If you want a short description of Portugal, it goes something like this: a golfing heaven, outstanding landscape, diversity and glamorous resorts. Portugal can be regarded as a condensed/micro version of the European Union, because it’s enough to visit this country and you’ll understand the European way of life, its culture and its natural beauty.
Portugal shares with Spain a region of the Iberian Peninsula but it’s somewhat isolated both geographically and culturally from its bigger neighbor. This country has a very rich and unique culture, cities bursting with life and exquisite scenery.
Maybe the most interesting aspect of visiting Portugal is the diversity of its landscape. In just one day of travel you can enjoy the green northern mountains, featuring spectacular slopes and covered with epic vines, beautiful falls in the Centre of the country, a wild and rough desert landscape in the Alentajo region or high end resorts and sunny beaches in Algarve.
With a population of approximately 10 million people and a land area of 35,603 square miles, Portugal is a relatively small country in southwestern Europe, a member of the European Union since 1986 and bordered by Spain to the north/east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west.
Continental Portugal is one thing, but you can also visit the paradisiac archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, which are autonomous regions of Portugal.
Visiting Portugal will be a delight for your senses, thanks to the country’s vibrant cities, untouched old villages, the stunningly beautiful beaches and its rolling countryside.
What to do, what to see in Portugal
Two of the liveliest cities in Portugal are the capital Lisbon and its northern and vibrant kin, Porto. These cities are a joy to discover, thanks to their old and narrow streets, their bohemian café culture, the beautiful and majestic old plazas, not to mention the trams which rattle up and down the roads, the luring boutiques, the vibrant night life and the gourmet restaurants.
But it’s not all about Porto and Lisbon; you can also visit the impressive National Palace, an epic villa or the Moorish castle in Sintra. If you like old/medieval cities, look no further than Braga, Evora, Coimbra or Guimaraes, all beautifully preserved and veritable tourist traps. For example, in Evora you will find a chapel built entirely from human bones, being as creepy as it gets.
For those of you enjoying the simplicity of rural life, Portugal has a lot to offer: you can wander around visiting ancient stone villages and vineyards located in the mountains or enjoy the stunningly beautiful shoreline, a warm and sunny place ideal for spending your holiday.
The Alfama District is home for traditional taverns, steep staircases and old churches, not to mention the out-of-this-age tram that’s still in service, rattling through the city’s narrow streets.
If you like baroque architecture and especially old churches, Braga is the answer to your prayers, being Portugal’s spiritual heart, boasting with its baroque churches, an ancient cathedral and melancholic ruins dating way back to the Roman empire.
You can enjoy a dramatic view over the windswept and rugged beaches of Portugal by visiting the cliff top heights outside of Sagres, namely Cabo de Sao Vicente.
Coa Valley is an archeological park and the place to admire a stunning collection of stone carvings dating way back from the Upper Paleolithic age.
Coimbra harbors Portugal’s oldest university and it’s imbibed into Portuguese culture, being an exquisite old town filled with medieval alleyways and churches and bursting with student life.
If you’re a wine aficionado, Douro Valley offers you an unforgettable experience in wine tasting and a delight for your eyes, thanks to its beautiful vineyards and epic scenery.
If you’re a petrol head, you can visit the world-renowned Estoril racetrack, which is located very close to Lisbon and where you can enjoy watching motorcycle or car races.
Evora can be described as a museum of a city, being an impeccably preserved old medieval town that reached its peak in the 15th century. The Centre is walled and harbors an ancient Roman temple, a cathedral and serene plazas.
Portugal is world famous for its melancholic Fado music that can be enjoyed in atmospheric clubs and bars in Coimbra or Lisbon.
If you’re a golfer, Portugal invested massively in some of the best golf courses in the world, especially around Algarve and Estoril, while Quinta de Lago being arguably the best of the bunch.
Tomar harbors the intriguing Knights Templar Castle and all sorts of medieval relics, making for one of Portugal’s most impressive historical sites.
Watersports like surfing, scuba diving, kitesurfing and windsurfing can be enjoyed at a multitude of resorts located along the coast of Portugal.
International calls to Portugal / Chamadas internacionais para Portugal
The cheapest way to make a phone call Portugal is by using 011Now services.
Food and Drink
Portuguese cuisine is one of my favorites, definitely worth exploring thoroughly and consisting mostly of seafood, i.e. anchovy, clams, bass, salmon, sea brem, swordfish, sole and what not. A spice called peri peri is used for flavoring shrimp and chicken along with curry sauces. The Portuguese people also love grilled beef with garlic, suckling pig and pork with clams. Chocolate mousse is highly regarded as a delicacy here, along with lots of sugar/egg yolk based cakes. Specialties include salted cod with scrambled eggs, potatoes and onions (bacalhau a bras), stuffed squid, shrimp stew and traditional custard/ cheese filled tarts, along with fine wines (Porto wine is famous) and liquors (Ginjinha or Beirao).
If you’re not a member of the European Union, you’ll require a valid passport for visiting the country (no Visa); else, a national ID card will do the trick.