Portugal is Europe’s southwestern most country and is located on the Iberian Peninsula. Once relatively unknown to tourists, Portugal is fast becoming one of the most visited countries in Europe and attracts close to 25 million tourists each year. There is good reason – Portugal has much to offer, including a warm climate, savory food and cuisine, some of the best port wines the world has to offer, a slow-paced and old fashioned way of life, gregarious people, collections of art treasures, unique Manueline architectures, cobbled streets, elegant castles, glamorous beaches, sweeping coastlines, and some of the best golf courses in all of Europe.
The landscapes in Portugal are diverse. Lush mountains, valleys, rivers, vineyards, and various trees fill the Northern part of the country in such areas like the Minho, Lima, and Douro regions. The central regions are covered with rocky mountains and slopes. The Southern regions like the rural Alentejo, are desert-like and patterned with rows of wheat fields while the Southernmost shores of Portugal like Algarve are resort-like with beaches, almond trees, cliffs, coves, golf courses, and Mediterranean climate.
Culturally, Portugal is touched by African and South American influences, seen in its Moorish-influenced displays of Manueline architecture in the country’s distinctive monuments and the popularity of Fado music and blues-like songs.
The top destinations in Portugal include Lisbon, Porto, the Island of Madeira and the Algarve in the south. Other popular destinations include Braga, Coimbra, Vila do Conde, Albufeira, Sintra, Faro, Tavira, Castelo Branco, Carvoeiro, Funchal and Viana do Castelo, where you’ll find stretches and stretches of sandy beaches. Portugal is also littered with numerous small towns, villages, and rural countrysides that serve as a link to Portugal’s historic past. Portugal’s list of World Heritage sites includes Alcobaca, Batalha, Coimbra, and Evora, the latter two are home to some must-see monuments.
Portugal is not just a favorite among tourists because of its beaches, landscapes, and architecture. But Portugal is also a golf-lovers paradise and has more than a dozen top-rated golf courses in all of Europe. In fact, it was named “Best Golf Destination 2006” by the magazine Golfers Today. Visitors can also enjoy big game fishing, horseback riding, cycling, waterskiing, windsurfing, Fado music festivals, folk festivals, country fairs, port wine tastings, and romantic stays at Pousadas de Portugal, the country’s famous luxury chain of hotels that look nothing like hotels. Pousadas are located in historic places such as castles, convents, palaces, monasteries, or near romantic and picturesque locations and allow visitors to experience Portugal in its rustic and genuine state.