A Portal to Portugal’s Finest | Travel Research Online

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A Portal to Portugal’s Finest

As the European country with the oldest consistent borders, Portugal is a multivariate experience. The cultural influences brought on by this 900 years of existence have added to the flavor of Portugal. And, though a smaller nation, it is busting at the seams with a lively culture and sublime scenery for the traveler to explore.

They say the stomach is the window to happiness, and Portugal is well on its way to being the perfect portal. The cafes and restaurants that line the streets are well known around the world for their culinary treats. These are often simple and delicious dishes: fresh baked bread with olive oil or cheese, or both smooth red wines and crisp, green wines (vinho verde). But, far more often, Portuguese dishes feature fish—an important staple of meals in Portugal. The type of fish varies, including tuna, cuttlefish, seabass; and they are prepared in stews, chargrilled, or barbecued. Portugal is world-famous for their delectable dishes, and the traveler will revel in the tastes offered up.

Porto

Porto, Portugal old town cityscape on the Douro River with traditional Rabelo boats.

As if the tastes of Portugal weren’t enough to entice a visit (they are), the sensational feel of taking in the colorful sites of architecture and lush valleys will further draw in a traveler. Porto is one of those destinations. The second-largest city in Portugal, and a bit of rival to the capital, Lisbon, Porto has a view of the past with cobbled streets and architecture that speaks from ages gone. Bridges, totaling six, span over the Douro River, connecting the city with walkable routes perfect for a tour. On the Douro River itself, boats with flat-bottoms called a rabelo float the traveler for a different view of Porto; some even offering a wine tasting along the way. The Gothic Church of of St. Francis (Church of São Francisco do Porto) is worth a look for the sharp, vaulted ceiling alone. Though, the intricate architecture all along the inside and out is a sight to behold—a true 13th century marvel. The experience of Porto is far more than this article could contain, but down a cobble-stoned road leading out of the city is the Douro Valley.

Douro Valley

Top view of river, and the vineyards are on a hills in Douro Valley, Portugal.

Rising outside of the city of Porto is the Douro River Valley. This valley was the origin point of Port wine in the 17th century, and remains to this day the region’s primary product. Being a region of world-renown, famous wineries are ready for the traveler to visit. The Quinta do Covela Winery is located in the southeastern part of the Vinho Verde (green wine) region. Here, their specialties are white and rosé wines, with vineyards that lay low in the valley. Utilizing organic growing techniques, they hold many awards for their wine making. One of the oldest wineries in the Douro Valley is the Quinta da Moarrocco. Recognized for its premium Port wines, this vineyard offers amazing views of the valley and still stomps the grapes by foot. Whether it be cruising along the Douro River Valley in a car winding through the valley or down the river itself on a rabela, a nice, crisp wine will add zing to the traveler’s experience.

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Lisbon

View of Alfama District at Lisbon, Portugal

Even with excursions off the regular path taken in Portugal, the capital of Lisbon is a great stop. Its history is one of seafarers exploring the oceans, one of setting off to find new and unknown lands. One of the more notable sites in Lisbon is the Hieronymite Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finished in 1601, this example of Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style has massive and curated courtyards, to the halls full of pillars and vaulted ceilings, and looks over the Tagus River. Similar to Porto, bridges span over the River Tagus that give a new perspective on the city. And after a stroll around Lisbon, catching the local gastronomy is called for—especially when it involves a taste of Ibérico ham or the seasonally fresh olive oil, particularly paired with the wines of the Douro Valley.

 

Portugal has been on the radar of the world for hundreds of years, and now it continues to be a destination deserving of the traveler’s attention. Perspectives of the past reflect from buildings, some of vivid colors and others in grand Gothic style. Cobblestone streets lead through a culture of scintillating smells, right to delicious meals ready to become the highlight of an already full experience. Plus, popular Spanish destinations such as Madrid and Barcelona are within manageable distances, for that extra oomph.

And, if you’re looking for a supplier to create such an experience for your private group, Journeys Connect has what you’re looking for. Specializing in creating unique and immersive private custom group programs to Portugal, along with Spain as well.

 


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