Just a short flight from the UK, Portugal boasts bags of natural beauty, an array of cultural attractions, mouth-watering cuisine, stylish shops and a whole lot more besides. Here are just some of the reasons why this sunny country can make the ideal setting for a relaxing summer break.
One of Portugal’s major draws is the fact that it boasts such picturesque and varied landscapes. From the impressive peaks of the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês to the sandy, windswept coasts and the meandering turns of the Rio Guadiana, it exudes beauty and charm. One of the most popular areas within Portugal is the Algarve and many people opt to take flights to Faro, the capital of the region. The Algarve is particularly well known for its beautiful beaches, but it is also home to verdant hillsides and pretty villages and towns.
The country is also the ideal place for some retail therapy and a premier shopping spot is Lisbon. The city’s streets are lined with everything from designer stores to rustic markets. In areas like Chiado or Avenida da Liberdade, visitors can find international brands such as Mango and Zara. Meanwhile, to find local designers, travellers should head for the quaint backstreets of Bairro Alto.
Portugal is steeped in history, with everyone from the Celts and Romans to the Moors and Christians leaving their imprint on the nation. It contains Unesco World Heritage Sites in Belém, Alcobaça, Tomar and Batalha, and holidaymakers can marvel at stone carvings dating back 20,000 years at the Vila Nova de Foz Côa.
Music is a major part of life in the country, and it stages a host of festivals. Great examples include Porto’s Festa de São João and the Festa de Santo António in Lisbon. The sound most associated with Portugal is Fado. A style of singing, it can be heard in pubs and cafés across the nation and it’s characterised by its soulful, melancholic sound. The singers – who can be either male or female – are usually accompanied by guitars and violas.
Unsurprisingly given the country’s abundance of produce and its rich cultural mix, Portugal offers some truly sumptuous cuisine. From freshly baked artisan breads to smoked meats and fine red wines, there is no shortage of delicacies for foodies to fawn over. The Portuguese have a particular soft spot for pastéis de nata, a type of custard tart made using slightly salty puff pastry, dusted with cinnamon. Another national passion is bacalhau or salt cod. Usually eaten two or three times a week, it appears in everything from bakes along with cream and potatoes to cold salads with chickpeas.
Given the many attractions that Portugal has to offer, it’s no surprise that it’s such a popular spot for holidaymakers from around the globe.
Have you ever been to Portugal? Is it somewhere you would like to visit?
* This is a Guest Post – Images by pedrik used under Creative Commons license