From the rumble of Lisbon’s streetcars to the crashing of waves on the shores of the Algarve, the sights and sounds of Portugal will capture your imagination. Discover remnants from its time as a powerful global empire, explore perfectly preserved medieval towns and doze on pristine beaches.
For a glimpse into Portugal’s past, head for the history-filled capital, Lisbon. The city is home to famous Moorish-influenced monuments including the intricately designed Jeronimos Monastery. The 16th-century Belém Tower was originally built to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. Towering above the city are the Moorish fortifications of Castelo de São Jorge. Join one of the daily guided tours to learn more about this castle and its galleries, which display historical relics.
Take a daytrip from Lisbon to Quinta da Regaleira, a decorative palace and gardens set on a hillside in Sintra. Visitors can inspect various ornate rooms, statues, fountains, underground tunnels, a chapel and even an aquarium.
Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto, is also worth visiting. Stroll over the Dom Luís I Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, which spans the Douro River and connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. Sample the region’s namesake Port dessert wine.
For sun, sea, sand and golfing opportunities, head for Portugal’s sunny, southern coastal region, the Algarve. View the magnificent rock formations at Ponta da Piedade, south of Lagos. Famous for its jagged multicolored sandstone cliffs, caves and grottoes, this headland is remarkably photogenic.
Portuguese cuisine is built around local ingredients. In all coastal regions, seafood is a staple of the diet. Don’t leave without trying Belem’s pastel de nata (egg custard tart) and the famous sweet Porto wine.
Summer is peak season across Portugal, particularly in beach regions. Visit during September when the weather is still pleasant and the crowds fewer. The country is served by four main airports: Lisbon, Faro, Porto and Funchal. Enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of this warm and welcoming nation.