Ask most travelers and they’ll tell you, there’s just something about Portugal. With its unique culture and history, cobblestoned streets and stunning shoreline, Portugal has something to offer every traveler. If you’re thinking about planning a Portugal holiday, check out these five can’t miss Portuguese destinations.
Sightsee in Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is well known for its rich history and stunning architecture. Though the city is hilly, it’s best explored by foot. Grab a map and some comfortable walking shoes and take to the streets or—if you get tired of walking– jump aboard Lisbon’s famous tram. Tram 28 is especially great for tourists and takes riders on a tour of many of Lisbon’s best neighborhoods. When you need a break from the walking (or tram riding!), head down to the waterfront, home to many of Lisbon’s museums and monuments and a great place to kick up your heels and people watch.
Finally, make sure you don’t miss out on Lisbon’s beautiful architecture. St. George’s Castle sits atop a hill in Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood and, aside from the fabulous history of the place, offers stunning views of the city and the sea. The Monastery of St. Jerome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a picture-perfect example of the detailed Manueline style of architecture so famous in Lisbon.
Photo by Yann Coeuru, Flickr Creative Commons
Hit the Beach in Porto
Porto’s historical center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and has much to offer visitors- from castles to museums and everything in between. Snag a ticket on one of the hop-on-hop-off buses and spend the day popping between historical attractions.
Of course, don’t forget to sample the Port wine, the beverage that gives the city its name. There are a number of Port wine cellars that offer tours and wine tastings or go straight to the wineries themselves located outside of town in the Douro Valley. If you prefer to learn more than you like to drink, make a stop at the Port Wine Museum that teaches visitors about the history of the port wine industry.
Porto also has some lovely coastline. From white sand beaches to laid-back stretches of water perfect for swimming, Porto does sun and sand the right way. And if you love seafood make sure to stop in at a beachside restaurant to try out the local fare.
Walk the Portuguese Camino
Admittedly this would be a Portuguese holiday of it’s own- but many visitors come to Portugal to walk the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon to Santiago, Spain, a journey of 385 miles (620 kilometers) that takes pilgrims past some of the most beautiful beaches that Portugal has to offer. If walking 385 miles is too much for your feet, many pilgrims will walk from Porto, a much shorter journey that will take less than two weeks to walk. No matter how long you’d like to walk, the Portuguese Camino is a wonderful pilgrimage route that will take you past stunning scenery, introduce you to new friends, and give you space to think all while walking a historical footpath to Spain.
Surf Europe’s Best Waves
Portugal is considered the surf capital of Europe, but it isn’t for the faint of heart (and perhaps not the best place for beginners to start either). For instance Nazare, Portugal has giant waves that are considered to be some of the largest in the world. For those looking for smaller and less intimidating waves check out Cascais or Ericeira, a beach town that is home to a pro surfing event but still has enough calm water to help beginners get the hang of it.