"Portugal is a seductive blend of sun-dappled vineyards and seafaring heritage, medieval towns and modern cities, with a culinary scene to rival anywhere in Europe."
Touring in Portugal
Portugal is a seductive blend of sun-dappled vineyards and seafaring heritage, medieval towns and modern cities, with a culinary scene to rival anywhere in Europe. Portugal’s fascinating history is evident in everything from the Moorish-influenced architecture to the African communities of the major cities, a reminder of how the country grew rich off the back of empire and trade. The wonderful capital, Lisbon, has recently re-established itself as one of Europe’s hottest destinations, luring visitors young and old with its buzzing bars, historic architecture and colourful neighbourhoods that tumble downhill towards the Tagus river.
Portugal’s second city, Porto, is famous as the home of port wine, and provides the perfect introduction to the delightful Douro Valley. Spend time quaffing the local tipple in cosy cellars or strike out into the countryside and explore quaint villages and vineyards that cling to the hillsides. Many travellers come to Portugal purely for the beaches of the Algarve, but the real heart and soul of the country lies elsewhere. Atmospheric towns like Évora, Óbidos and Coimbra transport you back to medieval times, the mournful sound of fado echoing along the winding lanes, while to the south is the sparsely populated expanse of the Alentejo, home to unspoilt beaches and rural communities where tourists are rarely seen.
Touring Highlights of Portugal
- Ride on one of Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams, sample Michelin-starred cuisine, marvel at the handsome Pombaline architecture and don’t forget to try one of the capital’s famous custard tarts!
- The atmospheric alleyways of Porto are filled with fantastic restaurants and inviting port cellars, and the city’s setting on the river Douro is incredibly picturesque.
- Just outside Lisbon is the surreal town of Sintra, which sits amongst a fairytale landscape of elaborate gardens, lush forests and Moorish-inspired palaces.
- Évora is one of Portugal’s most attractive cities, a UNESCO-listed warren of narrow streets, medieval churches and Roman ruins.
- The youthful northern city of Braga is famous for its Semana Santa celebrations in the week leading up to Easter, when hooded figures parade through the streets by torchlight.
- The treasures of central Portugal include the pretty whitewashed architecture of Óbidos and the university town of Coimbra, formerly the capital of Portugal during medieval times.
- The Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s most beautiful regions, and a scenic railway runs alongside the river through a landscape of terraced hills, vineyards and pretty little villages.