Category Archives: Portugal Sites

Vacation Ideas for the Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, covering almost 5,000 square kilometers (almost 2,000 square miles). At the heart of this beautiful region is its capital, Faro. If you’re planning on visiting the Algarve, you’re likely to fly into Faro International Airport. Once you’ve arrived in this rich, cultural land, there are several ways to get around in Portugal, including using car hire companies at Faro Airport.

 If you want to spend your vacation on your own timetable, we’d suggest hiring a car for getting around the Algarve. After you’ve arrived and decided on a mode of transportation, it’s time to get serious about relaxing. While you can drive from Faro in southern Portugal to Bragança in northern Portugal in about six and a half hours, there is plenty to do without leaving the Algarve region. There are many attractions in Faro itself, but today we’ve put together a list of a few things you can do when you leave the city behind.

 

Visit the Beach

Northwest of Faro, not very far from the airport, is a little offshore island connected to the mainland by a bridge; this is the Praia de Faro (Faro Beach). It is also sometimes called Faro-Mar or Ilha de Faro. Being an island, this beach offers both a lagoon side and a seafaring side. The lagoon side has colorful boats on the water or moored along the slipways. It is a popular location for swimmers and jet skiers alike. On the seafaring side of the island is a glorious stretch of golden sand. The Praia de Faro offers many watersports including windsurfing and sailing.

 

Hop up to Estói

Just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of Faro, you’ll find Estói, a town typical of the Algarve hinterland. Here you’ll find the Palácio de Estói, a palace that dates back to the late 18th century. While visitors are not allowed inside the palace, there are beautiful, multi-level gardens lavishly decorated with azulejos (Moorish tile mosaics) and busts. There is a grotto located in the lower part of the gardens that is completely covered in mosaics and can be accessed by going down a set of tile steps.

 

Travel to Historic Silves

Silves is a little country town about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Faro situated on the Rio Arade and surrounded by cork oak forests. It was once the Moorish city of Xelb, capital of the Al-Gharb. Formerly an intellectual and cultural center to rival Granada, Silves is now a small, charming, old world town with some historically significant buildings. You can visit the Castelo dos Mouros, a massive Moorish castle that rears above the town; the Gothic Cathedral; or Sé, containing the tombs of crusaders. There is also the Archeological Museum in the Rua das Portes de Loulé with exhibits from Silves and the surrounding area.

 

Go a bit farther to Ponta de Piedade

Another 40 kilometers (25 miles) or so farther down the coast, you’ll find the Ponta de Piedade near Lagos. This is a stunningly beautiful section of coastline with an awe-inspiring collection of natural wonders and a lighthouse perched majestically atop the cliffs. Caves, grottoes and sea arches are among the natural sculptures you’ll find carved from the cliffs below over thousands of years.There are many boat trips that will take you into grottoes, around stone pillars and through natural tunnels. The vast variety of natural wonders coupled with clear water and the warm Algarve sunshine creates a truly magical effect.

No matter what you decide to do while in the Algarve, make sure you enjoy yourself. There’s something for everyone. See the sites, try the food, or just relax on the beaches.

How to driving in Portugal

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Best Ways to Get around in Portugal

Portugal’s fine beaches, year-round temperate climate, wonderful food, and friendly people combine to attract many people to our beautiful country. If you’re thinking of visiting our fair country, you’ll want to take two things into consideration: when the best time for your trip is and how you’re going to get around. If you’re not sure when you’d like to visit, you should check out our Seasonal Vacation Ideas in Portugal. However, if you’ve already decided when you’re going to visit, it’s time to decide how you’re going to see the sights. We’ve put together a list of six ways to travel within Portugal.

By Car

If you really want to see the country, but you don’t want to be restricted by a timetable, choosing to hire a car is a great way to see Portugal. This option gives you the best combination of freedom, versatility and traveling ease. You can also take advantage of the unlimited milage generally offered within Portugal to really see the scenic countryside that is off the beaten path. See the sights in PortugalThis is also a relatively inexpensive way to see the country, because it’s pretty easy to find cheap car hire in Portugal. You can read about 6 qualities of a good car hire company here on our blog. Continental driving rules apply, meaning that cars travel on the right side of the road, and road signs comply with international rules. Check out our infographic about what car to hire in Portugal.

By Taxi

Travelling by taxi in Portugal isn’t terribly expensive, especially when compared with European standards. A trip across Lisbon or Porto generally costs around €8-13. As with any taxi service, there are often additional charges for luggage, weekend travel and nighttime travel. Even with relatively low prices, it can still add up fast, especially if you’re traveling longer distances. You should be aware that if you’re going to travel throughout the country via bus, train or plane, you’ll probably be using taxis as well, because many railway and bus stations are located far from town centres. In rural areas, there may be no other way to get to your next destination.

By Bus

Bus travel is a cheap way of getting around Portugal. There is a network of buses linking most major towns and cities along with a pretty good network of local lines. Be careful though; there is a wide array of private companies running the bus systems, so it can get confusing. The fares tend to give a pretty good value if you don’t mind structuring your visit around their timetables. Also, you should be aware that many of the local services are reduced or suspended on weekends.

By Train

While there are some very picturesque lines in the north, the Portuguese railway system is underdeveloped, especially compared to some of the more industrialized countries of western Europe. Trains can be a good way to travel between cities and towns if you don’t mind following their timetable. There are strong railway connections between the capital and many major towns, but you’ll still need to use local buses or taxis to travel within the cities or towns you visit.

By Plane

If you’re planning to spend the majority of your time in our bigger cities like Lisbon, Faro in the Algarve, and Porto in the north, you may choose to use air travel to travel between the cities. However, remember that you’ll still need to hire a car or use the bus or taxi services in order to get around the cities.

By Bike

Despite the hilly terrain, cycling is becoming increasingly popular for traveling within Portugal. You can often hire a bike for €10-20 per day, making them a fun and inexpensive way to see nearby sights. If you don’t plan on bringing your own bike, however, it can add up pretty quickly. This is especially true if you’re trying to see a lot of the countryside.

We hope this helps you decide the best method for your travel while visiting Portugal. Whether you’re coming for the historic sites, the beaches, the old churches and monasteries or any other reason, we think you’ll find our country very much to your liking.

Pricing for Traveling Portugal

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Popular Foods Based Out Of Portugal

Portugal’s food is as diverse as the country’s history. The country’s location on the Atlantic has a huge influence on the cuisine, but Portugal’s former colonies have also had their contribution with the addition of spices like black pepper, piri piri (small, fiery chilli peppers), saffron, cinnamon, and vanilla. Olive oil, which is used for both cooking and flavoring, is a base of many Portuguese dishes.

Main Dishes

The Atlantic influence is found in Portugal’s many fish-based dishes, the most famous of which is bacalhau, or salted cod. Given that each region has its own bacalhau specialty, it’s not surprising that it is commonly said that there are 365 different ways to prepare bacalhau. For example, Porto’s bacalhau à Gomes de Sã is salted cod, olives, and potatoes topped with eggs and onions.

Another meat commonly used in Portugal’s famous foods is pork. A specialty found in central Portugal is leitão, or roast suckling pig. You may also want to try a wine-marinated pork dish garnished with clams called carne de porco à Alentajana. If you’re not really into fish or pork, you can try frango grelhado, a grilled chicken dish seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and piri piri.

Alheira, a sausage served with fried eggs and potatoes, has an interesting history. During the late fifteenth century, Portugal was officially a Christian nation and all Jews were ordered to convert to Christianity or leave the country. King Manuel, however, did not actually want to lose the economic or professional expertise of the Jews. So, when the deadline for leaving the country or converting arrived, he announced that there were no ships available for those refusing to convert. He had men, women, and children baptised by force en masse. In order to not give away their taboo religious affiliation by openly avoiding pork, Portuguese Jews made sausages of chicken and spiced game that only resembled pork. In modern times, the tradition has been broken and alheira often includes pork as an ingredient.

Soup

Many Portuguese meals also include some type of soup. In southern Portugal, you can find the popular Gazpacho soup. Made of cucumber, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chillies, and vinegar, this soup is served cold.

Cheese

Queijo, or cheese, is not an ingredient in most Portuguese recipes. It is often eaten by itself either before or after the main course. Mostly, Portuguese cheeses are made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. The most famous of these, the Queijo de Serra is made in the winter from ewe’s milk coagulated with thistle.

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Dessert

You can’t talk about Portuguese food without touching on their famous desserts. The most popular of these is definitely the Pastel de Nata, or custard tarts. The Antiga Confeitaria de Belém bakery in Belem is the most famous place to get this tasty dessert that is basically an egg custard tart.

Salame de Chocolate translates simply to chocolate salami. Don’t worry, it doesn’t contain any meat. This salami is made from cookies, nuts, butter, dark chocolate, eggs, and port wine.

No matter what kind of food you’re looking for, Portugal can probably supply something to fit the bill.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_cuisine

http://portugal.angloinfo.com/lifestyle/food-and-drink/portuguese-dishes/

http://hubpages.com/hub/Portuguese-Sweets