Anyone who takes travel or world geography seriously will be able to point to Portugal on a map; many may even have already had the pleasure of visiting. The country’s Algarve region has for many decades been a popular destination for mainly European holidaymakers who are after sun kissed golden sand beaches and holiday resorts geared towards their exact needs, as are the beaches in Lagos. Lisbon and Porto are bustling cities which attract crowds of people looking for cool culture and old fashioned charm.
But did you know that situated some 1500km off of Portugal’s western coast also sit nine volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean which offer natural pool swimming, excellent surfing conditions and much more? There really is so much to Portugal, both on and away from the mainland. So what should you explore when in the country?
Whale Watching in the Azores
There are not many places on earth that enjoy such a strong and historical link that the Azores do with sperm whales which make the waters surrounding the islands their home. Sperm whales here are free from commercial whalers (the practice of whaling stopped here in 1987) and enjoy abundant sources of food. These favourable conditions mean that tourists come in their droves to spot them on special whale watching tours. With temperatures ranging between 14 degrees in winter and 23 degrees in summer, the islands make a perfect location for nature lovers no matter the time of year.
Everyone knows that cities such as London, Berlin and Amsterdam are clubbing cities. But for some reason, the Portuguese capital Lisbon often gets overlooked on most lists – surprising really, considering the vast array of clubs which line the city’s streets after the sun goes down. Lux is perhaps the city’s trendiest club which on most nights attracts the young and famous from all over the world. If you are looking for a down to earth establishment more suited to budget holidays, there are plenty of options throughout the Avenida 24 de Julho region.
Visiting Lisbon with kids is also a good idea, though you should definitely bring a stroller as young kids will eventually get tired of walking up and down the streets. Make sure you hop on a tram…they’ll love it!
In the north of the country sits Braga, a city of religious significance and as a result perhaps the best place to get in touch with your spiritual side when in Portugal. Braga Cathedral is the city’s most popular attraction. Completed in the 12th century, the Cathedral is open throughout the winter and summer and is free to enter. Expect to see gilded organs, the Museum of Sacred Art, the statue of Our Lady of the Milk plus so much more. Make sure you have charged up your camera otherwise you really will regret it!
Of course parts of Portugal are popular for a reason – cheap portugal holidays offer everything holidaymakers could ever want. However there are other places which for one reason or another get overlooked – just do not let these places slip your mind when visiting.
[photo credits @Flickr: domiriel]
Have you visited Portugal? How about the Azores? Which spot not mentioned in this list is one you highly recommend? Please share your knowledge with us in the comments section below and share this post if you liked it!
I’m glad I came across this post!
I am from Portugal and still think that my country is quite underrated as a travel destination. People tend to think Portugal = Algarve, aka beaches, sun, etc.. but, as you pointed out, there’s way more and I hope articles like this inspire more and more people to make it to Portugal!
Hi Zara, you are very right. There’s lots more than just Algarve, and there is a lot of history too. Thanks for stopping by!
This looks an awesome place to stay!I am hoping you can post more different places here…
With summer just a couple of months away I am now in the process of looking for destinations to visit. I was particularly impressed with your choice of the Azores.
Atypical, but even more appealing I’d say than the standard Portugal trip 🙂
How long will you be out for?
You are welcome Arjee 🙂
Thanks for the tip!
I love lisbon, is one of the most beautiful citys in world
I have not been to the Azores yet but have been to the others. I love them both. I must say becareful in the old center of Lisbon. We saw a man’s bag get stolen and did not even realize that was what was happening. Our car was broken into once. Also we have been asked if we wanted drugs many times. Do not misunderstand there is not a danger, just use care. Also I would suggust to stay in a hotel outside of this area. These things are more likely to happen at night and when you are not paying attention.
Braga is very nice area. Good resturants and shopping also. Also the cities of Barcelos and Guimaraes are very close and very nice to visit.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us Amy. Truth is that the old center does look a bit shady at night, I guess you have to watch out. As for the drugs, that is not uncommon, it has happenned in many cities around the world. The other cities you recommend are very good ideas, thank you 🙂
como eu gostava de visitar esses pises todos ,conhecer o mundo era o meu sonho mas Deus não permitiu só conheço parte de portugal , adoro esses paires todos .
Muito obrigado for stopping by assuncao 🙂
How I wish I can visit these beautiful places in Portugal. More especially this exotic rock formation. I love it!
I loved Lisbon, the city is truly magical and the food is really fantabulous. I would suggest that besides the places to visit you should also make a mention of the food of the place in the blogs that you do in the future. People always want to know about food, cuisine of a region is always different and interesting to foreigners. As the saying goes “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Well this can be the case for a country as well.
I hope this is the case 🙂
We spent three weeks in Lisbon last summer and fell head over heels in love with the city – what a great city!! We were hoping to spend some time down south at the Algarve Coast but ran out of time. We can’t wait to go back to Portugal and explore more of the country – the Azores and Madeira are high on our list, as is Porto. Never heard of Braga but it sounds like it’s worth a visit too.
Hey Dani, Braga is rather cultural, somewhat like Sintra but bigger. Glad you liked your stay there and are looking forward to going back!
I must say that whale watching in Azore is simply mind-blowing. The experience makes “Free Willy” come alive well and truly. Whales are really friendly animals or fish or mammals whichever is the right term to use. We had gone on a family trip and not with any tour agency and I must say that it was really great. The kids were not ready to go to Lisbon, they loved the whales and had a complete ball. I read your other article about Hawaii and after seeing their love for sea life, I think it would be really great to take them there. Thanks and a big cheers to you.
Thanks for stopping by Jack. I am sure that your kids, nor you, will regret visiting Hawaii..there is so much to do!