Portugal is a great country to visit. It has a long expanse of coastline, with beautiful sands and continuous dunes. The inland is a varied place to explore, whether you are hiking, biking or driving through the deep valleys and soaring hills, or canoeing in the many lovely lakes and rivers. The country has lots of historical places of interest, including many medieval towns, with much of them retaining their authentic Portuguese atmosphere. The people of Portugal are laid back and welcoming.
Portugal Car Hire
By using the booking form below, you can get a free car hire quote or book your car directly with any of the leading car hire suppliers in Portugal, which include, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Firefly, Hertz, InterRent, Sixt and others.
Portuguese Arts and Architecture
There are many historical sites to explore in Portugal. In Lisbon, the capital city, you can roam around Alfama, the oldest part of Lisbon, with its many narrow streets, alleyways and steps. On the hilltop above Lisbon, is the Moorish castle, Castelo de São Jorge, which is hugely popular to visit, originally being built in the Iron Age and then rebuilt by the Moors during their rule in Portugal. The Bairro Alto in Lisbon has many restaurants and bars and visitors will enjoy its lively nightlife.
The Museo Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon is a world class museum. It houses a wonderful collection including an ancient Egyptian mummy mask and bronze cats, vases and Hellenic coins from ancient Greece, rare Chinese porcelain and Persian tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries. The vast European art section includes works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Van Dyck to name but a few, and silverware by Francois-Thomas Germain that Catherine the Great used.
Close by the Gulbenkian Museum is the Gulbenkian Modern Art Center, which has modern and contemporary Portuguese works together with a 20th British collection of art. Art works there include pieces by Amadeo Souza Cardoso and Paul Rego. David Hockney and Henry Moore works are also there.
The City of Evora, in the Alentejo region in southern Portugal, has lots of historical monuments to see, including the beautiful Cathedral and Roman ruins, which includes the ruined Temple of Diana. The Capela dos Ossos (The Chapel of Bones), is completely ornamented with human bones and well worth a visit. You can tour Evora on a horse and carriage, a lovely way to look around the city. The Almendres Cromlech, not far from Evora, is a megalithic structure and the biggest remaining group of standing stones in the Peninsula of Iberia.
The City of Aveiro is a beautiful place, with part of it having many canals and bridges. It is very similar to Venice in Italy, and is a charming place to visit. You can have a relaxing canal trip in one of the boats and enjoy the scenery.
The Portuguese Landscape
Portugal’s Algarve region hosts many lovely beaches and is always popular with visitors. Ranging from Faro to Albufeira with its lovely well looked after, albeit highly developed beaches, to the coast around Sagres and Tavira which has pretty landscapes and less developed beaches.
For rocky coved beaches, the west of Vilamoura are perfect, particularly around Albufeira, Lagos and Armacao de Pera. The further west you go, the coast gets more rugged and there are pretty, small resort including Burgau and Salemo, both previous fishing villages. Surfing is very popular on the western coast where it’s waters are rougher.
If you want resorts with a real authentic Portuguese feel, then the eastern coast of the Algarve is perfect. There are a number of barrier islands with large sandy beaches which are accessed by a short boat trip. The towns here, which include Faro, Olhao and Fuseta, have not been highly developed.
Inland Algarve has some lovely places to visit including the market town, Loule, and Milreu with its Roman ruins. Over to the west of the Algarve, Caldas de Monchique is a pretty spa town with beautiful woods and is part of the mountain range of the Serra de Monchique.
Aveiro has a lovely coast, with beautiful sandy beaches, including São Jacinto and Costa Nova. It is called the Silver Coast, because of its lovely bright, clean beaches. Windsurfing and sailing are popular here in the autumn months, due to this part of the coast providing strong coastal winds.
The Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês in the northeast, is Portugal’s National Park. The scenery is amazing in this region. The mountains there are lush with plant life and beautiful flowers and there are many rivers and waterfalls. Deer and wolves can be seen there, together with ponies that also roam free. As well as hiking the area, following the old Roman road and admiring the amazing views of the landscape, there are also activities including canoeing to take part in. There are many castles and monasteries around the area that you can also visit.
Fish and seafood is widely eaten all over Portugal, due to its large expanse of coastline. Sardines, sole, salmon and trout are common together, with mackerel, cod and whiting, often with different types of sauces. Seafoods often eaten are lobster, mussels, oysters and clams. Rice dishes are popular in Portugal and served with a variety of ingredients. Soup is often the first course in a meal. Many restaurants in Portugal will have food being grilled outside. Grilled chicken with garlic, olive oil and chilli is one of the most popular dishes. Pork is also widely eaten and cooked in a wide variety of ways.
Pastries in Portugal are delicious. Pasteis de nata is a flaky pastry filled with custard and has a sugar and cinnamon topping. It is very popular with locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of pastelarias to try any of Portugal’s bakeries. Coffee is a very popular beverage, in particular espresso coffee, which is widely drunk all over Portugal.
Portugal produces a large amount of wine, with a wide variety of flavours and wine is commonly enjoyed with meals. Port wine, which is drank all over the world, is produced in the city of Porto.
With its beautiful scenery, many historical sites and relaxed, friendly atmosphere, Portugal makes a lovely place to spend a holiday.
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