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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Portugal

Things to see and do in Portugal

Tourist offices

Portuguese National Tourist Office in the UK

Address: 11 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PP
Telephone: +44 20 7201 6666 (brochure request).
Website: http://www.visitportugal.com

Portuguese Trade and Tourism Office in the USA

Address: 590 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor, New York City, NY 10036
Telephone: +1 646 723 0200.
Website: http://www.visitportugal.com

Attractions in Portugal

Algarve

Soak up some rays or take a dip in the sea along the Algarve, the sunny southern coastline boasting some of Portugal's loveliest beaches.

Catch a traditional festival

Traditional festivals with dancing, drinking and feasting, occur throughout the year. Top picks include Lisbon's festival of St Anthony (12 and 13 June) and Braga's festival of St John (23 and 24 June).

Catch some live Fado music

The melancholic Fado music, Portugal's best-known traditional musical form, can be heard at atmospheric bars and clubs in Lisbon or Coimbra.

Check out castle ruins and palaces in Guimarães

The medieval capital of Guimarães (www.guimaraesturismo.com) was the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. Looming above its narrow, cobbled lanes lie castle ruins and the former palace of the Dukes of Bragança.

Côa Valley Archaeological Park

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (www.arte-coa.pt) is home to a magnificent collection of rock carvings from the Upper Palaeolithic period (22,000-10,000BC). The UNESCO World Heritage site only narrowly escaped destruction during a proposed dam-building project.

Discover Belém's striking attractions

The striking Torre de Belém is near the fabled spot where Vasco da Gama set sail during the Age of Discoveries. Other Belém attractions include the glorious Jerónimos Monastery (www.mosteirojeronimos.pt).

Discover Portugal's only national park

Portugal's only national park, Peneda-Gerês has 70,000 hectares (170,000 acres) of dramatic mountain scenery, old stone villages and unrivalled adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.

Explore Ribeira, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Porto

This UNESCO World Heritage site in Porto has history lurking round every corner, from its neo classical Stock Exchange Palace to its romanesque-gothic Cathedral, with spectacular views along the vibrant waterfront of Cais da Ribeira (www.portoturismo.pt).

Fatima

The spiritual shrine at Fátima has been an important centre of Roman Catholic pilgrimage since 1917 when the Virgin Mary appeared to a group of children. Experience the torchlight processions of 13 May and 13 October.

Go golfing

Portugal has a great selection of popular championship golf courses in the Algarve and around Estoril, but Quinta da Lago (www.hotelquintadolago.com) is arguably the pick of the bunch.

Lisbon

A colourful tapestry of urban life awaits in the vibrant hilltop neighbourhoods of Lisbon. Don't miss drinks in rowdy Bairro Alto, live fado in the Alfama or cafe culture in elegant Chiado. The city is home to Europe's largest oceanarium.

Lose yourself in the Alfama district

Head to the Alfama district and discover a maze-like district of steep staircases, hidden churches and traditional taverns, and an old tram that still rattles through the streets.

Saddle up on a horse

Portugal has scores of riding centres. Hit the beach with a Lusitano thoroughbred to canter along the sand in the Atlantic surf, or if you're an experienced rider, try taking dressage lessons in Estremadura.

See the architectural splendors of Évora

Évora reached its golden age in the 15th century and is now is a virtual museum of a town boasting architectural splendour. The walled old centre contains a Roman temple, a looming cathedral and picturesque plazas.

Spend time in picturesque Tavira

Tavira is one of the Algarve's oldest and most unspoiled towns. Constructed on the banks of the River Gilhão, the picturesque settlement a smattering of gothic and Renaissance churches, a seven-arched Roman bridge, old fortifications and a pristine island beach.

Take a cruise or wine tour in Douro Valley

Enjoy the splendid vineyards and picturesque river of this UNESCO World Heritage site with a taste-busting wine tour or delightful river cruise. It is one of the most underrated tourist trips you will find in Europe and one to treasure forever.

Take a trip to the hills of Sintra

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sintra is an idyllic town surrounded by wooded hillsides. Don't miss the former summer residence of the Portuguese royal family and the beautiful Monserrate gardens.

View one of Portugal's iconic monasteries

The Mosteiro de Santa Maria (Monastery of Batalha) is a gothic Manueline masterpiece built to commemorate the 1385 victory over Spain in the Battle of Aljubarrota. Its elaborately carved exterior is one of the icons of Portugal.

Visit Braga's assortment of baroque churches

Portugal's spiritual heart, Braga is a lively little city with an exquisite assortment of baroque churches, a sprawling cathedral and Roman ruins. It hosts traditional religious festivals throughout the year, including Portugal's colourful Holy Week.

Watch motorsports at Estoril racetrack

Petrolheads may want to check out the world-famous Estoril racetrack (www.circuito-estoril.pt), which is located a short distance from Lisbon on Portugal's Atlantic coast. Visitors can go along to watch car or motorcycle races.

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