Portugal is the under appreciated stepchild of the Iberian peninsula. Bordered on two sides by a much-larger Spain, and on the other two by the deep blue Pacific, Portugal sits
in serene isolation on the tip of the European continent. Whether it be touring the wine country in the northern regions, enjoying the University life of the central hill country, or basking on the sun-drenched beaches with fellow party revelers around Lagos, Portugal is worthy of much more than the act of being simply overlooked.
Euro; Exchange Rate: 1 Euro = $1.26 (July 17, 2012). For currency conversion info visit xe.com
When to Go:
Considering its northern location in relation to the equator, Portugal enjoys some of the best weather in all of Europe. While the northwest region along the coast can get chilly and damp in the winter, for the most part southern Portugal enjoys year round sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Winters are mild as they are tempered by the proximity to the ocean, and the inland areas can get uncomfortably hot during the late summer months. Like the rest of Europe, tourist high season runs for most of summer, and spring is your best bet for cheap lodging, less crowds, and massive festivals.
Things I’ve Done In Portugal That Rule:
1. Bask on the beaches of Cascais
This charming little fishing town outside of Lisbon sits right on the (chilly) water, and is all you could ask for in a sleepy beach town.
2. Walk the music-lined streets of Sintra
Eerily similar to a Disneyland fairy tale setting, speakers in the lightposts hum classical music in the shade of the brightly colored Palacio Nacional de Pena.
3. Stroll the streets of downtown Lisbon
Large central parks, bustling alleyways, fantastic dining, and the backdrop of a Golden Gate Bridge replica make Lisbon a comfortable capital to stroll the day away in.
4. Go back to school in Coimbra
You don’t actually have to enroll, but the vibe of Coimbra is definitely that of a youthful University town, which makes sense seeing as it is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities.
5. Attend a night time mass in Fatima
Held in honor of the Virgin Mary, this Catholic pilgrim town holds massive torch-lit processions that are a sight for anyone to witness, devout or otherwise.
Looking for all inclusive holidays to Portugal? Take the worry out of trip planning and save your time for the fun stuff. Drinking wine in a pension by the coast. Walking through villages in rural foothills. Sunbathing in Lagos and mulling over your next drink. You know, the important things.