Purely Portugal: 6 Must-See Places
In many ways, Portugal is a destination that has something for everyone. For sun-seekers, it has the idyllic climate and stunning beach resorts. For nature lovers, you have diverse sights like the rolling mountains and lush vineyards of the north, contrasted with the volcanic island scenery of the Azores region. For city dwellers, Lisbon and Porto are both world-class hubs that will draw you in and keep your enthralled. On top of all of this, it is easily the most affordable destination that western Europe has to offer. So, let’s look closer some of the country’s most visited places that will inspire you to take a trip here yourself.
The most obvious place to start is the capital city of Lisbon. One of the first things you will notice about visiting here is just how exhausted you get by walking around! The city is built around seven steep hills, but if you find that your legs are struggling, you can always hop on one of the old-fashioned trams which will whisk you to the top. You can’t fail to be entranced by the brightness and colour of the city, and when the sun goes down, there are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the famous nightlife.
One of the most-visited parts of Portugal, the Algarve is packed with beautiful beaches, quaint towns, and historic sites – all set in the sunny Mediterranean climate. Located in the south of the country, you will be dazzled by the mix of dramatic coastal landscape and whitewashed villages. Faro is the cobblestoned capital of the region and the place where a lot of people choose to base themselves. A couple of the other popular options include the lively town of Lagos, and Tavira, which is best known for its red sandstone castle.
You can easily take a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, and reaching this pretty town in the foothills of the surrounding Sintra Mountains is certainly worth the effort. The sight which stands out above the rest is the vibrant Pena’s Palace, a summer retreat for the Portuguese Royal Family. Surrounding the palace, you can take a stroll around the forested parklands which are home to a variety of exotic plant life. Head back into the bustling capital city in the evening, and you will really notice the contrast.
Almost 1,000 miles away from the mainland of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands. While you are here, enjoy some whale watching, bathing in the hot springs, and simply marvelling at the unique landscape. Check out this site if you are looking for family trips to the Azores. Make sure to head over to the largest island of São Miguel, also known as ‘The Green Island’, and Pico, which is home to the highest mountain in Portugal.
World-famous for its port wine, the northern city of Porto overlooks the Douro River and sprawls around the surrounding hills. In the centre of town, the Ribeira pedestrianised zone winds along the river, and is the place to go if you are looking to listen to some live music, enjoy the famous seafood or just relax with a cup of coffee. The metal double-decker bridge Ponte Dom Luis links Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, where you can take a cable car up the hill for a beautiful view of the city.
Like the Azores, Madeira is situated a long way from the Portuguese mainland, but with the nickname ‘Floating Garden of the Atlantic’, you get a good idea of why so many people choose to travel here. As well as the green landscapes, the islands are also well known for their flower gardens and wine production. While you are here, you will want to pay a visit to the capital and largest city of Funchal, which offers some pretty special ocean views, as well as churches, fortresses, and restaurants serving the excellent local cuisine.
These six places in Portugal give you a great flavour of what the country is all about, and, as you can see, it is the kind of place where each region offers you something new and unique. Visit away from the peak months of July and August, as you will be able to escape the crowds and it is also even more affordable if you are travelling on a budget. Travel to Portugal once, and you will undoubtedly want to come back again!