Formerly a fishing village, Albufeira is nowadays one of the leading tourist resorts of the region, the St. Tropez of the Algarve. The architecture of the town ranges from typically Algarvian narrow streets with pale white and sometimes tiled houses to very modern tourist developments. The developments include a marina, golf courses, hotels and apartment blocks. The bustling resort also has restaurants and shops to suit most tastes from authentic Portuguese fare to Irish pubs and sports bars.
An hour away from Porto, Aveiro is known as the "Venice" of Portugal, because of its many canals and boats, especially the Gondolas that remind one of the Italian city. It is the ideal place for those wanting to get away from the big city, but wishing to capture a bit of Portuguese modern culture. Only 10 minutes from the city you can enjoy beautiful untouched beaches. Aveiro is famous for its traditional sweets: "ovos moles" and "trouxas de ovos", both made from eggs.
Batalha is a town in the District of Leiria, Pinhal Litoral subregion, Centre region, that was founded by King D. João I of Portugal. The most important site of the town is the Monastery of Batalha built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. Its Royal Cloister Here is a real masterpiece with an original, national Gothic style, profoundly influenced by Manueline art.
Beja is a town full of history. It was founded Julius Caesar and named back then Pax Julia. After the barbarian invasions, it became a Visigoth city with the name of Paca. In the beginning of the 8th century, it fell into Muslim rule, renamed Beja. The town rises like a pyramid above the surrounding fields of wheat. Beja is famous for the Lettres Portugaises published in Paris in 1669.
The letters were written by a young nun named Soror Mariana Alcoforado who is said to have fallen in love with a French military officer.
Braga has been for centuries an archiepiscopal seat and pilgrimage site. There are a lot of beautiful churches to see here as well as the palace of the Archbishop dating from the 14-th century. Another important sight is the 16th Century Palácio dos Biscainhos. Just east of the town is one of Portugal's most famous tourist attraction, the Igreja de Bom Jesus de Monte - an impressive Baroque staircase symbolic of the 14 Stations of the Cross that leads upwards to a late 18th Century Church.
Near Portugal's north-eastern frontier with Spain, lies the ancient city of Bragança the best-preserved medieval town in Portugal. Fortified walls surround the city and within these walls stand the King Sancho I's castle, built in 1187. Nearby, the pentagonal 12th-century Domus Municipalis is the country's only surviving example of Romanesque civic architecture. It is quite unique in the world! Close to Bragança you can visit the Natural Park - a haven for rare species of wild animals.
The beauty of Buçaco's forests was discovered by the Carmelite monks, who have founded a monastery here. They planted different specimens of ferns, pines, cork, eucalyptus, and pink and blue clusters of hydrangea that have been maintained till these days. The forest is filled with natural spring waters, the earth bubbles with many cool fountains, the best known of which is Fonte Fria - Cold fountain. This place is a real heaven of relaxation and tranquility.
Former fishing village, Cascais is a cosmopolitan suburb of Lisbon and one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. Due to the favourable weather and to the excellent beaches, Cascais become a very popular vacation spot. It is a gateway for those who wish to visit Lisbon and its environments. With more than 10 golf courses Cascais is also an important golf destination. International tennis and motorcycling events take place here each year.
Third largest Portuguese city the educational center of the country, Coimbra is also the most romantic city. It is home to the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe and therefore attracts students from around the world, which gives the city a special and rare atmosphere. Another highlight in Coimbra is the Baixa, part of the city down by the river with most traditional shopping. On the way there, visit the old cathedral from the XII century, in typical portuguese romanesque style.
Situated in the foothills of the Serra de Estrêla, Cúria is a well known spa town that has always attracted people seeking the curative properties of its healing waters, slightly saline and containing calcium sulfates and sodium and magnesium bicarbonates. The town offers tennis courts, swimming pools, roller-skating rinks, a lake for boating, cinemas, and teahouses. Cúria will also delight you with fine wines and with its famous local cuisine including roast suckling pig, roast kid, and sweets.
Close to Badajoz in Spain, Elvas is a Portuguese municipality, an Episcopal city and frontier fortress of Portugal. Surnamed the "city of plums," Elvas is an outstanding example of 17th-century fortifications, with gates, curtain walls, moats, bastions. Just outside of the walls there is an amazing aqueduct looking almost like more fortifications but carrying only a very narrow water channel. Arab arches can be seen at several places in the old streets and offer magnificent views.
Ericeira is a fishing village nestled on the Atlantic shore, 50 km (31 miles) northeast of Lisbon. The mountains of Sintra rise to the east. The sea has given life to Ericeira for 700 years. The beach lures streams of visitors every summer. Narrow cobblestone streets, singular monuments, the sea, the fishing, the local cuisine based mainly on lobster, the bold Atlantic views, all give charm to this old village and welcome tourists with hospitality.
Once a small fishing village, Espinho 20 km south of Oporto has grown into a popular holiday resort. Its long stretch of golden sandy beach attracts holidaymakers from all over Portugal. With several quality hotels, a casino and numerous fish restaurants to offer, summer tourists will enjoy stay in Espinho. Within 3 km of Espinho lies the Oporto Golf Club one of the oldest golf courses in the wor ld a par-71 course of 5,668 meters in length, most known for its spectacular ocean views.
A few miles from Sintra lays Cascais, Estoril is a glamorous resort with beautiful beaches along the Portuguese Riviera. It is the perfect location for some of the Portuguese Aristocracy and some of the wealthiest citizens of Lisbon for their summer residences. A former residence of Juan de Borbón, pretender to the Spanish throne during the last part of the 20th century the famous Casino of Estoril is the largest in Europe. The remains of Roman mansions dating back around 2,000 years are other sites.
Rising from the plain like a pyramid of salt set out to dry in the sun, fortified Estremoz is best known as one of three 'marble' cities. It's easy to know why: the public toilets, the pavements and the stairs in quite humble buildings are made from marble. The monumental area above the city is very attractive. Saturday brings a large market that worth a visit. Here, you can taste the local ewe's and goat milk cheeses. The ewe's milk cheese is a tasty and long-lasting alternative to Parmesan.
The capital of Alto Alentejo, Évora, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, an architectural phenomenon blending styles from Mudejar to Manueline to Roman to rococo. Évora is a living museum with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century houses, cobblestones, labyrinthine streets, arcades, squares and Moorish-inspired arches. There are numerous palaces and convents and an aqueduct which dates to 1537. Évora will still your heart with its beauty and its charm.
Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the starting point for visiting the region or Portugal because of its international airport which brings in thousands of visitors every summer. Once loved by the Romans and later by the Moors, Faro has many medieval monuments. The main sights include: the Cathedral (Roman-Gothic origin), Nossa Senhora da Assuncão Convent (Renaissance), São Francisco Church (16-18th centuries) and the museums: Infante Dom Henrique, Regional Ethnographic, Ramalho Ortigão.
Fátima is a world-famous pilgrimage site built to commemorate the events of 1917 when three peasant children claimed to have seen the "Virgin of the Rosary", Our Lady of Fatima. It attracts believers from all over the world, particularly on May 13 and October 13. During the pilgrimage days, in the central square, a statue of the Madonna passes through the crowd. On the far side of the esplanade rises the gigantic basilica, in neo-classical style, with a central tower 65 meters high.
North of Cascais and Estoril, Figueira da Foz is the oldest resort on Iberia's Atlantic coast. A sunny climate and a golden-sand beach make it very popular among the tourists. Other attractions are the municipal museum with a notable archaeological collection, weapons, carpets, photographs and a musical archive and the 16th-century triangular fortress at the northern end of the bay that was used by the Duke of Wellington during his brief stay.
Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal and the hometown of the first king of Portugal, Don Afonso Henriques. In 2001 the town's historical center was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The main attraction is the city's famous castle that dominates the skyline with eight square towers and a 27-metre-high dungeon. Nearby Guimarães, you can visit the Iron Age pre-Celtic settlement of Citânia de Briteiros, one of Portugal's most impressive archaeological sites.
Lagos is an ancient port city, its origins going back to the Carthaginians, 3 centuries before the birth of Christ. The sailors of Admiral Nelson's fleet came here very often for the beauty of the local olive-skinned women and for drinking. Nowadays, things are pretty much the same, there are few people who come to Lagos wanting to know its history; rather, the mission is to drink deeply of the pleasures of table and beach. Don't miss the magnificent rocky headland Ponta da Piedade.
Located in the centre of Portugal, though industrial nowadays Leiria is a city with a long history. Sights in town include Leiria's castle, that was attacked and destroyed repeatedly, the present version was built in 1324 by King Dinis as a fortress and summer palace for himself and his queen, Isabel of Aragon. Below the castle is the small 12th-century Romanesque church of São Pedro. Leiria is also the center of an area rich in handcrafts, like hand-blown glassware made at Marinha Grande.
Lisbon, a dazzling city stretching along Tagus river, makes an enchanting European capital. Its nucleus, an ancient fortress, is now circled by neighborhoods drenched with medieval charm. Handcrafts - from embroidery to leatherwork - are peddled right on the streets. At night, yellow electric tramcars continue to wind their way up and down the hills in the sound of traditional Fado songs. Ample opportunities exist for seeing popular celebrations, for shopping, and for enjoying the nightlife along the riverbank.
Situated on the northwestern side of the Buçaco mountains, Luso is a little spa resort famous for its bottle mineral water. The thermal waters, which originate from a spring below the chapel of São João, are used for the treatments of renal problems and rheumatism. The spa centre specializes in the treatment of arteriosclerosis. Nearby there is a beautiful forest protected as a national park, famous for its huge cypress trees of Mexican origin.
Nazare is the most picturesque fishing village in Portugal. You won't find here stunning architecture or historic sights; the biggest attractions are the people and their fabulous boats.
Phoenician in design, the fishing boats are: slender, elongated, and boldly colored. On the high, knifelike prows, you'll often see crudely shaped eyes painted on the vessels, eyes which supposedly have the magical power to search the deep for fish and to warn against the storms.
Considered by many as a living museum, Obidos is one the most well-preserved medieval towns of Portugal. The name of the town derives from the Latin term oppidum, meaning "citadel", or "fortified city", the city is perfectly walled. The old castle at the top of the town is now a pousada. Further down the street are the village stocks and there are two fine gates. Near the main gate there's an aqueduct. On the Palm Sunday, the procession is led by a barefoot figure of gloom.
Once a Roman fortress, Palmela is nowadays a semi-rural town, right in the middle of Portugal's biggest urban area, the Arrábida area. The most important sight of Palmela is Castelo de Palmela which offers an unique view from an elevation of 366m (1,200 ft.) over the whole region of Setúbal's Peninsula, Lisbon, and the Atlantic Coast. Many multinational industrial plants like Volkswagen or Coca-Cola grow in the area, but Palmela's traditional products are the wine and the Azeitão's cheese.
Once a roman harbor, Portimão is nowadays one of the most important commercial centre in the Algarve and a leading fish-canning center. The most important tourist sights are the church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, dating back to the 14th century and featuring impressive 17th- and 18th-century azulejo glazed tiles, the 17th-century Jesuit's college boasting the largest church in the Algarve and decorated with gilt-covered wood carvings
Porto (known also as the Oporto) was the residence of the royal family during the 15th-century. The city offers to the visitors: art treasures, medieval cathedrals, museums, a fine library, concert halls of a rare beauty and elegance like the Coliseu do Porto and other attractions. The most well known museums of Porto are the Soares dos Reis National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Serralves Foundation. Don't miss the Barredo section, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once a fishing village, Quarteira is nowadays one of the Algarve's top resorts. Safe bathing conditions and a sandy beach made it popular with holidaymakers, as well as golfers. Quarteira's principle attraction is its promenade, bordered by palms, bright flowering hibiscus and the white and pink of the oleander. Quarteira is within easy reach of several championship golf courses, including the Old Course at Vilamoura and the Royal Course at Vale do Lobo.
The Queluz Palace is the country's finest example of Rococo architecture. One of the highlights inside is the grandiose Throne Room, lined with mirrors and adorned with crystal chandeliers. The Ambassadors' Room is outstanding, with a marble floor and a ceiling painting of the royal family. English and French-style furniture, fine porcelain fill the other rooms. The beautiful gardens overlooked by the Rococo façades are adorned with elaborate statues and fountains with themes of classical mythology.
Situated at the extreme southwestern corner of Europe, Sagres was once called "the end of the world" because the navigators thought that land ended there. Here, Prince Henry the Navigator wondering if there was a route to the Indies established his school of navigation, where Magellan, Diaz, Cabral, and Vasco da Gama apprenticed. At the Sagres Academy, cartography was refined with the use of newly devised instruments, and a revolutionary type of vessel was designed: the caravel.
Located on the northern bank of the Sado river estuary, Setúbal is one of Portugal's largest and oldest cities. The town is especially known for the local production of the most exquisite muscatel wine in the world. The main attractions of Setúbal are: the Monastery of Jesus, with a 15th-16th century church that represents one of the first buildings in the Portuguese late gothic style known as manueline, the Main Church of the city, and a 16th-17th century fortress, now turned it a luxury hotel.
Once the royal town of Portugal, Sintra is a small town that looks like an illustration in a fairy tale. The town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its 19th century Romantic architecture, and it is a major tourist attraction. The most notable site is the Sintra National Palace a combination of Moorish, Gothic and Manuelian styles. Inside is a beautiful collection of ancient and rare tiles and murals. Other attractions are the Palácio da Pena and the Castelo dos Mouros.
The Algarve has Roman ruins, Moorish castles and traditional villages. Northern Algarve offers fig trees, orange groves and almond trees in blossom, is also the most verdant and fertile. The southern coastline consists of a long stretch of fabulous sandy beaches, broken up by extraordinary rugged red cliffs and fantastic grottoes. Over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, with consistently pleasant climate; over 30 top class golf courses, plus delicious local gastronomy and great wines.
Historic, Tomar was bound to the fate of the quasi-religious order of the Knights Templar and attracts annually many tourists with its diversified monuments. The Castle and Convent of the Order of Christ is the main monument of the city and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Other important sights are: the Church of Santa Maria Olival ? built for the burial of the Templar Knights, the Tomar Medieval Synagogue, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, the renaissance Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception.
Viana do Castelo is the most folkloric city in northern Portugal most known for its pottery and regional handicrafts. The main attractions are Praça da República, one of the most handsome squares in Portugal and its famous Chafariz Fountain, constructed in the 16th century. Here you can also admire the church of the Misericórdia, a unique structure featuring Roman arches and Renaissance balconies. The municipal museum displays rare ceramics, furniture, paintings and archaeological discoveries.
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