Welcome to Portugal
Portugal is a country on the western edge of the Iberian peninsula, bordering Spain. Though its small land area, it has many landforms and climates, as it stretches from north to south, between the Atlantic coast and the mountains. With a cultural heritage from the once mighty Portuguese Empire, the country is an acclaimed golf destination, with many breathtaking beaches, and surprisingly, several ski resorts. Portugal is 900 years old, and even though it has a relatively small area, it played a crucial role in world history. Nowadays, it is the oldest country in Europe with the same borders. During the 15th and 16th centuries Portugal started a major chapter in world history with the New World Discoveries ("Descobrimentos"). It established the Cape Route to India, and colonized areas in Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe, Guinea Bissau...), South America (Brazil, parts of Uruguay), Asia (Goa, Macau, Sri Lanka, Malacca...), and Oceania (East Timor...), creating an empire. The Portuguese language continues to be the biggest connection between these countries, and Roman Catholicism continues to be the dominant religion throughout much of the former Portuguese empire.
Top 10 Things To Do In Portugal
The eternal Lisbon, capital of Portugal, is currently the favorite travel destination in Europe. The beautiful city has never been so fashionable, and with total reason. The streets of Lisbon are intertwined in old and new, Moorish and Portuguese, as the sea and the river embellish the landscape. It is the cosmopolitan capital of the moment with the dynamics of a large and safe European city, full of rich Portuguese culture, unique architecture in the world, electric cable cars passing narrow streets, cool parks, good street art, renowned museums, restaurants and shops of class and a pleasant climate.
Porto is an enchanting city, established on the hills at the mouth of the Douro river. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage site for its historic buildings and outstanding monuments, highlights of Portugal’s second largest city include the formidable Porto cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos and the conspicuous Port wine lodges that dominate the hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia. Although largely industrialised, Porto offers a compelling synthesis of ancient and contemporary attractions.
Portugal’s southernmost region is known for its Mediterranean beaches and golf resorts. Whitewashed fishing villages on low cliffs overlooking sandy coves were transformed in the 1960s, and now its central coast between Lagos and Faro is lined with villas, hotels, bars and restaurants of high quality. The region's western Atlantic coast and rugged interior are less developed.
Only 28km away from Lisbon, Sintra is primarily known because of the Pena Palace (Palácio de Pena), built in the 19th century in an eclectic style by the Portuguese king-consort Dom Fernando II. Close by, the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) is also an important landmark and a popular tourist destination. The town of Sintra itself boasts the medieval Sintra National Palace and several 19th century estates. Sintra and its surrounding mountains (Serra de Sintra) are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular destination for day-trippers, and can be easily explored while staying in Lisbon.
The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, are an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic. The islands are characterized by dramatic landscapes, fishing villages, green pastures and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas. São Miguel, the largest, has lake-filled calderas and the Gorreana tea plantation. Pico is home to the 2,351m Mt. Pico and vineyards sheltered by boulders.
Surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, the Madeira Island is the main one of a 4 volcanic islands archipelago, colonized by Portugal in 1425 and bathed by sun the entire year. The Madeira Island won again in 2017 the “Europe’s Leading Island Destination” Award, from the World Travel Awards, and is understandable. The island has that European charm and the subtropical climate with fascinating geography.
Described as the most historical city in the region, Coimbra hosts some of the most venerated customs and monuments in the district. Several years after Roman occupation and medieval domination, the remains of the early years of Coimbra are scattered throughout the district and can be seen in the coastal town of Figueira da Foz, in the imposing 9th century castle of Montemor-o-Velho and in the old ruins of Conímbriga.
Aveiro is a charming Portuguese town that makes for an enjoyable, alternative tourist destination. The town has an extensive history which is closely intertwined with the growth and decline of its port and saltwater lagoons.Aveiro is crossed by canals and along these waterways colourful and traditional fishing boats sail. Aveiro is an interesting destination for either a day trip or as part of a tour of central Portugal.
Évora is the capital of Portugal's south-central Alentejo region. In the city's historic center stands the ancient Roman Temple of Évora (also called the Temple of Diana). Nearby, whitewashed houses surround the Cathedral of Évora, a massive Gothic structure begun in the 12th century. The Igreja de São Francisco features Gothic and baroque architecture along with the skeleton-adorned Chapel of Bones.
Highlights of religious tourism in Portugal, the city of Fatima and its sanctuary attract thousands of faithful Catholics and pilgrims from various parts of the world every year. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima celebrates the event of the divine apparition of Our Lady Mary, mother of Jesus, who would have appeared and performed miracles in the region on May 13, 1917, to three little shepherd children. For five months the saint would have appeared and performed miracles, the children, buried in the sanctuary and beatified, said that the mother of God had advised them to pray the rosary every day. Just 128km from Lisbon, Fatima is a great travel destination for faithful or curious people who want to know the local history.