Fun things to do in Portugal

  • Churches and monasteries
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  • Unique Turkish guns of XVII century
    Unique Turkish guns of XVII century
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    The Great Cloister
    by Paul2001

Most Viewed Things to Do in Portugal

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    Alentejo

    by solopes Updated Dec 17, 2013

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    Though a small country, Portugal surprises for its diversity. The southern half is dry, plane, with scattered cities and villages. You may visit there a few gems like Evora or Monsaraz but the dominant landscape is wild, even in the coast, where a dozen of beaches are the exception.

    Crossing Alentejo is a good opportunity, mainly in Évora and Beja districts, to see birds in the nature, and to... act naturally.

    Yes, the main picture is EXACTLY what it seems, and only in Alentejo that is possible.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Batalha's Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória

    by Paul2001 Updated Nov 12, 2013

    The Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória in Batalha is one of Portugal's great monasteries. It was built to commemorate the battle of Aljubarrota which was fought 4 km south in 1385. It was here that a very much outnumbered Portuguese army defeated the Spanish. The monastery was completed in 1434 and features some splendid examples of Gothic and Manueline architecture.
    When entering the interior of church one might be surprised by how plain it looks on first appearance. This is deceptive as the church holds many gems worth examining. Most notable are the tombs in the Founder's Chapel, of King João I and his English queen, Philippa of Lancaster. Nearby is the tomb of the son, Henry the Navigator.
    Also worth exploring is the Royal Cloisters where you can see some fine Manueline carvings. Just on the east side of the cloisters is the Chapter House where there are tombs to the Unknown Soldiers of World War One (I know Portuguese in Toronto who do not even know they were in World War One) and the colonial war in Mozambique. Finally one should also visit the incomplete but astonishingly beautiful seven chapels. These are in a octagon shaped mausoleum located outside of the main church. Inside you will fine brilliantly carved decorations in the Manueline style.
    The monastery is open daily from 9am to 6pm.
    A curious aspect about my visit to Batalha's Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória is that I experienced the only rainfall of my entire trip to Portugal. It rained for all of 15 minutes while I was here. It did not spoil my visit but it was a pain waiting for the bus back the Navare.

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    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    The Universidade de Coimbra-The University Library

    by Paul2001 Updated Nov 3, 2013

    The Biblioteca Geral da Universidade or The University Library is one of most astonishing rooms that any traveler will ever visit. It was built completed in 1723 thanks to the donations of King Joao V. This is why the library is also known as the Joao Library. It is an excellent example of early 18th century architecture. The walls and ceilings are decorated with stunning baroque paintings and carvings. The walls themselves were built from rosewood imported from Brazil.
    The Library has a very rich collection of 300,000 ancient books mostly dealing with law. philosophy, geography and theology. As you wonder through the library you should also take in the chambers underneath. These at first glance are not so interesting but the actual library in as far as this is where the University students study and withdraw books.
    Access to the Biblioteca Geral da Universidade is strictly controlled as only a small number of people are allowed in at a time. I had to wait about 20 minutes in the hot mid day sun before I got in. Also photos are not suppose to be allowed in the library but the security guards seem not be too concerned about this. I even asked one and he told me to not to use flash.
    Your ticket to the library will also include a visit to the Sala Dos Capelos. It will cost you 7 Euros to visit. It is open during the peak tourist season from 9am to 7pm. During the off season it is open until 5pm.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Rossio Square

    by alectrevor Updated Jul 11, 2013

    This large square is busy and has bars cafes etc,.Also known has Pedrio IV Sq , located in downtown Pompaline. Been main square since middle ages,. Place of executions, revolts, bullfights, and celebrations now where locals and tourists mix.

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    Lisbon Vertical Lift

    by alectrevor Written Jul 11, 2013

    This vertical lift was inaugurated in 1902,and is now a tourist attraction. It is in Santa Justa street and is called Elevador de Santa Justa, it is 45m tall. It gives good views of Lisbon castle, river Tagus, Rossio Sq. and Baixa area. The fare is 5 euro for a trip up and down.

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    Monsaraz

    by Ines_ Written Feb 28, 2013

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    Monsaraz is a medieval village in Alentejo. Is localized on the top of a hill and has one of the most beautiful views in the country. Monsaraz will take you back in time with its castle,white small houses and schist pavements.

    Take some time to see the beautiful Alqueva (the dam region) and the historic monuments around you like menhirs and tapirs.

    This region it’s perfect to do by car and this is the only transportation option. Don’t rely on public transports in Alentejo! Monsaraz is more or less 2 hours away from Lisbon and it’s close to the charming city of Évora.

    If you have the opportunity, this is the one of the most amazing places to visit in Portugal!

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    Coimbra

    by Ines_ Written Feb 26, 2013

    Coimbra is the university city of Portugal, historically known for its university open in 1290 and for being Portugal's first capital. Coimbra is also known for its fado which is linked with academic traditions.

    Coimbra has lots of things to see like: the University, Joanine library (in the university), churches, the new and old sé cathedral, downtown and riverside, “Tears’ Garden” – a beautiful garden full of love stories to tell - and “small people” Portugal.

    For more information check this website (I think it is really useful): http://www.turismodecoimbra.pt/en/about-coimbra/index.html

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    Braga

    by Ines_ Written Feb 26, 2013

    Braga was the first Portuguese city and is one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. It was founded in the Roman times as Bracara Augusta and boasts more than 2,000 years of history as a city.

    Known for being the religious capital of the country Braga has lots of interesting place to see and discover: many (MANY) gothic churches, beautiful XVIII century houses and big parks and gardens. Braga’s symbol is Bom Jesus an amazing sanctuary up in a hill.

    Braga is a great day trip from Porto and it has great public transports connections. Braga is also known as the youngest city in the country so it has a nice nightlife.

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    Ponte de Lima

    by Ines_ Written Feb 25, 2013

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    Known as the oldest village in Portugal, Ponte de Lima is a charming place to visit. Little houses, a beautiful ancient roman bridge and gardens. Ponte de Lima is a place of stillness and contact with nature.

    It’s a good place to visit from May to October because they are known for the international garden festival, and that’s the time it is open. It’s also good if you go by car because public transportation is scarce.

    At last, there are good and cheap restaurants in the village and some local specialties like Arroz de Sarrabulho ready for you to taste!

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    Guimarães

    by Ines_ Written Feb 25, 2013

    Here, Portugal was born. Guimarães is a small city in the north of the country. Being European capital of Culture of 2012 gave it a new life: rehabilitated buildings, modern architecture and stories to tell.

    The most well known places to visit is the castle, the beautiful and picturesque squares, Paço dos Duques and the natural park, up in the mountains, Penha.

    The restaurants are amazing and so are the local sweets. Even though it’s really interesting don’t forget that the city is small, especially its historic center so you won’t take much time, more than a day (unless you want to see museums) to see it.

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    On Top of the World: Sintra

    by alexchip Written Feb 15, 2013

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    Around an hour scenic drive from Cascais (or 20 minutes via highway), or a 20 minute train ride from Lisbon’s Rossio station, in the green mountains of coastal Portugal climbs the city of Sintra. Though parking can be limited, we were happy to have our car because there is so much to see and some of the sights are spread out. The palaces and gardens are memorable, so pick a few (there are dozens!). Restaurants, museums, and shops dot the quaint downtown.

    Our day (12/29/12) in Sintra started at Café la Piriquita, where the traditional pastry (travesseiro) is a warm cloud of deliciousness, the flaky outside protecting an almond and egg cream center. There are two locations, both of which will generally feature long lines. The original is located at the Sintra Palace, the newer sister uphill.

    From the Café we drove through the lovely downtown and up a snaking hill to the Quinta da Regaleira. There are signs to point you in the right direction but parking is limited so expect to park on the street well before the actual palace. The gardens are extensive, with hidden grottos and spiraling towers perfect for photos, both romantic portraits and expansive landscape shots. The palace itself is worth a quick peek, but the lush grounds are the highlight.

    You can walk to any number of lunch spots from the Quinta, but we made reservations (necessary) at the tiny, trendy foodie restaurant Gspot Gastronomia. We used the online Portuguese reservations service “BestTables” to make these and other reservations—the web based format and English language option made it very easy to itinerize our culinary journey. The entrance is hidden, no signage, and there are no other shops or restaurants surrounding it. The amuse bouche, chestnut soup, and the pea soup with scallops were both creamy and inundated with inspired flavor. They really tasted like liquid chestnuts and peas, respectively. The duck risotto was very rich, and the duck extremely rare (too rare for my girlfriend, request accordingly). The suckling pig featured crispy skin and tender pink meat, and was served over winter vegetables and roasted chestnuts. The food was well prepared and lovely, but I wouldn’t rave over it as others have online. We felt at 60 Euros it was a bit pricey (we weren’t drinking) for lunch.

    Back to the car (or take the #434 bus), because the next stop is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Pena Palace, perhaps Sintra’s most celebrated attraction. A long drive up the mountain (following signs for Pena Palace) leads you to the multi-colored castle in the clouds. As others start to park keep driving until you get to the entrance. Drop a passenger off to get in the long line for tickets and drive just past the entrance, where there is a dirt lot on the left. We took the tram (but the walk doesn’t look bad) from the entrance gate to the palace and spent around 90 minutes exploring and taking photos. The stained glass windows, the royal bedrooms, even the thousands of copper pots and pans in the palace kitchen are photo-worthy and the rich history of the building is well explained through pamphlets and placards. The views are magisterial and you will truly feel like royalty.

    We could have spent another day in Sintra to see more of the majestic mansions and rolling gardens, and try some of the other trending restaurants in this Lisbon retreat.

    Café la Piriquita
    7 Rua das Padarias, Sintra
    www.piriquita.pt

    Quinta da Regaleira
    Apr-Sept: 10AM-8PM
    Feb, Mar, Oct: 10AM-6:30PM
    Nov-Jan: 10AM-5:30PM
    6 Euro Admission
    website: http://www.regaleira.pt/

    Gspot Gastronomia
    website: www.gspot.phisionlabs.com
    reservations: www.besttables.com (for many restaurants in Lisbon as well)

    Pena Palace
    Apr 1-Sept 15: 9:45AM-7PM 12 Euro Admission
    Oct 16-Mar 31: 10AM-6PM 9 Euro Admission
    Website: www.parquesdesintra.pt (also gives info about other Sintra palaces/gardens)

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Food and Dining

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    Cristo-Rei, Giant Statue of Christ; Great Views!

    by jumpingnorman Updated Feb 15, 2013

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    This amazing statue was inspired by the Christ The Redeemer statue in Brazil. So when I show pictures of it to my friends, they sometimes think I am showing pics from Brazil! But this Christ image has a character all its own...

    The statue was inaugurated on 17 May 1959 and was built to symbolize the gratitude of the Portuguese for being spared from the effects of World War II. It overlooks the Tagus River, sitting on a hilltop which is 133 meters above the sea. It is easy to get to via a "ferry from Lisbon to Almada", and then ride a bus going to the Cristo-Rei.

    It is exciting to go up to the public observation deck which is at 82 metres (269 ft). From there you can see the wonderful views of Lisbon and also a close up look of the statue itself. There is "a trapezoidal pedestal of 82 metres (269 ft) height, formed from four arches with and flat platform, supporting the 28 metres (92 ft) image of Christ. Its base was designed by architect António Lino in the form of a gate, while the statue of Christ the King was designed by sculptor Francisco Franco de Sousa."

    There is also a library and chapel in the grounds of this wonderful monument.

    From across the river (while you are at St George's Castle or any other viewpoint), you will see this statue and if you are an adventure-seeker like me, you would want to go to it! It looks far but it is really worth to go to and so easy to get to! The views are spectacular, I guarantee it and also look for this huge brown metal suspended (slanted up on one end) "cross" on the ground which is a perfect place for a photo-op - I jumped underneath it! Haha :)

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
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    Monument to the Discoveries

    by jumpingnorman Updated Feb 15, 2013

    This monument which was built in 1940 for the Portuguese World Exhibition is a must-visit when going to Portugal. It's Portuguese name is Padrão dos Descobrimentos and strategically located on the Tagus River's northern edge, at Belem.

    For me it looks like the human statues are on a ship and on a quest to explore the world. But on further reading, I found out that the main statue is of "Henry the Navigator, holding a model of a carrack, on either side of the ramps of the monument are a total of 33 figures from the history of the Discoveries..."

    And for just 2.50 Euros during our trip in Sept 2009, we got inside the monument and up to the viewing deck. There was a guard at the elevator who was nice and smiling at us, and who later ran up to us when my sister fell and the metal stand outside the little film theatre went on the ground with a loud bang – and with my sister’s scream, lol….Thank you guard :)

    There is an elevator – tiny one which could fit 6-8 people I think – and we went to the highest level which gave us a nice view of the city. It is actually just a small space, but enjoyable to be up this well-known monument and just to be able to say, I went up there!” Great travel mortise.

    I thought we could walk around the statues themselves and we went back to the elevator to look for the entrance, but we did not find any such access…instead, we just saw another level for the toilets I think and some brochures.

    Don’t forget to get a glimpse of the WIND ROSE at the access area, which is a gift from South Africa which is made of marble and 50 meters in diameter with designs which marks the voyages of the Portuguese on the world map. Remember that the Portuguese did “discover” the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.

    The brochure given by the monument will point out the people immortalized by the specific statues which include Portuguese notables from painters, navigators like Vasco de Gama, sea captains, princes and even one designated as a traveler (Pedro Da Cuvilha)!

    We just took the taxi going to this monument which from our hotel was about 5 Euros – most hotels within Lisboa are 4-6 Euros away. But by bus, you can take Nos 27, 28, 29, 43, and 49. Tram no 15 passes by, and the train station nearest is of course, Belem. Car parking around the area is free.

    Opening Times
    Tuesday to Sunday
    May to September 10 AM -7 PM
    October to April 10 AM - 6 PM
    Last admission 30 minutes before
    Closed Jan 1, May 1 and Christmas Day

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Architecture

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    Vasco de Gama - longest bridge in Europe

    by jumpingnorman Updated Feb 15, 2013

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    My sister and I who visited Portugal in 2009 September were very lucky to have a VT friend A2lopes or Antonio who drove us to Alcochete, passing through the magnificent longest bridge in Europe - the Vasco de Gama!

    This bridge spans the Tagus River with a "total length of 17.2 km (10.7 mi), including 0.829 km (0.5 mi) for the main bridge, 11.5 km (7.1 mi) in viaducts, and 4.8 km (3.0 mi) in dedicated access roads" This is a very busy bridge and according to our friend who lives in Alcochete, it really helps in bringing him to work everyday. If not for the bridge, there would be a lot of traffic and congestion.

    It took a total of $1.1 billion and 3300 workers preparing for 18 months and constructing for another 18 months to complete this bridge. It is also the NINTH longest bridge in the world.

    If you get that chance, go and see this magnificent bridge in Portugal, and at night it even looks better :)

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    PORTUGUESE SEAFOOD!

    by jumpingnorman Updated Feb 15, 2013

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    Because of its proximity to the sea, the seafood cuisine in Portugal is exquisite and has to be enjoyed once there! It is related to the Mediterranean cuisine but it has its own flavor, with spices like piri piri which are small but strong chili peppers. Garlic, coriander and parsley are also favorite flavors. When near a fishing village, you have to dine in one of the seafood places. In Alcochete, my sister and I went to the Don Peixe restaurant where the owner Daniel was very nice and the food was amazing!

    I am writing this tip just to show the good seafood! Haha

    These are some of the seafood choices in Portugal which you might want to sample or look for:
    1. fish fillets, pan-fried with tangy garlic vinegar sauce - “molhanga” /escabeche”
    2. marinated fish
    3. grilled sardines - sardinhas assaddas
    4. wine-flavored clams
    5. seafood stew - Caldeirada (fish and shellfish with potatoes, tomato and onion)
    6. bacalhao (cod dishes) *** this is the most consumed fish in Portugal
    7. scabbard in Madeira
    8. fresh tuna in Madeira and Algarve

    Not listed above but I tried is a crab dish with this yummy sauce which they placed in the crab's shell (in picture of this tip). I ordered this dish in Cacilhas (just a ferry ride away from Lisbon), and it was delish! It took about 20 minutes for them to prepare the dish but it was worth the wait :)

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    • Food and Dining

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Comments (2)

  • arlindoluiscosta's Profile Photo
    Feb 11, 2014 at 2:57 AM

    I absolutely recomend to those whose visit Portugal, to visit this unique place. An historical village where royalty and nobels spent their holiday and left an imense heritage in impressive palaces surrounded by an astonishing natural environment. Not far you will find the cape roca (end of the world) Guincho beach, cascais and Estoril. I did a sightseeing tour woth guincho tours and i was shown really unexpected spots.

  • arlindoluiscosta's Profile Photo
    Feb 11, 2014 at 2:53 AM

    Sintra

Portugal Things to Do

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