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December 14, 2017
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Home > Portugal Hotels > Portugal Intro


Portugal Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations

     

Discount Hotels in Portugal : Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Fatima, Cascais, Coimbra

 

Facing the great expanse of the Atlantic, is it any wonder this small country grew to become a front-runner in the exploration and discovery of our world? Though seafaring was once a significant force providing the country with wealth and power, today, Portugal is relaxed, comfortable, and content to savour life's simple pleasures. The rural landscape, alluring beaches and old-world towns provide a perfect setting to enjoy the traditional ambiance of a country fond of evoking past glories. There is also ample opportunity to sample the humble cuisine, song and dance of the Portuguese, which never seems to go out of style.

Portugal Map
Portugal Map

You will find Portugal west of Spain on the Iberian Peninsula. Mountains and rivers delineate the borders, while a large predominantly cultivated coastal plain descends towards the west and south to meet the 850 kilometres of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. One of Europe's most relaxed and attractive capitals, Lisbon, also remains refreshingly affordable.

Portugal took a backseat to European progress during four decades of dictatorship, but for the past 20 years has been steadily forging ahead while maintaining what is best of its heritage and culture. Over the centuries, Portugal has successfully absorbed people from a wide variety of different origins: Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Nordic people, and people from Mauritania. In the twelfth century, Portugal became independent from the other Iberian kingdoms, owing to the determined efforts of Count Afonso Henriques, who was crowned the first king. A century later, with the conquest of the Algarve, the kingdom was complete-just as it is today. In the nineteenth century, the monarchy was weakened by a series of partisan struggles, which resulted in it being finally overthrown in 1910, the year when the Portuguese Republic was founded. Portugal has been a member of the European Union since 1986.

Estoril
Estoril

The times of pure melancholy are long gone. Now the nights in Portugal are among the liveliest in Europe. There is lots of entertainment in the streets, live shows, and music for all tastes. The parties and festivals can last until sunup. On hot summer nights, when the music mingles with the rhythm of the waves, the little beach bars are an excellent alternative for a beautiful ending to the day. The Casinos are another form of entertainment, inviting you to test your luck, watch a show, see an exhibition or, just simply enjoy a cocktail in a refined atmosphere.

Fado first appeared in Portugal at the end of the eighteenth century, as a nostalgic form of song favoured by sailors. Its name derives from the Latin word fatum, meaning 'fate' or 'destiny', being sure of one's own existence, and of the suffering and happiness that guide our lives. In 1820, fado became popular in Lisbon. By the end of the nineteenth century, it was adopted by aristocrats as well as the great Portuguese poets and writers, who considered it an excellent vehicle for expressing their romantic emotions. Not always sad and not always noble, Fado is sung by everybody in Portugal. Whether consisting of freely composed four-line stanzas, based on a story of great passion, or just simply sung as a poem, fado is certainly no more and no less than a reflection of the state of a nation's soul. Traditionally, it is accompanied by the 12-string Portuguese guitar and the classical guitar. If you wish to experience this traditional song, make sure that you pay a visit to a Fado and Guitar House.

Lisbon

The first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, captured this city from the Moors in 1147 and it has since be a window to the past 20 centuries. Lisbon stands proudly on the banks of the enormous Tagus estuary, looking to the sea that inspired so many great maritime discoveries. The capital, and largest city of Portugal, is built on the terraced sides of several low hills overlooking the city's harbour. The meandering alleys of the old town stand out against the broad, tree-lined avenues, attractive squares, and extensive public gardens of the newer section.

Coimbra
Coimbra

At night, the city's old quarters come alive with the sound of fado. Yet, just down the hill, at the open-air cafes, bars and discotheques, where the lights are reflected in the waters of the River Tagus, the night is still young. Take advantage of Lisbon's proximity to the seaside towns of Estoril and Cascais with their fine white sand beaches, excellent golf courses, and casino. The romantic town of Sintra, found just northwest of Lisbon, is a paradise deserving of its classification as a world heritage site. The town of was long favoured by Portuguese royalty and English nobility as a summer holiday destination. Its eclectic appeal is still evident today, with its thickly wooded setting, romantic gardens, mix of Manueline and Gothic architecture, and 16th century hermitages.

If you are prepared to stray just a little further, there is even more to see: mediaeval towns and monasteries, monuments that bear witness to the presence in Portugal of the Knights Templar, who founded several castles and the mythical Convento de Cristo. And there is Fatima, one of the world's largest centres of pilgrimage for the worshippers of the Virgin Mary. For archaeological buffs, there are some beautiful caves to be visited in the mountains displaying evidence of prehistoric culture. The walled town of Evora is one of the architectural gems of Portugal and is situated in a picturesque landscape of olive groves, vineyards, wheat fields, and brilliant spring flowers. It is a charming town whose attractions include a cathedral, a roman temple, and a ghoulish ossuary chapel constructed from the bones and skulls of several thousand people.

Coimbra

Coimbra
Coimbra

The regional capital of Coimbra was the first major city of Portugal. Set on the banks of the river Mondego, Coimbra is easily reached via the main north-south motorway. It retains fine examples of art dating back to the 12th century. A university city since the 13th century, the academic and bohemian traditions of its students, in black hat and cloak, bring charm and life to the streets of this great city.



Porto

Porto
Porto

Capital and gateway to the north, Oporto (Porto) has lent its name to Portugal and Port, the national ambassador to the four corners of the world. With its magnificent geographical location straddling the mouth of the Douro River and its exceptionally rich architectural history, the historic centre of Oporto has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Its hinterland is equally rich in heritage as the gentle sweep of the coast rises up to the mountains of the interior.

Algarve

The Algarve offers you beautiful beaches, a warm sea, and year round sunshine. Fabulous golden sand can be found all along this vast coastal strip sheltered by red cliffs of sculpted sandstone. The clear warm water invites you to take a dip, or for the more adventurous, there is a wide variety of water sports available. If you are a keen golfer, the Algarve has a host of courses overlooking the sea. The coastal region is dotted with picturesque cities and towns.

Lagos / Albufeira / Sagres

Sintra
Sintra

Lagos and Albufeira, on the south coast of the Algarve, number among the country's most popular tourist resorts. Most visitors are drawn to the superb beaches. The towns have abundant facilities for renting bicycles, mopeds and horses, and there are boat trips from the main harbour as well. The small fishing port of Sagres is perched on dramatic, windswept cliffs at the southwestern extremity of Portugal. It was once considered an essential port of call for ships sailing westwards from the Mediterranean, and it was from this very spot that Prince Henry planned and directed the great Portuguese maritime discoveries. The port is still a centre for boat building and lobster fishing. If you enjoy contemplating never-ending horizons, visit nearby Cabo de Sao Vicente, at the very tip of southwestern Europe.

Inland and to the north, the hills of Algarve lead to a greener and more fertile region where fig trees, orange groves, and almond trees come into blossom during the winter. Here you will also find numerous villages that have successfully preserved their ancestral traditions.


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