Portugal: the country where the sun lives
In this ancient territory, which contains all of the world's landscapes, where History and avant-garde always go hand in hand.
From the vibrant cities of Porto and Lisbon, to the magical Historical Villages of the Center, without forgetting the beautiful archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira and the stunning 850 km of beaches. Portugal is a sun-kissed destination, perfect for all tastes, whatever the season.
Porto and North: Portugal was born here
The name of the country with the oldest borders in Europe comes from Portus Cale, which corresponds to the junction of the names of the current cities of Porto (Portus) and Vila Nova de Gaia (Cale), with the name already registered in the 9th century. Founded in this period, the Portucalense County corresponded, initially, to the old Entre-Douro-e-Minho territory and would become the country with the dimension we know today, both by independence from the Kingdom of Leon, in Spain, and by the reconquest from the southern lands to the Moors. Guimarães is, by consensus, considered the birthplace of the country, and its Historic Center is inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage list.
The entire North region is very rich in historical and cultural heritage, highlighting the cities of Braga (Portuguese Rome), Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Bragança. In Vila Nova de Foz Côa you can visit the Vale do Côa Archaeological Park, a place of rare concentration of rock art, classified as Humanity's World Heritage.
Also with the same classification and mandatory passage is the Alto Douro Vinhateiro, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. In this “geological poem”, as the Portuguese writer Miguel Torga described it, wine has been produced for over two thousand years, the best known and perhaps the most generous being the famous Port Wine, which took the name of the city responsible for its export.
Porto, a town bathed by the Douro River and whose origins date back to the 8th century BC, is the second city in the country.
Its Historic Center is a World Heritage Site, but it is the dynamism and vanguard that define the profile of the city and its residents. So don't be surprised to see Romanesque buildings, such as the Sé Catedral, or baroque buildings, such as the iconic Clérigos Tower, coexisting with bold, more modern buildings, such as the Casa da Música or the Serralves Foundation. Porto also offers a romantic seafront promenade in the Foz area and, on the other side of the river, Vila Nova de Gaia surprises with its orderly and extensive beaches, especially Praia do Senhor da Pedra and Praia da Aguda.
The inhabitants of Northern Portugal are known for enjoying welcoming and serving well those who visit them. So, get ready for a varied and abundant local cuisine. From fresh fish to Alheiras de Mirandela, passing through the unavoidable Tripas à Moda do Porto, Rojões à Minhota and Posta à Mirandesa, you will certainly plunge into an incredible and succulent journey of flavors.
Lisbon and Center: from the capital of the former empire to the bordering mountains
The Center of Portugal is perhaps the region of the country with the greatest diversity of landscape and heritage. If in Aveiro you can sail in one of the colorful moliceiros running through the city's canals, in towering Coimbra you will find one of the oldest universities in Europe and one of the most beautiful libraries in the world – the Joanina Library.
Peniche and Nazaré are two of the best surf spots in the world. Tomar holds a unique jewel of the Order of the Templars – the Convent of Christ, a UNESCO's World Heritage Site – and Mafra holds one of the most impressive palaces in Europe – the Mafra National Palace – which boasts the largest 18th-century chimes in the world.
In the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, the highest elevation in Portugal's mainland, you can devote yourself to skiing, in winter, and trekking, throughout the year. Due to its proximity to the Spanish border, this region has a large concentration of castles and walled villages, especially Belmonte, Sortelha, and Monsanto, all included in the Route of Historical Villages of Portugal.
Lisbon, the capital and the largest city in the country, is also known as the city of seven hills. Having, popularly, its foundation attributed to the Phoenicians, it is estimated that the town of Olisipo, pre-Roman name of Lisbon, had more than 2,500 inhabitants, between the 8th and 7th centuries BC, with the city's economy settled in maritime trade. Then, as now, Lisbon was a cosmopolitan city, where the ships that gave rise to the Portuguese Discoveries movement would later sail from, providing the first steps of what we know today as globalization.
Strolling through Lisbon means finding cultural diversity and assimilation, of which the Alfama district, Fado, or the Jerónimos Monastery can be an example, and strong historical evocations, such as São Jorge Castle, Belém Tower, or Baixa Pombalina, this being a symbol of the Enlightenment, resistance, and pragmatism of a city that rose from the great Earthquake of 1755.
In terms of gastronomy, Lisbon and the Center of Portugal offer you a cuisine of choice. Pastéis de Nata from the capital, Ovos Moles from Aveiro, Cornucópias from Alcobaça and Cherries from Cova da Beira will delight even those who delight in heavy sweets. Seafood and fresh fish from the coast, Leitão da Bairrada, Roasted Veal in Lafões fashion, Maranhos da Sertã and Queijo da Serra are indispensable tastings for the saltiest palates.
Alentejo and Algarve: the sun in all its splendor
Portugal has a mild climate, ensured by 3000 hours of sunshine per year. However, it is in Alentejo and Algarve that the Sun shines the brightest. The Costa Alentejana, beautiful and wild, is the sovereign of the most unexplored beaches in the country, with Zambujeira do Mar, Odeceixe, and Carvalhal being three of the most emblematic.
In the interior of Alentejo, the landscape varies between the green of the meadow and the golden of the cornfields, punctuated by cork and holm oaks. The walls of Marvão and Monsaraz are two of the most sublime viewpoints in the region, and the cities of Elvas and Évora, both classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, are abundant in their attractions. Highlight, in Évora, to the Roman Temple, the Cathedral, and the unique Capela dos Ossos.
Anyone who thinks that the Algarve is exclusively about the beach could not be more wrong. Relax on one of the many internationally awarded golf courses in the Algarve, or in the spa resort of Caldas de Monchique.
The Algarve still has well-kept secrets such as Silves, an ancient Arab capital, Lagos, the Castro Marim Medieval Castle, and the beautiful, to the point of being almost unreal, Cacela Velha Fortress. However (and justifiably), the beaches full of sun, with fine sands and warm, crystalline waters, are the most sought after by visitors. Camilo Beach, in Lagos, Benagil Beach, in Carvoeiro, Beach of Três Irmãos, in Alvor, and Beach of Barril, in Santa Luzia, are just four of the dozens and dozens of beaches in the Algarve, which appear among the most beautiful in the world.
If the Algarve cooking highlights fresh fish and seafood, grilled or in cataplanas, and almond and fig jams, Alentejo, a region of excellent wines, internationally recognized, will put irresistible delicacies on your plate, such as Migas, Açorda, Alentejo Pork and the irresistible Sericaia, the famous Alentejo convent sweet.
Azores and Madeira: two whims of Nature
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores and Madeira archipelagos are two refuges of natural beauty.
Upon landing, we have the feeling of having traveled back in time to the day the world was created. According to an ancient tale, the Azores are the only remaining territory of the legendary Atlantis, and we are, in fact, in the presence of nine magical islands.
São Miguel, the largest, presents us with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, where Lagoa das Sete Cidades and Caldeira Velha are two must-see spots. In Terceira you will find the historical Angra do Heroísmo, a World Heritage Site,
in Pico you can climb the highest mountain in Portugal, elevated to 2,351 meters, and in Faial you can explore the Capelinhos Volcano, formed between 1957 and 1958, following an eruption. Here, the Earth is still being born.
The mild temperature that is felt throughout the year in Madeira Island, also known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, allows for the practice of numerous outdoor activities.
Therefore, leave the hotel and visit breathtaking places, such as the Pico do Areeiro Viewpoint, located at an altitude of 1,818 meters, the 25 Fontes waterfall, Cabo Girão and the Curral da Freiras.
On the island of Porto Santo, take the opportunity to relax in a thalassotherapy session or simply enjoy the qualities of its therapeutic sand beaches, with calcium, magnesium, and strontium, a natural anti-inflammatory.
Portugal is a country of admirable wines, and the Azores and Madeira are no exception, from where we highlight the Pico and Madeira wines, respectively.
Taking advantage of the sea and its volcanic origin, the Azores offer you unique delicacies and seafood, such as limpets, barnacles, or cavacos, as well as the tasty Cozido das Furnas, the only one cooked underground, using geothermal energy. In Madeira, feast on fillets of black scabbard fish, tuna steak, beef on a laurel stick, and the traditional Honey Cake. All this topped off, of course, with fresh Poncha.
Portugal is just a few hours away from other European capitals, and just eight hours away from the United States of America.
Whether winter or summer, enjoy a long weekend or bigger vacations to discover the country, on a trip for two, with friends or family.
Colecting awards at the World Travel Awards (the Oscars of World Tourism), year after year, Portugal has been consecutively elected as the Best European Destination, which attests to the unique beauty of this country, and the hospitality and art of hosting of the Portuguese.