For such a small country, Portugal is packed with so much to see and do.
Named as the World’s Leading Destination at the 2018 World Travel Awards it’s not difficult to understand why with colourful old buildings sprawling up and down hillsides, Lisbon’s trams, stunning azuleojos tile mosaics, great food and wine, surfing – Portugal has it all and more.
From major cities like Porto and Lisbon, to small villages and coastal towns, there’s an endless number of things to see, do and discover. Here’s a few things to look out for:
Tiles and Mosaics
Deeply embedded in Portugal’s history and culture, glazed, ceramic tiles called azuleojos can be found everywhere. Clearly inspired by Arabian art you’ll see different styles decorating churches, monasteries, restaurants, bars, railway and subway stations, palaces. Don’t miss São Bento railway station in Porto with its 20,000 magnificent azulejo tin-glazed ceramic tiles depicting Portugal’s past - its royalty, its wars, and its transportation history.
As you walk around Lisbon, make sure you look down where you’ll see mosaics made from black and white pavers. These amazing calcadas (traditional mosaic walkways), painstakingly laid by hand, come in a variety of designs. Best to avoid heels in Lisbon!
Food and Wine
Who hasn’t heard of the famous Portuguese tart (pasteis de nata)? Pastry and sweet treats are an essential in Portuguese cuisine. Make sure you visit a pastelaria to see and taste the amazing range of cakes and desserts perfected here.
Bachalau (cod) dishes are probably most commonly known, but Portugal has a wide range of seafood and nothing makes a Portuguese person happier than a barbecue full of grilled fish.
While many of the Spice shops which once lined the streets of Lisbon (thanks to Portugal’s early dominance of trade routes) you’ll find foods flavoured with the flavours of tea and sweet oranges from China, nutmeg, pepper, cloves, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and star anise from Goa, Sri Lanka, and Malacca and piri piri chilis from Brazil.
While Mateus Rose may spring to mind when you think of Portuguese wines there are so many more just waiting to be discovered. Visit the Douro Valley or Alentejo to taste a variety of wines made from grapes not commonly grown here. And of course, you’ll be sampling the most famous of Portuguese wines – Port! You can head over to the island of Madeira to taste its famous wine as well.
Music is the soul of Portugal and you’ll find a lively music scene with traditional and contemporary music. Make sure you visit the Alfama district in Lisbon for traditional fado music (you’ll either love it or hate it), characterised by a melancholy theme accompanied by mandolins and guitars.
Portugal has some of the best waves in Europe. Whether you’re a beginner or someone with bags of experience you’ll find a spot perfect for you. There are so many different spots to put your board in and ride the waves. An hour north of Lisbon you’ll find Ericeira a popular spot whatever your level. Whatever your level up and down the coast, there’s plenty of opportunity to either ride the waves or simply watch the pros at the amazingly powerful swells at Nazare.
All this and home to centuries-old cities and castles, packed full of history and stunning scenery, why wouldn’t you visit Portugal?
Contact Cathy or Chris at Travel Architects to plan your holiday to Portugal!
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Call Cathy Thorpe - 0414 561 645
Call Christine Ritchie - 0411 084 374