The English newspaper published recently an article featuring their favorite 10 things to do when visiting Portugal.
The first thing to do when in Portugal is to visit the country’s capital: Lisbon. A good place to start is the historic district of Belem, where well-known monuments of the capital are located like the Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery and the Ajuda Palace.
The second is located further south and is the suggestion to go on a road trip through “one of the most stunning preserved coastline in Europe in the Costa Vicentina National Park, stretching for 100km from Porto Covo in the Alentejo to Burgau in the Algarve.”
Number 3 and number 4 is to visit Porto and “wander its maze of ever-winding, cobbled streets”, discover the majestic monuments and try the world-famous Port wine. A cruise in the Douro region is also a “can’t miss” to appreciate the natural beauty of the landscape where wine is been produce for over 2000 years.
On number 5, there is Boca do Inferno a cliff into the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Cascais. Cascais is also a must go place known as the “Portuguese Riviera”, located just 20 minutes from Lisbon.
The sixth thing is to travel to Castelo de Vide, a roman city in the interior of Portugal known for its Jewish quarter, its 14th century castle and the main square.
Back to Lisbon, the 7th thing to do is to visit the Zoo. Located in the city center, by going there “you can travel around the world” and see more than 2000 animals.
Number 8 and number 9 are for those who like to visit ancient places and wonder around. Number 8 is to visit Évora’s Capela dos Ossos – Bone Chapel – where you can see skeletons from centuries ago and walk the streets of this ancient city. Number 9 is to visit Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon. It’s the capital’s old district with influences from the Arab domination, it has survived the earthquake of 1755 that destroyed great part of Lisbon and is where Fado singers find their inspiration.
Because a trip to Portugal isn’t complete without a trip to the Algarve, number ten is a recommendation to visit the “long expanses of golden sand” which “are overlooked by ochre cliffs and green pines”.
As you can see, Portugal is a small country with a lot of diversity from the North to the South and from the coast to the interior. Maybe you cannot do all of those things in just one trip to Portugal, but discovering Portugal has to be for sure included in your “Must see” bucket list.
Airbnb recently did a research on where in Europe their American users are planning or willing to travel in the near future. The preferred destinations surprised them and their readers also. The number one preferred destination is Porto, in Portugal.
Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, has been a popular destination for European travellers for the past few years since is located just 2-3 hours by plane from the most important European cities. The increasing number of low cost flights operating to and from the city have spread the curiosity about the city. The North region of the country is known for its natural landscape, like the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Porto is described as a city for those who are looking for “wine, parties in summertime, historic churches and bell towers, and Baroque and Beaux-Arts architecture”. And Airbnb gives an advice to their readers: since many Americans are planning to travel to Porto the best choice is to “[…] get there before everyone else does!”
Visiting Europe has always been a dream vacation for Americans, but destinations like London, Paris and Rome used to top preferences. The fact that Porto is the number one on the list even took Airbnb by surprise.
Here is the complete top 5:
Also on the list of the preferred destinations to travel from San Francisco is Porto, followed by Vienna and Stockholm.
CNN journalist Paul Ames highlights the beauty and undiscovered treasures of “Centro”. The centre region of Portugal for its monuments, natural beauty and of course, food.
The journalist says the region is a “largely undiscovered array of treasures unjustly ignored by Portugal visitors who typically only hit Lisbon or the wine-based charms around Oporto in the north.”
The article features main points of interest in the region. The sunny beaches of the Silver Coast – with the famous waves of Nazare where Garret Macnamara broke the world record for the highest surfed wave. The old luxurious palaces turned into charming boutique hotels at affordable prices. The cool cities of Coimbra and Aveiro and the Serra da Estrela Mountains – with snow in the winter and stunning views in the summer. And the witnesses of Portugal’s heritage like Alcobaca monastery or Tomar.
Typical food from the centre region has its own itinerary. From locally produced cheese and wines, tourists can enjoy regional treats like goat, eel stew or roasted piglet and fresh fish in the many restaurants along the coast.
There are many options for things to see and do in the center of Portugal. The region was famous for its spas in the beginning of the 20th century and now “the forests, hills and vineyards of central Portugal are dotted with luxurious places to stop over – from palatial old school spas to converted castles, convents and mansions.”
Around the region there are many UNESCO heritage sites to visit. The Univsersity of Coimbra – dating to 1290 is one of the oldest in the world – with its buildings from renaissance and baroque periods.
The journalist also refers to three monuments with this distinction in the region: the great monastery in the town of Alcobaca, “Construction got underway here in 1178, while Portugal’s first king battled to gain control of the country after 500 years of Arab rule”. Convent of Christ in Tomar, and Convent of Batalha “a multi-spired Gothic pile in soft-yellow stone built in thanks for Portugal’s 1385 victory over an invading Spanish army in a field nearby.”
According to UCityGuides, Portugal is in the top 10 of the most beautiful countries in the world. These are countries with a unique mixture of natural beauty and man-made wonders and Portugal ranks number 6.
Here’s what the publication says about the countries in the ranking:
Every country has its marvels and breathtaking landscapes, but these ten are blessed with a rare package of outstanding natural beauty and man-made wonders that enhance their territories with everything from beautiful cities to timeless villages, magnificent parks and pristine scenery.
And their opinion about Portugal:
For the pristine natural wonders of the volcanic Azores alone, Portugal would be on this list. Then there’s the “floating garden” that is Madeira, the dramatic coastline and mystical capes of the mainland, the serene plains of the Alentejo with the stunningly-sited white medieval villages of Marvão and Monsaraz, the Peneda-Gerês National Park, or the perfect collaboration of man and nature in the magic fantasy of Sintra and verdant Douro Valley. And while the old centers of Lisbon and Porto are inexplicably rundown and stubbornly neglected, it’s hard to match their scenic beauty with their grand riverside settings. Everything is in a small scale but when all combined it’s impressive how so much diverse beauty somehow fits in such a tiny country that seems to be a favorite of the sun.
UCityGuides is the ultimate source for information on urban destinations around the world. Their city guides include the essential information travellers look for, whether they it’s a romantic getaway, urban jungles or ancient wonders. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital is in the following categories: by the beach, soulful cities, romantic cities, laid-back cities, to drink and cities with a touch of exotic.
The Michelin guide for restaurants distinguishes the best chefs and sets the standard for an exquisite, luxury meal anywhere in the world.
In the end of every year, Michelin releases the guide for hotels and restaurants to the following year so that travelers and food lovers can prepare their trips and pick their favorite restaurants. Portugal is no exception and the guide this year awarded 17 starts to 14 Portuguese restaurants.
In the words of Michael Ellis, International Director of the Michelin guides, this years’ guide “perfectly highlights the diversity, the renewal and the creativity of Spanish and Portuguese chefs, who have brought their distinct personalities to the kitchen with innovative, original and unique creations”.
Three restaurants received new stars: one restaurant achieved the two star classification and two restaurants were awarded one star. Chef Jose Avillez received the second star for his restaurant Belcanto in Lisbon. Belcanto and Vila Joya are now the only two Michelin star restaurants in Portugal. Concerning one star restaurants there are two new restaurants:
“In this year’s edition, Portugal has two new one-starred restaurants. At São Gabriel in Almancil-Faro, Leonel Pereira places flavor at the center of an innovative cuisine that remains rooted in local traditional cooking. At Pedro Lemos in Porto, the chef who lends his name to the restaurant offers his own interpretation of Portuguese cuisine, with a harmonious combination of tradition and creativity.”
The world famous newspaper has elected the best activities for holidays in Portugal in 2015.
Whether you are looking for a family vacation, or an adventure with friends, these are nature related vacations you can enjoy.
The first suggestion is a walking vacation through central Portugal, from the Douro Valley to Serra da Estrela, the highest mainland point; travellers can enjoy breath taking views, clean air and enjoy the sunny climate in daily hiking trails.
The second suggestion is for horse lovers. Pick a Lusitano horse and ride along the Portuguese Blue Coast (starting south from Lisbon). The diverse trails include riding along pine forests, cork groves and desert white sand beaches (even during the summer). Along the ride travellers will be experiencing the views of turquoise waters, dolphin sightseeing and exquisite birds.
For adventure seekers, the Telegraph suggests a surf vacation:
Portugal’s long stretches of coast provide ideal surfing conditions for all levels of expertise from beginner to advanced, but nowhere is better than the Peniche peninsula, which recently held the APS World Surfing Championships. It delivers excellent surfing all year round (…)”.
Bird watching lovers can enjoy a vacation in Santa Clara Lake in Alentejo where more than 120 resident birds and migratory species can be found and appreciated during daily trips accompanied by delicious home made food.
The last vacation activity is to scuba dive in the Algarve. The most famous summer destination in Portugal is known for its white sand beaches and blue waters, and according to the article is great for scuba diving:
“(…) The Algarve’s coastline is a sublime backdrop to diving, rich in sea life with endless caves and fascinating rock formations.”