There is a lot more to this tiny nation than meets the eye. This country has a very long history as a seafaring culture, most renowned for its food and fortified wines. You can explore sun-splashed beaches, visit a fairytale castle, vineyards tumbling down the hillsides, islands that make your travel a great experience. Portugal has something for everyone.
Getting to know Portugal
With Spain to its back, the Atlantic Ocean to the fore, Madeira and the Azores under its belt, Portugal hugs the sunset coast of the Iberian Peninsular casting an outward gaze across an expansive horizon.
Many lines on the modern atlas were drawn from expeditions launched from this seaboard in the 1500's. During the age of "Great Discovery," adventurers Magellan, Diaz, de Gama circumnavigated the globe, discovered the Cape of Good Hope and sea routes to India.
Today Sagres once believed to be the end of the world, rates as one of the country's top surf breaks along with the likes of Ribeira das Ilhas and Santa Cruz.
The Algarve receives around 3,000 sun hours per annum, it has become a winter home for many Brits and in places can feel a little over developed but its beaches are among the continents best.
The 30km long Costa da Caparica close to the capital Lisbon is arguably the longest white sand beach in Europe.
During the 1600's with trading posts in Africa, Brazil, India and as far eastwards as Timor, Portugal was the richest country on the planet. The spoils from this period lurk around every corner across the country. The medieval cities of Coimbra, Evora, Tomar, Beja, Elvas, and Estremoz, contain the best examples of Roman and Manueline architecture.
In ancient times the wooded mountains surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage protected town of Sintra were called the "Hills of the Moon" after the astral cults who practised here. The narrow, labyrinthine streets, steps and arcades are dominated by the Palacio Nacional, a 15th century palace with one of Europe's richest displays of Mudejar azulejos tile work.
The beautiful Serra de Sintra Mountain Range extends to Cabo da Roca continental Europe's westernmost point.
Ribeira, Porto's UNESCO World Heritage quarter teams with an inexhaustible array of architecture. From its neo classical Stock Exchange Palace to a romanesque-gothic Cathedral, the vibrant waterfront is capped by the spectacular iron bridge, Ponte de D. Luis, designed by Eiffel.
Across the Douro River, the great port wine lodges and tasting rooms of Vila Nova de Gaia are stocked with vintages grown up stream in the UNESCO listed Alto Douro, a 2000 year-old grape-growing region and transported in traditional "Rebelos" boats.
Natural parks make up a fifth of the Portuguese countryside with excellent hiking opportunities. At Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros and Parque Natural da Arrabida are the preserved tracks of dinosaurs and in the Coa Valley Archaeological Park are rock carvings dating from 22000 BC to 10000 BC.
Train network in Portugal
The Portuguese Railway company (Companhia dos Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses) provides AP rapid train links with Vigo, Madrid and Paris and between Lisbon- Porto, Braga-Porto and Lisbon-Faro with a choice of Conforto (first) and Turística (second) class. Intercity (IC) trains travel between the other main cities and are almost as comfortable.
Tickets that get you around Portugal
- Portugal Single-Country Pass
- Eurail Select Pass (2 Countries) - Choose your 2 adjoining countries out of the 28 participating countries.
- Eurail Select Pass (3 Countries - Choose your 3 adjoining countries out of the 28 participating countries
- Eurail Select Pass (4 Countries) - Choose your 4 adjoining countries out of the 28 participating countries.
- Eurail Global Flexi Pass - 28 countries - 5/7 days in 1 month or 10/15 days in 2 months.
- Eurail Global Continuous Pass - 28 countries - 15, 22 days or 1, 2 or 3 months.
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andrew - 12/10/2017
Took a train from Porto to Lisbon! A really nice route and both cities are amazing. The trains are quite nice - we had a pass, so we took some local ones as well.