Northern and Central Portugal now offers 12 “Garden Experiences”, a new tourism product that brings together “29 historic gardens” and helps promote local security in times of pandemic.
The Vale Abraão Forest, the Casa de Mateus, the Vidago Park and Pedras Salgadas, in the district of Vila Real, the Casa do Campo, in Celorico de Basto, the Tibães Monastery, in Braga, the Quinta da Aveleda, in Penafiel (Porto district), the botanical gardens of Porto and Coimbra, the Quinta das Lágrimas, in Coimbra, the Mata do Buçaco, in the district of Aveiro, or the Penha Park, in the district of Braga, are some of the historic gardens included in the 12 tourist routes that are already available and marketed, announced the heads of the Association of Historic Gardens of Portugal, during the press conference to present the 12 ‘Garden Experiences’, held at the Soares dos Reis Museum, in Oporto.
“Gardens are environmental tourism, safe tourism and not mass tourism. Gardens are one of the areas of tourism that can be safely opened [in times of pandemic],” said Manuel Sousa, an architect and specialist in historic gardens in Portugal, during the press conference of the Portuguese Historic Gardens Association.
Manuel Sousa assumed that it is difficult to create a tourism product from scratch, but stressed that the future goal is to “grow with more experiences and continue to develop this product for the rest of mainland Portugal and the archipelagos of Azores and Madeira, as well as to internationalise the product”.
“It was an effort to transform this product [Portuguese historic gardens] into a tourism product with a new dynamic. It was a field study, talking to the owners, characterising (…). It was necessary to create a sellable product for tourists,” he explained.
The “packs” were conceived in a diversified way, with different durations, in a flexible way, as it is the visitor who can add more time or more places to his experience.
The packs include guided tours by the owners or their representatives, but if the visitor wants to explore on their own, there are also suggestions to visit new places or revisit them in a new context,” said Teresa Andresen, in a note handed to journalists during the press conference.
Associated with these tourism proposals are two travel agencies – Club Tour and Travel Tailors – that market the product and can help visitors make reservations, as well as give advice on where to eat or stay.
The Association of Historic Gardens of Portugal, created in 2003, now has more than 200 members who own some of Portugal’s most outstanding gardens.