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The small kingdom on the edge of the Iberian Peninsula blossomed in the 16th Century to become one of the world’s great seafaring nations. During the great Age of Discovery, Portugal was at the vanguard of world exploration, which brought vast wealth and riches. This is evidenced in the Manueline architecture – the palaces, monasteries and churches that were filled with gold from the new world. Nowadays, modern explorers will find colourful fishing villages and small, fortified towns, glorious sun-kissed beaches, sacred sites, heavily cultivated hills, neat terraced vineyards and vast flat plains.
Lisbon is strewn over seven hills and packed with historical attractions, Art Nouveau architecture, leafy parks and squares. Take in magnificent views from the castle of Sao Jorge before exploring the stairways and narrow streets of the old Alfama quarter. Like Portuguese royalty of yore, escape the summer heat for the lovely gardens and villas of hilltop Sintra, or visit the glamorous resort of Cascais. Outside of the capital, Fatima is renowned as a place of pilgrimage, where a vision of Mary is reputed to have taken place before three local children. Wine enthusiasts should make their way to Oporto, home of the sweet Port wine, but don’t miss the magnificent bridges, baroque Church of St. Francis and grand Stock Exchange. It’s so easy to get joyfully lost in the narrow medieval streets of some of Portugal’s most charming cities. Walk within the walls of Obidos, a 13th-century village, traditionally gifted to new Portuguese queens on their wedding day, or explore well-preserved Evora - an architectural jewel box dating back to Roman times.
On the third Sunday of each month, gather to watch the Changing of the Guard and Charanga in front of the Presidential Palace. In a time-honoured ritual, 28 horsemen from the Cavalry Regiment perform ceremonial military marches. For great views, ascend Lisbon’s iconic elevadores (three funiculars and one Eiffel Tower-esque lift) which connect downtown areas with the hilly districts.
Av temp: 17˚C63˚F
Av temp: 23˚C73˚F
Av temp: 21˚C70˚F
Av temp: 12˚C54˚F
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When to go: Portugal's outstanding climates means good temperatures all year round.
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