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Explore off the beaten path places of “Europe’s West coast”: Portugal

Explore off the beaten path places of “Europe’s West coast”: Portugal

Houses in Madeira Island

Madeira Island-Portugal

Craig Taylor

Blessed with majestic beaches, hours of sunshine, modern cities while still retaining an old-world charm, Portugal is a holiday destination well worth your consideration. This travel guide will help to identify some things to do in the country while visiting this unpolished jewel in Europe's crown.


Lisbon

Lisbon has a plethora of attractions waiting to be visited. Your Lisbon tour guide will highlight many for you but make sure you check out a few of the following:

Belem Tower: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Belem Tower was built in 1514, taking five years to finish. This four-storey building stands close to 100 meters tall at its highest point and was an important building during the Renaissance period in the country.

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Baixa District: This is old world Portugal with much of the Baixa District unchanged over hundreds of years. Browse the shops, traders and traditional businesses and find how they would have been centuries ago.

Baixa districtTake in a Fado performance: Fado, the national music of Portugal is performed at venues throughout the city. The best places to take in a magical performance is at Mesa de Frades where the venue is a former chapel and Cafe Luso, where you can relax and drink so wine while the performers strut their stuff. Make sure you don't miss a performance!

Fado performance


Marvao

The village of Marvao was built during Medieval times, originally by the Moors as a strategic defensive position. Today, this town retains much of its old-world charm and its narrow streets are just waiting to be discovered. Your Marvao tour guide will point out numerous amazing locations within the town and surrounds including:

Igreja de Santa Maria: Originally a church built in the 13th century, this building is now the local municipal museum. It houses some significant displays including art, archaeological discoveries, historical pieces and much more.

Igreja de Santa MariaTorre de Menagem (High Keep): The highest point of the castle at Marvao, here you will be treated to beautiful views of the lands and scenery surrounding the town.

Torre de Menagem

If you're visiting during the month of November, stay for the Local Chestnut festival, something the town has celebrated for centuries. Although the stars of the festival are the chestnuts, you can expect arts, crafts, singing, dancing, excellent food (made with chestnuts of course) and the drinking of wine produced in the region.


Odeceixe

OdeceixeFound in the Ribeira de Seixe valley, part of the famed Algarve region Odeceixe possesses some of the finest beaches in the land. Visit it during the off-season and it is a normal Portuguese village going about its daily routine. But in summer, it thrives thanks to the many tourists from all over Europe that come here for the sea, sun and fun. There is still so much more that Odeceixe has to offer:

Bike trails: Your Odeceixe tour guide can point out any number of bike rental agencies in the village itself. The cycling paths here run near the Atlantic Ocean, along the coastline around the village and further inland too, into the Ribeira de Seixe valley.

Walking tours: Many paths for walking tours are to be found in the village and surrounds and take in the hills, valleys and beaches found here. Some of these are guided tours while others can be done at your own leisure. Perhaps the best is the Rota Vicentina trail which starts from the beach or the Odeceixe, Rio Seixe, Praia de Odeceixe route, a little under 8 kilometres in length.

Rota Vicentina


Trilho dos Pescadores

The Trilho dos Pescadores or the Fisherman's Trail has to be seen to be believed. This trekking and hiking trail is blessed with amazing views of the Portuguese coastline as well as the Atlantic Ocean that washes up against its beaches, dunes and cliffs. Situated in the Southwest Alentejo National Park, the trail can be physically demanding. Consulting with a Trilho dos Pescadores tour guide beforehand will give you an idea what to expect along the trail, but you are sure to see a host of marine birds and occasionally, marine life.

Travel tip: Spring is the perfect time to take in all the Fisherman's Trail has to offer, as it can get a little too hot in the summer.


Mondego Valley

Located in Coimbra, the Mondego Valley takes you away from the beaches of Portugal and provides you with a perfect morning or afternoon break. Here you can kayak along a part of the Mondego River, the longest found in Portugal. The river itself meanders slowly along and although we encountered rapids, they were small and not too difficult to navigate.

Mondego valley in Coimbra

Many tour operators offer kayaking in the valley, so it’s best to ask your Mondego Valley tour guide for the best options, depending on how far you want to kayak. The longest sections available cover around 20 kilometres and take up to four hours to complete.


Algarve

Image titleIf it's sunlight, beaches and crystal blue oceans you are after, the Algarve is the place to be. Away from the obvious tourist attractions lies a world that has not changed much in the past decades. There are many small villages to discover here and your Algarve tour guide will even point out ancient Roman ruins such as those found at Milreu and Cerro da Villa.

“Craig Taylor is a freelance writer and blogger. A lover of wildlife, he loves to travel and have as many new experiences particularly with food! His other passion is photography.”

Image details and licenses:

Baixa district: https://flic.kr/p/qH6qsX (Allan Watt, CC BY-NC 2.0), Fado performance: https://flic.kr/p/jLUU1 (Carmen Alonso Suarez, CC BY-NC 2.0), Igreja de Santa Maria: David Stanley, CCC BY 2.0), Torre de Menagem: https://flic.kr/p/29U81Ce (Pedrik, CC BY 2.0), Odeceixe: https://flic.kr/p/Bu6LWC (Yepyep, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), Rota Vicentina: https://flic.kr/p/Gysgav (Louis Vest, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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