Portugal is a magnificent country situated on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain, its location on the Atlantic Ocean has influenced many aspects of its culture. The country has a rich history and stunning Algarve beaches including Faro, Albufeira, Lagos, Vilamoura, Sagres and Tavira. The little fishing village of Ericeira has a great surfing reputation and has acquired a near spiritual status among incurable waveriders.
The capital Lisbon is one of the most tranquil in all of Europe. This city will captivate you with its alleyways and extraordinary lookouts, however when night falls the melodic vocals or Fado longingly drift through the air throughout its restaurants and cobblestone streets and the aromas of mouthwatering dishes will have you at the first bite. Fado is a musical symbol of Portuguese culture and tradition. This melancholic genre, translates to “fate” in Latin, reveals the passion in the Portuguese disposition and evokes a despairing belief in a futile destiny filled with pining and hopelessness.
Portuguese food is iconic and will seduce you with its smells and tastes, from the Pastel de Nata, the national jewel, which was first cooked by the monks in the early 19th Century. These sweet and creamy custard tarts are a beloved national favourite with bakeries and cafés selling them everywhere. The savoury salt cod and grilled sardines are other national dishes and Sagres beer is also a favourite.
Évora is the mysterious capital city of the Alentejo region with its Capela dos Ossos or Chapel of Bones, Cathedral of Évora and the Roman Templo de Diana. Alentejo has ancient aqueducts bridge crumbling Moorish walls, narrow alleys, picturesque villages and vineyards.
Located in the very heart of the country, Coimbra attracts more visitors than most others area put together. It is home to a significant number of Roman and medieval ruins and once served as the capital of the country. Amongst the most visited tourist attractions are the University and the Baroque styled Biblioteca Joanina, which has been listed numerous times as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
For the nature lovers, Serra da Estrela is home to the highest mountain peak in continental Portugal. The remote mountain range has plenty to see and do and is a magnet for skiers in winter. Sparsely speckled with tiny villages, including one of the seven wonders of Portugal, the mountain feels remote and is a natural world attraction.
Charming, picturesque and romantic, Óbidos is a photographers dream as the beauty of the town lies with its white houses framed by bright colourful flowers. While here a must try is the local cherry liqueur of Ginja de Óbidos, which is sometimes served in tiny chocolate cups.
Porto is the 2nd city of Portugal with a charm all its own with medieval Palaces, Cathedrals and magnificent gardens. Sitting along the Douro River its colourful town landscape is one to behold. Porto’s cuisine is generally held to be the best in the country and the city is also the gateway to the vineyards of the Douro Valley.
Braga is Portugal’s 4th largest city, this vibrant town is overflowing with cafés, shops, restaurants and bars. The Cathedral is the oldest in the country and just beyond the town is the extraordinary Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte.
The resort town of Estoril, situated on Portugal’s Riviera, is a stylish resort that has long attracted a chic crowd with its golden beaches. The author Ian Fleming gave this town its glitzy reputation as it was the inspiration for the first of his James Bond books, “Casino Royale”. The picturesque town of Cascais is also nearby and to the north the fairytale Castle of Sintra.
Funchal, capital of the island of Madeirã, with its narrow streets, leafy squares and sub-tropical Monte Palace Gardens. The island has some of the most beautiful exotic flowers, a pleasant climate, a massive fortress that crowns the city, the Cathedral and Colégio Church with its magnificent gilt interiors, opulent Quinta das Cruzes mansion and the bustling art deco Lavradores market.