Portugal delivers the unexpected. You go there expecting beautiful landscapes, amazing European food and ancient buildings, but the truth is Portugal is so much more than that.
While you can find all of the treasures I just mentioned, it also takes you on unexpected adventures, including the libraries of Livrario Lello, Monsanto Village, or the grottos of Quinta La Regaleira.
But I digress. Let’s start with the historical cities, islands, beaches and circle back to the weird and the wonderful.
Take a City Tour of Lisbon
Lisbon is one of the most popular destinations and it is the capital of Portugal. It is the oldest city by centuries in Western Europe, with its cobbled-stone narrow streets, tram rides and amazing coastal views. One of the most sought after destinations is the Bairro Alto, a picturesque bohemian quarter, which is the São Roque Church and the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.
Ilha de Armona Island
The Algarve is a popular tourist hotspot, and the sprawling coastlines make it a big hit among tourists. But if you want to enjoy the beaches and the scenery without the crowds, then head a little further south to the island of Armona. It is easily accessible by ferry, but it is completely car-free and is a perfect paradise for those who want sun, sand, sea and warmth. And if you’re wondering around the urban areas, be sure to explore the cobblestone streets and Moorish architecture.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta de Regaleira is located near the historic center of Sintra. It is as mysterious as it is breathtaking. Designed by Carvalho Monteiro, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a four-hectare estate with its enigmatic buildings, believed to hide symbols related to alchemy, masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. It is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful gardens you’re ever likely to see, which comes with its fair share of fountains, grottoes, statues, caves, and ponds.
So if you want to visit a slightly more unusual destination with mystical symbols, then Quinta de Regaleira should definitely be on your list.
Village of Monsanto
Monsanto is a village and a former civil parish in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal. But don’t get its name confused with the infamous agricultural corporation. This quaint village has been around since Medieval times and has a long and illustrious history. It features narrow streets carved from rock and houses are tucked away between gigantic boulders. The entire village hangs off a mountaintop overlooking the Portuguese countryside, with magnificent views for miles. The village has hardly changed in hundreds of years and enjoys its special status in Portugal as a living museum. This status means it cannot be changed and so, therefore, retains its quaint charm.
Most people visit the Livraria Lello for its sheer beauty. Its architecture is more akin to a church rather than a library. Its art nouveau façade hides a beautiful Neo-Gothic interior, with a stained glass ceiling, carved wood paneling.
The bookstore is flanked by shops and fronts the Praça de Lisboa, near to the Porto University Faculty of Sciences building, the tower and Clérigos Church. It has a long history too and was first opened in 1906 and over the years its architecture, and beauty has been preserved. It is consistently named as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
Put Portugal on your bucketlist!
The best way to experience Portugal is with a group tour. The only thing better than experiencing the architecture, island and natural scenery by yourself is sharing that experience with others.
So tap the WiGo Trips app to see what tours are on offer.
Janine is a copywriter and marketing manager from England, with a background in journalism. She runs a popular travel blog called janinesjourneys.com and a Youtube blog where she shares her top tips and travel advice with other travelers. As a digital nomad, Janine spends most of her time exploring new places, creating dynamic marketing campaigns on behalf of other companies, and producing inspiring content about travel and photography. She represents a number of different entrepreneurs and startups. She also has a passion for helping people to reach their full potential.