For any traveler wanting to get off the beaten track in Europe, Portugal has infinite possibilities to experience small towns and diverse landscapes that remain very much like they were a hundred years ago. Portugal is a small, compact country, whose history and customs are deeply influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese are proud of their seafaring past, as Vasco de Gama, Columbus and others were pioneers of exploration in Africa, the Americas and India. Portugal was a major colonial power until less than twenty years ago. Following the independence of several of Portugal’s African colonies (1974-1975) over a million refugees moved into the major urban areas of Portugal. The immigrants have integrated well into Portuguese society which has led to a fascinating multi-cultural atmosphere in the major urban areas, especially in Lisbon.
For such a small country, you have many options from which to choose: A San Francisco-esque city, spreading over seven hills which descend into the Rio Tejo (Tagus River)- Lisbon is perhaps Europe’s most pleasant and affordable city. Its fantastic architecture, diverse population, delicious seafood, intriguing tile-work and non-stop night-life bring together the best elements of Portuguese life. Don’t miss an evening bar-hopping in the Barrio-Alto listening to African music and Portuguese blues-fado!
Tour beautifully restored towns and well-preserved architecture of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in Evora , Batalha and Alcobaça . If you are interested in monuments, Evora and Coimbra are must-sees.
The most beautiful natural areas lie in the Minho , Lima, and D'ouro valley. You can explore the verdant beauty and rural customs of the Minho Valley, or check out the spectacular gorge in the D'ouro valley .
The city of Porto or "Oporto" as Portugesse people call it, is located at the end of the D'ouro Valley, on the sea, and is famous for its sweet Porto wine. It is an excellent base for exploring the region.
If it’s the beach you are after, the Algarve coast offers highly developed stretches of beach. The rest of the coast (with the exception of the area near Lisbon and Porto) remain relaxing, totally Portuguese and isolated. Great stretches of sand are there for the relaxing, especially along the northern Costa Verde , near Viano do Castelo . The beaches near southern Alentejo are the most remote and least populated.
Transportation and accommodation are excellent and very reasonable, perhaps among the cheapest in Europe. The wine is excellent and don’t forget to try some vinho do Porto (port), Portugal’s most famous export. If you are interested click here.
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