|Total States||8 provinces|
|Airport City||Lisbon Portela Airport, Porto Santo Airport, Beja Airport,portugal, Aeroporto Santa Maria,|
|Offical Languages||Portuguese, Mirandese, English,|
|Food||Peixe Grelhado (grilled fish), Bifanas (pork sandwiches), Cozido à Portuguesa (rustic meat stew)|
Autumn : Sep - Nov
Summer : Jun - Aug
Winter : Dec - Feb
Sprint : Mar - May
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 505,526 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, which represents approximately 27% of the country's population. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains.
Enchanting Sintra is one of the gems in Portugal's glittering sightseeing crown. Recognised by UNESCO for its remarkable cultural landscape, this historic and captivating town is definitely worth putting aside a full day to absorb. Clustered under the lip of the wooded Serra da Sintra hills, the town is dominated by the landmark Palácio Nacional, its signature twin chimneys looming over a pretty square edged with houses painted in a palette of pale pink and ochre with splashes of yellow.
Peering down over this picture postcard setting is the ancient Castelo dos Mouros, seemingly hewn out of the granite escarpment it runs along. Crowning the highest hill is the bewitching Palácio da Pena, used in the 19th century as a summer retreat by the Portuguese royal family. Sintra offers plenty of hiking trails for the avid walker, but you'll need a stout pair of legs to conquer the demanding hills surrounding the town. The highest points of the serra offer breathtaking views across the Atlantic coastline and distant Cascais.
Porto is also known as Oporto in some languages, is the second-largest city in Portugal, one of the Iberian Peninsula's major urban areas, famous for Port wine and football team FC Porto. Porto city has a population of 287,591 and a metropolitan area with 2.3 million people (2011)in an area of 2,395 km2 (925 sq mi), making it the second-largest urban area in Portugal. It is recognized as a gamma-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Study Group, the only Portuguese city besides Lisbon to be recognised as a global city.Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market, was built to impress potential European investors.
Fátima is a city in the municipality of Ourém, Beira Litoral Province, in the Central Region and Médio Tejo intermunicipal community of Portugal, with 71.29 km2 of area and 11,788 inhabitants (2011). Its population density is 162.7 inhabitants/km2. The homonymous civil parish encompasses several villages and localities of which the city of Fátima, with a population of 7,756 residents, is the largest.
The worldwide fame of the city is permanently associated with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported by three little shepherds – Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta – from May 13 until October 13 of 1917. The Catholic Church later recognized these events as "worthy of belief". A small chapel, now known as the Chapel of the Apparitions, was built at the site of the alleged supernatural events, and a precious statue of Our Lady of Fátima installed.
Deep in the heart of the Alentejo is Évora, one of the most beguiling destinations in Portugal. Renowned for its amazing ensemble of well-preserved monuments, Évora deserves close and unhurried scrutiny. Its medieval walls enclose centuries of history, a timeline illustrated by the impressive Templo Romano, which dates from around the second century; the brooding but compelling 12th-century Sé (cathedral); and the Igreja de São Francisco, with its lugubrious Capela dos Ossos, completed in the mid-1550s. The historical significance of Évora and the unspoilt condition of its architectural treasures has won it coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
But you'll also be taken with the city's delightful market-town ambiance and down-to-earth personality: it's a pleasure to wander and shop through its Moorish alleys; browse engaging museums; and lunch in attractive squares, where you're considered a guest rather than a tourist.
What does a king give his queen for a wedding present? For the lucky queens of Portugal, it was the achingly pretty town of Óbidos, a custom that prevailed for hundreds of years. These days, it's gifted to the general public, and it's certainly worth the hour's drive north out of Lisbon to reach it.
Óbidos is an artist's dream. An assortment of whitewashed cottages, cafés, and handicraft stores lining a series of narrow, cobbled streets are completely enclosed by sturdy medieval walls. There's also the Igreja De Santa Maria, which features a wonderful interior of blue and white 17th-century azulejos (tiles). A museum on the town's attractive square includes rare works of art by the 17th-century painter, Josefa de Óbidos. You can walk along the top of the battlements for lovely views over the terracotta rooftops and the lush plains beyond. The fortifications form part of the landmark castle, whose keep looms guardian-like over the charming scene below. The castle itself is now a pousada, an upscale period hotel.
Cited by many a guidebook as the most captivating town in the Algarve, Tavira does indeed tick all the scenic boxes. The Rio Gilão cuts a smile through this pleasantly laid-back town, with a Roman footbridge connecting one side with the other.
The waterfront makes for a wonderful walk, before or after you've uncovered the rest of Tavira's historic treasures. The castle walls provide glorious views across the old town and the nearby coast. You can also explore the Igreja de Santa do Castelo, the grandiose church where warrior knights are entombed. The town also boasts a fascinating museum, the Núcleo Islâmico. Highlights include a rare 11th-century figurative vase. An appealing option, especially during the hot summer months, is to visit the offshore Ilha de Tavira, an enormous beach that, even in high season, has plenty of room to spare. It's reached by passenger ferry from a jetty at Quatro Águas.
The historic hilltop university in Coimbra is just one reason to visit this venerated Portuguese city. But the wealth of additional visitor attractions, much of them clustered around the Velha Universidade, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, merits a full day's sightseeing.
The undoubted highlight of a tour of the old university campus is the stunning Biblioteca Joanina, a Baroque gem of gilded and marbled wood and frescoed ceilings. You can also climb to the top of the 18th-century clock tower for a giddy perspective over the entire area. Your exploration should include the imposing late 12th-century Se Velha (old cathedral). Back in the old town below, there are further historic buildings to discover, among them two former convents and the Igreja de Santa Cruz, consecrated in 1131, which contains the tomb of Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques. Elsewhere are a number of interesting museums; a botanical garden; and the fun-filled Portugal dos Pequenitos, a park containing scale models of the country's most prominent traditional buildings. And the river itself is a pleasant diversion, with a broad esplanade flanking both banks - great territory for long, lazy walks.
For good reason, the highest peaks on mainland Portugal, the Serra da Estrela, are called the "star mountains." Rising to 1,993 meters above sea level at its highest point, the range, or more precisely the plateau, is a dramatic natural feature of central Portugal. It is often snowcapped in winter, when opportunistic skiers take advantage of what is probably the shortest ski season in Europe.
Otherwise, the granite escarpments and glacier-cut valleys are classic hiking country, with a network of signed long-distance paths and tracks covering the terrain. Along the way, walkers can take in some absolutely stunning countryside and absorb the traditional character of the place, epitomised in villages like Linhares and Valezim. The mountains are home to the Serra da Estrela sheepdog, a breed unique to Portugal. You are bound to come across proud locals walking one of these powerful but mild-mannered dogs. The area is also known for the deliciously rich and creamy Serra cheese - arguably Portugal's finest cheese. Look for it on sale in the stores that serve many a local village.
The heavy, star-shaped walls that make up the military fortifications surrounding Elvas are among the best-preserved examples of military architecture in Europe. In fact this frontier town, set on a hilltop in the Alentejo, 15 kilometers from the border with Spain, is so remarkable for its mid-17th-century defences that UNESCO has declared Elvas a World Heritage Site.
It's a long drive east (and should perhaps be combined with a visit to the nearby Spanish city of Badajoz), but those making the effort to reach this fascinating destination will be rewarded with a truly imposing circuit of walls, deep moats, and star-shaped ramparts. Within this impregnable ring lies a warren of steep, cobbled streets and a number of worthy visitor attractions, notably the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação, whose nondescript façade belies a truly glittering interior. A castle, set on the north wall, affords fine views over the area and takes in two smaller outlying forts and the Aqueduto da Amoreira, the town's impressive 16th-century aqueduct.
It's fitting that the old center of Guimarães is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, given that this noble city was once the capital of Portugal. That was during the 12th century, when the country's first king, Afonso Henriques, proclaimed this northern city the birthplace of the nation.
A hugely evocative place, Guimarães is the location of a number of important historic monuments, not least the castle, where Afonso was reputedly baptized. The equally significant Paço dos Duques, the royal palace, houses an engaging museum, although the Museu de Alberto Sampaio, which is in the Romanesque cloister of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, on Largo da Oliveira, has a no less outstanding collection of artifacts. Actually, Guimarães's famous main square appears straight out of the Middle Ages, with its elaborately carved granite facades; ornate statuary; and the Padrão do Salado, a 14th-century shrine standing in front of the monastery. After re-living all this history, you should browse the medieval quarter by exploring on foot the maze of narrow cobbled streets past several wonderfully preserved old town houses.
Braga is one of Portugal's grandest cities. Located in the north of the country, the destination has a long history as a religious and commercial center. To wander Braga's historic quarter is to enter a predominantly 18th-century world of handsome mansions, imposing churches, and striking palaces. A number of spruce parks and gardens break up the austere granite veneer that characterises much of the architecture.
Begun in the 11th century, Braga's cathedral, the Sé, is an obvious visitor attraction and symbolises the fact that the city remains the ecclesiastical capital of Portugal. The city's central square is a wonderfully atmospheric place to linger, perhaps in one of the cafés housed under the arcades. The adjoining 14th-century Torre de Menagem is all that remains of Braga's original fortifications. A worthwhile diversion is the Bom Jesus do Monte, the spectacular religious sanctuary located 1.5 kilometers east of the city. Pack a picnic and expect large crowds at weekends
The Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) was built between 1514 and 1520 in a Manuelino style by the Portuguese architect and sculptor Francisco de Arruda. It was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO.
Constructed on the northern bank of the Tagus River, this tower was used to defend the city. Years later, it was transformed into a lighthouse and customs house. It is situated very close to the Jerónimos Monastery.
Fatima is a town and parish located 142 km (88 miles) north of Lisbon. This town is one of the most important catholic shrines in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Fatima’s Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Fatima’s fame is due to the Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary (also known as Our Lady of Fatima) that appeared to three shepherd children of Fatima; Lucia dos Santos and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta. Between May and October of 1917, the three children witnessed several apparitions. The last one, on October 13th, was confirmed by a miracle witnessed by 60,000 people known in the catholic world as “the day the sun danced.”
Fatima now attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, particularly on the pilgrimage days in May and October. Moreover, the large torch-light processions in the evening are particularly impressive, often led by Cardinals and Bishops. The pilgrims gather in Cova de Iria, an enormous plaza where a little chapel was built and where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared. Around the plaza are a considerable number of shops and stalls selling various religious articles. On the far side of the plaza rises the great basilica, built in a neo-classical style with a central tower 65 meters high. The construction of the basilica began on May 13, 1928. In the basilica are the tombs of two of the three visionaries, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto. They died in 1919 and 1920 respectively and were beatified in 1970. The third seer, Lucia dos Santos, died in 2005.
Lisbon's ancient cathedral was built by Portugal's first king on the site of an old mosque in 1150 for the city's first bishop, the English crusader Gilbert of Hastings.
From outside (with two bell towers and a splendid rose window) it resembles a medieval fortress, while inside it appears predominantly Romanesque, with a Gothic choir and ambulatory.
At the entrance, to the left, is a baptismal font used in 1195 to baptize Saint Anthony who was born nearby, and in the first chapel on the left is a beautifully detailed nativity scene.
In the 14th-century cloisters, in what were once the gardens, there have been excavations which have revealed Roman and Visigothic remains as well as parts of the former mosque wall.
In the sacristy is the cathedral treasury with numerous sacred objects, the most important being the casket containing the remains of St. Vincent, the official patron saint of Lisbon.
Alfama is a delightful maze of narrow cobbled streets and ancient houses, which lead up the steep hill from the Tejo Estuary to the Castelo de São Jorge. Contained within this diverse and charismatic district are many of Lisbon’s most important historic buildings, including the Se Cathedral, the Castelo de São Jorge, the Panteão Nacional and the Igreja de Santo António.
Historically, Alfama was situated outside of the city walls and was associated with poverty and squalor, where only the poor and disadvantaged lived. As Lisbon grew into a major seafaring city, the district retained its lowly status as the tough and deprived district where sailors and dock workers lived. Today, Alfama has shrugged off this grim reputation, and has transformed into a fashionable and artisan district, but still retains its unique character and rich heritage.
The MNAA was founded in 1884 to display the collections of the Portuguese Royal Family and the National Academy of Fine Arts. It is housed in the Palácio Alvor-Pombal, a former residence of the 1st Marquis of Pombal which was expanded when it was converted into a museum. The museum's collection spans more than a millennium of art from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas and includes notable masterpieces by Hieronymus Bosch, Hans Holbein the Elder, Francisco de Zurbarán, Albrecht Dürer, Domingos Sequeira, and Giambattista Tiepolo, among numerous others.
The Palacio Nacional Sintra is the best-preserved medieval royal palace in Portugal and was a favourite with the Portuguese nobility. The minimalistic gothic exterior of the palace hides a wonder of decorative state rooms and the national palace is a highly recommended attraction while visiting Sintra. The palace’s long history has been intertwined with the fortunes of Portugal’s ruling nobility, who resided here from the early 15th through to the late 19th century making it Portugal’s most lived in royal palace.
The Palacio Nacional de Sintra is situated right in the heart of Sintra and this lead the palace to be commonly referred to as the Palacio da Vila, the Town Palace. The most notable exterior feature are the two massive chimneys, which protrude from the kitchens which have become the icon of Sintra.
The Campo Pequeno stadium is the official home of Portuguese bullfighting and during the summer season visitors are able to watch the spectacle of Portuguese bullfighting. Outside of the bullfight nights the Campo Pequeno bullring is a tourist attraction in its own right.
The structure is a wonderfully elaborate complex that is strongly influenced by traditional North Africa design. The large orange brick structured is completely unique to Lisbon, with imposing octagonal towers topped by domes and two turrets forming the main entrance. Beneath the stadium is a large shopping centre and the entire site is a highly recommended tourist attraction of Lisbon.
Ribeira is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Porto.It is one of the most authentic and picturesque parts of the city in the heart of the old town. As its name suggests, the district is situated on the riverbank (Ribeira in Portuguese stems from the word river).
Its colourful and wonderfully decorated façades are noteworthy and you’ll find that both the quaint terraced houses on the waterfront that reflect on the Douro River (which you can get a better view from Gaia) and the rest of the buildings further up in the little winding streets are equally pleasant.
This part of town becomes alive at nighttime and is the perfect place to spend your evenings. Ribeira is full of traditional restaurants with lively terraces where you can savour some of Portugal’s delicious typical dishes while you enjoy views over Dom Luís I Bridge and Vila Nova da Gaia withits cellars lit up.
The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto in Portuguese) is the most important religious edifice in the city and has been declared a National Monument. It is situated in the upper part of Porto.
The Cathedral is in Batalha, very close to the walls that once protected the city. The building looks a bit like a fortress with crenels from the outside.
The construction of the Cathedral began during the twelfth century, but it was rebuilt and renovated numerous times throughout the centuries. This explains why the Cathedral is a mix of architectural styles. The temple is predominantly Baroque in style, although its façade and the nave are Romanesque and its cloister and one of the chapels are Gothic in style.
Inside, the large pillars make the nave seem narrow with a high ceiling. It has a restrained decoration with bare walls and only the high altar and some of its chapels are decorated in a Baroque style.
This eighteenth century complex was commissioned by the Brotherhood of the Clérigos in the old town, on the “hill of the hanged men”, where the executed prisoners were buried.
Clérigos Tower (Torre dos Clérigos in Portuguese) is the tallest campanile in Portugal. It stands 249 ft (76 meters) tall and climbing its200 stepswill give you a privileged view over the city and the river.
When you climb up you’ll come across 49 bells which form a large carillon and that can give you quite a fright if you’re in the bell tower when they ring. You’ll see that the effort of climbing all those steps will have been worthwhile once you reach the top and look out from the tower’s observation deck over Porto. This is also a great place to take photos.
Matosinhos is Porto's main beach. A long stretch of fine sand backed by apartment blocks, an esplanade and any number of small cafes it is pleasant enough. In the summer there's always some sort of activity on the beach and the lifeguard service makes for safe bathing.
The water quality has improved greatly over the years, although it still isn't up to Blue Flag standards. Given there is a large port and oil terminal at the northern end of the beach this isn't a huge surprise.
Matosinhos is also Porto's most consistent surf spot. Unlike the beaches towards Foz there aren't rocks everywhere and the harbour wall at the northern end can provide shelter from the wind. The gently sloping sand here takes some of the power out of the surf making it a suitable spot for all levels of surfer.
One major benefit of coming to the beach at Matosinhos is this area is renown for its great restaurants, particularly seafood.
One of the most-visited sites in Porto, the Palácio da Bolsa is renowned for its exquisite neoclassical facade and ornate gilded Arabian Hall. This massive building — located in the historic center of Porto — once acted as the city's stock exchange, wooing European bankers and investors alike. Today, you can tour the interior with a guide and see the glass-domed Pátio das Nações (Hall of Nations) and the magnificently golden Salão Árabe (Arabian Hall, which was designed to mimic the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain), as well as the numerous portraits that adorn the walls.
The House of Cálem was founded in 1859 by António Alves and is still today one of the main Port wine brands in the world. It has been a family business for four generations and has won numerous awards and prizes.
Since its creation, Cálem focused on exporting its wines to Brazil. Even today, the company's brand symbol is a Caravel, representing the transatlantic crossings.
Cálem Cellars was renovated in 2006 and is an interesting option in which you’ll visit its museum, winery and finally be given two Port wines for you to taste.
Cálem is located in Gaia, very near the other Port Wine Cellars, next to the Dom Luís I Bridge.
Producing quality wine since 1859, Cálem Cellars is still one of the main wineries in Porto with excellent tours and wine tastings. Find out more about this fascinating Port wine brand.
1 ) Carnaval
One of Portugal’s most famous exports to its largest former colony, Brazil, Portugal’s Carnaval may not be as well known as their Brazilian or Caribbean counterparts, but they nonetheless rank among the world’s most unforgettable parties. Each community celebrates in its own way, but none is bigger than in Lisbon’s Parque Nações, whose street parades and theatrical performances are filled with elaborate costumes, masks and floats which take several weeks to build. The Algarve celebrates Carnaval by sailing carefully decorated traditional Portuguese boats along the coast.
2 ) Sintra Festival
Festival Month - June
Between June and July, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra hosts some of the finest ballet dancers, pianists and chamber musicians during this cultural celebration. Past performers have played for the likes of Paris’ chamber philharmonic and Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra. Former palaces, churches, parks, and country estates are among the festival’s stately venues.
3 ) Praia Grande Beach Games
Festival Month - June
Portugal’s unofficial water sports capital, Praia Grande, hosts this summer-long event open to beachgoers of all ages and athletic abilities. Every year between June and August, some of the world’s best body boarders tackle the challenging Atlantic Ocean waves. Visitors can also participate in boules and volleyball matches, or simply enjoy the spectacle beneath the shade of nearby café bars.