Often neglected in pursuit of more well known European destinations, Portugal is earning it’s stripes as a must see this year. Finally travel writers, backpackers and wanderers alike have uncovered the wonder that is this country awash with the Atlantic. So get planning and pack your boardies, bikini, mu mu or whatever your beach attire of choice. Mark our words, Portugal will be the place to be in 2017.
World Class Beaches
No more of that pebbled business Europeans like to call beaches, come to Portugal and the sea laps the sand just like back home. Whether you’re eager to pull your towel out and lay still for hours on end or weave your way through beaches shaded by sandstone archways. You’re covered here. Tan not guaranteed.
Stop by Algarve if it’s beaches of the cave variety you’re after, rugged scapes and azure waters await you. If you’re headed to delightful Porto, stop by Miramar beach for a white chapel perched upon the sand. Or if you’re in town for the raucous partying Lisbon is known for, then recover from your deathly hangover Guincho beach, is where it’s at. Just a train ride away, then sit all day and sun your bad decision away.
Monasteries’, churches, convents, abbeys, cathedrals, Portugal has it all. Even an atheist will appreciate the beautifully preserved architecture and cultural importance of these sites. Starting in Lisbon you’ll find Jerónimos Monastery, a mammoth building with a sprawling garden out front. But it’s what goes on inside the walls that will have you clamouring for more.
The famous Portuguese tart or pastel de nata on these shores, was crafted by the monks in the 18th century as use for leftover eggs. The flaky, yolky, caramelised tarts are truly beyond comprehension and no trip to Lisbon is complete without a taste. It you’re venturing further out head to the spooky Batalha Monastery, where children are said to have seen the Virgin Mary appear to them. Sceptics and firm believers can both appreciate the artistry of the monastery and the town built surrounding.
Bom Jesus Do Monte monastery is another divine escalation or perhaps a stairway to heaven. There is a lush garden attached to the grounds that will have you feeling tranquil, aligned or present depending on your denomination. If you’re about in Evora, you can even spend the night in a convent at Convento dos Lóios. One for the travel journal, that’s for sure.
Sao Miguel off the coast is an undwandered paradise. Further afield than your average traveller would venture, the Portuguese archipelago of Azores is a wonder to behold. Known as The Green Island, the island is a geologically crafted sight. From hot springs, volcanoes or craters turned majestic lagoons. Hike your way along the trail and scope out the vast pools, that’s Caldeira das Sete Cidades, you’re looking at in all it’s glory. Worth the extra flight.
If it’s castles, royalty and old time monarchy that enchants you, look no further than Sintra. Home to the rainbow painted wonder that is Pena National Palace, that’s only the surface when it comes to this monarchy loving town. Venture away from the vibrancy of Pena and you’ll find yourself wandering Tomar Castle for hours. Or perhaps you’re after something even more quaint, the aptly named Hobbit Castle located on an eery lake it the stuff of Tolkien dreams.
Sure the outside vista makes for a captivating Insta, but inside is the real magic. Mosaics, hand painted tiles and murals abound. No tiara required, but royal waves are certainly appreciated.
Beyond the exquisitely crafted tarts that will fill your dreams with clouds of sugar, Portugal is a foodie heaven yet to be uncovered. Seafood upon seafood and local meats cured and roasted to perfection. Simply prepared and lovingly seasoned, the food here is not challenging but delicious.
Seafood capital Porto is where to start your tastebud led journey, where you can indulge in polvo à lagareiro, a whole boiled and roasted octopus lathered in garlic, bacalhau, codfish prepared to local tastes, or dive into a selection of Portuguese tapas known as petiscos. What better incentive to roam the city on foot than discovering local haunts all on your own. Less Nandos more authentic eats.
Views Upon Views
If it’s views you seek, Portugal holds it all. Upon arriving in Lisbon mark every miraduro on your map and work your way between them. Wondering what on earth that entails? The miraduros are nestled in the upper heights of Lisbon’s city walls and offer a lookout over the whole expanse. Most have a bar or restaurant situated right by the scape, perfect for a bev or two with an exquisite lookout. Take your rooftop bar dreams to all new heights.
Don’t Look Down
Perhaps you’re after something a little bit more mind whirling. The Initiation Well in Sintra is your ticket. Yep, it’s really called something that astoundingly haunting. Peer down into the greenery laced abyss and risk dropping your phone for the perfect picture.
So add Portugal to your euro summer itinerary or make the journey around the country on it’s own. The flavour and colour that fills the street will charm you and tart crumbs will dust your clothes for days. See for yourself.
Image source: Vagabondish, PGS The Way, Global Cities Dialogue, Hand Luggage Only, Aos Domingos na Vozinha, A Touch Of Sound, All About Lisbon.