Christmas and New Years in Spain & Portugal
Every year we organize trips for travelers looking to spend the holidays in Spain or Portugal. Of course it’s a fantastic time to travel with family or friends, whether you choose to visit a city–Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Lisbon, Porto–or have a relaxing countryside or village vacation. The tricky part of planning these trips is that both Spain and Portugal celebrate these holidays, which extend to Epiphany on January 6th, privately, en familia. That means that on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and January 5th everything, restaurants and cafés included, close early so that everyone can be with their family. And most things are closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Epiphany as well.
Winter in Vinho Verde Country
We have found two solutions to circumvent the inconvenience of nearly all restaurants being closed. The first: We find special villas and apartments where travelers can cook up their holiday meals. Coupled with the villa or apartment we provide food and wine shoppers to help people fill the fridges. The second: We recommend staying in hotels that celebrate the holidays by offering special meals on site. Such hotels are often the five-star luxury ones, and they have a holiday dinner on the eve of the holiday and a brunch or a mid-day meal on the day. Depending on your traditions and preferences either “in-home” cooking or celebratory hotel meals can make your celebration special.
Where do we recommend you spend the holidays? Well, the answer to that question depends on you and how you envision your holidays abroad.
Holidays in the City
Certainly the action in the cities, outside of the closure days mentioned above, is a draw. Madrid with the art scene, a very compelling restaurant and cocktail bar scene, and historic towns (Toledo, Segovia, Ávila) and Ribera del Duero wineries nearby; Barcelona with the beaches, the architecture and destination restaurants together with the nearby Penedes (Cava) and Priorat wine regions; Sevilla in Andalusia in the south with street life and tapas bars and the nearby Jerez and Sanlúcar wineries; Lisbon which surprises with nooks and corners and old-world everything, and Wines of Lisbon, Setúbal and Colares wine regions just outside of the city; and Porto with port wine lodges perfect for sipping the sweet stuff and the Douro, Dão and Vinho Verde wine regions open for wine tasting.
Holidays in the Country
For a more relaxed and disconnected stay nothing beats a charming small town or rural villa for traditional food shared with bottles of wine, sherry or port, long walks by the beach or in the hills and the sensation of time passing slowly with your travel companions. We recommend southern Spain where luxury hotels and inns abound in Cádiz and Málaga provinces and you will fall in love with the innovative white wines. And we recommend southern Portugal for farm-to-table focused wine hotels in the Alentejo and luxury seaside hotels in the Algarve. And octopus.
Holidays in Barcelona
Barcelona: To give you an idea of a Christmas and New Years menu, here is an example of one of our preferred hotel’s holiday food plan for Christmas and New Years. The five-star Majestic Hotel in Barcelona is on the Passeig de Gràcia–the street lined with Modernist buildings and two Gaudi works. And they have an amazing roof terrace with views over that visual delight that is the Passeig de Gràcia.
Christmas Eve: On the night before Christmas, SOLC, the hotel’s farm-to-table concept restaurant, will offer traditional Spanish delicacies such as foie nougat with ratafia liquor reduction, Vilanova crayfish tartar, carabineros shrimp ravioli, and suckling lamb from Pallars. The dinner, which will also include a children’s menu, will be priced at 98 euros per person and will feature a selection of top-quality wines.
Christmas: Guests will be in for a Christmas morning treat with the Majestic Brunch Experience at SOLC. Named Europe’s Best Breakfast by Prix Villegiature, the experience will be heightened with tasteful Mediterranean flavors, traditional Christmas Vermouth and fresh seafood options including oysters, clams, Delta mussels, prawns and Josper grilled sea bass with fennel and orange. Additional menu items will include meats and roasted suckling pig, perfect to pair with a selection of champagne or wines. This option is priced at 140 euros per person or 265 euros with the addition of vintage 2009 Dom Perignon.
New Year’s Eve: SOLC will offer guests waiting for the clock to strike midnight a five-star dinner with two menu options that include plenty of seafood, steak, traditional and exotic dishes to choose from. From sliced Iberian ham with Catalan coca bread to gold potatoes with Osetra caviar and king crab with plankton aioli, there’s no better way to ring in the new year than with a satisfied appetite. The dinner at SOLC will be priced at 385 euros per person or 295 euros for those who choose to dine at the restaurant’s Salón Mediterráneo.
Plan a Trip in Spain or Portugal
If you would like to plan a holiday trip in Spain and / or Portugal give us a call and we’ll be happy to send you ideas for a memorable trip. Whether city and culture, seacoast and seafood, countryside wineries and wine-pairing dinners, we can plan your trip for two or for you and your whole family or all of your friends.