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Our Insider's Articles about Portugal
When one hears the words “European wine,” typically French Cabernet and Italian Lambrusco, or perhaps German Gewürztraminer,... [Read the full story]
Portugal is an exceptionally colorful country, from the pastel-colored castle in Sintra to the pink cliffs of Madeira and the vibrant greens of its world-class golf courses. Northern Portugal is mountainous, while the south is flat, and most of Portugal’s coastline has sand beaches interspersed with massive cliffs. Portugal’s castles and 20th century palaces feature the distinctive Portuguese Manueline style of architecture, and many villages and cities date back to Roman times, with the ruins to prove it. Here are tips to help guide you on your trip to Portugal.
Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula. The Atlantic Ocean rolls in from the west and Spain borders Portugal on the east. The capital is Lisbon, a manageable city built where the Tejo River spills out into the Atlantic. The Belem Tower, an icon of the country, guards the mouth of the Tejo River, and the Moorish Castle of São Jorge presides over the winding streets of the downtown Lisbon.
The village of Sintra makes an ideal day trip from Lisbon, though you could spend days there. Beetlejuice couldn’t have dreamed up a more gothic palace than Quinta de Regaleira, which touts spires, gargoyles, and an octagonal tower. The palace grounds have grottos, gardens, a subterranean labyrinth, and plenty of ornate (and quite creepy) statues.
Sagres and Algarve are two of the most popular beach towns in Portugal. The rock formations along Portugal’s coast are both copious and bizarrely geometrical. Who knew that miles and miles of cliffs could be so perfectly sheer? If you like hiking, try the university town of Coimbra. The islands of Madeira and the Azores have spring-like weather almost year round.
The official currency of Portugal is the Euro, and the official language is Portuguese. English is not widely spoken, but younger people and the people in the tourism industry will know at least a little. The best way to travel within the country is by train and bus, and buses generally run more frequently and to more destinations.