One of the tiniest countries in Europe is also among the most colourful
Two of Lisbon’s richest art patrons have private collections that are museums in themselves: the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum contains the fabulous works of Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet and Lalique, as well as rare treasures from the East. The Berardo Museum, which is free, brings to you modern art masterpieces by Warhol, Picasso and Dali. Do not miss the Ancient Art Museum, packed with Oriental and European artefacts that highlight the Golden Age of Portugal’s colonial history. So, if you wish to plan an artistic sojourn, surf through the list of Lisbon Hotels and pick what suits your tastes and affordability.
You will want to spend at least three days here. Portugal’s finest city demands that. Check out Jeronimo’s Monastery in the Alfama district. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the resting place of Vasco da Gama, and among most beautiful cloisters in the world. There is no better view of the city than from St. George’s Castle, where peacocks roam the 1,000-year-old battlements. Check out the Belem Tower, a Renaissance-era monument to the Age of Discovery, and also a world heritage site.
Nothing describes the acme of Portugal’s forays into the world than the Sao Roque Church. Gold mined from Brazil sparkles everywhere in its interior. Take a closer look at the Chapel of St. John the Baptist; what might appear as mere paintings are exquisite mosaics exported from Rome to celebrate the heyday of Christian dominance. Check out the Santa Catarina Church not far away for more baroque-era brilliance.
Just outside of Lisbon, Sintra is not considered Portugal’s most beautiful town for nothing. Walking its winding, cobblestoned streets past venerable bakeries and quirky modern boutiques will leave you charmed and bewildered. Stunning monasteries and the best of 19thcentury Roman architecture jump at you from the verdant hillsides. Do not miss the Pena Palace, the Queluz National Palace and the eccentric Montserrat Palace. So plan your stay in Portugal’s most beautiful town. Plan your stay by booking in advance into one of the good Sinthra Hotels so that the journey remains memorable.
In between revelling in the finest European architecture from the Dark Ages to the Romance of the 19th century, unwind at Sintra’s many beaches, all connected by a 100-year-old tramway, which winds along the coast. Start at Colare Beach, perfect for the whole family. Those seeking solitude will find it a short trek away to the secluded Adraga Beach. Sports enthusiasts, head to the Praia Grande. Visit Cabo do Roca and view the mighty Atlantic from mainland Europe’s western-most point. Book into one of the finest Colares Hotels online and enjoy special seasonal discounts. Planning in advance will help you have some leisure time with your dear ones.
Take the beach theme further and explore the highlight of Portugal’s riviera—Costa do Sol. It all happens in the town of Estoril, which has merged with the former fishing village of Cascais, to form a major beach resort. It was once the holiday destination of European royalty, and you can still get a sense of it as you stroll along the streets. Check out the Boca de Inferno (Mouth of Hell) to see the Atlantic at its most fearsome, roiling, crashing best. Book into one of the Estoril Hotels and stay there for the night. Leave the hotel early in the morning all set to explore this unique town. Don’t forget to carry your camera along.
Hundred kilometres north of Lisbon is the enchanting, medieval walled city of Obidos. The view from its ramparts is of charming windmills, vineyards and whitewashed, terracotta-roofed villages. Inside is a labyrinth of winding streets with old houses covered by cascading bougainvillea. Carry on to Alcobaca for the magnificent Cistercian Abbey of St. Maria built in the 12th century. In Batalha, check out the 14th-century Gothic masterpiece, the Santa Maria da Vitoria Monastery. Check into any of the hotels listed in Obidos Hotels List and enjoy a good sleep. Next day, walk out with your camera and click the beautiful sights in the city.
Nearly 200km from Lisbon is Coimbra, where a whole day can be spent just soaking in medieval architecture. Check out the Cathedral of Se Velha, then head on to the Velha Universidade, founded in 1537. The Biblioteca Geral da Universidade, which came up two hundred years later in the 18th century, is a must-see. Heading back in time a little, check out the grandiose Igreja de Mosteiro (the Santa Cruz Church and Monastery), where Portugal’s first two kings are buried. A visit here is incomplete without staying for a week or a couple of days. Check the Coimbra Hotels List and pick a stay that suits your requirement and budget. Check for deals and offers to save some more money on your stay.
Apart from being Portugal’s second-largest city, this is the birthplace of port wine, the nectar of choice of distinguished gentry all over medieval Europe. It is also where Portugal got its name from. Situated on the banks of the River Douro, this UNESCO World Heritage city is known for its architecture and its most famous produce—the port wine. When done with the 14th-century Sao Francisco Church, check out wine lodges of Caves Ramos Pinto and Porto Sandeman, Porto’s best wine producers. So why not plan an elaborate stay in one of the Porto Hotels after checking the Porto Hotels List. Be wise with your choice of hotels and take proximity to major landmarks in mind while doing the booking.
Jose Mourinho’s home city is on the list of 30 most beautiful bays in the world, which means quality beaches and the finest conditions for water-sports. It is also home to Portugal’s sardine industry and muscatel wine, making it the best place for great seafood. Check out the 16thcentury cathedral Santa Maria de Graca and the stunning Igreja de Jesus, built in the unique Gothic-Manueline style of the 15th century. If you wish to explore this place in great detail, check the Setubal Hotels List and pick a stay that suits your travel goals. Plan a budget for the sojourn to make sure you are able to manage finances and time.
Here is where it all started, Portugal’s forays into the world as colonialists. Ancient people believed the nearby Cabo de Sao Vicente to be the end of the world, and this is where the fearless Vasco da Gama embarked upon his tour of the world with his caravels. Sagres is dotted with little beaches, the most popular one being Mareta, where the wind-swept Atlantic offers the perfect playground for water-sports enthusiasts. There are umpteen options in Sagres Hotels List and you will surely find a stay to suit your needs and requirements. You can observe the beauty of Portugal Ports once you have booked a stay in one of these hotels.
Travel east from Sagres to the famed region of the Algarve, the launch pad for many of Portugal’s explorations. The beaches are high quality and the climate sunny all year round.Spend time in the capital city of Faro and soak in its history. The town of Silves blends old-world Arab and European charm, and Lagos is a snapshot of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Portimao and Albufeira are lively, bustling towns. The Algarve is known for its thermal baths, golf courses, and unparalleled hospitality. The list of Portimao Hotels is vast and everyone has something to suit his or her needs. There are resorts with spas for those who choose comfort and there are well decorated rooms for those who keep ambience as their priority.
Portuguese dining etiquette demands that you pay for whatever you eat, whether or not you ordered it. So the bread, olives or nuts that the waiter brings to your table is not free. Ask for the cost, and feel free to return it.