The little country at the edge of the Iberian Peninsula, long under the radar, received a big profile bump last month when Madonna revealed she’d be moving to Lisbon so her son David Banda, 11, could attend the prestigious Benfica soccer academy. The Queen of Pop has reportedly picked up an 18th-century Moorish-style mansion for $8.9 million in the picturesque suburb of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that was long a summer destination for Portuguese royals.
But Madonna‘s not exactly roughing it while the historic restate is being restored — she’s reportedly staying in a suite at Lisbon’s Pestana Palace hotel.
The Queen of Pop isn’t the only star to purchase property in Portugal. Other noteworthy residents include Christian Louboutin and Michael Fassbender, who purchased a home in the historic Alfama district in May.
Native Cristiano Ronaldo is embracing the influx of A-listers: The second outpost of the soccer star’s hotel CR7 (his initials and jersey number) opened last year. The first was in his hometown of Funchal on the island of Madeira, a Portuguese territory off the coast of Morocco.
Portugal has beautiful coastline in the southern Algarve region, which lures sun seeking English celebs to hotels like Vila Vita Parc. In the north, is the culture capital of Porto and the Duoro Valley (the birth place of Port Wine. Stars looking for a one-of-a-kind stay, should check into Pedras Salgadas Spa and Nature Park, where they can relax in a futuristic treehouse between treatments.
DO IT FOR LESS
Budget-conscious travelers should take note, too. More affordable than many other European destinations, Portugal has plenty to offer for a reasonable price: In Lisbon, book a stay at the stylish B&B Casa Amora (from $100/night) and ride the city’s famous yellow streetcar — route 28 stops at major tourist spots, and a day pass costs $7.25.
In Porto, discover the country’s famous blue-and-white tiles, called Azulejos, for free at Porto Cathedral and take in a show or just ogle the architecture at Rem Koolhaas’s ultra-modern Casa da Música.
Whatever you do, don’t leave Portugal without trying its signature egg tart. Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon is a famous purveyor, where the treats cost $1.30 each.