital has a complete offer when it comes to museums. To make it easy for you, we put together a selection of some of the best museums in Lisbon!

 

  • MAAT – Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology)

MAAT

  • Where? Av. Brasília, Central Tejo, Belém, 1300-598 Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 11.00 am to 7.00 pm

One of the most recent and most impressive museums in Lisbon, MAAT is the museum of art, architecture and technology. With an architecture characterised by giant curves, this museum has a privileged location by the river, making it impossible to blend in. Open to the public since 2016, this project is intended to be part of the city’s tourist itinerary and its ambition is to host national and international exhibitions, by the hands of contemporary artists, architects and thinkers.

 

  • MUDE – Museu do Design e da Moda (Design and Fashion Museum)

MUDE – Museu do Design e da Moda

  • Where? Rua Augusta, 24, 1100-053 Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Winter opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm | Summer opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm

This is a must visit for the true lovers of fashion and its evolution. At MUDE – Museu do Design e da Moda, you can witness an authentic journey to the past of fashion, from the present all the way to the 1930s. Responsible for Francisco Capelo’s collection, this museum opened in 2009 and continually collaborates with external curators, artists, designers and architects, in order to increase its offer.

 

  • Museu Coleção Berardo (Berardo Collection Museum)

Berardo

  • Where? Praça do Império,1449-003 Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Every day from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm

Located in the Centro Cultural de Belém, the Museu Coleção Berardo is one of the most important modern and contemporary art museums in Lisbon. It always hosts one permanent and two temporary exhibitions, allowing each visitor to experience the most relevant artistic movements from the 20th and 21st centuries, thanks to names like Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Paula Rego, Andy Warhol, among others.

 

  • MNAA – Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art)

MNAA

  • Where? Rua das Janelas Verdes, 1249-01 Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Located inside Palácio do Alvor since 1884, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is the Portuguese museum that hosts the most national treasures and works of reference. With more than 130 years of existence, this museum hosts a collection of over 40 thousand items that range from painting, sculpture, jewellery and decorative art, originating from Europe, Africa and Eastern countries.

 

  • MNAz – Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)

azulejo

  • Where? Rua da Madre de Deus, 4, 1900-312 Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

One of Portugal’s most characteristic symbols is, without a doubt, the tile! Of course, such an iconic piece as the tile deserves a true homage in a museum. In that sense, Museu Nacional do Azulejo has the mission of collecting, preserving, studying and showcasing representative samples of the evolution of ceramic pieces and tiles in Portugal. Located inside Convento de Madre Deus, it exhibits the most significant examples of Portuguese tiles.

 

  • Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum)

Museu Nacional dos Coches

  • Where? Avenida da Índia, 136, Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Inaugurated in 1905, and with a new home since 2015, Museu Nacional dos Coches presents an incredible collection – one-of-a-kind in the world – of the most beautiful, iconic and antique coaches in the world’s history. A collection of astounding beauty and luxury, detailed in each coach that served the most important members of royalty and that will leave anyone in awe.

 

  • Museu do Fado (Fado Museum)

fado

  • Where? Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, N.º 1, 1100-139 Lisboa
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

If Portuguese tile is worthy of a museum, of course we could not forget fado, so dear to all of us. Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, fado now has a home to present its story, Museu do Fado, open to the public since 1998. The museum hosts numerous collections donated by various singers, musicians, artists and songwriters.

Have we sparked your curiosity and you’re already making plans to visit each and every one of these museums in Lisbon? You can also visit other museums, such as Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum), Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência (National Museum of Natural History and Science), Museu da Água (Water Museum), among others.

And to finish your day with a cherry on top, rest and enjoy an amazing stay, as if you were in the comfort of your own home, with the partner you can always count on, the HF Hotels. Come stay with us!

Learn more at: www.hfhotels.com

The Ultimate Guide to Portugal Yoga Destinations

Porto by night

Portugal is one of the most popular yoga destinations in Europe. While it’s a frequent travel choice for lots of yogis and non-yogis alike, it’s also a hidden gem to others. Having traveled through Portugal recently myself, I’ve put together this guide to help you get a glimpse of what yoga in Portugal looks like and what the country has to offer.

If you’ve ever been on a yoga retreat in Portugal, you’ll find some of the things below familiar, and your interest in exploring Portuguese sights will probably be renewed. If you’ve never been to Portugal before and it’s still an exotic destination for you, I hope you’ll give in to its charm after reading through my article.

Before I start, I have to confess that I’ve had a thing for this country for a long time, even before visiting it in the flesh. I was very attracted to the rough-edged melodic notes of the language (as melodic as Spanish, but with a rougher note overall), to the country’s poetry and cultural history, to its fado music and medieval architecture, its cuisine and the sights I saw in photographs.

I was sampling a bit of all of those in my spare time, dreaming about the day I could take the time off to visit its shores. Therefore, for me, Portugal was a dream come true and I’m pretty sure it will feel that way for almost everyone, whether they were dreaming of it before or not.

 

Portugal at a Glance

portugal

Portugal is located on the shores of the Atlantic coast, on the Westernmost reaches of Europe. It’s shaped like a long strip of land, encompassing a lot of shorelines but having plenty of mountain regions as well. Basically, everywhere you look you’re bound to find a spectacular, breathtaking view.

Because of this natural beauty, Portugal is a favorite destination for both surf and yoga. The numerous beaches conceal plenty of hidden spots, ideal for exploring any kind of watersports, while the tranquil and majestic landscapes everywhere are the perfect setting to inspire meditation. It’s no wonder yogis all over the world (as well as surfers) are flocking to Portugal’s shores in search for their next great adventure.

You can find here almost anything you are interested in: a unique culture, great music, great food (including an amazing quantity and variety of fresh seafood), great wine (and we all know how wonderful yoga and wine go together!), castles and romantic medieval architecture, majestic mountains, lots of beautiful beaches, and much, much more.

The people are friendly and very welcoming towards visitors, the temperature is perfect (not too cold, not too hot) and it’s all around one of the most charming destinations you’ll ever visit.

I will now do my best to walk you through the best destinations to explore, so you can have a glimpse of just how great the tourist experience in Portugal can be. Afterwards, I will get into more specific yoga holidays and retreats in Portugal, so you can book a retreat that gives you the chance to both practice what you love and see the country as well.

 

The Best Cities Destinations to Visit in Portugal

1. Lisbon

belem tower lisbon

No visit to Portugal can be complete without Lisbon, its capital. It’s the center of its cultural life and there’s plenty of fascinating history and street life to be admired in any neighborhood, not just the old town center, as is the case with most other European cities.

The famous pasteis de nata cookies, the appetizers made from salted cod (bacalhau) or the fresh sardines are among the most impressive treats of the Portuguese cuisine. In Lisbon, they will all be outstanding so it’s the best place to try them, especially if you hadn’t before.

2. Porto

porto overlook

One of the most beautiful port towns of the world, Porto is a travel lover’s dream. You can walk along its beautiful river Douro all day and night and not get bored. Charming tavern-style restaurants litter the edge of the parapet and the stone steps leading right to the river’s edge; you can take a break for a delicious snack or drink any time you like.

If you follow the river towards the ocean, you’ll be able to face not only a spectacular view but also the rare opportunity to admire the sunset with the sun diving right into the ocean. I did exactly that and it was so awe-inspiring it lifted my mood for weeks!

Me while on the shores of Porto, admiring the sun going down into the ocean and enjoying the fresh sea spray and breeze.

Also, if you visit Porto, you cannot leave without visiting the famous bookshop Livraria Lello, which is said to have inspired J. K. Rowling to write her Harry Potter series. One peek inside it and you’ll understand why: the intricate wooden staircases and decorations look just like Hogwarts.

3. Coimbra

coimbra

Coimbra is the oldest university town of Portugal and a small gem of medieval architecture. Placed on a hillside overlooking a river (as many Portuguese towns seem to be), it is a wonder in terms of things to visit while in it. It dates back to the Roman era and was even the capital of the kingdom of Portugal between 1131 to 1255. The best thing about this rich history is that most of the buildings from all eras are remarkably well-preserved and can be admired today (including an aqueduct structure from Roman times).

4. Sintra

sintra

Sintra is a place along a mountaintop consisting of several castles and palaces of different eras, along with Moorish ruins of a citadel and various gardens and parks. It is the historical residence of the Portuguese monarchy and it looks like something straight out of a fairytale. You won’t be able to believe your eyes once you visit it.

Be warned that one day is not enough even if all the castles to see are within 30 minutes of each other. Once you go into any of them, you’ll find that you can spend most of the day exploring its many chambers and beauty, so you’ll have to keep coming back the next days for seeing the rest of the castles.

Last but not least, Sintra is a favorite destination for wedding photography, and it’s easy to understand why. So, if you feel like a fancy photoshoot, whether you are getting married or not, keep in mind that there are a lot of local services of professional photography that can deliver some of the best profile pics you’ll ever have taken.

5. Algarve

algarve benagil

For those of you who love the seaside, going to the beach to bask in the sun or to get active on the surfboard, Algarve is the ideal destination. In peak holiday season, the population of Algarve triples, that’s how popular it is to tourists. Considering how breathtaking the cliffs on its shoreline are, and how many good surf spots are situated there, it’s easy to understand why.

Portugal and Yoga

Probably because the ocean’s proximity makes Portuguese people be very laid back and in tune with their bodies and natural harmony, yoga became popular in Portugal pretty early and developed into a strong tradition. Even the smallest of Portuguese towns are bound to have at least one yoga studio you can attend, and Portuguese beaches are a common choice for groups practicing their asanas.

This high popularity of yoga in Portugal, together with how beautiful the country is, make yoga retreats in Portugal also very sought after.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miriam Cihodariu

Miriam is the editor of BookYogaRetreats, an avid world explorer, and a yogi. She’s also into exploring world cuisines and reading fiction from all over the world. When she’s not doing marketing stuff, she expands her collection of teas and spends some time petting the neighborhood cats.

6 tips to save money on a trip!

How can you not love to travel? Travelling allows you to discover new cultures, new realities and new people. It makes us better and happier people. The hard part is being able to take our dream trip without spending a lot of money.

There are several factors that are essential for saving money on a trip. First off, it is important to define a plan and when you want to travel. Establishing a budget is also essential if you don’t want to spend more than you should.

Here are six tips to help you save money on your dream trip!

  1. Plan ahead

When you plan a trip in advance, the prices of flights and hotels are usually lower. In addition, there is more to choose from, which is perfect for finding the best opportunities. If you book everything closer to the travel date, the best options will no longer be available.

  1. Establish a budget

As previously mentioned, it is essential to define how much you can spend on a trip! You can establish a total budget for the trip and then split expenses according to your options. If you don’t want to miss out on any tourist attractions on your destination, leave a bigger margin for this type of activities. Don’t forget to define your budget based on the prices charged in the country you are travelling to.

  1. Avoid high season

Festive seasons, such as Easter week or the peak of summer, tend to be more expensive. Which means it is very important to look for periods that are not so popular and therefore cheaper. Opting for the start or end of summer could be an alternative for avoiding more expensive prices. Another detail to consider are important events that may be happening at your destination, such as holidays or festivals.

  1. Use public transport

When you arrive at your destination, one of the best ways to save money is to use public transport. In Portugal, there is a strong transport network that includes metro, train or buses, which are always the easiest and cheapest ways to get around. For small distances, choose to walk! After all, there is no better way to explore a city!

  1. Choose your hotel wisely

Choosing the cheapest hotel doesn’t always mean it is the wisest choice. If you choose a cheap hotel but then need to spend a lot of money and time to get downtown, maybe it is not the best option for you! Look for the best quality-price options in the cities you are considering. Another smart choice could be sharing a room with the people you are travelling with. If you are travelling with friends, why not stay in a double or triple room? In the HF Hotels group we have several typologies so that our guests can choose the best option for them.

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  1. Search for the city’s attractions

Search for the official tourism sites of the destination you have chosen, in order to discover which attractions can’t be missed. Read testimonials and reviews on blogs and forums. In every destination, there are always free options that are just as incredible as the paid ones.

With these tips, you’ll definitely be making better choices for your next trip and only spending exactly what you need. If you travel to Lisbon or Porto, discover the hotels that the HF Hotels group has to offer and feel at home!