Portugal is a country with an impressive past and an assured future as a tourist destination with a potential that finds few equals anywhere in the world find the perfect vacation Portugal with us!
Portugal has one of the most diverse landscapes, climates and history and its diversity is concentrated on a relatively small area span of 92,212 km2 or 35,603 sq miles.
Once it was a remote and inaccessible country due to poor infrastructures and failing public transports.
Nowadays thanks to the large investments in the recovery of roads and the building of new highways in the last few years, a good and affordable public transport network, cheaper flights to the 3 main airports of Portugal and affordable car rent, it has become both the perfect place for short breaks or long luxurious, relaxing or innovative holidays and just plain happy, all-round ‘vacation Portugal’.
Portugal is the smaller, greener part of the Iberian peninsula and it’s the most south western point of Europe bordered by Spain to the east and North and surrounded by the Atlantic ocean to the west and south.
Portugal is a country with a rich historic past that reaches beyond the prosperous Roman settlers who’s many sites we can still view today.
The Roman towns, in certain cases, where most certainly built on top of the remains of the older cultures that inhabited Portugal such as the Lusitan people, who where an Indo-European people closely related to the celts, other than that there where celts from different tribes the celts who where originally from Galicia and the Celtici a tribe that inhabited some parts of the central and south of the Iberian peninsula and the Cynetes a southern Iberian civilization, that in Portugal lived mainly in the Algarve region.
On some of the mountains we can still find many marks of these peoples almost untouched.
The Roman period which came later was bridged by the Moorish invasion which lasted 700 years and it ended with the ‘reconquista’ or reconquering of Portugal, which happened in phases starting with the south and moving upward to the more Northern parts of Central Portugal and the ascent of it’s large Christian heritage that followed when it became a country loose from Spain and the Moorish occupation.
It has always been a country of many cultures that over time have co-existed peacefully in some periods and in other periods led to clashes, wars and expulsions.
The main expulsions in Portugal involved it’s many Jewish citizens in the 15 century, who have helped build a large part of the medieval heritage and gladly they also left monuments that explain their lifestyles and haven’t been destroyed or decayed and the Moorish who even-though they occupied Portugal, they where not always seen as the enemy and they marked much of their culture onto the Portuguese street plans, architecture and language enriching the country in many ways.
As the Jews, the Moors where ex-pulsed in medieval Portugal if they refused to convert to Christianity but their cultures have mixed and are still evident in modern Portugal.
Through the countries natural resources, it’s many wars and victories and its important role as a colonizer during the colonization period, it had gained many riches.
The modern inhabitants have a more recent history of dictatorship until 1972 and the current crisis which is leaving new marks on the country but it’s current state is that of any other modern country in Europe.
Portugal’s landscapes are as diverse, rich and changeable as its history, from rocky mountains to green lush plains, from rivers, lakes and sea beaches to it’s vineyards, fruit orchards, wildlife and abundant underwater diving paradises. It’s a country that can cater for all.
Portugal has been attracting tourists for many years but the last few years tourism has grown at a fast pace concentrated mainly around it’s capital, Lisbon and the more Southern beach province the Algarve.
Lisbon an old city with a long and rich history has grown to be a modern metropolis full of young and innovative people local and international, a generation that stands loose of Portugal’s relatively recent dictatorship past that are doing interesting things to help generate and accommodate a modern tourist market.
Lisbon city can play with the imagination of any romantic as it has amazing views over the Tagus river from different settings on any of it’s seven hills and it’s visually enticing, much mixed historical melting pot of architectural styles.
The older generations and younger generations cater fully to the traditional heritage which is still there and abundant.
To the south vacation in Portugal are mainly taken in its province, the Algarve, a province of beaches once covered with traditional fishing boats now a popular paradise for beach and sun loving re-creationists.
Both areas are fantastic and each has it’s own character and diversity.
Lisbon is a fast growing city that ranks high as favourite European city for city breaks or short vacations. It has a large range of hotels from budget to very luxurious, a multitude of great restaurants and many cultural and historical points of interest. Its a city build on seven hills with the best views you could get in any city, anywhere.
The Algarve has the cleanest sea beaches in Europe, many resorts and a great climate with almost a 100% guarantee of sun from may to October, nowadays busy in the holiday months, but there are still many great unvisited places to be found.
But both these fantastic places that have made Portugal famous in the modern travel market are just small parts of the huge diversity that Portugal has to offer this makes it one of the best countries for vacationing and Discovery in Europe, because there is still so much more!
To find the perfect vacation in Portugal, first of all you will need to know what your interest are.
Portugal is famous for it’s beaches, lakes and rivers providing many great summertime activities and beach holidays, the choice is tremendous.
It’s famous for wine and fish. It’s famous for Fado and tradition and all these things are great but that’s just the beginning.
Fishing, horse-riding, sports, parachuting, diving, heavenly country retreats, culinary treats and retreats in noble manor houses or modern resorts.
It’s a country that caters just as well to relaxing, refreshing holidaying or active and even challenging vacations.
Portugal has to much to offer to mention in just one article!
Reasons for visiting or a vacation to Portugal
1. The Climate summers are long and warm and winters mild, wet and short
2. The costs, Portugal is one of the cheapest holiday destinations offering a large range of high class food and accommodation at much lower prices than other European holiday destinations Portugal has a very high price/quality balance
3. It has an old and well preserved history with its many castles, monasteries, museums and historical sites that are unique.
4. It has an incredibly diverse nature and climate on a relatively small area. it’s hot summers can on certain days feel like they could scourge every living thing, generally it’s a short drive to a cooler mountain terrace or a cool dip in some of it’s waters.
5. It’s the greenest and most ‘tropical’ country in Europe and has an abundance off flowers, cactuses, fruit and palms all the year round
6. It’s many music and cultural events and festivals
7. The energetic younger generation that are busily creating a Portugal that also attracts newer generations, just because it’s a really cool place to go.
Portugal is a relatively safe country for travelling and it is really home to some of the friendliest people in the world.
Main cities of Portugal
Lisbon The countries capital is currently running for best weekend vacation city and it is literally packed with great places to go and fantastic things to do and see.
From the bustling Bairro Alto district to the artistic and traditional old Alfama. The royal area of Belem or the luxurious centre of Chiado.
Lisbon has the most confused and mixed street plan I have seen in a city but nicely spread divided
Long noble avenues, winding medieval streets and modern prestigious architectural magnificence all spread through it’s many different neighbourhoods. the gorgeous Tagus river and the close by beaches of Cascais, Estoril and Carcavellos and Oeiras
Porto is a city with a fast growing tourist market.
It is the second largest city of Portugal with an amazing river bordered on the city side by a unique display of medieval ‘piled’ housing that has unpredictable patterns of many styles and colours built over time as the city grew fuller and space became limited, much how I would expect any European medieval city to have looked and only in Porto this image has remained noticably intact.
Some of the building are so anarchic in design that they look like they could fall down at any given time but they where actually built with utmost and possibly natural precision, so the ones we see today wont and some have been standing for more than 800 years.
It has a beautiful waterfront on the Douro river which is submerged with romantic Port wine boats that make it the view look like an old oil painting on any day, when the tourist boats are not causing to much turbulence in it’s deep dark waters.
Port is what made Porto famous and the boats where used to carry the fortified wines from the port cellars to the rest of Portugal and Europe, once it was ripe enough to be Port.
Coimbra the third largest city now competing with the more northern city of Braga, that is expanding fast but not yet on Go Discover Portugal, so we wont mention to much about it yet.
Coimbra, however is a still a main city, smaller than the first two but with a long and important history, an incredible culture and I would dare to call it the cultural centre of Portugal as it keeps a cultural feel and atmosphere all year round.
It was once the noble capital of Portugal when Lisbon was impoverished and mainly considered a fisherman’s town, after the foundation of Portugal in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Coimbra houses amongst many other interesting historical points of interest the oldest university of Europe that has been in continues operation since it was established and the university is currently a world heritage site.
The castle, sadly, no longer stands as it was ordered for demolition by the famous Marques de Pombal in the 18th century. But Coimbra still has the only truly Roman Aquaduct in Portugal and it’s prime architectural legacy, the gorgeous Coimbra university build on it’s highest point and of which the oldest buildings are open to the public.
Faro The main city of the Algarve is a nice old fisherman’s town now a tourist haven for shopping, dining and holidaying. But not spoiled or overrun.
Other smaller interesting cities and towns
Tomar home to the impressive world heritage castle the convent of Christ the home of the Portuguese Templars that rises high above the cultural medieval centre of Tomar. Read more about Tomar and find the nicest spots
A beautiful mountainous city 30 km from Lisbon that is world heritage the city is busily visited by international and national tourist and houses some of the most amazing monuments of Portugal having been home to its kings for many centuries.
Golega famous for its Lusitano horses, its noble centre, horse farms and wine quinta and its yearly horse fair. Read more about it here
Santarem is one of the less visited but more romantic and authentic cities of Portugal. It is 70 km above Lisbon build on high plateau above the Tagus. Its centred around many nice city squares that lead up to it’s highest point the porta do sol where once the old castle stood and still has the old city walls and the amazing views over the Tagus river and the small medieval town of Ribeira de Santarem.
And way too many more very nice places that we will be adding over time! read more about Santarem and find the nicest places to eat
Main beach resorts
The west coast of Portugal worldwide know for it’s high waves and surfing events
The Cascais line the French Riviera in a Portuguese surroundings close to the main city Lisbon and the world heritage city Sintra
The Algarve slowly becoming the Costa Brava of Portugal but still with lots of places to hide, eat cheap and good and what the hell most people love it, it has an airport close to much of it’s better known beaches, high rise to fit all and many budget packages, that fit short, cheap and fast breaks to it’s impressive, modern boulevards and large sandy beaches.
The Algarve also has luxury travel but more on that later or from another site!
Main Lakes and Rivers
The internal Portugal is lesser known but no less great. Portugal has invested greatly in it’s infra structures but less in publicity making the internal Portugal the biggest place for surprise, joy and really spoiled holidays. It’s the best place to find private beaches, the best traditional food, great manor house hotels still authentic, not overrun by tourism and with cleaner and warmer waters than both Cascais and the Algarve.
The Tagus is the main river in Portugal reaching over 1000km after starting in Spain, much polluted in the past but to the point of not anymore killing its fish, shell fish used to be abundant but is still hard to find. A majestic river, great for canoeing in it’s narrower parts and boat trips in its broader parts and home to the longest European bridge, the Vasco da Gama Bridge with a length of 17,2 km
one of the nicest, longer rivers in Portugal. It offers great fishing, canoeing, boating and and gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape
Castelo do Bode
One of the lakes caused by the damming of the Zezere, its the second largest lake in Portugal with the strictest anti pollution laws. The water are the cleanest in Portugal and boats are allowed but only those of the least polluting. The water is warm right up to October, it has a wonderful landscape surrounding the lake, nice historical and cultural towns and is all in all one off the most amazing places to have a real swimming, sunbathing, cultural, culinary, active or relaxing vacation, that will make you want to come back for more Portugal vacations!
Serra de Estrella
The highest mountain on the Portuguese mainland. Ancient, rocky home of the Guarda and Viseu districts. In the winter a place where the Portuguese go skiing and throw snow balls in the summer its great for tracking, walking and sightseeing.
As time goes by we will be adding each district and informing you on it’s character, the best places to go and the foods to taste.
We want you to come and have the best possible vacation in Portugal!
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