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The best towns to visit in Portugal

Aug 16, 2017

Coimbra

It is the city of students par excellence and currently has more than 30,000 students. The oldest university in Portugal is located here and it is also one of the oldest in Europe.

Whether you are a student or not, Coimbra has many attractive spots to see, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity !!

The 12th century romantic temple ‘Sé Velha’ has inscriptions in Arabic that say: “I wrote this as a permanent reminder of my suffering. My hand will appear one day, but greatness will remain.”

Then, near the University of Coimbra ‘Sé Nova’ a cathedral whose construction took a century to build where the baroque and classic style converge.

Those who like to take boat trips will enjoy the “Basófias” boat that sails through the Mondego river to observe the city from another perspective.

Portugal dos Pequenitos, was built as a space to show children the aspects of architecture and history of the Portuguese Empire, conceived from the beginning with this objective. In this “miniature city” where the most significant monuments of Portugal are reproduced, and although an entrance fee is required, it will be worth it!

Not to miss

At the University visit the Joanina Library and climb the tower to enjoy the views, visit the ‘Sé Velha’, the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-velha, stroll through the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas and the historical cafés of La Baixa.

 

Estoril

Elegant town in the coast, which has for many years attracted the ‘rich and famous’ of Europe for its imposing Casino Estoril, which was a haven for spies in Ian Fleming’s first book ‘Casino Royale’, immortalized through the world-renowned character Agent 007, James Bond in the film filmed there in the ’70s.

Until this day, it holds a very exclusive profile although it receives more and more families on vacation.

It has beautiful beaches and wonderful tourist facilities; Accommodation and international cuisine and evening entertainment for adults and families on a touring mood. It offers everything needed for rest and fun with the combination of culture, atmosphere and exceptional climate. Cultural tours possible to visit on foot, such as the town of Cascaes, or on the beaches north of Estoril, where the waves are stronger, to practice surf or kitesurf.

Continuing to the north of Estoril are the Sierras de Sintra, which houses two ancient royal palaces, one in ruins and impressive residences built in a “romantic” architectural style of the nineteenth century. Also the Gothic style National Palace of Sintra among other attractions.

Cascaes

Cascais, in portuguese, is located in the Pacific Ocean Bay, within the Lisbon district. It is a village, with hardly 33,000 inhabitants, that constantly receives holiday tourism, for its beautiful view and virtuous climate, all year round. Most of its streets have old cobblestones, famous in Portuguese architecture.

In recent years Cascaes has become a popular destination for golf enthusiasts around the world for its privileged climate. It is also visited by lovers of surfing, sailing and kitesurfing, given the strong winds in the area, additional condiment to the variety of attractions to visit.

Among the main activities is Boca del Infierno, a picturesque viewpoint, where the most romantic can enjoy the sea and sunset. It is a mandatory stop for all visitors and even for the locals !! There, the waves hit the rocks of the coast with force, generating, after decades, cracks and breaks. That is why with each blow of the waves you can hear noises that, according to the urban myth, resembled demoniac screams, from that it’s name ‘Boca del Infierno’.

Then, Cabo Roca, a desert settlement at the westernmost point of Continental Europe. There is a lighthouse, a coffee shop and a gift shop, but not much more. The wind, the cliffs and the landscape are the main attraction, and they have a dramatic touch. The lighthouse was built in 1776 and was the first of Portugal, possible to access and travel this relic that continues to operate until today, with a light of 10,000 Watts visible 46 km away.

The visit to Cabo Roca can be done between 2 hours and half a day, depending on the weather and how tight travel schedule is. The transportation available to arrive is by bus, taxi or renting a car.

Almada

This city houses a few curiosities, among them, a bridge designed similar to the world wide known Golden Gate of San Francisco (State of California, United States) that has become a symbol and icon of the city, since it was constructed under the Head of Portugal Government’s orders, after the Revolution that restored democracy in this country. The bridge was named ’25 de Abril ‘, and crosses the Tagus estuary, in the Lisbon metropolitan area.

Just a few meters from this wonderful icon is a replica of the Cristo Redentor, or ‘Corcovado’ as it is also called in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The complete monument is 100 meters high, 30 meters being of the statue in particular with its enormous arms in cross. The base of the pedestal alludes to the 4 cardinal points. Almada is the sixth most populous municipality in Portugal and is inhabited by more than 180,000 inhabitants.

A walk that you can not miss is the Panoramic Elevator of ‘Boca do Vento’, built in 2000, connects with the historical center of Almada or “Old Almada”. Also with the old shipyards of Ojo de Boi, now transformed into leisure area – Jardim do Rio, where restaurants and terraces are located.

From the panoramic view of the elevator you can observe and contemplate the Tagus estuary and the city of Lisbon.

Multiple private beaches offer the opportunity to relax and swim, as do paragliding flights to the beach from the cliffs, which give a picturesque look to the Portuguese coast. If you want to venture out to sea, there are full day excursions that allow swimming with dolphins.

Finally, do not forget the incredible time travel experience that is the visit to the Frigate D. Fernando II e Gloria, launched in 1843 and has traveled thousands of miles with its three masts until it was decided to preserve it as a historical element and allow visitors. Inside the ship it is reflected many trades that could be developed in it when it was at sea.

Oporto

In this city it is fundamental to walk and see the palaces, public buildings and interesting areas.

A good starting point is the Avenida de los Aliados, located in the heart of the city, full of modernist buildings, including the Town Hall. A wonderful building up the avenue made of marble and granite. Leaving behind the Town Hall we will find the Plaza de la Libertad, which is the most important in Oporto. With an honorary monument to King Pedro IV, on his horse.

A treasure in Oporto, the train station  ‘San Bento’, has in its hall a decoration with more than 20.000 tiles in which the history of Portugal is related. Undoubtedly, a must see!

The riverside of Duero, and its surrounding area of ribeira offers a thriving culinary offer with restaurants with terrace where you can taste typical Portuguese dishes while contemplating the river, the wineries and the Luis I Bridge.

 

The Church of the Clergy, with more than 200 steps to climb, offers privileged views of the city, so it will be worth climbing the tower.

MUST see according to itinerary and length of stay:

  • Mercado do Bolhao, nostalgic center where vendors sell their fruits and vegetables as if time had never passed.
  • The ‘Palacio de la Bolsa’ a guided tour to know its history will be amazing! The wine cellars of Porto are located in Vila Nova de Gaia, a neighboring town of Porto. The wineries most recommended by critics are Ferreira, Sandeman and, for his museum, Ramos Pinto. Cheers!
 

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