Offering fantastic landscape diversity due to its location along the Iberian peninsula, Portugal will wow you with its green vine-covered mountains, magnificent falls and slopes, deserts and glamorous beaches. Rich experiences and unique in culture, Portugal draws in visitors with its lively cities and beautiful countrysides alike.
What to see & do in Portugal
Through invasions, conquests and trading activities, the history of Portugal has been marked by the Celts, Romans, Moors, Christians and Visigoths. Traces of the country’s eventful history are found everywhere, from the 20,000-year-old stone carvings in the Vila Nova de Foz Côa and fascinating megaliths outside Évora, to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tomar, Belém, Alcobaça and Batalha. Whether you’re visiting palaces nestled in the misty forests, cliff-top castles or well-preserved medieval towns, get ready for an itinerary that promises many rewarding discoveries
The scenery in Portugal is magical and wondrously varied. Hike up the granite mountains of Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês and the Serra da Estrela, or soak up the pristine beauty of the secluded villages of Beiras. Stunning views await along the coast from dramatic, windswept cliffs and hidden dune-covered beaches in Parque Natural da Arrábida, overlooking calm, cerulean seas. The Sado Estuary is perfect for dolphin watching and the Rio Guadiana is popular for boating and kayaking.
Despite modernisation, Portugal still maintains certain old-fashioned traditions of village life. This is best seen from its festivals like Lisbon’s Festa de Santo António or Porto’s Festa de São João, which last all through the night. For festivities with a more rustic feel, you could go for the country fairs in the hinterlands. You could also hit the coast for rock or modern music festivals. A night out will definitely be a feast for the senses – whether you catch the strains of Fado, a form of melancholic, mournful Portuguese music in the Alfama, dance the night away in Bairro Alto or go bar hopping Porto, Coimbra and Lagos.
Get a taste of Portugal’s bountiful and fertile lands through its cuisine. Each different morsel offers a surprise for your palate. Savour hot custard tarts (pastel de nata) at a historic patisserie in Belém that’s been there since 1837; let the ports from the vineyards in the Douro valley lavish your tongue with their velvety flavour; marvel at the variety of fresh produce from local markets like the ones in Minho or make a gastronomic splurge at one of the country’s top restaurants. Some common staples of a typical Portuguese meal include freshly baked loaves of bread, cheese, olives, grilled fish smoked meats and some red wine or crisp vinho verde. Seafood, such as percebes and cataplana, is fresh and very affordable.
Getting Around Portugal
Portugal can be easily accessed by air via almost all major airlines, besides the country’s national airline, TAP Portugal, as well as a number of budget airlines. The main gateways by air are Lisbon Portela Airport, Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport and Faro Airport.
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Some Dos and Don’ts
• Do take the intercity trains if you wish to travel longer distances, such as to Évora, Beja and Guarda further inland; the usual Alfa-Pendular train stops only at main city stations.
• Don’t try to hitchhike, as you might have to wait for hours especially along deserted country roads in the South before anyone stops.
Did you know…?
Portugal’s gold courses are world-famous. Golf Today, a British publication, rated Portugal as Best Golf Destination in 2008. Fourteen of Portugal’s golf courses have also made the top 100 list in Europe.
Images by Flickr\F H Mira
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