It’s hard to resist the charms of Portugal in southern Europe, a land of luscious wine, beguiling beaches, captivating countryside scenery and more.
The hilly, coastal capital city of Lisbon is a treasure trove of architecture and art, including 5 centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. Explore its quaint cobblestone streets by foot, for great shopping, taverns with fado singers, and seafood restaurants.
Stroll down to the waterfront to see the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, or head to the Parque das Nações and the expansive Oceanário aquarium.
The Azores islands offer dramatic landscapes, fishing villages, green pastures and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas, along with Mt. Pico and surrounding vineyards. Flores, to the northwest, is famous for whale-watching, blue marlin fishing, surfing and diving.
Mediterranean beaches and golf resorts more your style? With its whitewashed fishing villages perched atop cliffs overlooking sandy coves, the Algarve may be right up your alley, also a great place to take in whale watching and sport-fishing.
An enviable lifestyle, eye-popping landscapes, a culture that is both rich and very much alive… Experience all of this and more as you visit the country’s premier destinations!
In Lisbon, do as the… Lisboetas do! To whet your appetite, have a glass of ginginha (the traditional cherry liqueur) in A Ginginha, a tiny and very atmospheric bar near the Rossio, a main square in the lower town (Baixa). Then nibble petiscos (Portuguese tapas) in a typical Bairro Alto tasca (a neighborhood restaurant) and while in the area, explore its fine shops. Take a stroll to Praça do Comércio to dine al fresco and enjoy a nightcap at Pensão Amor, a former brothel turned into an amusing bar in Cais do Sodré. Wandering about these very different districts should give you a pretty good sense of place!
Located a mere three-hour drive north of Lisbon, Porto is incredibly beautiful. UNESCO didn’t err at all when it designated the city’s historic center a World Heritage Site! Azulejos (tiles) adorn whole buildings. The historic train station looks like a ballroom. Mosaics of white and black stone turn pedestrian streets into works of art. And then, at the foot of the northern capital city, flows the mighty Douro river! Aboard an old rabelo, a type of boat that was once used to transport wine barrels, what a beautiful cruise you’ll enjoy ! Remember: it's in Vila Nova de Gaia, on the opposite bank, that the wine produced in the Upper Douro Valley is stored and ages in the cellars of world-famous wineries. Such memorable tastings await you!
Like Val d'Orcia in Tuscany and the Upper Middle Rhine Valley in Germany, the wine-growing area of the Alto Douro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its amazing man-made landscapes. And what landscapes! Here, the vines and the low, dry stone walls that protect them criss-cross the mountains while whitewashed quintas (agricultural estates) shine through olive groves in the glaring sun. In addition, at harvest time in September, some of these estates, like Fonseca at Quinta do Panascal, still practice grape-stomping. This traditional lagarada is quite a sight! Will you be there this year to witness it?
Did you know? In 2003, UNESCO, a United Nations agency, ratified an agreement with a number of States to ensure the transmission of intangible cultural heritage. This includes songs, dances, festivals, rituals, in short, all intangible cultural practices and expressions threatened by globalization. From Portugal, fado, a type of folk song performed mainly in Lisbon (in Mouraria and Bairro Alto neighborhoods), cante alentejano, the polyphonic singing of the Alentejo region, as well as the Mediterranean diet are part of that special inventory. To date, the list numbers 314 elements from some 160 states.
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