An Overview of Portugal

Lisbon’s Baixa and Alfama districts are the city’s oldest, an intriguing mix of cobbled streets and classical architecture below the Castelo de São Jorge, which presides over this large city. Downtown, closer to the river Tejo, you will find open and airy piazzas and the lively Bairro Alto district with its tiled pavements, cafes and restaurants, noticeably restored since hosting the World Expo in 1999.

The riverside suburb of Belém has some of the city’s best attractions, including the magnificent Manueline-styled Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and several good museums showing remnants of the city before the devastating 1755 earthquake. You’ll also notice the city’s most photographed monument, the Torre del Belem, commemorating the country’s maritime exploration achievements.

Just under an hour from Lisbon is the beautiful town of Sintra, set among wooded hills with its Disney-styled Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Palácio Nacional da Pena, Convento dos Capuchos and rambling Monserrate Gardens. Also nearby is Évora, a charming ancient rural village.

Along the southern Algarve coastline, towering cliffs and secluded beaches look out towards the lonely6253930521_7383fcd5bd_b Atlantic Ocean and back on delightful villages. Dramatic Sagres, busy Lagos, picturesque Portimao, lively Albufeira, Vilamoura (casino and marina) and Vila Real de Santo Antonio (marina) and historic Silves (inland) are all popular. Faro is the area’s main hub, a historic town with remains of its old city walls and a delightful old town area.

Popular with tourists, the entire coast has excellent facilities for relaxing and enjoying good food at typical Portuguese pace. To escape the crowds, the Serra de Monchique (mountains) is a refreshing and cool respite from the coast and has some excellent vistas among the forests near Fóia.

Oporto’s attractions include the Old Relação Prison and the Wine Institute Building, with its marble memorial stones describing dates and facts about the history of wines from the region. The Santo Lázaro’s Garden is possibly the most ancient municipal garden in Portugal and a tranquil place to take a stroll. The nearby Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s scenic highlights, with expansive panoramas and endless vineyards.