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7 REGIONS TO EXPLORE IN PORTUGAL


During my visit to Portugal I discovered that Portugal has welcomed many different cultures over the past eight centuries, giving the country a lively historical legacy. It is time for you to explore its spectacularly diverse cuisine, art, architecture, tradition, and landscapes – including 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Wherever you travel in Portugal, you’re sure to get a look into a country’s rich heritage while being welcomed with signature hospitality.

 

PORTO AND NORTH

For a taste of history, head to the region where Portugal was founded, which dates back to the twelfth century. Don’t miss the five UNESCO World Heritage sites: the historic centres of Porto and Guimaraes, the Sanctuary of Born Jesus in Braga, the archeological park of Coa Valley, and the Alto Douro wine region, where the internationally famous port wine is produced. Outdoor enthusiasts can visit the Peneda-Geres National Park to explore granite villages, hike to cascading waterfalls, and spot wildlife, such as deer, otters, and wild horses.

 





LISBON

Lisbon is one of Europe’s most beloved cities, and the region has much to offer. Take the waterfront road along the Tejo river to reach Estoril, an early twentieth-century town full of historic charm, and Ericeira, a recognized World Surfing Reserve. Visit the magnificent eighteenth-century Palace and Convent of Mafra and the romantic Serra de Sinta cultural landscape, both designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and a short distance from the city. Just south of Lisbon, golden beaches of the Costa da Caparica preserve await, as does the protected Serra da Arrabida park, boasting crystal-clear waters ideal for scuba diving.

 

CENTRE OF PORTUGAL

The cities of Aveiro, Coimbra, and Obidos are ideal starting points to explore the heart of Portugal, which lies between the Douro and Tejo River. Come upon small fishing towns along the coast, such as Aveiro, where sea salt is harvested. You can also find well-known surf spots in Peniche and Nazare. Inland, be sure to visit the castles of the historical villages, which hold artifacts such as handmade textiles and woodwork.




ALENTEJO

This territory is known for the UNESCO World Heritage Cities of Evora and Elvas, and for the enormous Alqueva reservoir – the largest man-made lake in Europe. Go sailing under its immense skies, the first Starlight Tourism Destination as designated by UNESCO. Alentego is also home to the world’s largest cork oak forests and the biggest wine and olive oil region in Portugal. Along the coast, there are outstanding beaches and coastlines ideal for a few days’ rest and relaxation, as well as an oasis for surfers.




ALGARVE

Head to Algarve for beautiful weather, a variety of beaches, indulgent spas, water sports, and entertainment. It has been voted the world’s top golfing destination, thanks to the quality of its courses and the opportunity to play year-round. Gain a different perspective on footpaths and cycle trails like the Via Algarviana, the peaceful settings of the Ria Formosa and the Guadiana River, or the well-preserved Costa Vicentina, where you can learn about the region’s nature reserves and the traditional villages, and Portugal’s Maritime history.

 



MADEIRA ISLANDS

The Atlantic islands of Madeira and Porto Santo are renowned for their natural beauty. Highlights include walks along the Levadas – the trails alongside irrigation channels – hiking, diving, boating, and surfing. The Madeira archipelago is also known for thalassotherapy treatment, a practice for equilibrium between body and mind. Some of Madeira’s greatest attractions are festivities which include the New Year’s Eve firework display, Carnival parades, the Flower Festival, the Atlantic Festival, and the Wine Festival – featuring the Madeira wine which is important to local heritage.

 

AZORES ISLANDS

The nine islands of the Azores are ideal for communing with nature. Their volcanic origin resulted in the formation of a dramatic landscape that offers rare experiences such as horseback riding around the Seven Cidades Lagoon on Sao Miguel island, swimming in geothermal pools, scuba diving, and whale or dolphin watching. The archipelago’s cultural heritage is key in the history of Portugal. Visit the Pico Island Vineyard Culture, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the historic centre of Angra de Heroismo on the island of Terceira. Don’t miss a visit to a tea plantation – the Azores are the only place in Europe where tea is still grown.


We have plenty more tips to share, so let us help you coordinate your visit to this beautiful country filled with World Unesco Heritage Sites.

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