Portugal may be a small country but there are so many interesting things to do and places to visit within its territory. Being one of the oldest countries in Europe, Portugal is rich in historical and cultural sites. And because of its geographical location, it is abundant in natural wonders such as lovely beaches and stunning landscapes. Here are some of the experiences you should make sure to visit while staying in this majestic country.
The country’s capital is one of the main attractions in Portugal. Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon offers beautiful beaches to its visitors. Ericeira in Mafra is one of the popular destinations in Lisbon, both with the locals and tourists. Amateur surfers also flock to this area. Belem is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and Torre de Belem. With its remarkable turrets, the monastery is said to be built as a tribute to Vasco de Gama’s discovery of the route to India while Torre de Belem played a significant role in Portugal’s maritime discoveries. There are also numerous castles and palaces to explore, such as the Castelo de Sao Jorge in the Alfama district. Colorful houses and narrow alleys make the city more interesting. Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is one of the many museums, and is said to be the finest of them all, you would want to wander while in the city. Its small but diverse and magnificent collections include Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Asian and European art. Museu de Arte Antiga, which focuses on ancient Portuguese art and Muceu Nacional dos Coches, which features a collection of horse-drawn carriages, are both equally visit worthy. The latter, located right next door to the President of the Republic’s official residence, is Portugal’s most visited museum.
Aveiro is Portugal’s Venice with its canals, bridges and moliceiros, the gondolas counterpart. A canal trip aboard these colorful and beautifully painted moliceiros is the best way to spend a day in this fascinating city. There are also sandy beaches in Sao Jacinto, Barra and Costa Nova where you can surf, sail or go kayaking. Or you can just have some fun under the sun.
For a more secluded vacation, Minho is the best place to be. It is a province of green gardens and traditional houses. In this province are two of Portugal’s important cities: Braga and Guimaraes.
Braga is where you can find Portugal’s most photographed church, the Bom Jesus do Monte. People come here to see the church or even for a pilgrimage. It is considered the religious capital of the country due to its numerous churches and sanctuaries. Impressive Semana Santa festivities are also celebrated here. Another historically and culturally significant church is in Alcobaca. The Monastery of Alcobaca displayed magnificent Gothic architecture and is also home to the sculpted tombs of Pedro I of Portugal and his mistress Ines de Castro. The Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitoria in Batalha is another Gothic building in this part of Portugal. It was built in commemoration of the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385.
Being the first capital of Portugal, Guimaraes is another interesting city to visit with its cobbled stones and historical structures. The Castelo de Guimaraes is one of the most important historical symbols in Portugal. No wonder, it is classified as another UNESCO World Heritage site. Other remarkable sights in Guimaraes are Citaniade Briteiros, Praca Oliveira, Igreja de Sao Francisco and Paco dos Duques de Braganca.
Another place to visit is the Portuguese island called Madeira. It is an island of amazing natural beauty from cliffs to mountains and nature’s garden of bird-of-paradise flowers and jacaranda trees. Aside from its lovely beaches, there are natural sea pools along the coasts of Madeira; great hangouts for families who want to unwind and just relax. Don’t skip tabuas de Madeira when you happen to stumble upon the village of Monte. The snowless sled ride is one of Madeira’s attractions and should never be missed. There is also a cable car service that offers passengers superb views of the city while floating above it.
Experience the country’s liveliest and most festive market shows in Barcelos. It is a market town near Rio Cavado where you can buy different handicrafts. Wood, ceramic and other locally made products are available. Buying souvenirs here is the best way to end your Portugal trip.