Portugal is situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordered by Spain. As a location, it’s great for expats and offers a wide variety of landscapes in its 92 square kilometres - from the golden beaches of the Algarve to mountains, reserves and forests. There is plenty for the inquisitive to do and see; including a trip to the country’s vibrant capital city of Lisbon, outdoor activities such as walking and hiking and visiting arts and cultural sites, including the 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across Portugal.
Here’s a selection of five places well worth a visit:
Take a trip to the Palace
The Quinta de Regaleira is a Palace in Sintra with ornate gardens comprising of grottos, fountains, statues and underground caves. The grounds also include a chapel and aquarium. This fantastic UNESCO World Heritage site was originally designed and constructed by Carvalho Monteiro and architect Luigi Manini in 1904, and completed in 1910. The 4-hectare site is situated close to the historic town of Sintra and the location of another royal residence Pena Palace, a monastery commissioned by King Ferdinand II to become his home in 1843.
Hit the Rocky Road
When you want to build a house and there’s a boulder in the way, what do you do? You build the house around the boulder!
That’s what happened in the village of Monsanto in Portugal where the houses are built under, between and on top of the massive rocks. The village hangs off the side of a cliff and with the houses built in Portuguese style it’s a-typically traditional, so much so that in 1938 Monstanto was named the most “Portuguese village in Portugal”.
Do something saintly
Portugal is a deeply religious country with 81 per cent of the population Roman Catholic. There are many religious sites including Fatima which thousands of pilgrims visit every year. But one of the more unusual, is a visit to Saint Maria Adelaide, or non-saint as she has not been officially canonised by the Catholic Church. St Maria Adelaide can be visited in her own small museum and chapel in Arcozelo, Portugal. Maria Adelaide now recognised for the kindness she showed throughout her life, particularly to children. Many gifts have been donated to her memory including wedding dresses, money from all over the world, jewellery, pottery and even prosthetics.
Get into the swing of things!
You can take part in all-manner of outdoor activities in Portugal from water sports, walking, hiking and cycling. But there’s no doubt that it’s a great place for golfers with over 80 courses across the country to choose from. All courses offer lessons and driving ranges for practice, and there are three golf academies. A number of courses are floodlit so the game can be played 24 hours and many are championship-grade courses. For experienced golfers that like a challenge there are rugged terrains and challenging courses, and panoramic views, with locations on mountains and along the coast. With a year round climate, for expats it’s a great way to meet people and exercise too.
A country of tiles
Portugal is the home of tiles, wherever you go in the country there are examples of azulejo (tile) which comes from the Arabic word Al-zuleique meaning “small, smooth stone’. The use of tiles to decorate walls and floors began in the 15th century. They then began being used in churches, convents, palaces and homes from the 18th century and from then have become part of design and décor everywhere in Portugal.
In fact, tiles are so popular in Portugal that there is a National Tile Museum in Lisbon where you can find out the history and evolution of the now every day tile. You can’t miss them wherever you go but look out for particularly great displays in the Lisbon-Metro Stations, which are lined with tiles, Sao Bento Station in Port, the Palcia Da Vila in Sintra and the Church of Sao Lourenco in Almancil.
For further information about things to do and see in Portugal visit https://www.visitportugal.com/.