Anyone who takes travel or world geography seriously will be able to point to Portugal on a map; many may even have already had the pleasure of visiting. The country’s Algarve region has for many decades been a popular destination for mainly European holidaymakers who are after sun kissed golden sand beaches and holiday resorts geared towards their exact needs, as are the beaches in Lagos. Lisbon and Porto are bustling cities which attract crowds of people looking for cool culture and old fashioned charm.
But did you know that situated some 1500km off of Portugal’s western coast also sit nine volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean which offer natural pool swimming, excellent surfing conditions and much more? There really is so much to Portugal, both on and away from the mainland. So what should you explore when in the country?
Whale Watching in the Azores
There are not many places on earth that enjoy such a strong and historical link that the Azores do with sperm whales which make the waters surrounding the islands their home. Sperm whales here are free from commercial whalers (the practice of whaling stopped here in 1987) and enjoy abundant sources of food. These favourable conditions mean that tourists come in their droves to spot them on special whale watching tours. With temperatures ranging between 14 degrees in winter and 23 degrees in summer, the islands make a perfect location for nature lovers no matter the time of year.
Everyone knows that cities such as London, Berlin and Amsterdam are clubbing cities. But for some reason, the Portuguese capital Lisbon often gets overlooked on most lists – surprising really, considering the vast array of clubs which line the city’s streets after the sun goes down. Lux is perhaps the city’s trendiest club which on most nights attracts the young and famous from all over the world. If you are looking for a down to earth establishment more suited to budget holidays, there are plenty of options throughout the Avenida 24 de Julho region.
Visiting Lisbon with kids is also a good idea, though you should definitely bring a stroller as young kids will eventually get tired of walking up and down the streets. Make sure you hop on a tram…they’ll love it!
In the north of the country sits Braga, a city of religious significance and as a result perhaps the best place to get in touch with your spiritual side when in Portugal. Braga Cathedral is the city’s most popular attraction. Completed in the 12th century, the Cathedral is open throughout the winter and summer and is free to enter. Expect to see gilded organs, the Museum of Sacred Art, the statue of Our Lady of the Milk plus so much more. Make sure you have charged up your camera otherwise you really will regret it!
Of course parts of Portugal are popular for a reason – cheap portugal holidays offer everything holidaymakers could ever want. However there are other places which for one reason or another get overlooked – just do not let these places slip your mind when visiting.
[photo credits @Flickr: domiriel]
Have you visited Portugal? How about the Azores? Which spot not mentioned in this list is one you highly recommend? Please share your knowledge with us in the comments section below and share this post if you liked it!