An independent kingdom since 1143, Portugal established its continental frontiers in 1297 and is one of the oldest nations in Europe.
Situated on the west side of the Iberian Peninsula, its geographic location along the Atlantic coast soon determined its vocation to the sea.
In 1415, the Portuguese set sail on an epic voyage that would make them the first to discover the ocean routes to India, Brazil, China and Japan, and at the same time founded settlements on the east and west coasts of Africa.
Traces of this worldwide historic presence may be seen as trademarks of the Portuguese genius. The Portuguese language became one of the most widely spoken in the world, and the Portuguese people were privileged for being exposed to so many different civilizations. The vast monumental, artistic and archaeological heritage does witness not only the 850 years of history of encounters with distant cultures, but also the presence in the territory of more ancient peoples (Celts, Suevians, Visigoths, Romans and Arabs).
The natural advantages of a sunny country with such diverse geographic features have turned Portugal into a chosen destination for many holidaymakers, an ideal place for practicing water sports and playing golf, offering modern tourism facilities, and quaint and personalized means of accommodation, such as ‘turismo de habitação’ (privately owned homes ranging from wonderful farmhouses to manor houses), ‘hotéis de charme’ or ‘pousadas’.
A member-country of the European Union since 1986, Portugal currently enjoys a steady economic growth. For centuries Portugal has kept the greatest treasure of a renowned reputation for hospitality that makes the country a haven of congeniality and safety.
The wonderful variety of countryside in Portugal is matched by the many charming towns and monumental cities throughout the land. From UNESCO heritage sites to border towns, dramatic hilltop settlements and sophisticated cities - all with their own unique Portuguese character and charm.
Angra do Heroismo (Azores)
With its palaces and forts dating back to the 16th century, the city of Angra do Heroismo has been classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO – a testament to its beauty and history.
Belmonte is the birthplace of the great Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral, discoverer Brazil. The town is dominated by its 13th century castle which bears witness to its strategic position in the fight against Spain over the centuries.
Castelo de Vide (Alentejo)
The white walled town of Castelo de Vide is perched on a hilltop around the fourteenth century castle and contrasts splendidly with the surrounding vegetation. The result is a wonderful view and a charming town boasting the oldest synagogue in Portugal (13th century).
Strategically positioned in the centre of Portugal, Coimbra is an ancient University town set in a steep limestone hill with many architectural gems, including its two cathedrals and numerous churches and manor houses. It was Portugal’s capital for over a century (1143-1255) and has remained a significant cultural centre ever since.
Evora, as befits a UNESCO world heritage city, is blessed with a large number of striking monuments and buildings, many of which date back to the period of Roman and Moorish occupations. It is considered by many to be Portugal’s most beautiful city.
Known as the “birthplace of the Nation”, Guimarães was first the capital of Portugal and remains a lasting symbol of Portuguese nationhood. It possesses an impressive array of medieval buildings testifying to this glorious past. It is, without doubt, one of the loveliest and most distinguished cities in Portugal.
Situated at the foot of Lousã mountain, the origins of this town have been lost in the mist of time. Indeed the past never seems to be far away: Arouce castle dates back to the XII century and the streets are flanked by medieval houses. The historic Foz de Arouce bridge is a testament to the Napoleonic Wars.
Close to the Spanish frontier, the small walled town of Marvão is a delight to behold. Set on top of a hill it commands awe inspiring 360-degree views that are sure to impress the visitor. Almost all the houses are located within its ramparts.
Beautifully situated high above the banks of the Guadiana River. Mértola is a slow placed, quiet town. To discover Mértola is to meet up with history, tradition and nature.
Monsanto, meaning the “sacred mount” is a dramatic fortified hilltop settlement. Built on a granite mount 800 metres high, the beautiful vista spreads out in all directions. The homes were constructed with the stone of the mount itself so it is difficult to distinguish between the two at a distance.
Perched high above the plains, and surrounded by a walled castle, it is easy to see why Monsaraz is known locally as the “Eagle’s nest”. It has commanding views of the Alentejo countryside brimming with cork and olive trees. But Monsaraz itself, with its history and narrow streets, fits in perfectly with this panorama.
Obidos (Lisbon Coast)
Known as the “Wedding City”, Obidos was a traditional present of the Kings of Portugal to their Queens. It is a beautiful picture-postcard town, with balconies covered in colourful flowers, whitewashed houses and narrow cobblestone streets -- all surrounded by Moorish walls and dominated by an old castle.
Sintra (Lisbon Coast)
“To see the world and leave out Sintra is to go blind about” so says an old proverb. Indeed, “Glorious Eden” as the English poet Byron called it is an assault on the senses: lush verdant vegetation coupled with fairytale palaces, castles and manor houses. Not to be missed.
Vila Viçosa (Alentejo)
This beautiful and tranquil corner of The High Alentejo is dominated by the enormous Dukes of Bragança Palace. The old town which dates back to the 13th century is still enclosed within the walls of the castle.
Tomar (Lisbon Coast)
A lovely town situated on the Nabão river, with whitewashed houses and terraces. Tomar’s ex libris, however, is the wonderful Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Headquarters of the Knights Templar. It is a testament to Portugal former power and an architectural masterpiece.
Please click on the symbol to see the Spanish Hotels in this area and obtain information about each.