How to have a Portuguese vacation without ever leaving Toronto

This summer, it seems like everyone is traveling to Europe. Whether you’ve got your own European vacation planned this summer and don’t want it to end or are dreaming of getting a taste of Italy or France, we’ve got you covered. Here’s your how-to guide to summer like a European this summer — without ever leaving Toronto, this time with all things Portugal.


Snack on everyone’s fave Portuguese pastry

The title of best pastel de nata (a popular Portuguese egg custard tart pastry) in the city is hotly contested, but for a taste of this traditional treat that won’t disappoint, we recommend Nova Era Bakery. Serving up Portuguese baked goods since 1991, Nova Era’s tart is perfectly creamy with a flaky crust that some say is as good as what you get in Lisbon.

Get fish straight from the Azores

Tavora Foods is a St. Clair West institution that Portuguese residents have been frequenting for years for fresh produce, traditional meats, cheese and breads and more. With competitive pricing for Toronto and a solid selection of authentic Portuguese grocery brands, the secret to this place is the seafood — it arrives directly from the Azores, an autonomous region in Portugal, early every Wednesday. 

Taste traditional Portuguese chicken done right

With three locations in the city, Bairrada Churrasqueira is a longtime favourite for a reason.  Heavy on the meat, churrasqueira is the Portuguese word for “grill” or “barbecue.” The restaurant serves up traditional frango no churrasco (grilled chicken and rice), plus house steaks, quail, pork and veal cutlets and plenty more mouth-watering dishes. 

Get a taste of the Algarve coast from Toronto

Along the Algarve coast, you’ll find the Benagil sea cave — and the best way to explore this natural treasure is by kayak or standup paddleboarding (SUP). Enjoy an island tour of your own in Toronto by trying an eco tour with Toronto Island SUP. Choose between SUP or kayaking and adventure through the Toronto Island lagoons — no experience required!

Get starry-eyed at a dark sky observatory

A two-hour trip from Lisbon will take you to Dark Sky Alqueva, a dark sky observatory with cutting-edge telescopes. Luckily, we don’t need to hop on a plane to enjoy a spectacular night under the stars — instead, head to Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve in Gravenhurst for a magical experience filled with galaxies and maybe a shooting star or two.  


Take a piece of Porto home with you

Azulejos, beautiful blue patterned ceramic tiles, can be found in architecture all over Portugal, especially in Porto, where visitors will go on walking tours specifically to spot them. At Saudade in Little Portugal, you can collect a piece of Portuguese history by snagging an Azulejo of your own — the shop sells earrings, rings, homewares and more, featuring the iconic pattern.

Explore some historic shipwrecks

You’ve probably spotted the Algarve coastline on your Instagram feed, but did you know it’s one of the most popular places to go shipwreck diving? Enjoy a shipwreck experience of your own with Toronto Fun Tours — depart from Toronto and travel by bus to Tobermory and Flowerpot Island, where you’ll enjoy a glass bottom boat tour and a cruise to spot shipwrecks deep beneath the waters.

For more of our Summer Like a European series, click here.