Portugal is the westernmost country in continental Europe. Like any ocean-front state, it breathes freedom, shines with the sun, and enjoys life every day. People here love football and good wine, always stop to admire the sunset and spend five minutes talking about nothing. Many people used to call Portugal "the Sleeping Beauty of Europe", but to tell the truth, it has already washed its face and drinks coffee, ready to take one of the first places in the contest of the most popular countries of the continent.
|Lisbon||10 276 617||Portuguese||Euro||92 225 61 km²|
What to see and where?
Lisbon is hard to get tired of, but for a change, we recommend a day trip to Sintra, the favorite holiday destination of the Portuguese kings. The panorama of this city seems to have come down from the pages of the fairytale of princesses and dragons. On the green hills, in the foggy forests, you can see the towers of family estates, the walls of fortresses, and ancient castles. At the very top stands the pearl of Sintra, the Pena Palace. Its bright facades witnessed the fall of the monarchy a hundred years ago and today provide a popular background for Instagram's pictures. Absolutely opposite in its atmosphere, the mystical Quinta da Regaleira hides in the dense park, famous for its secret underground passages, inverted towers, and Masonic stories. There is a lighthouse 20 minutes away from Sintra. There is a stele underneath it, which declares: "You are on the edge of Europe." This is Cape Roca, where the wind throws the dust of the ocean in your face, the height of the rocks make you dizzy, and the borderless Atlantic gives you hope for a promising future.
Porto lives in the north of Portugal, the region where the independence of this sunny country was born. The portrait of this city is intoxicating: the ancient, half-ruined estates laid down by the founders adjoin the restored glossy villas, the azulejo paintings on the facades look spectacular against the backdrop of massive iron bridges, and the labyrinths of the streets lead to the wine shops, where port wine flows over the edge. Once upon a time, it was this city that inspired J. Rowling to write Harry Potter. Perhaps, the view of fog-shrouded Porto from the window of an old wooden tram running to the ocean will inspire you to magic too?
Coimbra is the former capital of Portugal and the current university city. Here, one architectural monument stands on the other one, and the landscapes of the streets are so beautiful that you unintentionally start to regret that you do not know how to photograph with your eyes. Coimbra is the cradle of the Portuguese mentality when they sing the most soulful Fado and know everything about Saudade. Such regalia obliges the city to keep its face, but only until sunset: at night, it explodes with students' parties and festivals.
If you are looking for a family holiday destination, do not hesitate to choose the Algarve. It is the southernmost region in Portugal. It smells of freedom, oranges, and almond plantations. The largest city in the Algarve is Faro. This resort can boast of gorgeous sandy beaches and lagoons, luxury hotels and golf courses, cozy fish restaurants, and authentic architecture. Make sure your cultural program includes the Estoi Palace in Rococo style, and Igreja do Carmo — a temple made of gold leaf and a luxurious example of Baroque architecture. The water park and Zoomarine Park are worth visiting with children. If you are looking for a party to crash, you should take a trip to neighboring Albufeira or Portimão.
Portugal has its own treasure chest. It is the Azores, an archipelago of nine islands in the rebellious waters of the Atlantic Ocean. There's almost no civilization here, and to tell you the truth, you won't need it at all. After all, the Azores are designed to breathe to the fullest extent, to look at the underwater world with a tank behind your back, climbing caves, in the depths of which the underground geysers beat, roam on the edge of the crater of the volcano and scuba dive with cachalots and whales in the waters of the archipelago.
Eco-tourism, surfing, gastro-tourism, diving, a cultural program, and lazy beach relaxation — this is a short list of opportunities Madeira offers you. A lush green island towers over the ocean a thousand kilometers off the coast of Europe. The capital of Madeira is the city of Funchal. It will captivate you from your first stroll through its ancient streets: the fantastic garden of the Colonial Quinta do Palheiro and Orchid Garden, the Fort of São Tiago, and the Cathedral from Funchal (Sé), the picturesque Cape Cabo Girao and the Valley of the Nuns. The only drawback of the resort is that there are no equipped beaches at all. If you want to sunbathe, you'll have to go to the neighboring island of Porto Santo.
Things to consider before going to Portugal
- Many Portuguese people are mistakenly believed to be lazy, but in fact, they are just not in a hurry to live. Locals will be happy to take a moment to talk to you about the weather, life, and themselves.
- Bring comfortable sports shoes, as the streets of Portuguese cities are paved with small paving stones — calçada. They are very slippery and often cause falls and injuries, even among locals.
- The majority of restaurants and large supermarkets close in 21-22:00, so make sure you don't go to bed hungry.
- The most budget lunch option is to order a menu at McDonald's.
- Pay attention to signs indicating swimming safety on the coast: red flag - no swimming allowed, yellow - be alert, green - the beach is safe for swimming.
- Wi-Fi in Portugal is available almost everywhere, but access is usually for a fee — an average of €2 per half hour. It is more advantageous to buy a local SIM card, 5GB of mobile internet will cost you €16 per month.
- In crowded squares and crossroads, you may be approached with an offer to buy weed. Take a steady step away from these peddlers.
- Many pastelarias, pharmacies, butcher shops, and other stores require a voucher for service. They may not be able to serve you without it, so to avoid standing in line, look for a reel when you go to a new establishment.
Cities in Portugal
Historical, architectural, cultural, and natural monuments created in the homeland of sailors are still of great value to the world, and their number is incredibly large and diverse. This country deserves to be given special attention.