DESTI NATIONS 01
WELCOME BRIEF HISTORY The Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited for at least 30,000 years. If you wish to see the earliest evidence of human habitation in Portugal, visit the ancient Palaeolithic inscriptions near Vila Nova de Foz Côa in the Alto Douro region. In the first millennium BC Celtic people settled in the northern and western Portugal areas around 700 BC. Dozens of citânias (fortified villages) popped up, such as the great Citânia de Briteiros near Guimarães. Further south, Phoenician traders, followed by Greeks and Carthaginians, founded coastal stations. When the Romans swept into southern Portugal in 210 BC, they expected an easy victory. But they stumpled upon a Celtic warrior tribe based between the Rio Tejo and Rio Douro that resisted ferociously for half a century. They were called the Lusitani and Viriato was their Leader.The conquest of the territory was only possible with the poisoning of Viriato that dictated the colapse of the resistance. By 19 BC the Romans had eliminated all traces of Lusitanian independence. A capital was established at Olissipo (Lisbon) in 60 BC, and Christianity became firmly rooted in Portugal. The most interesting sites of the Roman period are Conimbriga near Coimbra and the monumental remains of the so-called Temple of
Diana in Evora among others. After 600 years under Roman rule and with the colapse of the Empire, Portugal was invaded by Barbarian tribes such as Vandals, Visigoths and Suevi but their internal disputes paved the way for the next great wave of Invaders: The Moors (North African Muslims). They quickly occupied the Southern region and established a capital at Shelb – Silves. They were tolerant of Jews and Christians and the region enjoyed peace and prosperity for centuries. The Moorish Heritage can be seen and felt still nowadays in Portugal. A lot of words and dozens of place names come from Arabic words: Alfama, Algarve (El-Gharb) Fatima, Silves etc … Meanwhile in the North, Christian forces were gaining strength and in the 11th century the Christian Reconquest hotted up. With the help of European Crusaders important moves were made against the “Infidels”. The struggle continued in successive generations until Afonso Henriques – First King of Portugal – took back Santarém and Lisbon from the Moors. By the time he died in 1185, the Portuguese frontier was secure to the Rio Tejo, though it would take another century before the south was torn from the Moors.
In 1297 the boundaries of the Portuguese kingdom – much the same then as they are today – were formalised with neighbouring Castile. The Kingdom of Portugal had arrived. The centuries to come were marked by successive battles for dominance between Portugal and the Spanish kingdoms and the Portuguese aliance with England. In the 15th century peace was more or less established and allowed Portugal to know its Golden Era with the Maritime Discoveries. It was King João’s third son, Henry – later known as Henry The Navigator that led Portugal into extraordinary explorations across the seas. These explorations were to transform the small kingdom into a great imperial power. The biggest breakthrough came in 1497 during the reign of Manuel I, when Vasco da Gama reached southern India. With gold and slaves from Africa and spices from the East, Portugal was soon rolling in riches. Spain, that had also entered the race of maritime exploration started soon to dispute Portuguese claims. The conflict was resolved by the Treaty of Tordesillas that divided the World between the two great powers along a line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands. Portugal won the lands to the east of the line, including Brazil, officially claimed in 1500. The circumnavigation of the World took place in 1519 and was led by the Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães that passed the Cape of
Good Hope in South Africa reaching countries such as China and Japan and giving proof that the Earth was round. Unfortunately this golden era did not last mainly due to the huge cost of the expeditions and the maintenance of the Empire. The Inquisition period marked by the expulsion of the Jews that were savvy traders only made the financial situation worse. The final straw came with the death of the Heir to the Throne – Prince Sebastian – in Morocco. Left without direct succession, Portugal was claimed by King Felipe from Spain and lost its Independence. After 60 years under Spanish rule, a group of Nationalists conspirators launched a coup and win back Portugal’s Independence in 1640. In the economic chaos of the 18th century a man stood out: The Marquis of Pombal – chief minister to the epicurean King Dom José I. Described as an enlightened despot, Pombal dragged Portugal into the modern era, crushing opposition with brutal efficiency. Pombal set up state monopolies, curbed the power of British merchants and boosted agriculture and industry. He abolished slavery and distinctions between traditional and New Christians, and overhauled
education. When Lisbon suffered a devastating earthquake in 1755, Pombal swiftly rebuilt the city. The prosperity of the country came to an end when Portugal found itself at war again when it joined England forces against the revolutionary France. Napoleon threw Portugal an ultimatum: close your ports to British shipping or be invaded. There was no way Portugal could turn its back on Britain, upon which it depended for half of its trade and protection of its sea routes. In 1807 Portugal’s royal family fled to Brazil (where it stayed for 14 years), and Napoleon’s forces marched into Lisbon, sweeping Portugal into the Peninsular War (France’s invasion of Spain and Portugal, which lasted until 1814). The English troops came to the rescue and drove the French back. Free but weakened Portugal knew one of its lowest points in its History facing internal royal conflicts and rebellions that led to the ndependence of Brazil. The second half of the 19th century was a better period as the country started its modernization. It became one of the most advanced societies in Southern Europe. Social advances were made. The educational reformer João Arroio increased the number of schools, doubling the number of boys’ schools and quadrupling the number of girls’ schools. Women gained the right to own property; slavery was abolished throughout the Portuguese empire, as was the death penalty. As elsewhere in Europe, this was also a time of great industrial growth, with a dramatic increase in textile production, much of it to be exported. Other major works included the building of bridges and a nationwide network of roads, as well as major architectural works like the Pena Palace above Sintra. However by 1900 the unsatisfaction amoung workers began to grow. With the increased mechanisation the workers began losing their jobs. Much was changing and it was a time of uncertainty that led people into looking towards socialism as a solution.
One of these interventions brought António Oliveira Salazar as finance minister and he would then rise up to become Prime-Minister – a position he would hold for almost 40 years. Salazar hastily enforced his ‘New State’ – a corporatist republic that was nationalistic, Catholic, authoritarian and essentially repressive. All political parties were banned except for the loyalist National Union, which ran the show, and the National Assembly. Strikes were banned, and propaganda, censorship and brute force kept society in order. The sinister new secret police, Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado (PIDE), inspired terror and suppressed opposition by imprisonment and torture. But it was something else that brought the era of Salazar to an end: The Decolonisation. Refusing to let go of the colonies, he was faced with growing unpopular military expeditions. He did not face the consequences as he died in 1968 of a stroke. His sucessor did not manage to control the military officers that were more and more reluctant to fight colonial wars. Several hundred officers formed the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA), which on 25 April 1974 carried out a nearly bloodless coup, later nicknamed the Revolution of the Carnations (after victorious soldiers stuck carnations in their rifle barrels). Carnations are still a national symbol of freedom. The following years were chaotic and turbulent with a speedy Independence of colonies such as Mozambique and Angola that had as consequence a flood of millions of refugees from these countries back to Portugal. These were years of economical and political turbulence that finally gain some stability with Portugal joining the European Community in 1986. Flush with new funds, it raced ahead of its neighbours with unprecedented economic growth. Despite some domestic issues, Portugal is nowadays a peaceful, stable Country and active member within the European Community.
With the assassination of King Carlos and Prince Luis Filipe, a Republic was declared in 1910. But this young republic was unstable and suffered several government changes often resulting from militar interventions.
GEOGRAPHY Portugal is located in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula lying between Spain in the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south and west. It also includes the Madeira and Azores archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean. Mainland Portugal occupies an area of 88,889 km2. It is 218 km wide and 561 km long. It has 832 km of Atlantic coast and a 1,215 km border with Spain. The Azores are situated in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America. They have an area of 2,355 km2 and consist of nine islands. It takes about two hours to get from the Azores to mainland Portugal by plane. The Madeira Archipelago has an area of 741 km2 and lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 500 km from the African coast and 1,000 km from the European continent (1½ hours flying time from Lisbon). Despite being a small country, the Portuguese natural heritage is extremely rich and diverse. The country has 5 relevant rivers, the majority of them rising in Spain and
flowing into the Atlantic. The main one – Tagus River ( Tejo) that also originates in Spain and meets the Altantic near Lisbon splits the country into two geographically very different areas. Northern Portugal is mountainous and hilly and characterised by many small farms and vineyards. The regions of the north tend to be a little cooler than the south and also have more rainfall which allows the development of the more fertile agricultural areas that predominate in the north. To the south the landscape is dominated by rolling hills and plains and the climate is warmer and drier than the north. Southern Portugal is also known as the Alentejo which means “beyond the Tejo”. The far south of the country is the region of the Algarve; a dry and sunny area mostly characterised by fishing and coastal towns, and also a very popular tourist destination. Portugal’s coastline is widespread with stunning landscape and many fabulous beaches.
CLIMATE The climate of Portugal is temperate and influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. In the north, the climate is cool and rainy, while moving south it becomes gradually warmer and sunnier; in the far south, the region of Algarve has a dry and sunny microclimate. In summer, Portugal is protected by the Azores High, so it’s usually sunny everywhere, however, a few weather fronts can still affect the northern part of the country. In the rest of the year, and especially from November to March, rainfall can occur, especially in the north where it is more frequent and abundant. Overall Portugal offers mild Winters especially in the Algarve and hot and dry Summers, cooler in the coastal line. Spring and Automn bring sunny days with mild temperatures sprinkled here and there with some rain and wind.
Azores: The climate in the Azores is influenced by the islands’ latitude and by the Gulf Stream, and temperatures are mild there all year round. The same factors also influence the sea temperature, which is very pleasant both in winter and summer and ideal for nautical sports all year round. Madeira: The subtropical characteristics of the weather in the Madeira Archipelago can be explained by its geographical position and mountainous relief. The climate in Madeira is exceptionally mild, with average temperatures varying between 24 ºC in summer and 19 ºC in winter. The sea temperature is also very pleasant all year round, thanks to the influence of the warm Gulf Stream.
POPULATION The population of Portugal is around 10.5 million. 45% of these live in the Greater Lisbon and greater Porto area. Lisbon, the capital and its suburbs has a population of about 2.1 million and Porto – the second largest city of the country – and its suburbs has another estimate 1.9 million. In general, there are more people living in the country’s coastal region than inland.
RELIGION The majority of the Portuguese population, around 80 %, belong to the Roman Catholic Church. However, you will also find a small minority of Protestants and Muslims as well as some Hindus, Jews and Buddhists as the Portuguese Constitution guarantees religious freedom.
LANGUAGE From a Latin root, Portuguese is spoken by about 250 million people and is the 5th most spoken language in the world. The Portuguese-speaking countries are scattered all over the world. Portuguese is spoken in Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Guine-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé e Príncipe), in South America (Brazil) and in Asia, (East Timor, the youngest nation in the world), and it was also in Macau
TIME Portugal, like Britain, is on GMT/UTC in winter and GMT/UTC plus one hour in summer. This puts it an hour earlier than Spain year-round. Clocks are set forward by an hour on the last Sunday in March and back on the last Sunday in October.
TRAVELLING ARROUND BY PLANE
Portugal has 5 international Airports : Lisbon International Airport Oporto International Airport Faro International Airport Funchal ( Madeira) International Airport Ponta Delgada ( Azores) International Airport
You can get to Portugal by coach. Some major coach companies operate international routes to and from Portugal. There are also regular coach services between Portugal’s main towns and cities at very affordable fares.
All major international flight companies offer regular flight connections mainly to Lisbon and Porto. Then you have 2 main portuguese airline companies that apart international connections offer as well domestic flights : TAP – Air Portugal is the country’s “flagship” airline and has scheduled flights to more than 75 international destinations and SATA Airline that offers regular flights between the islands of Azores and mainland Portugal as well as some flights to international destinations.
Portugal has a good road network composed of Motorways (AE), Main Trunk Routes (IP), Complementary Trunk Routes (IC), Main (National) Roads (EN) and Secondary (Municipal) Roads. The highways and main roads are subject to tolls payment. The majority of them are now automated toll booths, meaning that you won’t be able to simply drive through and pay an attendant. Most rental car companies hire out the small needed electronic device ( Via Verde) so it is worth asking for it at the rental desk. There are car rental services at airports, international rail terminals and in the main towns and cities. To rent a car you must:
BY TRAIN CP - Comboios de Portugal - the Portuguese railway company, offers a vast rail network covering the whole of mainland Portugal and also offers international train services to Vigo, Madrid and Paris. The fastest and most confortable rail link is called “Alfa Pendular” and connects the main cities between Lisbon and the Algarve and up North Porto and Coimbra. Then you have “Intercidades” trains that cover a wider range of cities and finally regional and suburban trains for local rides. Rates are rather cheap when compared to other European countries, which turns it into a nice and affordable option to get around in the country.
- be over 21 or 25 years old, depending on the company’s rental policy; - show identification (identity card for EU citizens or a valid passport for other nationalities); - have had a driving licence for more than one year. For an additional fee you can get personal insurance through the rental company, unless you’re covered by your home policy. A minimum of third-party coverage is compulsory in the EU.
INSURANCE Your home insurance policy may or may not be extendable to Portugal, and the coverage of some comprehensive policies automatically drops to third party outside your home country unless the insurer is notified. If you hire a car, the rental firm will provide you with registration and insurance papers, plus a rental contract. Should you be involved in a minor collision with no injuries, the easiest way to sort things out with the insurance company is to fill out a form called European Accident Statement. The rental car companies usually provide one of these in the documents they handled to you. There is no risk in signing this as this is just a way to exchange the relevant information. Make sure to include all details and if both parties involved do not agree on something then it will be best to alert the police by dialing 112 ( emergency number in Portugal ) PARKING Parking is paid in the major cities – there are fewer places that allow free parking. You will find plenty of car parks and they can be expensive mainly in Lisbon and Porto. SOME ROAD RULES TO KEEP IN MIND Driving is on the right, overtaking is on the left and most signs use international symbols. An important rule to remember is that traffic from the right usually has priority. Except when marked otherwise, speed limits for cars (without a trailer) and motorcycles (without a sidecar) are 50km/h in towns and villages, 90km/h outside built-up areas and 120km/h on motorways. By law, car safety belts (seat belts) must be worn in the front and back seats, and children under 12 years may not ride in the front. Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets, and motorcycles must have their headlights on day and night. The police can impose steep on-the-spot fines for speeding and parking offences, so save yourself a big hassle and remember to toe the line. The legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.5g/L, and there are
fines of up to €2500 for drink-driving. It’s also illegal in Portugal to drive while talking on a mobile phone unless you are using a hands-free equipment or an earphone. ENTRY FORMALITIES Citizens of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland need only an identity card to enter Portugal. In the case of minors in addition to their identity card or passport, they need to present an authorization from their parents when travelling alone or with other persons than the parents. For visits of less than 90 days, a passport valid for at least three months after the end of their stay is necessary for visitors from Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, BosniaHerzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong and Macao and Taiwan territorial Authority. Citizens from countries not mentioned above need a visa to enter Portugal, which may be requested at the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate of their country for stays of up to 90 days. Under the terms of the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement, flights between Schengen states are considered to be internal flights and passengers do not need to obtain another visa. TAX FREE / REFUND (VAT REIMBURSEMENT) Prices in Portugal almost always include 23 % VAT – at exception of some basic food goods and services that have reduced rates of 6 % and 13% VAT respectively. Visitors to Portugal who are not resident in any of the European Union member states can be reimbursed for the VAT (Value Added Tax) paid on purchases that they have made in Portugal and are being transported in their personal luggage. Only private individuals can benefit from this reimbursement.
In order to obtain repayment of the tax, the minimum value of purchases must be € 49.88 (net amount without VAT), and, depending on the VAT rate charged, the minimum value of the receipt for goods purchased must be as follows: - € 61.35 – VAT rate of 23% (general goods) - € 57.86 – VAT rate of 16% (Madeira and the Azores) - € 56.36 – VAT rate of 13% (Wines) - € 52.87 – VAT rate of 6% (books, lenses…) When you make your purchases, you must ask the shop to provide you with a receipt, itemising the amounts paid, the goods that were purchased and the amount that is due for reimbursement. You can receive the repayment of your tax in cash at the main European airports or in the centres of major European cities. EMERGENCY NUMBER 112 is the single European emergency telephone number, available throughout the European Union, free of charge.
Portugal official currency is the euro. ATMs - Automatic Teller Machines (Multibanco) ATMs are the best way to get cash in Portugal, and they are easy to find in most cities and towns. Small rural villages probably won’t have ATMs, so it’s wise to get cash in advance. Most banks have a Multibanco ATM, with menus in English (and other languages), that accepts Visa, Access and MasterCard among others. You just need your card and PIN. Keep in mind that the ATM limit is €200 per withdrawal, and many banks charge a foreign transaction fee (typically around 2% to 3%). Changing Money You can exchange money at banks, which are open from 08h30 to 15h00 pm on week days and also in exchange offices ( bureau de change). CREDIT CARDS
In the event of any emergency ( medical, fire, police), 112 can be connected through fixed and mobile telephones. The call is free and will be answered immediately by the emergency centres.
Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept credit cards. The most commonly used are : Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club. However in some smaller localities, some Guest houses and local shops may not accept credit cards, therefore it is wise to have some cash with you.
Don’t leave home without a travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems. You should get insurance for the worst-case scenario; for example, an accident or illness requiring hospitalisation and a flight home.
Service is generally included in the bills. However here are some tips to follow:
Make sure you keep all documentation for any claims later on. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country, where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.
Restaurants: You can round-up to the nearest euro or in some more touristy areas a 10 % is just fine.
INTERNET ACCESS Wi-fi access is widespread in Portugal. If you have your own laptop/mobile device, most hotels, hostels and midrange guesthouses offer free wireless access. Many cafés, restaurants and shopping mauls also offer free wi-fi.
Bars/Snack-Bars/Coffee Shops: Not expected but you can round-up to the nearest euro.
Hotels: One euro per bag is standard. Cleaning staff is at your own discretion. Taxis: Not expected but it is polite to round-up to the nearest euro.
OPENING HOURS Shops/General services are open on week days from 09h00 to 13h00 and then from 15h00 to 19h00. Saturdays from 09h00 to 13h00. Shopping Mauls are open everyday from 10h00 to 23h00. Banks are open on week days from 08h30 to 15h00. Closed on weekends. Restaurants are open from 12h00 to 15h00 for lunches and then from 19h00 to 22h00 for Dinners. Some may open sooner and close later. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS Banks, offices, some shops close on public holidays. New Year’s Day Carnival Tuesday Good Friday Easter Sunday Liberty Day Labour Day Corpus Christi Portugal Day Feast of Assumption Republic Day All Saint’s Day Independence Day Immaculate Conception Christmas Day
1st January February / March March/April March / April 25th April 1st May May/June 10th June 15th August 5th October 1st November 1st December 8th December 25th December
ETIQUETTE Greetings: When greeting women it is common courtesy to give an air kiss on both cheeks. Men give each other a handshake Visiting Churches: It is considered disrespectful to visit churches during Mass and taking pictures at that time is inapropriate. “Free” Appetisers: Whatever you eat you must pay for, whether or not you ordered it. It is common practice for restaurants to bring bread, olives, cheese to the table, but these are never free and will be added to your bill. If you don’t want them a polite “no, thank you” will see them returned.
REGIONS PORTO AND THE NORTH With the Douro River at her feet, Porto is Portugal’s secondlargest city and the heart of Portugal’s industrial north. A center for finance, culture, and cuisine, Porto has become a vibrant and modern city with plenty to offer besides its world famous Portwine. The coast north of Porto is lined with pine forests; inland, the Minho region is equally verdant and harbors Portugal’s only national park, Peneda-Gerês. Up the river from Porto starts the Douro Valley with its terraced vineyards and breathtaking landscapes where the grapes are harvested to produce port wine and other exquisite table wines.Then starts Trás-os-Montes (Beyond the Mountains), a province with harsh but striking landscapes which harbor fascinating folk traditions.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DONâ€™T MISS PORTO Set aside the river that made it a trading hub since pre-Roman times, Porto centers itself some 5 km inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Its rich and impressive baroque architecture, grandiose granite buildings, sumptuous food and wine and booming cultural events rapidly transformed Porto into a charismatic, cosmopolitan city that is nowadays one of the best european city destinations for travellers around the World.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS RIBEIRA HISTORICAL QUARTER Declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, Porto’s riverside quarter is an exciting labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, zigzagging alleyways and sun-starved arcades. The many restaurants and cafés set under the arches along the quayside makes this the most popular area in the city for relaxing and socializing.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS PALÁCIO DA BOLSA Built between 1842 and 1910, the building, which belongs to Porto Commercial Association, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and offers guided visits. One of its most emblematic rooms is the Salão Arabe ( Arabic Room) built as an arab balls danceroom very fashionable in the 19th century and inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada Spain.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS TORRE DOS CLÉRIGOS The Clerigos Tower stands in Porto’s skyline like a giant needle. This is the city’s most visible landmark, a 75-meter tall, 18th-century granitehewn rocket. You’ll need a fit pair of legs to climb the 240 steps to the top of the tower, but the effort will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the river, the coastline, and the distant Douro valley. Commissioned by the Brotherhood of the Clergy (clérigos) and designed by the Italian-born Nicolau Nasoni, this Baroque tower complements the adjoining Igreja dos Clérigos ( Clerigos Church) also designed by Nasoni.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS LIVRARIA LELLO This bookstore is one of the most beautiful in the world and has become extra famous as one of JK Rowling’s favorite haunts when she lived in Porto (and began developing the Harry Potter series). There is no doubt that the Livraria Lello & Irmão, which has been in business since 1906, is one of Porto’s most popular landmarks.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS CASA DA MÚSICA Modern, unconventional, radical the “House of Music” was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and inaugurated in 2005 for the cultural event : Cultural European Capital. Casa da Música is the first building in Portugal exclusively dedicated to music. It is a dynamic centre for national and international music from a wide range of areas: classical music, jazz, fado, electronic music etc.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS FUNDAÇÃO SERRALVES This fabulous cultural institution combines a museum, a mansion and extensive gardens. Cutting-edge exhibitions, along with a fine permanent collection featuring works from the late 1960s to the present, are showcased in the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, a minimalist, whitewashed space designed by the eminent Porto-based architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. The delightful, pink Casa de Serralves is a prime example of art deco. The Park is quite beautiful and offers a tremendous biodiversity of vegetation along its 18 hectares.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DONâ€™T MISS PORTWINE CELLARS Spread along the quay of Vila Nova de Gaia, you will find the cellars of the most emblematic Producers of Portwine. Enjoy the guided visits and wine tastings they all offer.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS CATEDRAL DO PORTO Porto’s Cathedral (‘Sé’) is the city’s most important church. Built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it’s a national monument. Look out for the gothic cloister, the chapel frescoes, the Teixeira Lopes sculpture in the baptistery and the medieval portrait of Our Lady of Vandoma, the city’s patron saint. From the terrace you have an Amazing view over the old-town streets and the River Douro.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS FOZ DO DOURO Foz is almost a mini-city within Porto. In the nineteenth century it was a seaside resort where British people and wealthy Porto residents went on holiday. Nowadays, visit it for its beaches, seaside outdoor cafés or enjoy a stroll in the sun along the Avenida do Brasil with its view of the Atlantic.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS SÃO BENTO TRAIN STATION One of the world’s most beautiful train stations, São Bento wings you back to a more graceful age of rail travel. Completed in 1903, it seems to have been imported from 19th-century Paris, with its mansard roof. But the amazing azulejo panels of historical scenes in the front hall are the real attraction. Designed by Jorge Colaço in 1930, some 20,000 tiles depict historic battles as well as the history of transport.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS MINHO The abundance of underground water channels and the presence of the Lima River turn Minho into one of the most fertile regions of the country with beautiful green landscapes. The shoreline is marked by vast finesand beaches and inland you can lose yourself in villages with country markets and fairs that have hardly changed for hundreds of years. This is also the home of the so called “Green Wine” - because of its youth rather than its hue – one of Portugal’s best loved wines.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DONâ€™T MISS VIANA DO CASTELO Viana do Castelo is easily accessed from Porto and lies at the edge of the Lima River. The city is blessed with an appealing medieval centre, an attractive riverfront and lovely beaches just outside the city. The old quarter is rich with 19th-century boulevards and Manueline and Rococo Mannor Houses. Stunning views over the city and Lima estuary can also be admired from the Santa Luzia hilltop where the majestic neo-byzantine Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been built. Viana do Castelo is also known for its filigree gold work and for one of the most colourful festivals of Portugal: Festas de Nossa Senhora da Agonia ( festivities of Our Lady of Agony) who is the patron saint of fishermen. Every Year in August you will assist to parades where the beauty and richness of the costumes have no precedent anywhere else in the country.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS BRAGA Braga is a pedestrian-friendly city with modern cafés, boutique shops, beautiful gardens and a charming historical centre. Visit the “Sé” Cathedral, the oldest Cathedral of Portugal and admire the fine architecture and design Styles crossing over centuries. The star attraction of Braga is the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte at aproximately 5 km from the city. Built on top of the hill, the baroque church and stairways provide stunning views and if you feel up to it we recommend you to tackle the 580 steps on foot so that you can admire the statues and gardens on the way.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS GUIMARÃES The proud birthplace of Afonso Henriques, the first independent king of Portugal and therefore the first capital of the Portuguese kingdom, Guimarães has beautifully preserved its illustrious past. Its medieval centre is a labyrinth of narrow streets and picturesque squares framed by 14thcentury edifices, while on an adjacent hill stands a 1000-year-old castle and the massive palace built by the first duke of Bragança in the 15th century. Guimarães beauty was recognised in 2001, when Unesco declared its old centre a World Heritage Site. In 2012, the city was the European Capital of Culture, which has given it a more creative edge.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS DOURO VALLEY The Douro Valley is home to the River Douro, the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula, which runs for eight hundred and ninety seven kilometers from the Spanish town of Duruelo de la Sierra to Porto Portugal’s second city. One of the world’s oldest demarcated wine regions (since 1756), the Douro Valley showcases steep terrace vineyards carved into mountains, granite bluffs, whitewashed quintas (estates) and 18th-century wine cellars that draw in visitors from around the world. Primarily known for the famous sweet wine – Port – it is nowadays recognized also for exquisite red and white table wines. The Douro Alto (upper Douro) was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, in recognition of the spectacular beauty of both the natural and built landscape and the industrial heritage associated with the Port producing industry.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS AMARANTE The charming sleepy town on the edge of the Tamega river is dominated by a striking church and monastery, which sit theatrically beside a rebuilt medieval bridge that still bears city traffic.The town enjoys a small degree of fame for being the hometown of São Gonçalo. Portugal’s St Valentine, he is the target for lonely hearts who make pilgrimages here in the hope of finding true love. Surrounded by prized vineyards, Amarante is also known for its good food. As well as wine, the region produces excellent cheeses, fumeiro (smoked meats) and rich pastries.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS LAMEGO Nestled among the terraced slopes of the Douro valley, the town of Lamego is elegant and infused with Baroque style. The most striking building of Lamego is, though, the sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies which stands gracefully above the town, on the Monte de São Estevão, flanked by twin bell towers. Its hundreds of zigzagging stairs are decorated with tiled friezes and climb out of a tailored garden resplendent with a variety of trees. The city is also known for its “Raposeira” – the famous fragrant sparkling wine which provides a fine break between the many varieties of Port.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS PARQUE NACIONAL DA PENEDA-GERÊS In the extreme north-east of Portugal, spread across 4 impressive granite massifs lies the protected area classified as National Park. Established in 1971 Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês – Portugal’s first and only national Park – has helped preserve not only a unique set of ecosystems but also the ancient values, traditions and way of life of its human inhabitants in community villages like Pitões das Júnias and Tourém. The exuberant vegetation, the rugged mountainous terrain cut across by flowing rivers and many waterfalls which finally slow down their pace in dams such as those of Caniçada or Vilarinho das Furnas are simply breathtaking and are definitely worth a visit.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS TRÁS OS MONTES The northeastern region of Trás-os-Montes (literally “Behind the Mountains”) was once Portugal at its most remote. Cut off from the mainstream over the centuries – beyond the peaks of the Gerês, Marão and Alvão serras – this isolated area developed in its own individual way, characterized by unusual traditions, harsh dialects and hard lives.The uncharted uplands of Trás-os-Montes are called the Terra Fria (Cold Land) and you may spot some unusual forms such as Iron Age sculptures of boars with phallic attributes. It’s believed these were worshipped as celtic fertility symbols. You will find traces of even more ancient civilizations in the form of what is believed to be the world’s largest open-air museum of Paleolithic rock art. Religion is also an important part of the nature of people
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS PODENCE The Caretos of Podence are celebrating their first Carnival in 2020 as Immaterial Heritage of Humanity. Part of the Winter Festivities, the Carnival of Podence is a social practice which initially functioned as a rite of passage for men. Now extended to women and children, it has been readjusted to its contemporary context. The festivity is associated with the celebration of the end of winter and the arrival of spring and takes place over three days in the streets of the village and in the houses of neighbours who visit each other. During the performance, the Caretos – modelled on the traditional masked character – dance around women with their cowbells, rhythmically moving their hips. Possibly connected symbolically to old fertility rites, this action is performed by those behind the mask as a way of interacting with others anonymously. The Caretos wear tinplate or leather masks, costumes covered with colourful wool fringes and small bells. It is a fantastic party full of seduction and mystery.of Trás-os-Montes and mixes in various celebrations with magic and superstition where the sacred and profane go hand-in-hand.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS CHAVES A spa town with a long and fascinating history, Chaves is a pretty and engaging place only a few kilometres south of the Spanish border. Its well-preserved historic centre is anchored at the edges by a 16-arched Roman bridge dating back to Trajan’s reign, a beautiful medieval tower and the rock-solid fortress of São Francisco. These Roman remains are a testimony of the strategic importance of Chaves in the past to control this small but fertile region. The natural hot springs are well known from the Portuguese that come here to take the healing waters for a number of ailments including rheumatism.
PORTO AND THE NORTH DON’T MISS BRAGANÇA Bragança is the capital of Trás-os-Montes region and stands proudly on a plateau only a few quilometres away from the spanish border. Known in Celtic times as Brigantia and by the Romans as Juliobriga it was also later the royal seat of the Dukes of Bragança until the dissolution of the monarchy in 1910. The old castle still maintains a well preserved medieval urban core within its walls dating back to the 12th century. They are the main reason to visit Bragança.
REGIONS CENTRE OF PORTUGAL Portugalâ€™s central region is situated between the green North and the Lisbon area and offers landscapes of deep contrasts : to the west on the Atlantic coastline you will find white sandy beaches, pine forests and a temperate climate as to the interior East the climate gets drier and the landscapes get rougher with rocky mountains. There are 3 sub-regions: Beira Litoral ( the coastal area), Beira Alta ( the wooded mountainous interior ) and Beira Baixa (the Southern region up to the spanish border). In the heart of the interior rises the Serra da Estrela (Estrela Mountain Range), the highest mountain in Continental Portugal. By the sea, you will find fishing villages and cosmopolitan beaches as in the interior of the country historic villages of granite and schist await your visit. But everywhere you go, you will see centuries-old heritage proudly displaying the history of the region.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS AVEIRO Situated on the edge of an extensive coastal lagoon system, Aveiro is a picturesque town with a charming centre and a good vibe. Sometimes called the Venice of Portugal because of its water canals, Aveiro instead of gondolas has Moliceiros boats which are colourful slim vessels traditionally used for seaweed-harvesting but now used for canal cruises. Aveiro has a number of buildings in Art Nouveau style that are worth seeing. Many are situated along the main channel, but there are some off the beaten track and in other locations. Emblematic of the city is the sweet made with eggs and sugar - the “ovos moles” (soft eggs) that are sold in wooden barrels or wrapped in a crusty wafer in different shapes. Nearby you will find several places worth visiting: São Jacinto Nature Reserve provides walking and birdwatching, several beaches such as Praia da Barra with its impressive lighthouse are a short distance away and Costa Nova known for its colourful striped “sheds” is not far either.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS COIMBRA Situated on the edge of an extensive coastal lagoon system, Aveiro is a picturesque town with a charming centre and a good vibe. Sometimes called the Venice of Portugal because of its water canals, Aveiro instead of gondolas has Moliceiros boats which are colourful slim vessels traditionally used for seaweed-harvesting but now used for canal cruises. Aveiro has a number of buildings in Art Nouveau style that are worth seeing. Many are situated along the main channel, but there are some off the beaten track and in other locations. Emblematic of the city is the sweet made with eggs and sugar - the “ovos moles” (soft eggs) that are sold in wooden barrels or wrapped in a crusty wafer in different shapes. Nearby you will find several places worth visiting: São Jacinto Nature Reserve provides walking and birdwatching, several beaches such as Praia da Barra with its impressive lighthouse are a short distance away and Costa Nova known for its colourful striped “sheds” is not far either.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS COIMBRA UNIVERSITY Founded in 1290 Coimbra University is one of the oldest in Europe and was classified World Heritage site by UNESCO. It has one of the most beautiful libraries of the World with thousands of ancient books displayed around richely ornamented bookshelves. It was a gift from King João V in the early 1700s.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DONâ€™T MISS CONIMBRIGA Portugalâ€™s largest excavated Roman ruins are just a few minutes outside Coimbra and are remarkable for having some of the best-preserved mosaics in Europe. Conimbriga was once a rich Roman town but was abandoned after the invasion of Germanic tribes. Besides the mosaics, the most eye-catching features of the archaeological remains are the pond-gardens and fountains.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS IGREJA DE SANTA CRUZ This church is the reason why the university was established in Coimbra, as it was long known as a school and center of culture (St. Anthony was the most famous student). Behind the sculpted façade are the elaborate tombs of Portugal’s first two kings, while the cloister is one of the purest examples of Manueline architecture.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS SÉ VELHA This church-fortress was the city’s first cathedral, built in the late 1100s. It’s only been slightly altered during its nine centuries and therefore remains one of the greatest examples of Romanesque architecture in the country. The majesty of the interior only changed in the 1500s with the addition of a gilded altarpiece.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS MOSTEIRO DE SANTA CLARA Located on the west side of the river, this imposing convent was built in the 17th century to replace the original convent of the 14th century that often suffered flooding. It is devoted almost entirely to Queen Isabel – Coimbra’s patron saint – whose remains are encased in a silver casket above the altar. Two decades of careful renovation works allow now the visitors to admire the beautiful architecture and paintings.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS SERRA DA ESTRELA Serra da Estrela is more than the country’s highest mountain, it is a region. The protected area of Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela extends over 101,000 hectares of landscapes divided between six municipalities. It’s highest peak is Torre (1993 metres) and below it you will find vast granite outcrops, striking mountain drops, icy lakes, wooded valleys and rushing rivers and waterfalls – both rivers Mondego and Zêzere have their sources here – that historically provided hydropower to spin and weave the local wool into cloth – one of the traditional economical activities of the region together with the making of the famous Serra cheese. Stroll through the Historical villages such as Manteigas or explore the more than 375 km of marked trails ideal for trekking or biking. For snow lovers, this is also the only ski resort in the country.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS BELMONTE The charming small town of Belmonte is worth a visit due to its excellent Jewish museum and beautiful Synagogue. There have been Jews in Portugal since ancient times and their presence has been vital for the portuguese history over centuries. However, when Portugal began to embrace Spain’s Inquisitorial zeal from the 1490s onwards, thousands of Jews fled to the Beiras and Trás-os-Montes regions, where the Inquisition had yet to establish itself. But it wasn’t long before the Inquisitors made their presence felt even there, and Jews once again faced conversion, expulsion or death. To continue practising as a Jew meant doing so in secret. In the 1980s it was revealed that a group of Jewish families in Belmonte had been doing exactly that, observing their customs in secret for more than 500 years. To keep the community intact, traditions had been passed down orally from mother to daughter and marriages arranged only between Jewish families. Now that the community is out in the open, you can explore and learn more about the Jewish community not only in Belmonte but also in other small localities like Trancoso.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DONâ€™T MISS BUSSACO The Mata Nacional do Bussaco ( National Forest of Bussaco) is located on the slopes of the Serra do Bussaco, at aproximately 30 km north from Coimbra. The forest is a 105 hectare reserve and harbours an astonishing 700 plant species from the huge Mexican cedars to tree-sized ferns. Around 400 species are native species from the portuguese Atlantic coast and other 300 species come from other climates. In the middle of the forest you will find a fairy-tale royal palace, one of the most beautiful neo-manueline buildings in Portugal that is nowadays a Hotel. Explore the network of paths that cross the woodland and admire the beauty and peace of this forest that has inspired generations of poets over the ages.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS ALCOBAÇA
The charming little town of Alcobaça owes its fame to the Monastery or Royal Abbey of Santa Maria, founded by the Order of Cistercians in 1153 and one of Unesco World Heritage Sites. The land was donated by King Afonso Henriques – First King of Portugal – as fulfillment of a vow to Friar Bernardo de Claraval founder of the Cistercian order. The Monastery also owned a vast area of land that the monks organized into villages and estates introducing new farming techniques that boosted the agriculture and turned out to be lasting characteristics of the region that remains still Portugal’s main fruit producers. Behind the imposing baroque façade altered in the 17th and 18th century lies a high, nude church that is a combination of the Gothic architecture and the Cistercian austerity. It is also the central stage of the tragic love Story of Dom Pedro and Dona Inês de Castro whose tombs occupy the south and north transepts of the church and are placed foot to foot so that when time comes they will raise and see each other again.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS BATALHA A game changing event for the Portuguese nation took place on August 1385 near the spot where the Monastery of Batalha stands : Dom João of Avis – future King of Portugal – defeated the Castilians in the epic battle of Aljubarrota putting an end to the aspiration to the portuguese throne by the King of Castile and assuring the portuguese Independence. King João dedicated the monastery to the Virgin Mary and donated it to the Dominican order. The construction lasted over centuries and is a masterpiece of flamboyant gothic and manueline exuberance. Its architectural value and historical significance spurred the classification of the monument as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS NAZARÉ Nazaré is a small picturesque coastal resort and has a long fishing tradition. The long sandy half-moon shaped beach is actually the town’s sea front and it is not uncommon to meet the local fishermen’s women dressed with the traditional seven skirts. The town centre is jammed with seafood restaurants and bars where you can enjoy excellent fresh fish and shellfish. Facing the sea on the right, you will see an impressive headland that you can reach by funicular. This is Sitio, which provides one of the most stunning views of the Portuguese coast. It is a 318 metre rock face with a sheer drop to the sea. These days, Nazaré’s major attractions are the waves and surfing, thanks to the “ Nazaré Canyon”, a submarine geomorphological phenomenon that allows the formation of perfect giant waves. It is the largest underwater canyon in Europe, about 170 kilometres along the coast, reaching a depth of 5,000 metres. The Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara received worldwide publicity when, in 2011, rode the biggest beach-breaking wave in the world, about 30 metres high, at Praia do Norte.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS TOMAR Tomar is a small appealing town with its pedestrian-friendly historic centre and its pleasant Riverside park frequented by swans, herons and ducks but its fame is mainly due to the splendid Convento de Cristo – Convent of Christ. Founded in 1160 by Gualdim Pais belonging to the Knights Templar Order that had enormous power in Portugal from the 12th to 16th centuries, the Convento de Cristo is an impressive expression of magnificence. It has chapels, cloisters and choirs in different Styles, added over the centuries by successive Kings and Grand Masters. The 2 most outstanding features are the “Charola” – an amazing 16-sided templar church that dominates the complex and the “Janela Manuelina” on the church’s western side that represents the ultimate Manueline extravagance.
CENTRE OF PORTUGAL DON’T MISS ÓBIDOS The small town of Obidos is a perfect example of a Portuguese walled town. Historically Obidos was a wedding gift from King Dinis to his wife Queen Isabel in the 13th century and it became part of the Casa das Rainhas – Queen’s Estate that improved and enriched it throughout centuries. This royal patronage turned it into one of the most characterful towns of central Portugal with its narrow-cobbled streets, traditional white-washed houses with colourful stripes and its imposing medieval Castle.
REGIONS LISBON REGION Lisbon is the iconic capital of Portugal. Spread over its seven hills overlooking the Tagus River Lisbon is inextricably linked with the sea. The capital is one of the most vibrant and charismatic cities in Europe and blends beautifully a rich cultural heritage with a striking modernism. Lisbon is also the centre of a vast resort wether you go north or south of the capital: Heading to the mouth of the river, you will find small golden sand beaches and charming cosmopolitan seaside resorts like Cascais and Estoril and further north fairy-tale villages and towns like Sintra that is home for the most sumptuous palaces and royal mannor houses of the country. Crossing the emblematic 25th April Bridge to the Southern part of Lisbon you will find the Parque Natural da ArrĂĄbida â€“ Natural Park of Arrabida Mountain â€“ home for several mediterranean plants and animals.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS LISBON Capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a beautiful and cosmopolitan city. Renowned for its warm and sunny disposition, the city is blessed with a wealth of historic monuments, world-class museums, high-end restaurants and bars and a welcoming hospitality. Set over the hills near the mouth of the Tagus River, Lisbon is the second-oldest capital of Europe and home to the World’s greatest maritime explorers like Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henri the Navigator becoming the first capital of an empire spreading over all continents from South America to Asia. Most of the city’s historic landmarks are a vibrant testimony of the golden era of Discovery from the 15th and 16th centuries.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS BAIXA DE LISBOA The Baixa district is the heart of Lisbon. In 1755 a massive earthquake devastated the city and along with a huge tsunami killed thousands. The rebuilding of the ruined district was assigned to the Marquis of Pombal – prime-minister at the time – who decided to disregard the original layout of narrow streets and create a brand new city plan that followed a grid pattern. New neo-classical buildings were constructed in a so-called Pombaline architecture and can still be admired today together with magnificent squares such as Rossio and Praça do Comercio.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS ALFAMA Alfama is the most emblematic quarter of Lisbon. Inhabited as far back as the 5th century, it was the Moors that gave the district its shape and atmosphere. At that time it was an upper-class residential area but after the earthquake brought down many of its mansions it reverted to a working-class, Fisher-folk quarter. It was one of the few quarters to ride out of the 1755 earthquake. With its narrow cobbled streets and ancient houses, Alfama is home of some of the most important historic monuments such as the Cathedral, the Saint George Castle, the National Pantheon and the St Anthony’s church. It also said that Alfama is where Fado is born. Fado is a music genre and is the purest expression of the portuguese soul. Often sad songs the recurring themes are love, faith, death and of course “saudade” – nostalgic longing. Fado is traditionally accompanied by portuguese guitars. You will find in Alfama several local places where you can experience Fado.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS BAIRRO ALTO AND CHIADO Bairro Alto is a colorful quarter dating from the 1500s, that has traditionally been the city’s bohemian haunt of artists and writers. Its grid of streets is quiet during the day, but is transformed at night into one of the city’s most vibrant nightlife quarters. People of all ages will gather here in the most diverse bars to enjoy some drinks and catch up. Culturally it has 2 very interesting churches: São Roque Church which is a magnificent example of Baroque style and the romantic gothic ruins of Carmo Church. Neighboring Chiado is an elegant, sophisticated district of theaters, bookshops, old-style cafes and luxurious shops. In the past it was the centre of intelectual life and many poets would gather here. Still today it remains one of Lisbon’s most beloved quarters
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS CASTELO SÃO JORGE The Castle sits up on the highest hill of Lisbon. Built in the mid-11th century, this fortification still retains eleven towers displaying various architectural features characteristic of military fortifications from the Moorish period. The best views of Lisbon are from the São Jorge Castle: you are able to see right over Baixa and across the River Tagus.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS MOSTEIRO DOS JERÓNIMOS One of the most famous historical buildings, the Jerónimos Monastery is located in the Riverside quarter of Belem and is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Comissioned by King Manuel I in the 16th century, the monastery is an exuberante celebration of Manueline architecture : a decorative style of stonework that incorporates maritime motifs such as twisted ropes and the armillary sphere. The monastery lies on the site of a former chapel where Vasco da Gama is thought to have prayed before its epic voyage to India. The monastery was once populated by monks of the Order of St. Jerome whose spiritual job for centuries was to confort sailors and pray for the King’s soul. When the order was dissolved in the 19th century the monastery was then used as a school and orphanage until the 20th century.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS TORRE DE BELÉM Standing on the waterfront at Belem near the mouth of the River Tagus is the Belem Tower the most iconic symbol of Lisbon. This defensive fortress was built in the 16th century on the orders of King Manuel I and Francisco de Arruda was its architect. The tower is wrapped in a wealth of Manueline symbolism: decorative carved stone maritime motifs including twisted ropes and the Cross of the Order of Christ. When it was inaugurated the Tower would have been in the middle of the river much further from the shore than it is today. The earthquake of 1755 shifted the river’s course and in the 19th century land on the north bank was reclaimed making the river narrower. World Heritage Site of UNESCO, the Belem Tower is one of the most visited monuments of Lisbon.
LISBON REGION DONâ€™T MISS MUSEU DOS COCHES This museum displays the most complete and magnificent collection of carriages and is one of the most visited museums of the city. These ostentatious vehicles transported European nobility and royalty throughout the centuries. The collection is housed in a modern building designed by Ptritzker Prize winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha. It first opened in 1905 in the former royal riding school, which still presents coaches and berlins. The new building is just across the street. You will be able to admire cerimonial vehicles from the 16th to the 19th century.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS MUSEU FUNDAÇÃO CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN The Gulbenkian is Lisbon’s greatest cultural venue. Created through the will of a notable humanist – Calouste Gulbenkian – the Foundation’s purpose is to promote the universal values of humankind. The museum showcases an epic collection of Western and Eastern art – from Egyptian treasures to Old Master and impressionist paintings. It has also the largest collection of 20th century portuguese art.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS SINTRA Sintra looks like a fairy-tale. This enchanting town lies just 30 km northwest from Lisbon within the hills of Serra de Sintra surrounded by pine-tree forest and luxurious vegetation. Due to its microclimate, it was the favourite Summer residence of the Portuguese Kingdom that built here their romantic palaces and extravagant villas. It’s where the Celts worshiped the moon and the Moors built their “great Wall”. For all these reasons, Sintra is a place full of magic and mystery where Nature and Man combined in a perfect symbiosis and that is why UNESCO granted it World Heritage Site.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA This medieval palace, which stands in the center of Sintra and is also known as Palácio da Vila (“The Town Palace”), dates back to the 9th century, when the Moorish governors built their palace on the site. It became the official residence of King João I in the 14th century, and is one of the few medieval palaces in the world that survived to this day practically intact. Its kitchen’s gigantic 33m-high conical chimneys, added in the 14th century, are Sintra’s landmarks, while much of the interior and the windows on the façade date from later periods.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS PALÁCIO DA PENA This fairytale palace is one of the world’s most spectacular constructions. It was built in 1840 over an old convent, which was incorporated into the new building. It’s a fantasy palace mixing neoGothic, neo-Manueline, neo-Moorish and neo-Renaissance features, creating one of the finest examples of European Romanticism. Much of the interior remained pratically untouched since the last royals left in 1910 and it is possible to admire priceless oriental porcelain, european furniture and trompe-l’oeil paintings in the many rooms of the Palace.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS QUINTA DA REGALEIRA This mystical neo-Manueline monument is a magical place of fantastical gardens, grottoes, lakes, and a well with a staircase of 30 metres depth. It’s a fantasy turned into the residence of millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro (the top coffee importer of the time) in 1892, blending a variety of architectural styles in unexpected harmony. Both the palace and the four acres of the romantic garden are filled with esoteric symbols, statues of mythological figures and a maze of grottoes.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS CABO DA ROCA This mystical neo-Manueline monument is a magical place of fantastical gardens, grottoes, lakes, and a well with a staircase of 30 metres depth. It’s a fantasy turned into the residence of millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro (the top coffee importer of the time) in 1892, blending a variety of architectural styles in unexpected harmony. Both the palace and the four acres of the romantic garden are filled with esoteric symbols, statues of mythological figures and a maze of grottoes.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS CASCAIS This initially small fishing town located on the coast north of Lisbon (aprox. 25 km) became one of the most cosmopolitan seaside resorts ever since King Luís I chose the bay for his summer residence in the 19th century. The affluent families of the time followed the royal family and set up their villas and mansions here. You can still admire these amazing 19th century mannor houses nowadays when strolling around town and feel the atmosphere of that period. Some of these mansions are currently cultural and leisure venues such as museums or exhibition centres. At the northern end of town, Boca do Inferno ( Hell’s mouth) is a popular place to visit. It is a striking rock formation where you can admire the power of the sea. Further away is Guincho Beach one of the most beautiful beaches of this coast and famous among surfers and windsurfers. The resort is also well-known for its golf courses considered among the best in Europe.
LISBON REGION DON’T MISS PARQUE NACIONAL DA ARRÁBIDA Located next to the sea between the city of Setúbal and the fishing town of Sesimbra, Arrábida Natural Park has rare examples of Mediterranean maquis and that is why it is a preserved area. Some parts of the Park can only be visited when accompanied by oficial guides of the reserve. The Park offers as well breathtaking views over the Atlantic and the action of the sea against the mountains has originated a line of beaches characterized by fine sand and transparent waters that look like a small corner of Paradise. Their names are : Figueirinha, Galapos and Portinho da Arrábida. The excellent conditions for farming of the area has originated to the production of a fantastic wine called Moscatel Wine as well as a delicious cheese called Azeitão cheese.
REGIONS ALENTEJO Covering a third of the country, Alentejo is the largest region of Portugal. Its vast territory offers a diverse landscape from rugged, rocky mountains, golden plains of wheat fields and long lines of olive trees to beautiful unspoilt beaches along the Atlantic coastline. As it was conquered and occupied by everyone from the Visigoths, Romans to the Arabs, Alentejo is incredibly rich in historical and cultural sights as well as centuriesold farming traditions such as the cork, olive oil and wine productions. You will be bewitched by the medieval castles on top of the hills, the white-washed villages and the gastronomic delights that include superb wines, cheeses and bread. In Alentejo time stands still and and allows you to discover a slower pace of life.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS ÉVORA Evora is the capital of the Alentejo region and is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval towns of Portugal. Wrapped inside 14th century walls, Evora’s narrow streets lead to stunning architectural works such as the medieval Cathedral, the Roman Temple and a picturesque town square. Aside from its historical monuments, Evora is also a lively city due to the presence of the University. The city centre has many attractive restaurants, bars and wine shops to enjoy the rich gastronomy of the area. A few quilometres away outside the city you will find amazing wine estates offering guided tours and wine tastings that are definitely worth a visit.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS TEMPLO DE DIANA Once part of the Roman Forum, the remains of this temple, dating from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, are among the best preserved Roman monuments in Portugal. Although it’s commonly referred to as the Temple of Diana, there’s no consensus about the deity to which it was dedicated, and some archaeologists think it may have been dedicated to Julius Caesar.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS SÉ CATEDRAL Evora’s Cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is guarded by a pair of impressive rose granite towers. The Cathedral has fabulous cloisters and a museum full of ecclesiastical treasures that are definitely worth a visit.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS CAPELA DOS OSSOS This is one of Evora’s most visited sites. The scary particularity of this chapel is that the walls and columns are lined with the bones and skulls of over 5.000 people. Built in the 17th century, this was the solution found by the franciscan monks to deal with the overflowing graveyards of churches and to remind people of their own mortality. The inscription over the entrance is a scary reminder of that: “We bones that are here await yours”. Above the chapel, a museum contains works of religious art and a terrace with a view over town.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS PRAÇA DO GIRALDO This is the main square of Evora. It was named after Geraldo Geraldes who in the 12th century expelled the Moors from the city. Over the centuries the square was a Marketplace, then a stage for executions and later this is also here that the alleged heretics were burn alive during the Inquisition. The square is flanked by some fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture as well as a beautiful Baroque Fountain from the 16th century and is nowadays a central place to the city’s life where locals and tourists mingle in the several cafés and restaurants that line it.
ALENTEJO DONâ€™T MISS MONSARAZ Not far from Ă‰vora, towards the Spanish border lies Monsaraz a charming medieval village with a looming castle at its edge with great views over the Alqueva Dam and olive groves sprinkling the landscape. Given to the Knights Templar after its reconquest from the Moors as a thanks for their help, Monsaraz narrow streets and white-washed cottages maintain the magic from ancient times like few other places in the world.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS MARVÃO The peaceful village of Marvão stands a few quilometres away from Spain, on the highest crest of the Serra de São Mamede. This hilltop village has always been a point of natural strategic defense marked by steep slopes to the north, south and west and only accessible on foot from the east. This is the reason why over centuries Conquerors and Kings always took care to strengthen both the castle and its walls. Marvão played a fundamental role in many military conflicts. Inside the walls you will find the narrow streets and white-washed houses that are traditional from the Alentejo. From the top of the castle you have one of the most breathtaking views over the region.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS CASTELO DE VIDE Situated close to Marvão, Castelo de Vide is a small village where its Castle surrounded by its white-washed houses dominates the Alentejo landscape. On the northern slope, between the castle and the town’s fountain are a bunch of narrow streets that mark the boundaries of the area known as Judiaria (Jewish Quarter). The Jewish Quarter in Castelo de Vide is one of the most importante examples of the Jewish presence in Portugal and dates back to the 13th century. Castelo de Vide is also well known for its crystal-clear mineral water that can be found in the several pretty public fountains spread all over town.
ALENTEJO DONâ€™T MISS ALQUEVA DAM The Alqueva Dam is located on the Guadiana River and is the largest artificial lake in Europe with a 250 sq-km Reservoir. The dam provides a water source through an irrigation system to the arid Alentejo region as well as an electrical power source to the national grid. The lake with its islands poking out of the water is undeniably beautiful and the best way to discover the surrounding landscape is by taking a boat trip from the Alqueva marina. On the right bank you will see the castles of Juromenha, Alandroal, Monsaraz and Portel and on the left bank MourĂŁo and Moura will provide spectacular viewpoints over the lake. The visit to the new Aldeia da Luz is a must as it is the only village that had to be totally relocated as the ancient one had to be submerged by the dam waters. A Museum was created here where all the memories of the old village are recorded.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS MÉTROLA Mértola stands proudly on a rocky spur, high above the peaceful Guadiana River. A small but imposing Castle stands high overlooking the cobbled streets, the traditional white-washed houses and the picturesque church that was once a mosque. Inumerous traces of the Islamic occupation are to be found intact in Mertola. That is why every two years in May the town hosts the Islamic Festival.
ALENTEJO DON’T MISS COMPORTA Comporta is located along the Southern end of the Tróia Peninsula at some 120 km from Lisbon. Comporta’s cork trees, sand dunes and ricefields idyllic landscapes were for a long time the most authentic beaches and seaside villages of Portugal. Nowadays although the scenery is still breathtaking, it has become a hippie-chic destination for the european Jet-set designers and celebrities but remains one of the most beautiful and preserved coastline of the country.
ALENTEJO DONâ€™T MISS VILA NOVA DE MIL FONTES This pleasant town is situated at the mouth of the River Mira and has an attractive, white-washed centre, sparkling beaches nearby and a laid-back atmosphere that makes you want to stay longer. It is part of the beautiful Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano and Costa Vicentina very much appreciated for its unspoilt natural landscapes and beaches.
REGIONS ALGARVE The Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, and one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe. Blessed with a superb coastline and some of the country’s loveliest beaches, the region enjoys hot, dry summers and short, mild winters. This small corner of Paradise has a long history dating back to the presence of the Romans and then of the Muslims that stayed here over five centuries leaving a rich cultural legacy that can be found almost everywhere: from the name Algarve - Al Gharb – itself, names of towns and villages, roof terraces to the architecture of the monuments. The Algarve is divided into three large stripes, each one of great natural beauty: The coastline that offers a scenary of steep cliffs dropping sharply into the sea, extensive golden sand beaches, lagoons and dunes and where the majority of the hotels are located; The Barrocal which is located between the coastline and the uplands and consists of limestone and schist rocks. The production of cork, honey, brandy and fruits are concentrated here; The uplands occupy 50 % of the territory and are composed by schist rocks and granite. The main upland ranges are Serra do Caldeirão and Serra de Monchique.
ALGARVE DON’T MISS SAGRES This small fishing village achieved great importance in the 15th century with the constant presence of Prince Henri the Navigator during the time of Discoveries. The area has some of the most dramatic scenery with sea-carved cliffs and an ocean whipped with strong winds. Outside town the Cabo de São Vicente – the southwesternmost point of the European mainland gives you a feeling of “end-of-the-world” as it opens to a vast horizon of sea and sky. Nearby the splendid beaches are increasingly popular among surfers.
ALGARVE DON’T MISS LAGOS Lagos is a coastal town with a lively character and cherished seafaring tradition. It is one of the favourite seaside holiday resorts of the Algarve. The importance of Lagos reached its higher point during the 15th and 16th centuries as it was from here that Henry the Navigator fitted up the caravels that would set out for the Coast of Africa. The main monuments of the Lagos are from this era such as the Governor’s Castle or the Ponta da Bandeira Fortress. t was also in Lagos that the first slave market in Europe was held in a space that is now transformed into a cultural centre. The Algarve’s most celebrated beaches are located in the Lagos vicinity such as Praia do Camilo – a postcard beach framed by outcrops of fantastic rock formations that shelter the small slither of sand – and Meia Praia – the longest beach in the area. Ponta da Piedade is also one of the natural landmarks of Portugal located at the western edge of Lagos Bay. It is a scenic headland that juts out into the sea and rising out of the transparent waters are huge rock formations of different shapes. There are a series of caves and grottoes that can be explored by boat or kayak.
ALGARVE DONâ€™T MISS MONCHIQUE Rising up between the Algarve and Alentejo region is the Serra de Monchique, a range of rolling forested mountains. Here you will find the highest point of the Algarve which is FĂłia with 902 metres high and from where you have stunning views over the whole region. Monchique is a small scenic Hamlet set amongst the pine, oak and eucalyptus forest, that makes a good base for exploring the surroundings with excellent options for walking and biking. Close by you will find the small Spa town of Caldas de Monchique whose termal waters are said to be very good for respiratory and digestive ailments as well as rheumatism.
ALGARVE DONâ€™T MISS SILVES Silves is a historic and charming town that lies on a hill above the banks of the Arade River. It was originally the ancient capital of the Algarve during the Moorish occupation and an important trading centre with boats sailing down the Arade River and crossing to North Africa. Silves was also a major defensive stronghold and its Castle is an imponent reminder of this era. It is the most famous landmark of Silves. Built between the 8th and 13th century it was restored in the 20th century and is one of the best preserved castle in the Algarve.
ALGARVE DON’T MISS LOULÉ Loulé is a traditional portuguese market town with a characteristic old quarter, a lively market and a genuine portuguese atmosphere. The main attraction is the Arabic inspired covered market with stalls selling regional handicrafts such as wicker baskets and copperworks, local products and freshly caught fish.
ALGARVE DONâ€™T MISS FARO Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the largest city in the region. Lying on the coast overlooking the shallow lagoons of the protected Ria Formosa Natural Park, this is a city blessed with a rich cultural legacy, an attractive marina and well maintained parks and plazas. The greatest historical monuments date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and are clustered together within the medieval walls of the Old Town.
ALGARVE DON’T MISS FARO - SÉ CATEDRAL Built on the site of an Arab mosque, Faro Cathedral was consecrated in the late 13th century and suffered several modifications along the centuries that added to the building gothic, renaissance and baroque features giving its façade a rather messy look. Inside however beautiful azulejo panels and gilded carved woods can be admired.
ALGARVE DON’T MISS FARO - IGREJA NOSSA SENHORA DO CARMO Away from the Old Town, Faro’s city center is landmarked by the 18th-century Carmo Church. Its striking and much-photographed twin-towered façade as well as its bones chapel in the interior makes it worth a visit.
ALGARVE DON’T MISS FARO - JEWISH HERITAGE CENTRE Faro’s unique 19th-century Jewish cemetery forms the centerpiece of this unusual visitor attraction. The cemetery is the only remaining vestige of post-Inquisition Jewish presence in Portugal and is laid out in the traditional Sephardic manner, with children nearest the entrance, women in the center, and men at the back. Most of those burried were returning Jews from Gibraltar and Morocco. A careful restoration has allowed the gravestones to be cleaned and repaired. In one corner of the cemetery stands a tiny museum housing items that illustrate the city’s Jewish heritage and the story behind the founding of the Center.
ALGARVE DONâ€™T MISS RIA FORMOSA Faro is the gateway to the Ria Formosa Natural Park that stretches for 60 km along the Algarve coastline from west of Faro to Cacela Velha. It encloses a vast area of marshes, salt pans, creeks and dune islands. The diversity of eco-systems makes it an important area for migrating and nesting birds and saltwater aquatic life. You can admire a huge variety of birds, along with ducks, shorebirds, gulls and terns. The natural park does not only protect wildlife but also the small fishing communities that rely on traditional and sustainable fishing methods that otherwise would be lost. One of these traditional activities is the gathering of shellfish and bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams that are then used to create delicious gastronomical specialities. In the estuary of Ria Formosa you will find small islands that are genuine paradises with extensive stretches of sand and relatively deserted: Barreta, Culatra, Armona and Tavira Islands.
ALGARVE DONâ€™T MISS TAVIRA Tavira is a picturesque town set on either side of the GilĂŁo River. The old town is a collection of elegant, hipped-roof mansions and an impressive assortment of churches, chapels and convents. Wandering through the charming cobblestone streets you will discover remains of Roman and Moorish influences like the old bridge built in the 17th century on Roman Foundations. Colorful fishing boats line the quay and from here you can catch a ferry to the Tavira Island.
REGIONS MADEIRA ISLAND The Madeira archipelago is actually formed by the Madeira Island ( main and most well-known Island) with aproximately 740 km2, Porto Santo Island with some 42 km2 and the Desertas and Selvagens Islands that are unhabited islands of together aproximately 17 km2. Located in the African Plate, Madeira Island rises above a vast undersea plain forming a volcanic massif over 5,5 km high. Its excellent geographical location at 700 km west of the African coast, 450 km north of the Canary Islands and 1000 km southwest of Lisbon, blesses the Island with a mild pleasant climate all year round. The Island was discovered in the 15th century by two portuguese maritime explorers and its name â€œMadeiraâ€? - which means wood in Portuguese - was due to the abundance of this raw material. The production of cane sugar was the main farming activity during the 15th and 16th century and gave the city of Funchal an economic prosperity turning it into a mandatory port of call for the European trade routes. In the 17th and 18th centuries the production of wine gave another economical boost to the Island. Nowadays tourism is the main activity as the spectacular landscapes, luxurious Parks and Gardens and warm hospitality attract millions of visitors every year.
MADEIRA ISLAND DONâ€™T MISS FUNCHAL The city of Funchal is Madeiraâ€™s capital and dates back some 500 years. The city owes its name to a sweet-smelling wild herb traditionally known as fennel which existed abundantly at the time of its settlement. However it was the production of cane sugar and Madeira wine that provided the development of a sustainable economy in the city and throughout the Island. They are both still a symbol of the region and very much appreciated. Funchal is unique for its diversity, from the sea to the mountains, from the flowers to the tropical fruits, from the wine to the Poncha liquors, all influenced by its tropical climate that allows singular productions and activities.
MADEIRA ISLAND DON’T MISS MONTE High above Funchal, the villa neighbourhood of Monte is one of the most popular attractions. You can reach Monte from Funchal by cable car – aproximately 15 – 20 minutes ride – and once at Monte the top sights that are worth a visit are: The church of Our Lady of Monte – built in the 18th century – has beautiful paintings in this interior as well as the tomb of Charles I. He was the last emperor of Austria (and of the Habsburg dynasty) and spent the last years of his life in exile in Madeira. Monte Palace Tropical Gardens is located at the Quinta Monte Palace – a beautiful mansion with a pond and small waterfalls that give the place a magical atmosphere. Over more than 100.000 plant species can be admired in the Garden that also has a devoted section solely to Madeira’s flora. The Wicker Toboggan Sled Ride down the steep streets of Monte is probably the most unique attraction in Funchal. Toboggans are pushed and steered by two runners wearing traditional white costumes and straw hats and can seat 2 people. If you are brave enough to try it, this is definitely an exciting ride.
MADEIRA ISLAND DONâ€™T MISS JARDIM BOTANICO Madeira is an Island of flowers and Funchal is the city of Gardens. The Botanical Garden is the largest garden in the city with the most varied collection of plant species from all over the world. The Garden is located in an estate dating back to the 19th century and offers amazing views over the bay of Funchal. You will be able to admire different style gardens, including French and Japanese gardens.
MADEIRA ISLAND DON’T MISS MERCADO DOS LAVRADORES Built in 1940, Funchal’s art deco market is a colorful, vibrant and busy market that still serves as the island’s best fresh food market. Adorned with azulejos from the mainland, this is the place where you can experience some of the unique fruits and vegetables that Madeira grows on its terrace fields. Flowers also dominate the market and it is usual to find friendly ladies in traditional costumes in front of the market selling all kinds of exotic flowers.
MADEIRA ISLAND DON’T MISS CAMARA DE LOBOS Built in 1940, Funchal’s art deco market is a colorful, vibrant and busy market that still serves as the island’s best fresh food market. Adorned with azulejos from the mainland, this is the place where you can experience some of the unique fruits and vegetables that Madeira grows on its terrace fields. Flowers also dominate the market and it is usual to find friendly ladies in traditional costumes in front of the market selling all kinds of exotic flowers.
MADEIRA ISLAND DON’T MISS CABO GIRÃO Cabo Girão is a spectacular viewpoint in West Madeira. Around 3km west of Câmara de Lobos, Madeira’s highest sea cliffs rise 580m to loom high over the village and the Atlantic ocean. The panorama from the viewing platform is nothing short of breathtaking. The platform floor is made of glass and hangs over the cliff edge, which can be a knee-weakening experience
MADEIRA ISLAND DONâ€™T MISS SANTANA The small locality of Santana is located on the rugged north coast of the Island. Named after Saint Ana, the village is famous for its iconic triangular-shaped houses with thatched roofs protected with straw and wood-panelled interiors. They were mainly rural homes used by local farmers during the settlement of the island. More than 100 hundred of them still exist thanks to a tourism initiative to reward the best-kept house in the town. Here you can also visit the Madeira Theme Park and Natural Reserve of Rocha do Navio. The municipality of Santana received the distinction of Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO that recognizes the environmental and cultural values of the region.
MADEIRA ISLAND DONâ€™T MISS PORTO MONIZ Located at the north end of the Island, the small town of Porto Moniz is famous for its natural swimming-pools formed by natural volcanic rocks shaped in singular forms and where the sea comes in naturally always providing fresh and clear water. You will also find one natural black sand beach.
MADEIRA ISLAND DONâ€™T MISS PORTO SANTO Porto Santo is the second largest Island of the Madeira Arquipelago. The capital is the city of Vila Baleira. From Funchal you can reach Porto Santo by ferry when the sea conditions allow it. The island is known for its large fine golden sandy beach, stretching close to 9 km, running along the islandâ€™s entire southern coastline, between the harbour and Calheta. The pleasant surprise is that the sea water temperature is really warm all year round. Porto Santo is a peaceful and quiet gateaway.
REGIONS AZORES ISLANDS The Azores Archipelago is composed by nine islands, all of volcanic origin, and located in the North Atlantic scattered along 600 km stretch of ocean from Santa Maria to Corvo and distant aproximately 1.600 km from mainland Portugal. The islands of the archipelago are divided in three geographical groups : The Eastern Group that includes the islands of Santa Maria and São Miguel; the Central Group that includes the islands of Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial; The Western Group that includes the islands of Corvo and Flores. Being at the junction of the Eurasian, North American and African tectonic plates, the Azores are a geological hotspot : when seen from its highest point, each Island is a clanger-land of chimneys and craters. The islands’ beauty is rare and timeless. Apart from the volcanoes, you will find green fields full of millions of azaleas and hydrangeas and happy fat cows wandering around peacefully. It is a natural Paradise where you will be able to do whale watching, swimming with dolphins, diving with manta rays, kayaking and trekking. All islands are connected between each other with daily ferries and also internal flight connections.The Azores contain two of Portugal’s 15 Unesco World Heritage sites – the vineyards of Pico and the old town of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira – and three biospheres (Graciosa, Flores and Corvo). The regional government has bolstered this with an awardwinning network of natural parks and marine reserves to safeguard the unspoiled environment.
AZORES DON’T MISS SÃO MIGUEL ISLAND São Miguel is the biggest island of the archipelago, with 62.1 km in length and 15.8 km at its maximum width. The Island was discovered by Portuguese navigators in the early 15th century right after the Island of Santa Maria. The initial settlement was carried out by people who came from the Portuguese regions of Algarve and Alentejo and later other communities made up of Moors, Jews and foreigners ( French for example) settled on the Island as well. The fertile soils and the existence of some safe bays transformed the Island into a trading post. The main production at the time was wheat, then later throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the export of oranges was the main source of wealth. Unfortunately due to infectious diseases that the orange groves suffered, the production had to be reduced dramatically and new cultures had to be introduced such as : pineapple, tea, tobacco and hemp. The expansion of cattle breeding has also been an important factor to the growing of economy of the Island. The landscape of São Miguel is marked by green mountain areas, dense woods and lakes nested in volcanic craters that are many quilometres wide.
AZORES DON’T MISS PONTA DELGADA Ponta Delgada is the largest and most important city of São Miguel and the Azores with more than five centuries of existence. The city is rich in history and culture and its distinctive architecture of whitewash and black basalt turned it into a town full of character. Wander through its historical centre and admire places like the São Francisco Square, the City Gates, the Sanctuary of S. Cristo and the Synagogue that are examples of the importance of Ponta Delgada as trading port in the 18th and 19th century.
AZORES DON’T MISS LAGOA DAS SETE CIDADES The spectacular volcanic crater lake of Lagoa das Sete Cidades is one of the great natural wonders of the Azores and is truly a magical place. Located on the northwestern tip of São Miguel, the “Lake of Seven Cities” is absolutely mesmerizing in its beauty. It consists in fact in two lagoons – the Green Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon. Both lagoons are framed with an emerald green vegetation and in some places the cliffs drop 500 metres into the mirror-like lakes. The picturesque village of Sete Cidades lies on the crater floor and can be reached by crossing the road bridge that divides the two lagoons. The viewpoint Vista do Rei is a perfect spot to admire the stunning panorama.
AZORES DON’T MISS FURNAS & TERRA NOSTRA BOTANICAL GARDEN A historically active volcanic complex, Furnas embraces a small village, a well-known spa facility, an amazing Park ( Terra Nostra) and the impressive Lagoa das Furnas which is the second largest lake of the Island. There are dozens of hot springs, gaping holes of boiling mineral waters that emerge from the ground emitting a sulphurous iron-laced vapor. The northern shores of Lagoa das Furnas are so hot that the locals come here to cook the famous “Cozido das Furnas” a rich meat and vegetable stew. The ingredientes are put into a sealed pot and lowered into a hole in the ground and left there to cook slowly for up to seven hours. Terra Nostra Botanical Garden offers the most famous thermal water pool of the Azores. The thermal spring that supplies the pool at a temperature between 35 and 40 degrees celsius provides a feeling of relaxation and well-being. The Garden is also embellished with water figures, more than 2000 different tree species and fields of camellias, hibiscus and magnólias.
AZORES DON’T MISS TERCEIRA ISLAND The Terceira Island is the second most inhabited Island of the Azores with its 30 km long and 17,6 km wide. The Island was the third Island of the archipelago to be discovered and therefore was baptized with the name Terceira although its very first name was Island of Jesus Cristo. It began to be populated in the 15th century and developed steadily since then, largely due to its geographical location. Terceira Island is known for its stunning natural beauty of volcanic origin. The bay of Angra do Heroismo – capital of the Island – gained great importance not only as internal trading post but also as an intercontinental staging post for ships sailing between Europe, the Americas and India.
AZORES DON’T MISS ANGRA DO HEROISMO A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, the historic centre of Angra do Heroismo – capital of the Terceira Island – is an architectural jewel. The city prospered during the Age of Discovery as it was an obligatory stop on the transatlantic routes between Europe, Africa and the Americas. These days of glory left a legacy of well-preserved buildings including two maritime fortresses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and several baroque churches and convents.
AZORES DONâ€™T MISS FAIAL ISLAND The Island of Faial is the third most populous Island of the Azores and is 21 km long and 14 km wide. It is said that the discovery of the Island took place after Terceira and owes its name to the abundance of fire trees that covered the place (Faias-da-terra). Over centuries Faial Island took advantage of its geographical position half way between Europe and the Americas. The picturesque town of Horta dominates the Island and is its main city. The Horta Marina is one of the worldâ€™s most famous harbours and every year thousands of yachts stop here for supplies and repairs.
AZORES DON’T MISS PICO ISLAND Pico is the second largest island of the Azores thanks to its 42 km of length and 15.2 km at its maximum width. It is dominated by the Volcano of Pico on its western half and is at 6 km away from Faial Island. The Island was discovered by the portuguese navigators in the mid 15th century and its name is simply due to the fact that the biggest portuguese mountain lies here. One of the most notorious activities of the Island was whale hunting and during the 19th century it quickly expanded to the other islands until the 20th century when it started to decline and was finally banned in 1986. The production of wine is also very important in the Island. The vines are adapted to the volcanic soil littered with lumps of black basalt. Dry stone-walled plots are created using the basalt and are called “currais” which expose the vines to the sun but protect them from the wind. The uniqueness of Pico vine culture is internationally recognized, with the classification of the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture as World Heritage Site, by UNESCO, in 2004.
AZORES DON’T MISS SÃO JORGE ISLAND With a length of 54 km and a maximum width of 6.9 km, São Jorge Island features a long volcanic ridge stretching from northwest to southeast. Given its proximity to Terceira, it is believed that the Portuguese navigators discovered São Jorge Island at the same time of the other surrounding islands. Like the other islands the economy was based on agriculture and fishing. The fishing industry became important during the 19th and 20th centuries first through whale hunting and then through tuna fishing. Nowadays the excellent quality of the pastures of São Jorge allowed the economical expansion of cheese production. The São Jorge cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and has a protected designation of origin. The Island is a demarcated region for its production.
AZORES DONâ€™T MISS SANTA MARIA ISLAND Santa Maria Island is 16,6 km long and 9,1 km wide. Similar to the other islands, the economy is based agriculture, cattle breeding and fishing although the service sector has been gaining importance due to the tourist activity.
AZORES DONâ€™T MISS FLORES ISLAND The island of Flores is 16.6 km long and has 12.2 km at its maximum width. The name Flores (Flowers) is believed to be associated to the abundance of natural flowers that you can find on the Island. Among the intense green vegetation, you can admire outstanding waterfalls and colourful flowers such as pink azaleas and hydrangeas. Once again similar to the other islands the economy was based on agriculture (cereals) as well as sheep breeding and fishing. Nowadays the services sector supports the islandâ€™s economy mainly due to the tourist activity.
AZORES DONâ€™T MISS GRACIOSA ISLAND Graciosa Island is 12,5 km long and 7 km wide. Classified by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, the Island of Graciosa is the second smallest of the archipelago and is also the one with the most flat areas and smooth hills. Like the other islands the economy was based on agriculture and fishing. Nowadays the dairy and meat productions are the most relevant ones.
AZORES DONâ€™T MISS CORVO ISLAND The smallest island of the Azores is 6.24 km long and has 3.99 km at its maximum width. Quite isolated for many centuries, the economy was based on agriculture essencially. The opening of an airport on the Island contributed to modernise the islandâ€™s infrastructure and also to the full integration of the Island into the Archipelago. Agriculture centred on cattle breeding is the current main economical activity.