Hill with old town of Porto at sunset close up, Portugal
Portugal is the oldest country in Europe
Located in the South-West part of Europe. This small country is easy to overlook when considering Europe as an incentive destination. With a national motto of “This is my happy Motherland, beloved of mine”. We can see why people are as patriotic about their country as its pastries.
With a rich history of “discovering” much of the modern world, South Africa included. It is hard to ignore their global influence, and indeed, the influence of those cultures on Portugal itself. With a vast landscape that varies. From mountains in the north. Through the wine growing plateaus in central Portugal. To the beautiful coastline of the Algarve in the South. Surrounded by the ocean to the West and South with Spain to the North and East.
“This sliver of a country offers more than initially meets the eye.”
Azenhas do Mar, Portugal coastal town.
Capital and the largest city of Portugal – Lisbon
A must stop for any visitor, and a great place for any trip to start, is the capital, Lisbon. Situated off the coastline, on the main river of Tagus, this historic city houses some 2.8 million people across the 8 hills for which it is known. Visitors can get themselves lost exploring the ancient streets of this, the oldest city in Western Europe. A leisurely walk up to São Jorge Castle allows visitors to step back in time. One can wander around the old fortifications enjoying the 360 degree views over the city.
Torre de Belem – famous landmark of Lisbon , Portugal
Torré de Belém
Belém is definitely a neighborhood worth a day or two of exploring. A visit here should include a stop at Jerónimos Monastery and followed by the neighboring Monument to the Discoveries. Naturally no visit here would be complete without stopping at Pasteis de Belem, widely considered the originating bakery of the famous Portuguese custard tarts, their coffee and “pasteis” are worth the long queue!
Pasteis de Belem
On the move
There are a number of ways to get around this city, that don’t include walking your sneakers off! Electronic 6-seater tuk-tuks offer wonderful informal site-seeing, with most of the drivers speaking excellent English and happy to point out places of interest along your route, not to mention help you take a photo with your selfie stick! Another is the trams that crisscross the city, and are perfect for the steep narrow streets.
” From Lisbon, the options are endless as to where your adventure could take you next.”
Benagil Cathedral at beautiful coast of Algarve, Portugal.
To the South lies the Algarve, with its beautiful sandstone cliffs and azure waters. Championship level golf courses abound here, surrounded by top quality resorts, beaches and restaurants. One of the best activities is a speed boat tour along the coast, exploring the caves and cliffs, carved out of the sandstone by the waves and winds. This is definitely the spot to sit back and relax, be it on the greens of Oceânico Faldo Course (part of the PGA Euro Championship tour), or at a pool bar, or on the beach… And between all that relaxing, food is the star on this coast line, offering all the specialties this country is known for, with a few Michelin-stars thrown in.
Porto, Portugal old town on the Douro River.
To the North lies Porto, and the region where the world famous port is produced. This city has a history that dates back many centuries and its original name is often credited with being the origin of the name, Portugal. Churches abound here, and reflect the different architectural styles going back to the 15th century. With its mild Mediterranean climate. Even winter temperatures rarely drop below 5 degrees. Sunny days abound in the summer months, even when it rains. A visit here would not be complete without a visit to a port wine estate or two. Visitors are taken through the steps of producing this fortified wine. Many of these tastings can be paired with cheese, chocolate or even a full gastronomic meal, no longer is port just an after dinner drink!
Monument to the discoveries Lisbon
Euro Champions in every sense of the word
Getting there is easy connecting through a multitude of European or Middle Eastern airlines. Most options offer easy connections into Lisbon, or via low cost carriers such as Ryan Air into the smaller airports. Once there, nowhere is too far! A scenic drive of 3 hours between Porto and Lisbon, and only 2 ½ to the Algarve. So stretch your wings and discover why Portugal is so much more than just the 2016 Euro Champions!
Joanne Holroyd – Tourvest IME
You tube – Basti Hansen