Located on the west coast of Europe adjacent to Spain, Portugal offers breathtaking scenery from seemingly never ending beaches to breathtaking views from hilltops high above the sea; rich and vibrant cultural experiences from inside museums to its city nightlife or village sidewalks; wildlife and challenging landscapes for the adventure seeker; and romantic sunsets and sand dunes and moonlit sails for the lover in all of us. Wait, we forgot amazing gastronomical pleasures created by Portugal’s food and wines, or perhaps those are also found under lover?! No matter what you seek, when you go, where you look or how long you stay, Portugal offers something every traveler wants and makes it all too easy to get.

Destination Must-See's

Algarve:

The Algarve is alluring for its stunning coast and laidback feel. Coastal Algarve receives much acclaim for its breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, scalloped bays and sandy islands. But it is also rich in history. There are Moorish and Renaissance influences abound. Here, the famous voyager, Prince Henry the Navigator, began his explorations and Vasco da Gama sailed in 1499 on his epic voyage of discovery. The enchanting inner Algarve boasts pretty castle towns and historic villages, cork tree– and flower-covered hillsides, and birdlife.

Lisbon:

Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon offers all the delights you’d expect of Portugal’s star attraction, yet with half the fuss of other European capitals. Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums are all part of the colorful cityscape, but the real delights of discovery lie in wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets. The Lisbon experience encompasses so many things, from enjoying a fresh pastry and bica (espresso) on a petite leafy plaza to window-shopping in elegant Chiado. It’s mingling with Lisboêtas at a neighborhood festival or watching the sunset from the old Moorish castle.

Azores:

This Portuguese archipelago of volcanic islands in the mid-Atlantic may be small in size but big in natural beauty. It is a relatively unknown paradise. You will find tranquil lakes, rolling hills, lush calderas, high mountains, and sandy beaches. Quaint fishing villages dot the landscape and the catch of the day is always on the menu. The people are laidback and friendly, making it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Portuguese Riviera:

The Riviera stretches from Lisbon and Cascais. The coastline has become a place where the elite vacation between September and October, and a popular tourist destination for its chic look. Removed from the city, the Lisbon coastline is easy access to all the culture that Lisbon offers. It has become a hotspot for major international celebrities from the world of fashion, sport, and entertainment. The Riviera is also known for its world-class conditions for surfing.

Destination Must-Do's

Fado Performance:

Fado is a popular style of music in Lisbon, Portugal. In Lisbon, Fado is always sung by a solo performer, while in other regions of Portugal it is typically performed in a group. Fado can be traced back to the 1820s, but it is said to have much earlier origins. This style of music has a dramatic sound with lyrics that speak of the struggles of daily life, and the melodies, performed by string instruments, are melancholy.

Alentejo Wine Region:

The Alentejo region is a land reminiscent of Tuscany, with its vast landscape dotted with vineyards, cork oaks and olive trees. The land has seen occupation of the Romans and Moors which is reflected in the well-preserved city of Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wine is perhaps its biggest treasure. Here there are more than 250 wine producers who create aromatic, fresh white wines and more intense, smooth, ruby reds.

St. Michael Island:

The island, named for Archangel Michael, is also referred to as “The Green Island.” Sao Miguel is the largest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The island was established in 1427 after the discovery by Goncalo Velho Cabral. The island is home to the Presidency of the Autonomous Region of the Azores. Tourists come to Sao Miguel to view the lakes, the rolling high mountains, and to enjoy the beaches. Sao Miguel offers a variety of outdoor activities that include several of its scenic features.

Pousadas:

Similar to Spain’s paradors, Portugal’s pousadas began to operate in the mid-20th century and showcase a true taste of their location. In addition to regional hospitality and cuisine, these beautiful hotels — often in idyllic locations — offer visitors a sense of history, culture and tradition. They are uniquely Portuguese and reside in some of the most beautiful areas; some actually sit in the shadows of historic monuments. These luxurious accommodations highlight great attention to detail, exceptional service and warm hospitality. From historic castles and former monasteries or convents to palaces and fortresses, they embody the Explorations concept of accommodations that capture the spirit of your destination.

Expert Advice

Nadine Paulo

Product Manager
Something you may not know is that Portugal produces about 50% of the world’s cork. In fact, the Algarve is considered to have the best cork in the world. They make items from shoes and belts to umbrellas. It is a fun souvenir item to take home and is sure to be a conversation piece.
When dining in Portugal it is important to know that it is customary that servers bring over small dishes of olives, bread, cheese and/or cold meats when you sit down. But wait, they are not free. You must politely send them back untouched, otherwise you will be charged. Usually they aren’t expensive, but they will show up on your bill.
Portugal has over 500 grape varieties. They are famous for their wine and the great variety with 11 different wine regions. From world-renowned rich sweet Port wine to the light crisp white Vinho Verde, you will have an abundance of types to try.

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