Monastery of Santa Maria, Alcobaça
Tucked into a far corner of the Continent, Portugal is Western Europe's least-touristed country. Its relative isolation preserves a traditional culture of widows in black and fishermen mending nets. Along with the old, you'll find the modern, especially in the culturally rich capital of Lisbon and in the resort towns that rival Spain's (but feel more authentic). If your idea of travel includes friendly locals (who speak a bit of English), exotic architecture, windswept castles, and fresh seafood with chilled wine on a beach at sunset...you've chosen the right destination.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Lisbon Lively, hilly port and capital, with historic trolleys, grand squares, fado clubs, fine art, and a salty sailors' quarter topped by a castle.
▲▲▲ The Algarve Portugal's sunny southern coast, strung with the simple fishing village of Salema, the historic "end of the road" of Cape Sagres, the beach-party town of Lagos, and the laid-back resort of Tavira.
▲▲ Sintra A striking town, within easy day-tripping distance from Lisbon, known for its fairy-tale castles, verdant hills, and beautiful gardens.
▲▲ Évora Whitewashed little college town with big Roman, Moorish, and Portuguese history encircled by its medieval wall.
▲▲ Nazaré and Nearby Traditional fishing village turned small-town resort, and jumping-off point for day trips to the monastery at Batalha, the pilgrimage site of Fátima, Portugal's largest church in Alcobaça, and the photogenic walled town of Óbidos.
▲▲ Coimbra Portugal's Oxford, home to an Arab-influenced old town and bustling with students from its prestigious university.
▲▲ Porto Gritty, urban second city with picturesque riverfront, charming old town, and museums sporting modern architecture.
▲ Douro Valley Terraced farming valley and birthplace of port wine, with home bases in modern Peso da Régua and workaday Pinhão.