Portugal Travel Guide
Portugal is a small country with much to see and do, making it relatively easy to explore. From the cosmopolitan city of Lisbon to the traditional villages, visitors will find a diverse range of travel options. If you are traveling in the summer there are many beaches to enjoy, but the cultural and architectural attractions are a draw for tourists year round.
Beginning in the south, many people start their vacation in Lisbon. This is the heart of modern day Portugal and the cultural center of the nation. It is home to many of the country's finest museums and historic buildings, along with quaint neighborhoods. Visitors can wander through the streets and artists studios of Barrio Alto, or spend a day sightseeing and soaking in the atmosphere of the Old Quarter.
There are numerous day trip options from Lisbon, but one of the main sightseeing destinations is the town of Sintra. Set in the hills outside of Lisbon, this town is centered around the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, with its cone shaped towers. From here it's easy to explore a number of interesting sights, including the fairy-tale-like Palacio de Pena and the ruins of Castelo dos Mouros. During the summer months the Costa do Sol is another popular area near Lisbon known for its beach resorts. Sun seekers will find no shortage of things to do.
Equally impressive, in its own unique way, is the city of Porto. The old town is picturesquely set on a hillside overlooking the River Douro. The Riberia area, with its colorfully painted houses, is one of the city's main tourist attractions. Around the Praça da Ribeira small shops and restaurants have set up in old restored houses. There are also many possible excursions from Porto.
Somewhat off the beaten path in Portugal are the islands of Madeira and the Azores. Madeira has a pleasant year round climate and is well set up to handle visitors. It is a hot spot for Europeans from northern counties who come here in the winter months to escape from the cold. The main city is Funchal, which is also a big cruise ship port. The Azores, also highly dependent on tourism, are laid back islands of green rolling hills and mountains.