Portugal | Travel Diaries

Portugal

Portugal is the land of beautiful beaches, azure waters and whitewashed houses. But the country has more to offer than that: vibrant cities and a historic interior where you can completely relax.

Portugal's must-sees


Portugal is best known for the beautiful beaches and cliffs along the coast. Especially the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, is a popular holiday destination. From Faro you will discover the coast and the natural park Ria Formosa with its white beaches, green fields, blue water and bathing flamingos. A visit to the caves of Benagil, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal and perhaps in the world, should not be missed in your holiday. More to the north you will find vibrant Lisbon and the Silver Coast, the Costa de Prata, with paradisiacal beaches and more inland medieval towns and rolling hills.


Visiting the Portuguese islands should also be on your bucket list. Discover the breathtaking nature of the flower island of Madeira, which covers two thirds of the island. The islands of the Azores, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, are ideal for island hopping. Start with a road trip on the largest island, Sao Miguel, hike a volcano on Terceira and visit Portugal's highest point at Pico.


The most beautiful cities in Portugal


The Portuguese cities are ideal for a city trip. Visit the more famous city trip destinations such as Lisbon and Porto, or visit hidden gems such as Sintra and Evora. Stroll through the cozy alleys of the city of Lisbon, built on seven hills. Enjoy the view of the city from the hilltop castle Castelo de São Jorge. For a weekend of shopping in Lisbon you can go to the designer shops in the Baixa and Chiado districts.


For a colorful outing, visit the port city of Porto. You can enjoy the local, world-famous port on one of the cozy terraces. The Ribeira district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its rich history and colorful houses. The city of Évora is a hidden gem among the city trip destinations. This UNESCO world heritage city stands out with its rich past: the Romans, Visigoths and Moors succeeded each other in control of this city and have all left their mark. You will find a Roman aqueduct and a Roman temple, beautiful mosaics on the Arab houses and mosques and old monasteries. Sintra is known as the "Versailles of Portugal". Thirty kilometers from Lisbon is this UNESCO World Heritage city with large palaces with even larger gardens and old monasteries. For a city trip by the sea, visit Lagos or Albufeira, where you can experience the perfect combination of culture, shopping and sunbathing on the beach.


The sunniest beaches in Portugal


Anyone who likes snow-white beaches, blue water and an even bluer sky, is in the right place on the Portuguese coast. The most beautiful beaches in Portugal can be found on the west coast of the Algarve, where endless long beaches separate the high cliffs from the sea. This part of Portugal is relatively unknown to tourists, so the beaches and nearby picturesque villages are wonderfully quiet. A more famous location is Praia de Rocha, with its large rocks, red cliffs and clear blue sea. Praia da Marinha is also one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, thanks to the beautiful nature along the snow-white beach.


Portugal is also an excellent destination for a surfing holiday. You can surf here all year round, whether you are a novice or more experienced surfer. One of the most famous Portuguese surf spots is Nazarè, where the largest waves in the world are created by the underwater Nazarè Canyon. Other good surf locations can be found mainly along the west coast and in specific places in the Algarve. Around Peniche, a former island, you will find different heights of waves, allowing surfers of all levels to enjoy. This is where the annual Rip Curl Pro Portugal is held in October, where the best surfers in the world show their skills.


By car through Portugal


From the car you will discover the great diversity in landscapes and cities that Portugal has to offer. Fly to one of the major airports and rent a car for a fly and drive holiday, or bring your own car for a road trip through Portugal. For example, drive from Porto to the Algarve and visit the Alentejo, the cities of Sintra and Évora, beautiful castles and the fairytale coast of the Algarve along the way. Be sure to take a trip to the lighthouse on the most southwestern point of Europe: Cabo de Sao Vincente. Beach and surf enthusiasts follow the Portuguese coast from the north to the southeast of Portugal and wake up every morning with the sea air in their hair.


Cycling in Portugal


You will find more and more "ecopistas" (cycling routes) scattered throughout Portugal. Many of these ecopistas are former railway lines that have been asphalted and are now part of the "ecovias", a cycle path network. Bicycle tourism in Portugal is still in its infancy. The Portuguese are working hard to expand this network and not every area in Portugal has cycle paths. Cycle over rolling hills with eucalyptus trees, olive groves and quiet villages. Anyone who wants to experience a multi-day cycling holiday will cycle the Caminho Português, a pilgrimage route for cyclists. Over a distance of 616 kilometers, follow the signs with scallops on unpaved, sometimes wet roads from western Spain to southern Portugal. Beach lovers can put together their own cycling route along the Portuguese west coast.


Hiking in Portugal


Hikers can go to any part of Portugal. Visit the Algarve with its rocks, cliffs and beaches and follow the famous Seven Hanging Valleys walking route. More inland you will find the mountain range Serra de Monchique, where many hiking trails wind through fields and over mountain slopes. In the north of Portugal is the Peneda-Gerês Natural Park, where you walk on historic paths to the summer meadows in the mountains. In Sintra-Cascais Natural Park you combine culture and nature in a walk through the World Heritage city of Sintra, between tall juniper trees and bare cliffs and over the former estate Quinta da Regaleira. The Portuguese islands also offer hiking entertainment for days. Walk on "flower island" Madeira, where you will find high peaks and ridges. The most beautiful hike on the island from Pico Ruivo to Pico do Arieiro, where you walk through a sea of ​​flowers in a mighty mountain landscape. Also the islands of the Azores each offer a unique landscape to the walker, from volcanoes in the interior to cliffs on the coast.


For lovers of long distance walks, there is the Via Algarviana (also called the GR13), which winds through the Algarve from east to west. The three hundred kilometers route avoids the busy coast and the hot mountains, and takes you through the quiet "barrocal", the hills between the beach and the mountains. An alternative route is the Rota Vincentina, a 450-kilometer route through the southwest of Portugal along the Vincentina coast and through the historic interior.


Spend the night in Portugal


In Portugal you have a wide choice of places to stay. Pitch your tent in a camping in nature, sleep in a hostel, spend the night in a bed and breakfast in a picturesque village or spend the night in a pousada. A pousada is a former country house, castle, palace or other large building with prestige that has been converted into a luxury hotel. These hotels can often be found at the most beautiful locations and from your bedroom you can soak up the history of the building. One of the most popular pousadas is the Pousada de Estremoz, a medieval castle that has been home to many generations of the Portuguese royal family. Via Aldeias de Portugal you stay in cute stone houses in the north of the country, and via Casas no Campo you book country houses and villas with a view. More basic hostel accommodation can be found via Pousadas de Juventude. You can book a camping spot from five euros per night via Roteiro Campista or Orbitu.


Dreaming about Portugal


Did you have a great holiday in Portugal and do you want to experience many years of after-fun? Record your story in a travel journal on the way or when you return home. Share it online with friends and family and print it in your bookcase. So on a drizzly day you dream away under a blanket on the couch with your favorite memories from the book.