So much more than custard tarts and fortified wine, Portugal has a colourful history of seafarers and explorers which emanates from many of its landmarks and museums. Nowadays, the nation radiates life, culture, great flavours and relaxing vibes. From the urban vivacity of Lisbon and Porto to the tranquil waters of the Algarve and Madeira, Portugal offers holidays for the soul.
February - October
The nation’s capital, Lisbon, is a hub of culture and shopping. Winding streets spread out over a series of hills, revealing beautifully quaint buildings whichever way you walk. Martim Moniz, a hotbed of quirky street stalls and art installations will allow you to witness the huge mixture of tourists that the city attracts. Later, enjoy the sun set over the bay from the Miradouro-area, or alternatively, from the original castle on the hill, Castelo de S. Jorge. Tasty treats can be sampled in pastel de nata (custard tarts) almost everywhere, while a host of savoury options can be found at the Time Out Market. Nights are best capped off with a drink in hand as you head to the famous Clube do Fado in Alfama to catch some traditional Portuguese blues. These fado performances are a mainstay around the city, and are dripping with emotion and energy - there really aren't many other things like it in the world.
While in Porto, take in some of the hidden gems in the city. Visit Lello and Irmao, one of the oldest and arguably most beautiful book stores in the world, with carved wooden interiors and a host of captivating texts. Admire the views of the city from Torre dos Clerigos or tuck into the city’s signature dish, the francesinha. Consisting of layers of bread, different types of meat, cheese and topped with a fried egg, this hearty dish will fill your belly ahead of the essential port wine tour that the city is known for.
Portugal is also full of beautiful coastlines and scenic islands. At the very south of the country, the sandy beaches of the Algarve stretch as far as the eye can see. Away from the mainland you’ll find the Azores, a cluster of islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which contain marvellous caves and caverns as well as the highest mountain in Portugal, Mount Pico. Further south you’ll find the island of Madeira, a prime spot to go whale and dolphin watching for the experience of a lifetime. The island is also a good location to sample famous local fortified wine, while watching the sunset over the statue of football star, and Madeira native, Cristiano Ronaldo.
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