#Portugal #europe #lisbon #porto #tavira #travel #geography
Situated along the southwestern region of Europe and washed by the Atlantic Ocean along the southern and western sides, Portugal is a small country with a lot of oomph! The country features diverse landscapes that cover everything from elusive beaches and vibrant national parks to off-beat villages and cosmopolitan cities. The strategic geographic location of Portugal is what makes it such an alluring place to visit. There are so many amazing places to visit and so many impressive monumental structures to witness in Portugal. So, if you are planning a trip to Portugal, here are some of the most charming places that you have to visit.
One of the most enticing cities of Europe is the capital of Portugal- Lisbon. The city is built along the River Tagus and also serves as an Atlantic port while having a backdrop of a line of smaller hills. There are many terrific historical and architectural wonders for you to explore in this terrific cosmopolitan city. The Castelo de São Jorge is worth visiting and you cannot miss Alfama, which is the oldest region in the city.
Lisbon has a face that depicts modernity at its finest on the eastern side at Parque das Nações with brilliant creations such as the Oceanário. On the other hand, Western Lisbon has placed such as Belém which is historically very significant. The offbeat Torre de Belém as well as the impressive Mosteiro dos Jerónimos are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites and thus you have to visit them. In between the two sections of the city you can walk through the most beautiful riverfront esplanades and click surreal panoramas from the many viewpoints spread throughout the city.
Sintra is an enchanting and intriguing place to visit and is just a one-hour train ride away from the capital city. It is a sightseeing gem within Portugal and also a UNESCO site, recognizing the place for its elaborate cultural landscape. The small town is filled with interesting historical features and you should spend at least one whole day in this place to explore it. This makes it an excellent day-trip destination from Lisbon.
The Palácio Nacional is one of the most prominent structures that you could see in Sintra. It has signature styled twin-chimneys which stand tall upon a beautiful square with small houses having pale pink to ochre hue, splashed with yellow. The Castelo dos Mouros looks down upon this entire, stunning setting from up above and is carved out from the granite escarpment along which it is situated. The Palácio da Pena is built on the highest hill in the region and dates back to the 19th century when it was used as a summer palace by the royal family. Many hiking trails are expanding throughout Sintra. However, you have to be well-versed with hiking to be able to conquer the difficult hilly terrain of this place. You will get many picturesque scenic views from the highest points on Sintra.
Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, also happens to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world. It offers a kind of offbeat and captivating charm that is very difficult to find anywhere else. The narrow pedestrian walkways, the baroque churches, the sprawling plazas, and the epic theatres make Porto a terrific place to spend some quiet time away from your everyday hustle.
Porto is also one of the best places to try the amazing Port wines. Vila Nova de Gaia has some of the ancient port wineries which are centuries old and you could some of the best ports here. Walking across an age-old bridge from here, you will land in Ribeira district which is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Certain modern architectural inclusions in the form of restaurants, cafes, exciting nightlife settings have been cropping up fast in Porto giving it a distinct flavor.
Évora is situated in the heart of Alentejo and is often regarded as the Queen of Alentejo. The place has some of the most well-preserved relics and monuments from ancient times and makes way for an interesting gateway for someone interested in history and architecture. It has also been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its amazing features. It is a walled area dating back to the 14th century and has terrific sites to witness. The impressive medieval cathedral is a stunning monument to witness, just like the elaborate Roman ruins which include the Templo Romana dating back to the 2nd century. Apart from the historical significance of the place, Évora also features excellent cuisine. The restaurants and cafes in this region serve some of the best Alentejan cuisines you will ever find.
Óbidos could be described as a dreamy fantasy land crafted by an artist. What's more, this is a custom-made city which was given as a gift by the king to the queen. It has been a century-old tradition amongst the Portuguese royals- nowadays, the city is open t the general populace. This place has many cafes and handicraft stores along with whitewashed cottages enclosed within strong medieval walls. The Igreja De Santa maria is mesmerizing with its blue and white interiors made out of azulejos or tiles. Artworks crafted by a painter from the 17th century, Josefa de Óbidos could be found in a museum in the town square. The castle in Óbidos has been converted to a palatial hotel for the comfort of visitors and to give them an amazing experience.
Tavira is regarded as one of the most spectacular towns in the entirety of Algarve and some of the best scenic sights featured in Portugal. The Rio Gilão passes through this town cutting it into two halves while a beautiful roman footbridge joins the two sections of the town. Whether you have just entered Tavira or are done with exploring the pace, the waterfront is an amazing place to just walk around and blow off some steam. From the castle in Tavira, you will get amazing views of the entire city. Igreja de Santa do Castelo is one of the most terrific places to visit- it is a grand church wherein warrior knights have been entombed for eternity.
There is also a very famous museum situated within the town called the Núcleo Islâmico. One of the most relevant displays of the museum is an 11th-century vase with intricate artwork. Ilha de Tavira is an offshore destination within the city that you could reach by taking a ferry from the Quatro Águas jetty. It is a tremendous beach that you have to visit and has enough space for everybody even when it is the most crowded.
Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
There’s more to the Algarave than Tavira in the form of the pristine Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. It is situated along the electrifying coastline and has a long stretch of 60 km comprised of marshlands, shallow water lagoons, saltpans, and sand dune islands between Quinta do Lago and Cacela Velha and passing through Faro.
Several nature trails zig-zag through a part allowing you to explore exotic varieties of flora and fauna. If you are fond of birding, several hideouts constructed on the lakes with you an amazing vantage point. Various birds such as the purple gallinule and greater flamingos could easily be seen in this region. Among the land creatures, you should look out for the Mediterranean chameleon. The San Lorenzo golf course is another point that all kinds of birds frequent and is a haven for bird watchers.
Parque Natural de Serra da Estrela
The "Star Mountains" or Serra de Estrela rises to a height of 1.993 meters and opens up into a broad plateau. This is a significant geographical landmark of Portugal and is among the highest points in the country. The plateau is often covered in snow, though the duration is short-lived. However, lively adventurers would seek this exciting opportunity to go skiing along the slopes.
The Serra de Estrela is an even more interesting place when it is not snowing. It is "the place" to go on hiking expeditions in Portugal. Many long-distance trails are crisscrossing throughout the entire terrain. You will come across many villages along with one of your treks, the most prominent of which are the villages of Linhares and Valezim.
Elvas is located on the eastern side of the country and is about 15 km from the border of Spain. A journey to Elvas would be long and tiring but the grandeur of architecture that awaits you at the end is worth the effort. Elvas is surrounded by brilliantly structured, heavy, walls shaped in the form of a star for military fortifications. It is a stunning sight and a prime example of the intricacies of architecture prevalent in Europe in the mid-17th century. In fact, the structure is so alluring that UNESCO has declared it to be a World Heritage Site.
At Elvas, you’ll get to enjoy all the glory and grandeur from the past in the form of well-preserved deep moats, imposing walls, and star-shaped ramparts. The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação is one of the most stunning attractions within the city walls.
Parque Natural da Arrábida
Of you travel just 40 k towards the south of Lisbon, you could easily escape the urban cacophony and enter a world of calm, quiet, and peace in the Parque Natural da Arrábida. The national park is located between Setúbal and Sesimbra upon the gentle slopes of the Serra da Arrábida mountains and is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by golden sandy beaches. If you are a fan of outdoor pursuits, this park is an amazing place to let your adrenaline flow through biking, hiking, walking, climbing, swimming, and jumping along the rocky coastline.
If you are looking for some fun activities in the waters you could head to Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo. It is a picturesque spot lined with limestone formations and is a great place to enjoy water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and diving. You could also go out and book a tour of the Convento da Arrábida. It was built in 1542 by Franciscan monks and the tour takes you through the interesting history and the many gardens, shrines, cells, and the monastery building. The Portinho da Arrábida village is a place of retreat, a place where you can chill after a busy day and should be visited if you are just looking for some quiet time. There are many restaurants in his region serving excellent food with a scenic view of the Bay of Setúbal.
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