• El Celler de Can Roca - Spain

Recently scored "Restaurant" magazine's coveted title of Best Restaurant in the World, thanks to its perennial quest to push the boundaries of culinary arts. The famed Catalonian eatery made a splash in 2013 when it staged a 12-course food opera, El Somni, described as a "multi-disciplinarian, analogue, digital, real, dreamy, cybernetic and culinary work with opera, electronica, poetry, 3D, performing arts, singing, reflection, painting, films, music and cookery." Somehow not exhausted from that endeavor, in 2014 the restaurant took its entire team away from its base in Girona, Spain, for a tour of the Americas to showcase innovative dishes like perfume-inspired desserts and plates with hidden motors. Beyond all the pomp and circumstance, El Celler de Can Roca is really just a family operation run by three talented brothers. The eldest, Joan, is the head chef. The youngest, Jordi, is the pastry chef. Josep, in the middle, is the sommelier.

  • Museu Nacional do Azulejo - Lisbon

If you spend, oh, three hours in this city, you’ll probably have about 200 photos of the amazing ceramic tiles, or azulejos, on your phone, and at this museum, you can do a deeper dive into their history.

  • Calouste Gulbenkian Museum - Lisbon

You could spend an entire day in this really beautiful and well-done art museum, but you’ll want to save plenty of time for the surrounding gardens that span a whopping 19 acres. Say hey to baby chicks for me.

  • Jardim Botanico Tropical - Lisbon

Not like you’re going all the way to Lisbon just to feel like you’re somewhere else, but wow is this exotic plant paradise transportive.

  • Graça do Vinho - Lisbon

I can’t even remember how we stumbled upon this low-key, totally unassuming spot for a vinho verde-and-cheese snack, but when I give people Portugal recs, it’s always a winner — it’s the kind of place that makes you feel like a local.

  • Cervejaria Ramiro - Lisbon

We lucked out and didn’t have to wait in line for this famed 60-year-old seafood joint, but it would have been worth if it if we did. Bring a sense of adventure and order lots of different plates of shellfish — even the varieties you’ve never heard of.

  • Horta dos Brunos - Lisbon

If you do a fancy dinner in Lisbon, do it here. It’s a tiny, romantic spot where the staff really gets to know you and makes sure you’re tasting all the right things from their (recited, not written!) menu of traditional Portuguese food. Everyone else in the place seemed to be a regular, which is always a good sign.

  • Ramos Pinto - Porto

After touring this port house, I became a total Ramos Pinto devotee. My favorite bottle is the ten-year-aged RP10 — I’ve seen it on the menu at Gramercy Tavern, so you know it’s good.

  • Clerigos Tower - Porto

I did my best to keep my claustrophobia under control in order to navigate the narrow, winding stairs of this tower, and I was glad I did. The views from the top are one of the best ways to get a handle on the terrain and layout of the city.

  • São Bento Station - Porto

This is one stunning train station. And get this: It took the artist who made the 20,000 ceramic tiles that cover the walls 11 years to do so.

  • Trams - Porto

Whenever you get tired of climbing all the stairs: a nice, easy way to see the city. And the vintage cars are real cute!

  • Mercearia Das Flores - Porto

If you want to people-watch on Rua das Flores — and you should! — do it at this chill little spot with lots of regional products.

  • A Vida Portuguesa - Porto

Everyone will tell you to go to this shop — which has locations in both Porto and Lisbon — and everyone is right. Even just browsing gives you a great sense of the wide array of things that are Portuguese-made.

  • Adega Mayor - Alentejo

This place is probably known as much for its architecture as it is for its wine. Even if you’re not a drinker, the grounds and the building are stunning enough to be worth a visit.

Herdade do Esporão - Alentejo

The only thing wrong with this place is that there isn’t a hotel on the premises — because after visiting, all I wanted to do was to spend more time there. Until that’s an option, go for the super-educational wine tour, stay for an outdoor lunch (If you eat late, you might have the place to yourself like we did!), and take in the scenery as long as you can.

  • Botequim da Mouraria - Alentejo

Évora is the capital of the Alentejo region, and it’s a town worth spending a day exploring even if you don’t stay over. When you do, please eat here — there are only nine seats, all at the bar, so your best bet is showing up early.

  • Novacortiça - Algarve

Cork is a very big deal in the region — you’ll see a lot of trees if you do any driving — and touring this factory is enlightening. You end up learning a lot about wine and Champagne in the process!

  • Fabrica Beach - Algarve

When people say ‘unspoiled,’ this is what they’re talking about. During high tide, you can grab a boat to shuttle you there, and during low tide, you can just walk.

  • Restaurante Fábrica do Costa - Algarve

If you do an afternoon at Fabrica beach, eat here, eat here! I recommend the awesome clam and rice dish, but I’m willing to wager that all of the seafood is top-notch.”

  • Sublime Comporta - Comporta

When I first went to Comporta, an awesome, protected beach town a little over an hour’s drive from Lisbon, this place wasn’t open yet, and you could tell the area was hungry for it. It’s very luxe-y with great food — we went to an absolutely beautiful wedding there. But there are also tons of great Airbnbs in the area with private pools, like this one that we stayed at, if that’s more your scene.

  • Sal - Comporta

This is what beach-restaurant dreams are made of. Set on one of the prettiest, least crowded stretches of sand you’ve ever seen, the seafood is only rivaled by the views.”

  • Gomes Supermercados - Comporta

Okay, this is going to sound weird, but one of my favorite places for souvenirs is the (admittedly fancy) grocery store in Comporta. It has classic ceramics from Bordallo Pinheiro, oils and vinegars made in the area, and locally made baskets — along with beach snacks!

  • Vintage-Department - Comporta

Comporta, for as tiny as it is, boasts a surprisingly high volume of beautifully-curated home decor shops. This place mixes vintage and new, with a healthy dose of traditional Portuguese items thrown it. If it doesn’t force you to stop and wonder how insane it is to try to fit a rug in your suitcase…you’re a more rational person than I am.

  • Restaurante Botin - Madrid

Foodies will delight in having dined at the world’s oldest restaurant, Restaurante Botin, founded in 1725. Despite having become a bit of a tourist draw, the cuisine remains solid and service is attentive.

  • Royal Palace - Madrid

Madrid’s Royal Palace is the epitome of Spain’s gorgeous Baroque architecture. The Royal family no longer lives there, but it remains an important venue for ceremonies and an icon of Spain’s history. (Tip: Make Isabella, The Warrior Queen your inflight reading and arrive with an appreciation for one of the most influential female leaders in history.)

  • Wine Tasting - Madrid

While not exactly in Madrid proper, you’re too close to wine country to miss a day trip for tapas and the grapes. If you’re set on staying in the city limits, try a tapas and wine tasting tour , some made even cooler by being set in a cave.

  • Museums - Madrid

Of course, you won’t miss the museums. Spain’s “Golden Triangle,” the three world class museums located on The Paseo del Prado, houses classics from El Greco, Goya, and Van Dyck. If you only have time for one, the Museo del Prado is world-renowned. Spent too much on wine? Entrance there is free after 6 pm; show up at least 30 minutes before and plan on a line.

  • Green Spaces - Madrid

Casa de Campo is five times bigger than New York City’s Central Park and makes for a gorgeous morning stroll. La Grania de San Ildefonso houses the beautiful gardens that used to be a summer retreat for Spanish monarchs.

  • Gourmet Experience Callao - Madrid

Sits atop one of its locations and offers up an impressive food court where a range of international eats can be found at many prices.

  • Tinto y Tapas - Madrid

This tiny space tucked away on a quiet Madrid street is everything you want in quick, cheap eats. The empanadas are the perfect late night snack before you turn in. The thin crust pizza here also makes a reasonable side dish circa post-club.

  • La Musa - Madrid

In the city where “late to late” is the norm, jet lagged gals will appreciate that La Musa opens for breakfast at 9 am. Pair your coffee with one of their homemade pastries. Dulce de leche mille-feuille for breakfast? We won’t tell.

  • Carmencita - Madrid

It’s not super common to find eggs for breakfast in Madrid, but a late night of wine and tapas can leave a girl craving some traditional morning fare. Carmencita has delicious local takes on Eggs Benedict as well as mimosas and other brunch cocktails if you need a little hair of the dog.

  • Restaurante Membibre - Madrid

Traditional Spanish cuisine is the draw at Restaurante Membibre. If you’re feeling adventurous, pick one of their famous game dishes or the mollejas (sweetbreads).

  • Los Maniquis - Madrid

Do it for the ‘gram. Las Chicas, los Chicos, y los Maniquís pays homage to all things 80s in Madrid. Portions here are small tapas style, so plan on ordering a good list of dishes and splitting them with your travel companions.

  • Cocque - Madrid

A decadent night out at two-Michelin-star Restaurante Coque does not disappoint. Choose between the half or full tasting menu and start the evening with a drink at the well-styled bar. You might be there on a night where an entire suckling pig is roasting in the oven or, if you’re lucky, for the peanut ice cream with olive oil.

  • Macera - Madrid

Wine and beer are still the drinks that take center stage in Spain, making a perfectly crafted cocktail all the more delightful to stumble upon. Macera makes their own spirits, working in herbs and fruits for unique combinations.

  • Salmon Guru - Madrid

These bartenders are true alchemists, whipping up bespoke cocktails in a cozy space. The addition of egg whites to their margarita will make you want to master that ingredient in your own home bar.

  • Radio, The Roof Bar - Madrid

Take in the scene (which sometimes includes the who’s who of Madrid locals) while enjoying great music and luxe cocktails. Pro Tip: If you want to skip the crazy crowds, this is the perfect spot for a quick sip before your late afternoon siesta.

  • Francesinha - Portugal

The francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich whose name means (roughly) “Little Frenchie.” While it superficially resembles the croque monsieur (it’s toasted and covered in cheese), its components—including linguiça, a smoked sausage—are distinctly Portuguese. The whole thing is smothered in a beer sauce, which makes this sandwich a messy but comforting delight.

  • Portugal

“Some places have their moments when everything comes together and they become irresistible—Paris in the 1890s, Barcelona in the 1990s, Cartagena in the 2010s,” says Red Savannah’s Morgan-Grenville. “That time for Lisbon is now. It really is one of the most vibrant, good-value, ebullient and attractive cities in Europe.” The city has reached the “tipping point,” and much-needed renovations of the beautiful old quarters have removed the aura of dilapidation. He adds, “Top chefs like José Avillez and Kiko Martins are emerging as lynchpins of a brilliant restaurant scene, which is supported by an even more energetic night-life.” And while the country’s southern beaches have long attracted international visitors, a renaissance elsewhere is under way. New hotels in recent years have added to the appeal of exploring the country, including the charming Areais do Seixo, on the coast north of Lisbon, Porto’s exquisite Yeatman hotel and Six Senses’ resort in the Douro Valley.

  • Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)
  • Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)
  • Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain) *highest new entry*
  • Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain)
  • Tickets (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain) *sustainable restaurant award*
nov 16 2015 ∞
jun 22 2018 +