Portugal – Travel & Tea http://travelandtea.com Brits travelling the world, one sip at a time Sat, 18 Feb 2017 16:16:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.2 10 Must Do’s in Portugal http://travelandtea.com/10-must-dos-portugal/ http://travelandtea.com/10-must-dos-portugal/#respond Wed, 15 Jun 2016 21:13:18 +0000 http://travelandtea.com/?p=41210 Source: Flickr Hop on a flight or set up sail and venture off to the birthplace of Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan, where the colors are bedazzling, as surreal as a palette worked by Mário Cesariny. Madeira with its roofs of red tiles, the Algarve and its emerald-green waters, Belem and its soothing whiteness, […]

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10 Must Do’s in Portugal

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Hop on a flight or set up sail and venture off to the birthplace of Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan, where the colors are bedazzling, as surreal as a palette worked by Mário Cesariny.

Madeira with its roofs of red tiles, the Algarve and its emerald-green waters, Belem and its soothing whiteness, and the beautiful green of the Azores. All are at your beck and call. Add to that the tranquility of the sleepy little fishing villages in Alentejo, the narrowly ascending tram-ridden Lisbon street, and the intoxication to be enjoyed from supping one too many Vinho do Portos, and you’ll soon realize that Portugal is a land of plenty – a land not to be missed. Here’s my top 10, enjoy!

  1. Sintra: National Palace of Pena (Palacio Nacional da Pena)

In 1809, Lord Byron wrote to his friend Francis Hodgson: “I must just observe that the village of Cintra in Estremadura is the most beautiful in the world.” Making the assumption that favorable things tend to get better with maturity, is it any wonder that UNESCO now lists Sintra as a World Heritage Site?

Nevertheless, you ought not to be misled by its tiny size. Sintra offers a conglomerate of attractions, many of which are the wonderful cuisines to be had, while others are only discovered when you venture forth off the well beaten track. Irrespective of your location, however, you’ll certainly note the Pena National Palace looking down upon Sintra from up on high. The palace is well worthy of the climb, as it really does outshine its surroundings, irrespective of the brilliance of Sintra itself.

  1. Lisbon: Belem

If the Age of Discovery tends to spur your imagination, stop off at Belem, where both da Gama and Magellan made preparations for their voyages to the New World. With its excellent cultural venues, striking historic monuments, and wonderfully exuberant waterfront vistas, Belem is among the capital’s most popular tourist areas.

With its center being the Monastery of the Hieronymites, Belem proffers a sense of 15th century exploration as travelers make their way between the Maritime Museum, the Belem Tower, and the Monument to the Discoveries.

  1. Lisbon: Fado Bars in Alfama

Arguably, there are no better places to experience fado (popular traditional Portuguese song) nostalgia than in Alfama, the oldest part of the capital, which lies between Lisbon’s Castle and Tejo River.

But do keep your bearings as it’s so easy to become lost among the Museum of Decorative Arts, Lisbon Cathedral, and a number of points along the way where the views are immaculate. Alfama serves to mesmerize with its tiled walls, winding cobbled streets, and of course the fado as it oozes in a melancholic fashion from the quintessential little bars.

  1. Azores

10 Must Do’s in Portugal

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The Azores, located some 930 miles (1497 km) from the capital, embellish the Atlantic as precious gems adorn a lady’s neckline. A flight of merely two hours from Lisbon International Airport will see you there, leaving plenty enough time in the day to enjoy the verdant valleys, fields of flowers, dreamy lagoons, sleepy villages, and inspired tales of folklore of an evening.

While St. Miguel’s landscape is something akin to a blend of Hawaii and Switzerland, Santa Maria vibrantly enjoys traditional festivals. Altogether, what with the more-than-pleasing scenery together with the natural personal warmth shown towards visitors to the islands, you’ll likely feel compelled to slow down for just a bit in order to reconsider your attitude towards life. All the same, you could on the other hand simply hide yourself away within the confines of an affluent resort, which makes for a thoroughly valid alternative here in the Azores.

  1. Costa Vicentina National Park

In need of a romantic evening? If so, make for Cape St. Vincent to view some of the most incredible sunsets ever. The cape is beautiful at any time, with its windswept rocky headland jutting almost 200 ft. (60 m) above the ocean, which serves to make you feel you’re right at the very edge of the continent.

The cape is where you’ll see stunning ocean views mixed with an exuberant array of marine life. And if you really do crave for that real romantic evening, venture forth to the solitary lighthouse that sits over the ruins of a Franciscan convent from the 16th century.

  1. Lagos: Ponta da Piedade

Lagos is a common port of call when holidaying in the Algarve. After all, it’s a lovely town with its bustling nightlife, fortifications from the 8th century, and the recently added marina area. And yet, if you head a little further south to Ponta da Piedade, this is where things truly begin to unfold.

The headlands of Ponta da Piedade are bathed by waters that are almost indescribable in terms of color, while the rocky headlands have been carved out by the ocean over the centuries to form startling vistas. Hop onto a little boat and venture along the coastline, and make a stop-off at Praia do Camilo or Praia de Dona Ana to enjoy the sandy coves that are hidden from view between the giant cliffs.

  1. Porto: Historic Center of Porto

The commercial hub located on the Douro River delta is more down-to-earth and industrious than the other large cities in Portugal, with its main industry being that of port wine. Nevertheless, tipsy or otherwise, should you travel into Porto’s Historic Center, you’ll quickly notice how well the urban development has inscribed itself so very neatly into the historical aspects.

There’s no end to the narrow, ascending streets that ramble from the neoclassical Stock Exchange to the beautiful cathedral, and onwards to the old-fashioned shops and countless little museums. And eventually, you’ll see those cozy restaurants, and that’s where the flagship product of Porto can be happily enjoyed to the fullest degree.

  1. Évora: Monsaraz

If you wish to revel in the delights of medieval Portugal, pay a visit to Monsaraz in Évora. This little Middle Age town is without doubt among the liveliest of locales in Altentejo. The huge castle maintains a keen eye over the Spaniards not so far away, while the low-rise housing and narrow cobbled lanes guarantee a perfectly laidback evening while supping at the local wine and nibbling at any number of local dishes.

In a leisurely fashion, pace along the almost deserted streets and thrive on the ambience of this particularly well-preserved piece of Portuguese history. And don’t miss out on Santa Maria Parish Church or the castle, or if your preference is for a spot of shopping, head for São Pedro do Corval, a small village which is famed for ceramics that are locally produced.

  1. Lisbon: Nightlife of Bairro Alto

As Lisbon’s bohemian and cultural heart, shopping mecca and nightlife are the words to epitomize Bairro Alto. There’s something of a Jekyll and Hyde scenario at play here, since while it’s calm and generally quiet during the daytime, it comes well and truly alive at night.

Explore the sleek bars, the alternative fashion shops, and cosmopolitan wine bars to discover a highly explosive side to Lisbon’s nature, whereby the city’s party animals and music-oriented subcultures all come together to make Bairro Alto the place to be.

  1. Alcobaça: Monastery of Alcobaça

Afonso Henríques when opposing the Moors at Santarém, vowed that he would build a dramatic monastery should God grant him victory. As it happens, he did gain achieve his goal and he maintained his promise thereby establishing the Monastery of Alcobaça. These days the monastery is a top tourist attraction and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It represents the first Gothic design in Portugal, and it’s not only huge, but also laden with medieval monastic treasures, and filled with accounts of royal lovers such as that of Dona Ines and Dom Pedro who now lie in tombs face-to-face so they may gaze lovingly upon one another on Judgment Day.

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There’s a Festival for That: Portugal’s Best Festas http://travelandtea.com/theres-a-festival-for-that/ http://travelandtea.com/theres-a-festival-for-that/#respond Thu, 17 Oct 2013 20:12:28 +0000 http://travelandtea.com/?p=1322 Ever changing technology means there’s now a well-known saying that there’s an app for everything. But, in Portugal, there’s a festival for everything. In fact, there’s probably a festival going on somewhere every day in Portugal. Every town and village has its very own patron saint, whose saint’s day is usually celebrated with typical Portuguese […]

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Ever changing technology means there’s now a well-known saying that there’s an app for everything. But, in Portugal, there’s a festival for everything.

In fact, there’s probably a festival going on somewhere every day in Portugal. Every town and village has its very own patron saint, whose saint’s day is usually celebrated with typical Portuguese verve. And, the Portuguese festivals calendar is not just about traditional or historic events. New ones are springing up all the time, with music and food festivals becoming increasingly popular.

Always vibrant and atmospheric, and sometimes quirky, attending a Portuguese festa is the perfect way to soak up some local culture. But, with so many to choose from, it’s difficult to opt for just one. Here are just some of my favourites:

The festival of the crosses

Dubbed, “the most Portuguese village in Portugal,” Monsanto is worth a visit any time of year, perching atop a steep hill and built around granite boulders. But, in May, the village truly comes alive with a festival to commemorate its resistance to a siege in 2nd century BC when Roman troops held the population in their own castle. The woman of the village now carry rag dolls known as marafonas and clay jars full off flowers to throw from the walls in a symbolic gesture which mirrors the action of villagers in days gone by when they tossed the last of their supplies away to fool the Romans into thinking they had plenty more food rations.

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Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/luistxo/457941043/

Portimão Sardine Festival

Sardines have long been part of the tradition and culture of the Algarve, and there’s no better time or place to sample them then at the Portimão Sardine Festival, which takes place at the beginning of August every year.

The air fills with barbecue smoke and the delectable smell of fresh seafood. But it’s not all about the food. You can enjoy this local delicacy while listening to live fado music, picking up souvenirs from the market stalls, and watching children at play at the small funfair. An impressive fireworks display marks the end of the festival. And, with regular flights and package holidays from operators such as Orbitz from the US or Jet2holidays from the UK, enjoying fresh sardines in the late evening sunshine on Portimão’s waterfront awaits you.

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Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27087959@N00/9314203935/

Festa da ria

If you’re heading to Portugal in the middle of July, the Festa da ria is a must. Given its vital role in the life of the city of Aveiro, the Festival of the Estuary, is dedicated to the river. The highlight is without doubt the regatta of traditional painted seaweed fishing boats, barcos moliceiros. Fisherman gather seaweed with large rakes before it is loaded onto carts and used as a natural fertiliser.

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Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hormigo/4973723090/

Sudoeste Festival

Held just above the Algarve in the southernmost part of the Alentejo in Zambujeira do Mar, the Sudoeste Festival is one of Portugal’s best kept secrets. When we visit, we’re lucky enough to catch many of the acts which had just played Glastonbury. But, because it has a capacity of only 30,000, we’re just a few rows from the stage when Janelle Monáe gives one of her signature quirky performances before headline act Snoop Dogg has the crowd hanging on his every lyric.

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Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91961862@N00/210465338/

Whether your passion is music, food, history or culture, Portugal has a festival for you.

Katie is a UK based blogger with a sweet tooth and a serious case of wanderlust. She travels as often as she can and Portugal is one of her favourite destinations. Follow her adventures in cake and on foreign shores @delightsomeblog

Headline photo by fusca on Flickr

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Top 5 Beaches in Europe http://travelandtea.com/top-5-beaches-in-europe/ http://travelandtea.com/top-5-beaches-in-europe/#respond Fri, 08 Mar 2013 14:16:08 +0000 http://travelandtea.com/?p=732 Nothing can be quite as enjoyable as relaxing on a beautiful crisp white beach on a lovely summer day. A tourist can derive unimaginable pleasure from just gazing into the sparkling blue water of the sea. This is without mentioning a cocktail in hand to complement it all! A tourist can find five of the […]

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Nothing can be quite as enjoyable as relaxing on a beautiful crisp white beach on a lovely summer day. A tourist can derive unimaginable pleasure from just gazing into the sparkling blue water of the sea. This is without mentioning a cocktail in hand to complement it all! A tourist can find five of the most exotic and lovely beaches in Europe. They are undoubtedly the best travelling destinations for beach enthusiasts from all over the globe. Here is the Direct Insurance guide to the top beaches in Europe:

Egremni, Lefkada, Greece

Egremni, Lefkada in Greece is the first awesome beach that holiday goers can book in Europe. Greece and Spain are the first European holiday destinations that travellers consider when booking beach holidays. Egremni beach is a beautiful beach for people who do not desire to spend their holiday time in the company of other tourists. Unlike with other renowned beaches in Europe, it is less crowded with tourists. It is ideal for people who desire more tranquil atmospheres at the beach during their holidays. Set at the bottom of high cliffs, a tourist can enjoy the fine pebbly beach while gazing at the vast and picturesque Mediterranean ocean.

Warnemünde, Germany

Warnemünde, located in Germany, is the second awesome beach that holiday travellers acclaim highly. It is located at the periphery of the Baltic Sea. It has beautiful white sandy beaches excellent for relaxation purposes. The sea water is mildly calmed excellent for various sporting activities such as windsurfing and sailing. The water at the beach is normally a tad cold even at summers. Tourists can cool off heat from their bodies during the summer by diving into the cold water at the beach. There is a naturist area along the beach for those tourists who are adventurous.

Ile de Re, France

Ile de Re is an awesome beach in France which is set on an island. This region in France is lined with traditional quaint French Architecture. It is an awesome beach more suitable for people who would like to get away from commercial beaches full of tourists. They are numerous coves situated along the beaches in the island for tourists to explore. The beach borders dense pine forests which offer nice topography for hikers to explore. There is an abundance of aquatic life at Ile de Re for tourists to see.

Sesimbra, Portugal

Sunbathing and swimming are without a doubt the best beach holidays activities. Sesimbra has plentiful of these to offer. Its calm waters and white beaches are ideal for tourists who enjoy busking and swimming on the beach. If hungry, a tourist can purchase fresh fish from the local fishermen who sell their catch at the beach. Portugal offers a traditional setting and the Arrábida Mountain rises over Sesimbra beach making it more secluded. It is very close to Lisbon ideal for tourists with bookings at the city.

Cala d’en Serra, Ibiza

Lastly, there is the highly acclaimed destination of Ibiza. Ibiza holidays are mostly associated with travel packages of tourists planned by tours and travel agencies across the globe (Blogger, 2013). Tourists can enjoy the white beautiful beaches of Cala d’en Serra while visiting Ibiza. It is a very popular beach among numerous vacationers. For individuals who love tranquillity during their vacations, along the beach there are numerous coves that are more silent. The beach is located near Portinatx, behind rocky cliffs, a region where many families go vacationing. Vacationers can enjoy fresh fish served in various cafés located along the beach.

References Blogger, G. (2013, February 03). Top 5 Beaches in Europe. Retrieved March 06, 2013, from Go Backpacking ‘Round the World Travel Guide: Gobackpacking.com : Top 5 Beaches in Europe

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