Portugal - Holiday Destinations from European Travel AdviceEuropean Travel Advice presents Portugal holiday destinations, all the best places to visit in Portugal including Lisbon the capital and the Algarve on the south coast
European Travel Advice, Holiday Destinations in Portugal
The capital city of Portugal is Lisbon and it sits on the west coast of Portugal looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of approximately 2.1 million and Portugal itself has a population of around 11 million spread throughout its 18 districts.
Not being as rich a country as some of the other European destinations you may think that Portugal does not have much to offer. This would be a misconception as in fact Portugal has a lot to offer the tourist. Like any country in Europe there is a rich culture and heritage and many beautiful tourist destinations to choose from. Lisbon itself is only half an hour from Europe’s largest beach ‘Costa de Caparica.
Lisbon the capital of Portugal is a truly wonderful city to visit and is only a short distance from many golden sandy beaches including Estoril and Cascais which are firm favorites of the Portuguese themselves. Portugal throughout it’s history has been a seafaring nation and the Portuguese language has spread wide and far. No wonder then that Portugal receives around 12.3 million visitors a year making it the 20th most visited country in the world and 12th most visited in Europe.
Portugal Green Coast one of the Top Portugal Holiday Destinations to Visit in Portugal
Lisbon is the most visited destination in Portugal and has seen as many as 7 million tourists visiting each year. Lisbon offers easy access to some of the best beaches in Europe but in addition offers a range of city breaks, a great cultural experience, nautical history and great food. The Alfama is the oldest sector in Lisbon much of which survived the earthquake of 1755 and still exists today. St Georges castle presides over Lisbon and if you climb the hill to the castle you can get some great views out towards the Atlantic Ocean over the River Tagus. The Portuguese love to party on into the night and when some of us might be thinking it is time to retire don’t be surprised if the sound of the Fado suddenly strikes up or a firework display suddenly starts, especially in June when the feasts are held to celebrate the popular saints. Lisbon is also home to the Gulbenkian Museum which should not be missed, lots of Egyptian artifacts and famous artworks to be found here, not to mention the wonderful garden the museum has. More recently has been the completion of the amazing Vasco da Gama Bridge which is 17km long and spans the Tagus. It was completed in 1998 just in time for the Expo 98 World Fair celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the sea route to India from Europe by Vasco da Gama. The Cristo-Rei can be seen from Lisbon’s other famous bridge ’25 de Abril’ which also crosses the Tagus.
Portugal Resorts in the Algarve are another Portuguese holiday hot spot and favorite destination of sun seekers. Situated on the southern coast of Portugal. Served by Faro airport some of the better known resorts in the Algarve are Villamoura, very popular amongst the golfing fraternity and Albufeira the next resort west of Villamoura. The Algarve stretches from Sagres in the west to Vila Real St Antonio in the east and all along this south coast of Portugal you will find beautiful sandy beaches , very warm weather often as late as October and plenty of entertainment and accommodation for tourists. The Algarve is reported to be the most unpolluted climate in the European continent, but much of its ancient history was destroyed by a series of earthquakes including the one from 1755.
Lisbon Area, not far out of the city in the Lisbon area you can find some fabulous places to visit. A little to the north you will find Leiria with its 14th century castle. Travel up the coast a little (the train is a good option for this) and you will discover Estoril and Cascais which were mentioned earlier, both have lovely sandy beaches once the preferred holiday destination of the monarchy early in the 20th century. Sintra is probably one of the most delightful places you will find in Portugal to visit and includes in its arsenal of attractions the Castelo da Pena which is an amazing piece of romantic architecture that stands on the rocky peaks of the Serra de Sintra and overlooks a nearby Moorish fortress, its a bit of a climb up to the castle but well worth the effort. The other impressive palaces in the area are Palacio da Vila and Palacio de Queluz, these with a number of local museums contain historical and artistic collections for the area of Sintra which have a worldwide importance.
Porto on the Portugal Green Coast
Porto on the Portugal Green Coast is the second largest city in Portugal and the centre of the wine region. Some of the famous landmarks of Porto are the ‘Ponte D Luis’, Porto Cathedral built during the 12th and 13th centuries and the Paco Episcopal built in the 15th century in Gothic style. Its most famous wine is Porto which is produced in the Douro Valley east of Porto. The city is also the hub of business and commerce for Portugal and is home to the Portuguese stock exchange which itself is based in a lovely historic building dating from the 19th century. Porto being in the Costa Verde (Portugal Green Coast) region is not too far from Barcelos, a medieval walled town to the north west of Porto. Guimaraes which is inland a little to the north east of Porto is considered to be the birthplace of Portugal and has a medieval castle plus many other attractions, including a well preserved medieval section. Braga is the other must see location in this northern region of Portugal, a beautiful city with lots to see, sites like the Bracara Augusta Roman Ruins, the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary and the Santa Barbara’s Garden. The countryside in the north is made up of rolling hills and valleys with plenty of woodland to add interest.
Madeira is an island off Portugal that is warmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream which means it can enjoy warm summers and mild winters. Throw is a few rugged mountains, some spectacular views and a countryside full of vineyards and I think you will agree that Madeira offers itself as a pretty desirable all year round holiday destination. Once completely covered in a tropical rainforest, the areas that still remain as rainforest have now been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Funchal is the capital of Madeira and the area surrounding the city has been developed to cater for visitors to the island while the northern parts have been left mainly rural. All in all though, the mix is about right and Madeira should be near the top of the list for any European Traveller.
The Azores is a compilation of islands, Sao Miguel, Santa Maria, Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Terceira, Graciosa, Flores and Corvo. Sao Miguel is considered to be the most picturesque. The islands remain for the most part rugged and unspoiled with spectacular scenery and wonderful flora. A highly desirable destination for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers that want to enjoy the unspoiled terrain and visit quiet peaceful villages in a back to nature program of relaxation.