Portugal is a country sharing a border with Spain, which is the longest one in the EU.
The country is noted to be the 3rd most peaceful in the world, which makes it very appealing for tourists to visit. It has green mountains, desert-like landscapes and gorgeous beaches. Therefore there is a vast array of scenery. Portugal is also very popular as a golfing haven as it has a large number of golf courses. It is popular with surfers too as the Algarve has a stunning coastline. Portugal may be a budget friendly destination, but it has a rich culture and is home to a plethora of lively cities to visit.
What to do/see in Portugal
Blessed with glorious weather most of the year round, it would be rude not to take advantage of Portugal’s glittering coastline. However, if you are not a fan of the sand then Lisbon’s Oceanarium is one of Europe’s largest array of fish and marine animals. With a structural design which will leave you in awe it can still make you feel part of the ocean culture.
For those in search of historical gems then Tomar is a huge castle, which is well worth a visit. It shields the Convento do Cristo and is very mysterious as it adorns many strange symbols, hidden spiral staircases and a Manueline window. For architecture of a different nature go to Oporto, where Torre de Clerigo and all its Baroque glory stands tall above the town (75 metres to be exact). You can climb its 200 plus steps to witness the divine views from the top.
For literary enthusiasts you should go to Livraria Lello, which is a Neo-Gothic bookstore in Porto where you will be taken aback by the breath-taking Art Nouveau interior design. Or if this is not your ‘thing’ then the Electricity Museum in Lisbon is highly informative and describes how this factory once powered the entire city.
Lastly the Palacio da Bolsa in Oporto boasts both an affluent exterior and interior. Inside you can find the Arabian Room adorned in blue and gold shimmer which was built by merchants in the 19th century.
Where to stay in Portugal
Portugal has an amazing choice of different types of accommodation and most are affordable.
The Collectors Hostel in Braga is stunningly decorated with a boat-like top floor (making you feel like you have a place at the beach) and a terrace which has spectacular views over the city.
For those of you looking for more of a designed boutique hotel you could check out Torre de Palma Wine Hotel, which is situated in Alentejo and is steeped in historical Roman ruins. With horses, swimming pools and plenty of wine you will not be sorry you visited.
Endeus has a wide selection of holiday rentals in Portugal. So if you don’t find what you are looking for above then consider a luxury apartment for rent or a cosy room in the heart of the city.
- While in Portugal there are several ways to get around. Think about purchasing a tourist card, which enables you to get discount (or sometimes even free) public transport and also offers discounts on other tourist attractions. Always make sure you have paid for transport before you board as otherwise you will be fined heavily.
- Another good way to explore the country is to rent a car. When you rent a car, check that the car has the electronic device to pay for your tolls on the motorways (some don’t have the toll gates) or work out a way you will pay this after your journey. Be careful not to drive in the ‘Via Verde’ lane as this will automatically charge you a debit payment for the use of the lane.
- Portugal has an amazing coastline, which is very attractive to tourists who want to relax and spend time on the beach. It is important to note that the currents can very often be strong and are capable of pulling people out to sea. Please assess the situation before wading in too deep and make sure you are strong enough to deal with the waves.
- Last but not least when eating out note that olives, bread, cheese and other small dishes you did not order are not free. You can politely send them back untouched if you don’t wish to pay extra on your bill, the waiter will not be offended. Also when buying fish at a restaurant ask the price in advance as fish is charged by its individual weight.
Lisbon has stunning sunlight and sunsets which are a photographer’s paradise. For an unusual experience make Bordallo Pinheiro Garden your first destination, where you have a mini jungle of animals sculpted from china. For a different type of ‘jungle’ head to the Alfama district and wander in its labyrinth of medieval architecture. To unwind you simply must go to Procopio which is a bar steeped in Art Nouveau. You feel like you are stepping back in time with its dimly-lit glass chandeliers and dark wood interior. Ask for a Ginjinha shot, which is Lisbon’s signature liqueur to toast to the splendour of the city.
You jet into the city and touchdown at Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport. Don’t waste a second of your Porto adventure; dive into the riverside area for stupendous views of the Luis Bridge and exploration of its myriad of steep winding streets. For fairy-tale views head to The Farol Molhe do Douro Lighthouse, where you can navigate the trend-setting district of Foz do Douro which oozes in charisma. Envelop yourself in the Livraria Lello; a Neo-Gothic bookstore with a stained glass ceiling and arched staircase. Wind down and finish the day with a glass of Port after taking a tour of the historic wine caves.
A former fishing village has become a hidden beauty-spot in the Algarve. The aquatic activities on offer here are impressively extensive. Paddle board into one of the many caves and be enchanted by the ethereal glows inside. You can float in the warm waters then zone-out and watch the exterior of the cliffs. Some of the rock faces have interchangeable colours as the sun shines. Replenish your energy by braving a Caldeirada stew brimming with a delicious variety of seafood and vegetables. For neoclassical architecture you can visit the Igreja Matriz church or the Castelo de Paderne medieval ruins which are entrenched in olive groves.