Portugal is a forgotten European paradise. It combines the elegance of Western Europe, the fiery nature of the southern states, and the refined charm of the north. Add to that the wonderful food, the wonderful rawness of the Atlantic, the great wine, the nature saturated with the sun and you have the definition of a truly perfect holiday. In this article, you will find 11 tips for interesting trips to the treasures of Portugal.
1. Menhir dos Almendres
Near Évora (about 15 km) there are ninety-five megaliths, probably dedicated to the cult of the sun. The menhir field is called Cromeleque dos Almendres. The area is not fenced and there is no entrance fee. The stones stand on the slope and the walk between them evokes a special energy in a person. There is another lone menhir nearby, called Menhir dos Almendres. It measures almost 4 m.
2. Capela do Senhor da Pedra
Capela do Senhor da Pedra (Chapel of the Lord of the Stone) stands on top of a rock in the seaside town of Miramar. While the church itself dates from 1686, the rock on which it sits has been a place of worship for more than two millennia. Today, the chapel is a sacred destination for believers who come here for annual pilgrimages. Despite the constant whipping of the waves, the hexagonal church managed to survive in a relatively well-preserved condition.
3. Baleal Island
Baleal is a small island in the western part of Portugal, located 3 km north of Peniche. It has become an almost unrivaled holiday destination in Europe due to its rich opportunities for water sports. The area is characterized by its rugged coastline and offers ideal conditions not only for beginners.
The town of Elvas in the Guadiana Valley was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012. This is due to the most continuous star-shaped fortification system in the world. It was built in 1498–1622 and reaches a height of 40 m. However, it is also worth mentioning the Roman-Arab castle, aristocratic houses, churches, archeological or ethnographic museum and, of course, the Amoreira aqueduct, built to withstand a long siege.
5. Batalha Monastery
The Dominican monastery of Batalha was inscribed on the UNESCO list in 1983. Construction to its current form took more than a hundred years (1386–1517). The author of the basic concept of the temple and monastery was Afonso Domingues. After him, Master Huguet continued, under whose leadership the vault of the church was closed and the main portal of the temple was created. The chapel of the founders, the mausoleum of the royal dynasty of Aviz, was also built. There is a sarcophagus decorated with reliefs of John I and his wife Philip of Lancaster. Their son, Prince Henry the Navigator, found eternal peace here.
The town of Monsanto is located on the bedrock of the Serra de Estrela. The houses of the locals adjoin the rock formations and are surrounded on the sides by huge boulders, until it looks like the cottages will be crushed at any moment. Not every city boasts as many well-preserved stone buildings as Monsanto. That is also why in 1938 it was voted the most Portuguese village in Portugal.
The typical picturesque Portuguese town of Óbidos with its white houses, narrow streets and two-kilometer walls will delight you with many monuments. These include the Igreja de Santa Maria Church and the castle, where you can turn into blue-blooded monarchs for a while.
Conímbriga is the best-preserved Roman archeological site in present-day Portugal. It is decorated with an impressive number of colorful floor mosaics. It lies about 16 km from Coimbra near the town of Condeixa-a-Nova. One of the local attractions is Fountain House (Casa dos Repuxos). The fountains in the water garden are surrounded by mosaics depicting hunting and mythological motifs. Don’t miss a visit to the museum, where painted pieces of walls, coins and other objects are on display.
9. Praia de Bordeira
One of the best beaches in the Algarve is Praia da Bordeira near Carrapateira. It is known for its rugged limestone cliffs and extensive sand dunes. Here you will find a protected lagoon with heated water, which is separated from the shoreline by a belt of dunes. Surprisingly few people stay here.
10. Berlengas archipelago
Berlengas, an archipelago of several rock islands, lies 10 to 15 km west of the seaside town of Peniche. On the largest of them, Berlenga Grande, stands a fortress, converted into a dormitory, and a lighthouse. In summer, the archipelago becomes a destination for scientists and a small number of tourists. The crystal clear waters are full of marine life and ideal for snorkeling. The small beach of Berlengas is considered one of the most picturesque in central Portugal.
The city of Aveiro is nicknamed the Portuguese Venice. A network of canals passes through here, through which slender and colorful Moliceiro boats pass. These are used today in sightseeing. Aveiro will undoubtedly enchant you not only with its Arte Nova-style buildings. Also visit the Aveiro Museum in the Convento de Jesus, where you can admire gilded carvings. And definitely do not forget to give the local sweet delicacy with egg and sugar Ovos Moles de Aveiro.