Portugal is one of the most-visited countries in Europe – and for good reason. It’s ideal climate, beautiful countryside and rich history make it a perfect vacation destination for everyone. Here’s our list of the best places to visit on your trip to Portugal:
Lisbon. No trip to Portugal is complete without visiting the capital. Built on 7 hills, Lisbon is a bustling city that is a grand mixture of the old and the new. Don’t miss St. George’s Castle in the old Alfama District and first built by the Romans over 2000 years ago. Explore the night life in the Bairro Alto where you can find some of the most popular eateries in the city. And take a vintage tram tour of the city, where you’ll be able to experience some of the main attractions the city has to offer.
Sintra. Just outside of Lisbon is the town of Sintra, which is one of the most famous places in Portugal to visit. The town is just exquisite, with the Pena Palace at the center of it all. Once a royal residence built by King Ferdinand II in the 1830s on the ruins of an old monastery, this fairytale palace is reminiscent of Neuschwanstein Castle in build by King Ludwig II in Germany, and is truly a sight to see. There’s also the Palace of Sintra, which is the oldest palace in town, and many other gardens, monestaries, and country estates that will capture your imagination.
Aveiro. Located Ria de Aveiro lagoon, Aveiro is considered “The Venice of Portugal” for its unique bridges, their high-bow boats and their network of canals. Take a ride in a moliceiro – the traditional boats that were used to navigate the canals and now are used by tourists to explore the town. Relax on the beaches and explore some of the more famous sites, including Sao Goncalinho Chapel, the Averio Cathedral, and the Convento de Jesus.
Porto. Portugal is known for its port wine, and no better place to explore the history of the wine than its namesake Porto. Here, you can explore the vineyards and tour the cellars of some of the areas oldest wineries, including Real Companhia Velha, Caves Sandeman and Taylor’s Port, whose histories go back hundreds of years. While there, don’t miss the other attractions of the second-largest city in Portugal. Take a leisurely stroll through the riverside area of Cais da Ribeira, or explore one of the many cathedrals and churches in this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Guimarães. If you want to go back to the roots of where Portugal began, you need look no further than Guimarães. It was here with the victory during the Battle of São Mamede in 1128 that this small country started to take shape. Make sure you visit both the 10th century medieval castle and Ducal Palace as you spend time in the city.
Faro. The Algarve region is the most famous region in Portugal, and its most famous city is Faro. In addition to the surround beaches, you’ll find much to do. Explore the Roman ruins or the Palácio de Estói. Take a Ria Formosa Cruise to see the nature reserve along the coast. Or just take a walk down the streets to explore its ancient walls and historical sites.
Coimbra. Coimbra once was the capital of Portugal and has a rich history. The town is home to the oldest university in the country - the University of Coimbra – and as soon as you walk the streets you can feel the prestige of the university. Make sure you visit the Biblioteca Joanina, which was built in the 1720s and houses over 250,000 books dating from the 1500s to the 1700s on various topics – it also maintains a colony of bats bred to eat insects that would damage the books! Of course the cathedrals, churches and gardens are all must-sees on your trip, but for a little bit of whimsy check out the Portugal dos Pequenitos park, which contains kid-sized models of Coimbra, famous Portuguese monuments, and landmarks from Portugal’s former colonies.
Are you ready to plan a trip to Portugal? Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your dream vacation today.
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