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visiting Portugal

10 Places in Portugal That Look Like They’ve Been Taken Out Of Fairy Tales

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10 Places in Portugal That Look Like They’ve Been Taken Out Of Fairy Tales

Take a look to the top 10 selection of places in this beautiful Southwest European land called Portugal (República Portuguesa). Just take a look at a map. Portugal has kilometers and kilometers of Atlantic coastline, which can possible, fill all the wishes of the lazy coast lovers like us. There are long stretches of sun umbrellas dotted along the white sand beach and wooden walkways; there are hidden coves and semi-deserted beaches hiding an elegant urban style. What else do you want to hear dear friends? Enjoy the photos and do not forget to let us know if you want something added or omitted. 

1. Sintra

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2. Piodao

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3. Casa do Penedo, Fafe Mountains

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4. Benagil Caves, Algarve

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5. Quinta da Regaleira

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6. Fort de Saint John The Baptist, Berlenga Island

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7. Odeleite River (Blue Dragon River)

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8. Alentejo

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9. Azenhas Do Mar, Sintra

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10. Praia Dona Ana, Algarve

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Source: lazypenguins.com

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LISBON'S 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL PAVEMENTS

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LISBON'S 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL PAVEMENTS

It’s inspired by Roman mosaics, but the traditional Portuguese cobblestone pavement developed in Lisbon during the city’s post-1755-earthquake reconstruction. It all started with Rossio Square’s wave-like patterns, and soon spread all over the capital, to other cities in Portugal, to Brazil, Macau and other colonies. Here are ten of the most outstanding examples in Lisbon today.

1 | "Amália" - Rua de São Tomé

Alfama, Lisbon

This tribute to fado singer Amalia Rodrigues is found in Alfama, where Rua de São Tomé meets Calçada do Menino de Deus. Amalia's face descending a wall towards the ground is a creation of street artist Vhils, and was unveiled in 2015.

2 | Rossio

Rossio, Lisboa
Rossio square, Lisbon

Dom Pedro IV Square (best known as Rossio) is where Portugal’s traditional cobblestone pavements were born. Its famous wave pattern (named “Wide Ocean”) dates from 1849 and is now also one of Rio de Janeiro’s trademarks.

3 | Avenida da Liberdade

Avenida da Liberdade
Restauradores square

Many of the most beautiful examples of cobblestone designs are seen down Avenida da Liberdade, which features abstract and floral designs going from Restauradores Square (with its pattern designed by painter João Abel Manta) to Marquês do Pombal Square.

4 | Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Padrão dos descobrimentos, Lisboa
Belém, Lisbon

The mosaic next to the Discoveries Monument, with its map of the world inside a compass rose indicating the routes of the Portuguese explorers, is surrounded by the “Wide Ocean” cobblestone design similar to that of Rossio.

5 | Parque das Nações

Oceanarium in Lisbon

Even in its most modern district, Lisbon did not forget its traditional pavements, although it has innovated in the designs. They’re still inspired by the oceans, with some extraordinary examples next to the Oceanarium, depicting sea monsters. Other maritime motifs cover the central walkway of Alameda dos Oceanos.

6 | Praça do Império

Jerónimos Monastery Lisbon

The large square across from the Jeronimos Monastery was designed in 1940 and completely paved in cobblestone. It chose some curious motifs -- the signs of the Zodiac and the armillary sphere.

7 | Praça do Marquês de Pombal

Marquês de Pombal, Lisboa

The monument to the Marquis of Pombal, at the center of a roundabout, is surrounded by cobblestone pavement, designed with Lisbon’s arms -- two crows perched on a caravel.

8 | Praça Luís de Camões

Luís de Camões, Lisbon

Mermaids and ships surround the pedestal of the monument to Luis Vaz de Camões, recalling "The Lusiads," the poet’s great epic.

9 | Largo do Chiado

Cafe in Lisbon
QR Code lisbon

The pavement by the city’s most famous cafe ("A Brasileira") has an abstract pattern and dates from the 1950s. A little further down, by the terrace of the Benard cafe, is a 1-square-meter QR code made of cobblestone, to provide tourist information about the neighborhood on your smartphone.

10 | Praça do Município

Pavement in Lisbon

The paving of this beautiful square dates back to 1997, and the design is by painter Eduardo Nery. The artist wanted to create a geometric pattern that would resemble a carpet, through the use of triangles and rectangles.

Source: LisbonLux

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Portugal's perfect Pousadas

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Portugal's perfect Pousadas

I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, and when I come back I often say I will go back there sometime. But life intervenes and I go somewhere else instead. Not this time. I had never heard of the Alentejo region of Portugal a month ago and I did not know what a Pousada was. Alentejo is a hidden gem. It is about one third of Portugal but only contains some seven per cent of the population.

At the west are 100km of beaches but it was in the beautiful rural area that I spent a few days travelling with temperatures in the high twenties under blue skies in October. This was what every fibre of my being needed. And that was before I experienced the Pousadas which are historical buildings; they were once convents or monasteries, which have been skillfully and lovingly turned into magical hotels, each unique, each friendly and each memorable.

The Temple of the Bones in the Church of St Francis in Evora, Portugal.

The Temple of the Bones in the Church of St Francis in Evora, Portugal.

We flew to Lisbon and ideally one should hire a car and plan to stay in several Pousadas with a drive of an hour or two on excellent roads each day between.

You will see a lot of sheep, olive groves, vineyards, lemon trees, beautiful colourful villages and cork trees. Portugal is the biggest cork producer in the world and everything can be made from cork apparently. In one shop I even saw a wedding dress in cork. The only cork I recommend at weddings should make a popping sound.

Our first destination was the southerly Pousada de Beja São Francisco, once a 13th Century Franciscan convent, now a comfortable, marble-floored, 34 room hotel. I inhabited a spacious 'cell' looking out on gardens and the pool. Swim? Yes.

Pre-dinner we sat out on the cobbled streets where Sagres beer was ninety five cent and a half bottle of wine was €3. The Pousadas are, by and large, free of religious artifacts so you don't have any feeling that you are residing in a convent. Rather that you are in very splendid accommodation that is a few hundred years old with a lot of original furniture.

You must visit a vineyard and we went to the excellent Rocim. Nuno, our guide, spoke perfect English and was knowledgeable, interested and interesting. According to him Alexander Fleming had observed that penicillen cures people but wine makes them happy! As he produced glass after glass to taste, I was not inclined to disagree. Seven weddings were booked in over the coming months in this fabulous location.

We lunched at Pousada de Evora Loios which dates back to 1485. Évora is a Unesco world heritage site. The Roman Diana Temple beside it has been there since the 1st Century. The conversions to Pousada are not recent. Many ceased their religious function with the suppression of the religious orders in 1834, when Church property was seized . This one was empty for years and began life as a Pousada in 1965.

We had a good wander around the cobbled streets of Evora with its spacious square with lots of tourists drinking coffee and wine. Down a side street, within the Church of St Francis which is currently undergoing major renovations, is a chapel I will not forget, Capela dos Ossos which translates as the Chapel of Bones, for that is what it is. The chapel was built in the 16th Century by a Franciscan Monk from the bones of about five thousand skeletons buried locally. He wanted people to reflect on the transitory nature of life and its meaning and I did just that.

My attention was focussed by the inscription as you enter which translates as "We bones that are here, for yours await." A stiff drink was consumed on my return to the square. I will not make a pretty skeleton.

John Masterson contemplating his suite at Flor da Rosa

John Masterson contemplating his suite at Flor da Rosa

Our next night of luxury was in Pousada de Vila Viçosa de João IV, a former Royal convent. It was founded in 1514, when the Duke of Braganza decided to build a religious house beside his palace. At the back of his mind was the idea that they would take in the daughters of his second marriage who could not find noble husbands. He was not the only one on a second marriage so many daughters of aristocrats turned up. The highlight for me was the nuns' cage which they were locked in to receive visitors! We strolled down the road to Williams' Bar where three draught beers were had for €6.

At many meals there was talk of codfish which the Portuguese love. Bachalhau is their word for cod and sometimes you see bachalhau dourado which is referred to as Golden Cod. There are literally hundreds of recipes for bachalhau and you will not be in Portugal long without eating it. And it is delicious. I also loved a starter of a poached egg in tomato soup with oregano sprinkled on top. Even I could make that and it would impress.

Best dessert was encharcada made with eggs, sugar and water and maybe some lemon zest. From the texture I was sure there was some fruit flesh in the mix but I was told definitely not. It seems to curdle in a way that gives the texture and it is difficult to make. This is an original recipe from the nuns who lived there and who had a lot of eggs to use up. And also try pao de rala, a tasty breadlike dessert made with sugar, eggs, almonds and pumpkin. Moreish.

On the road from Vila Viçosa to Estremoz we visited a marble quarry which was enormous. Looking down 300 metres gives me vertigo. Most Portuguese marble is white or pink, but there is some green and black.

With all that food exercise was needed and for €24 we canoed on the river Seda and even went up three waterfalls. Our guides were brilliant. (See www.azenhasdaseda.com). We were pleasantly exhausted but we did not know the treat that lay ahead in our final resting place.

Ah, the splendour of Pousada do Crato Flor da Rosa. The Order of Malta called it home in the 14th Century. Today it is a must visit hotel with 24 rooms and three suites in the Castle tower. I will book the top one on my next visit. I will skip straight through to a suite.

At least in my own head I deserve the very, very best!

GETTING THERE

Each Pousada is different but they have the pleasant feel in common. There are nine Pousadas in Alentejo (www.pousadas.pt), each with wonderful traditional menus and wines.Booking is easy on www.pousadas.pt with a wide range of prices beginning at less than €100 for room and with lots of options in the €150 to €200 range.

Aer Lingus has daily flights Dublin-Lisbon and weekly flights Cork-Lisbon and Cork-Faro (March to October) www.aerlingus.com

by John Masterson in Independent

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34 raisons de ne jamais mettre les pieds au Portugal

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34 raisons de ne jamais mettre les pieds au Portugal

1. On entend partout que le Portugal est absolument sublime…

Azenhas do Mar à Sintra

2. C’est même à se demander pourquoi les Portugais sont si fiers de leur pays.

3. Le Portugal n’a absolument aucun charme.

4. Pas même un peu!

Sintra

5. Qui aurait envie de s’allonger sur des plages aussi polluées?

Aljezur

6. Une eau de cette couleur, c’est suspect.

Ile de Madère

7. Prenez Porto par exemple…

Porto

8. Non mais c’est quoi au juste cette horreur?

Le pont Maria Pia (par Gustave Eiffel).

9. Aucun intérêt.

Porto

10. Au secours, mes yeux! MES YEUX!

Porto

11. Du côté de la capitale, ce n’est guère mieux.

Lisbonne

12. Lisbonne est une ville qui est restée engluée dans son passé.

Lisbonne

13. Même les transports en commun n’ont aucune classe!

Lisbonne

14. Ça va, tranquille, on copie San Francisco?

Le Pont du 25 avril à Lisbonne.

15. Aucune poésie ne se dégage des paysages portugais.

Tavira

16. Et le Portugal n’a aucune histoire, c’est bien connu.

Palais National de Pena à Sintra.

17. Les monuments sont ainsi particulièrement laids.

L’hôtel de ville de Porto.

18. De toute façon, personne ne les connait.

La tour de Belém à Lisbonne.

19. Aucune majesté!

Padrão dos Descobrimentos à Lisbonne.

20. Les Portugais n’y connaissent rien en architecture.

Sanctuaire de Santa Luzia.

21. Mais alors, vraiment rien de rien!

Aqueduc de Pegões.

22. Un tas de vieilles pierres sans intérêt.

Monastère des Hiéronymites à Lisbonne.

23. Niveau gastronomie, ce n’est pas mieux.

24. Beurk!

25. Qui boit encore du Porto aujourd’hui?

26. Niveau culture, le Fado et ses représentants ne présentent aucun intérêt.

Amália Rodrigues

27. Personne de remarquable n’est jamais venu du Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo

28. Qui a déjà entendu parler de Luís Figo?

Luís Figo

29. Les Portugais sont des gens plutôt austères.

30. Vraiment pas sympathiques.

31. Non, le Portugal n’est pas un beau pays.

Ponta da Piedade

32. Aucune raison d’y aller.

Moinho Tipico

33. Restez chez vous!

Lisbonne

34. Pitié!

Praia do Vau (Algarve)

Source: Buzzfeed

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Americanos elegem Portugal como o melhor país da Europa

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Americanos elegem Portugal como o melhor país da Europa

Portugal foi eleito pelos americanos como o melhor país da Europa para viajar e fazer turismo e lidera isolado o “Top 10 Best European Countries“.

O jornal “USA Today” e o portal especializado de viagens “10Best” lançaram uma votação para o top 10 do Melhor País Europeu, entre 20 países europeus escolhidos por “especialistas da indústria de turismo”. A eleição foi uma decisão dos leitores e utentes destes dois gigantes americanos. Resultado final: vitória absoluta de Portugal, à frente da Itália, Espanha, Áustria, Alemanha, França ou Reino Unido.

Veja também: Portugal eleito o 6.º país mais bonito do mundo

“Portugal é menos icónico do que outros países mais conhecidos” porém, “oferece um vasto leque de oportunidades para os viajantes: aldeias charmosas, comida fantástica, música regional fascinante, descobertas culturais, uma costa belíssima e até surf de classe mundial”. Portanto, “Portugal conquistou os corações dos nossos leitores e assegurou a fatia de leão dos votos”, resume o site do “USA Today”.

A classificação final do “Top 10” do melhor país da Europa para visitar ficou assim ordenada:

  1. Portugal
  2. Itália
  3. Áustria
  4. Alemanha
  5. Inglaterramais n
  6. Espanha
  7. Irlanda
  8. França
  9. Islândia
  10. Suíça

Os restantes 10 nomeados pelos experts da Travel Industry, foram Bélgica, Croácia, República Checa, Grécia, Hungria, Montenegro, Holanda, Noruega, Suécia e Turquia.

Fonte: Port.com

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Óbidos e Ericeira entre os 10 melhores “pequenos destinos” da Europa

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Óbidos e Ericeira entre os 10 melhores “pequenos destinos” da Europa

Na luta pelo título de melhor destino de férias entre as aldeias, vilas e pequenas cidades do continente Europeu com menos de 100 mil habitantes, entre 52 pequenas e pitorescas povoações, Portugal ficou representado pelas vilas da Ericeira e de Óbidos, que ficaram em 2.º e 8.º lugar respetivamente.

Ribe, na Dinamarca, está no topo da tabela com 200 pontos a mais do que Óbidos. Segundo a organização do concurso, a vila portuguesa destaca-se no pelas suas lindas casas brancas, um castelo medieval e pelas belas vistas desta província da Estremadura. O artigo faz também referência ao facto de, no século XIII, os reis portugueses comprarem estas bonitas aldeias para as suas rainhas – D. Dinis comprou Óbidos para oferecer à Rainha Santa Isabel -, uma tradição que durou por muitos séculos.

Por sua vez, a vila da Ericeira, que competiu diretamente com Narva, na Estónia, foi destacada pelas suas praias e ondas, a sua localização e gastronomia. A organização do concurso caracterizou-a como um “paraíso para surfistas”, com “belas vistas panorâmicas” e “o melhor marisco da região.”

A competição “Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destinations foi organizada pelo portal internacional GlobalGrasshoper e o site de reservas hoteleiras Hotel.info. Segundo a organização, foram recebidos mais de 22 mil votos no total.

A escolha das terras finalistas foi feita com base nos destinos europeus preferidos dos utilizadores dos portais que organizaram o evento, contando também a avaliação feita pelos portais a cada destino em diversas categorias, do número de hotéis à presença em termos de imagens na web, o número de “fãs” de cada destino no Facebook, menções no Instagram ou Foursquare ou a distância do local até ao aeroporto mais próximo.

A competição realizou-se por eliminatórias, em que cada dois destinos foram colocados frente-a-frente, cabendo aos utilizadores elegerem os melhores até à final, que consistiu num “duelo” entre os destinos eleitos em cada site. De salientar que, se os utilizadores escolheram Ribe, o painel de jurados destacou a espanhola Ronda, na província de Málaga, que conseguiu um resultado “quase perfeito” em todas as categorias.

Top 10 – Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destinations 2014

1 – Ribe, Dinamarca
2 – Óbidos, Portugal
3 – Sigulda, Letónia
4 – Mostar, Bósnia & Herzegovina
5 – Ohrid, Macedónia
6 – Bled, Eslovénia
7 – Positano, Itália
8 – Ericeira, Portugal
9 – Ronda, Espanha
10 – Hallstatt, Áustria

Fonte: Port.com

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25 REASONS TO LOVE LISBON

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25 REASONS TO LOVE LISBON

1 | IT’S UNPRETENTIOUS

Lisbon is cool because it’s not interested in fitting in. It’s a breath of fresh air in a globalized world, a place that doesn’t compromise its simple authentic pleasures while managing to embrace what’s new in the global village.

2| TOLERANCE AND FREEDOM

A mural by Rossio Square states that Lisbon is “the city of tolerance.” That’s a reminder of when the city was one of very few places on Earth where the three major religions coexisted peacefully (Christians, Jews and Muslims — until the Inquisition). Portugal was also the first European nation to abolish slavery in its colonies, and is now a country where freedom of speech is valued, and freedom of religion is so natural that, unlike in many other countries, it’s even irrelevant in political campaigns (candidate’s religious beliefs are generally unknown and not even discussed).
In 2010 it also became one of the first very few countries to allow same-sex marriage.

3| IT’S ONE BIG ART GALLERY

Lisbon is filled with imaginatively-adorned streets, from artistic (and not-so-artistic) graffiti, to dazzling tile panels on walls, to art nouveau store signs, to its characteristic cobblestone design pavements. Everywhere you turn is someone’s work of art.

4| THE WORLD’S BEST PASTRIES

The Paris and Vienna cafés have all the fame, but Lisbon has all the flavor. It claims the best chocolate cake in the world and its custard tarts are world-famous and imitated (The Guardian declared it one of the 50 best foods in the world).

5| THE MUSEUMS ARE UNDISCOVERED TREASURES

There is no Louvre or Tate or Prado, so Lisbon’s little-known museums are therefore wonderful surprises: From the world-class Gulbenkian collection, to the magnificent one-of-a-kind tile museum, to the fantasy vehicles of the carriages museum, to the East-meets-West works of art in the Ancient Art Museum and Orient museum, to the contemporary creativity of the Berardo Collection.

6| THE TAGUS

This is no ordinary river. It’s a river that’s usually mistaken for the sea, a body of water that reflects a blinding light back onto the multicolored buildings of the city. It’s also a historical landmark, as it was from its banks that the ships that traced the map of the world departed from, and arrived at, starting the process now known as globalization.

7| IT’S BOHEMIAN YET TRENDY

Somehow Lisbon holds on to its unconventional styles while also being up-to-date on the latest global trends. Many neighborhoods like Bairro Alto have a sleepy atmosphere in the daytime, but at night it’s an energetic mix of diverse tribes, from struggling artists to clueless teens socializing and partying together until dawn. This diversity has led to a remarkable artistic explosion in the city, from new galleries to the the world-class project that is the Design and Fashion museum.

8| ARCHITECTURAL DIVERSITY

Forget the uniformity (monotony) of the grand European boulevards in Lisbon. Here, no two buildings are alike. Colorful streets are lined with tile panels, wrought-iron designs, and two original architectural styles, the Pombaline and the Manueline.

9| IT’S ONE OF THE WORLD’S SAFEST CAPITALS

The European Safety Observatory says that Lisbon is Europe’s safest capital. While you should hold on to your wallet in the city’s trams to avoid pickpocketing, serious random violent crime (murder and rape) is extremely rare, not to say almost nonexistent in the city’s everyday life.

10| IT’S TIMELESS

Turn-of-the-century trams, Belle Epoque cafés, old-fashioned shops selling retro products, 18th-century tiles everywhere, medieval-villages-within-the-city: the past and the present coexist in Lisbon. Lisbon is wonderfully vintage.

11| IT’S HAUNTED BY GHOSTS OF POETS

Like other great historical cities, Lisbon has inspired artists and writers, and its soulful atmosphere feels haunted by writers such as Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queiroz or Nobel Prize-winning José Saramago. Their presence is especially felt and relived every day in the streets of Chiado, as if their footsteps still echo in cafés like A Brasileira at bookshops like Bertrand, the oldest in the world.

12| IT HASN’T SOLD ITS SOUL

The decaying neighborhoods of the historical center may be in desperate need of a face-lift, but there’s something refreshing about ancient neighborhoods that haven’t been turned into touristy amusement parks. If Alfama or Bairro Alto were in other European capitals they’d have been completely sanitized and sold their soul to tourism, yet they remain raw and authentic in Lisbon.

13| THE DIVERSE AMBIENCES

It’s a medieval timewarp in Alfama, futuristic in Parque das Nações, romantic in Chiado, imperial in Belém, bohemian in Bairro Alto, cosmopolitan in Avenida da Liberdade…

14| THE BEST CLIMATE IN THE WORLD

It’s known as Europe’s sunniest capital, but the city’s enviable climate is not just 300 days of sunshine throughout the year. It’s also mild temperatures, never below zero in winter, and nights cooled off by the Atlantic in the hotter summer months. Lisboetas only realize how lucky they are when they travel around rainy and freezing Europe and North America, or scorching-hot Africa or unpredictably tropical and humid South America.

15| THE BEACHES

Name one other European capital by the beach. There is no other. The only other major city blessed with sand and sea is Barcelona, but Lisbon’s coastline is bigger, more diverse and beautiful. With golden dunes, hills, or mountains as backdrops, you may surf, windsurf, sail, or even play golf by the sea at world-class courses. Lisbon is unique for having both river and sea, and offers Europe’s largest unbroken expanse of sand at the 30km-long Costa da Caparica.

16| THE FADO AND ALL THAT JAZZ

There are only a few cities in the world with their own sound (Buenos Aires has tango, Rio has samba, New Orleans has jazz), and Lisbon is one of those places with a unique soundtrack — Fado. More than music, it’s a state of mind, a sound that you don’t dance to, that you don’t just let play in the background, but that you stop to feel. It’s often called “the Portuguese blues” and surprisingly the Portuguese capital is also a major jazz city. That’s a very little-known fact except for jazz aficionados, and there is even a local jazz label (Clean Feed Records) that has gone international. There are also several outdoor jazz concerts with international musicians in the summer.

17| THE NEIGHBORHOOD SPIRIT

The neighborly spirit lives on in Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods. These are still places where everyone greets each other in the morning, where traditional shops and family-run taverns still survive, while also coexisting with bold fashion boutiques under laundry hanging from balconies where old ladies stand next to their cats chatting with next-door neighbors. These neighborhoods compete every year for best march (song and costume) in a parade taking place every June in the annual “Festas de Lisboa,” a city-wide street festival.

18| IT’S OFTEN NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE

It’s one of the world’s most unpredictable cities with unexpected sights: Deceiving façades hide wonderful surprises inside (such as São Roque Church), and countless unexplored corners frame postcard-perfect views. It’s a city that spikes curiosity and demands contemplation.

19| IT’S A ROMANTIC FAIRYTALE

The stories of the great explorers of the Age of Discovery, the exotic influences of the world’s first global empire, battles, disasters and triumphs in what is Europe’s second-oldest capital (after Athens), and the fantasy palaces of magical Sintra

20| THE COFFEE IS BETTER AND THE TEA IS ONE-OF-A-KIND

Portugal knows a thing or two about coffee. After all, it was responsible for the first plantations in Brazil, now the world’s largest producer. Until the early 20th century, the coffee served in Lisbon came almost exclusively from its former colony, and today the Portuguese demand only the best quality beans. A tiny cup of strong, black coffee in Lisbon is called a “bica,” and if you’re a caffeine addict, you won’t find better coffee anywhere else. If you prefer tea, try the only tea produced in Europe, the Gorreana green tea from Portugal’s Azores.

21| THE SEAFOOD

Some say Portugal has the best fish in the world. With its large coastline and long history at sea, that could in fact be true. Especially because here fish really tastes like fish, and seafood is really seafood — no sauces masking the fresh flavor of the sea here.

22| YEAR-ROUND FESTIVALS

The cultural vitality that has emerged in Lisbon in the last few years means that there is a rich calendar of events throughout the year. From major summer music festivals attracting the biggest international acts, to international film festivals devoted to all genres (independent features, documentaries, thrillers, animation…), there is always something going on.

23| IT’S ONE BIG GYM

Lisbon may be built on several steep hills, but it’s wonderful to walk around in. Many medieval alleys are too narrow for cars, so you’re forced to use your feet all the time, which is good news for those with no time to exercise. Your workout and calorie-burning can be done by simply going to work, shopping, or heading to a café, and you can also choose to go cycling along the river. The hills may often be strenuous, but your heart will thank you later.

24| IT’S AFFORDABLE

As Western Europe’s least expensive capital, Lisbon is often described as the continent’s “best value for money” destination. But that’s not just for tourists. Even locals can plan a night out in the city without spending much. You can find fulfilling meals for less than 10 euros, there are free museums (most of them are also free on Sundays until 2PM), and there’s a wide range of activities with no admission charge. Best of all is that nightlife is mostly lived on the streets, with cheap beer and caipirinhas in hand.

25| IT’S SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL

Lisbon’s luminosity and seductive alleys that force you to wander around discovering hidden secrets make it one of the world's most beautiful cities. You’ll confirm that by standing on stunning hilltop terraces known as “miradouros” (viewpoints) which reveal one of the world’s most scenic cityscapes.

Source: Lisbon Lux

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PORTO IN THE TOP 10 ROMANTIC DESTINATION

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PORTO IN THE TOP 10 ROMANTIC DESTINATION

According to the 10 best Reader's choise Porto is one of the most romantic destination. The voting is currently running to choose the top 10 romantic destination but Porto is already well ranked. You can vote once per day for your favorite Under-the-Radar Romantic Destination until voting ends on Monday, August 3 at noon ET. So VOTE PORTO!

Known not only for the wine produced here, Porto also gave the country its name, derived from its history as the Roman settlement of Portus Cale. Sprinkled like medieval jewels on a rocky gorge carved out by the Rio Douro, Portugal's second largest city combines the best of Old World charm with modern-day comforts. Designated a World Heritage City in 1996, the 2,000 year old city offers a host of sightseeing options - best seen on foot as most of the monuments are located in the hilly city center. History buffs are sure to enjoy a tour of the Baroque churches, museums and a walk through the ancient Ribeira district, where laundry is still washed in the river and hung there to dry. Wine tours are offered at several wine distilleries. Porto's sleeping scene offers a wide selection, from venerable city center hotels, boutique gems and a 5-star resort with a unique wine theme throughout. Evening entertainment can be found in Fado clubs, wine bars and Jazz and Blues clubs.

Source: 10 best.com

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Best beaches in Europe 2015

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Best beaches in Europe 2015

Europe is blessed with many beaches of coffee-table book beauty, but it’s the sheer variety of them that sets it apart. From Caribbean-quality strips of sand and glinting water to storm-sculpted collisions of land and sea, few parts of the world offer beach lovers such breadth of choice.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to surf (or learn to surf), an all-rounder to please the whole family, a moody backdrop for a solo stroll, or just a to-die-for spot to lay your towel, you’ll find it somewhere in our selection of Europe’s best beaches for 2015.

1. Jaz Beach, Montenegro

Jaz Beach - why would you settle for a music festival anywhere else? Image by ollirg / Shutterstock

Jaz Beach - why would you settle for a music festival anywhere else? Image by ollirg / Shutterstock

If you’re looking for solitude, it shouldn’t be your first choice – but if you like your beach holidays to come with a little adventure, a spot of culture and plenty of partying, broad and sandy Jaz Beach on Montenegro’s gorgeous Adriatic coast is the place to be. This summer, Jaz will host the second Sea Dance Festival (seadancefestival.me/en – July 15-18), whose inaugural edition was voted the Best European Medium-Sized Festival at the European Festival Awards 2014.

Earning bonus points for location, Jaz is just outside Budva, a mini-Dubrovnik with a charming Old Town and a citadel that turns into a stage for the Theatre City open-air performances throughout July (gradteatar.com). For adrenaline junkies, there’s more fun to be had: day-trip options from Budva range from rafting the Tara Canyon to paragliding over Mt Lovćen.

2. Peniche, Portugal

A surfer riding Peniche's famous 'supertubos' wave. Image by Francisco Caravana / iStock / Getty Images

A surfer riding Peniche's famous 'supertubos' wave. Image by Francisco Caravana / iStock / Getty Images

The port of Peniche and its eponymous beach is renowned among surfers – and this year it hosts one of only two European stops of the World Surfing League (Oct 20-31 – worldsurfleague.com). But this rugged headland, which juts into the Atlantic about 60 miles northwest of Lisbon, is worth a visit even if you’re not bringing a board.

While seasoned surfers and bodyboarders head for the west coast, and in particular the ‘supertubos’ – large, tube-shaped waves – off Medão Grande Beach, the sheltered bays of neighbouring Baleal are ideal for beginners, families and general lounging around. History buffs will love Peniche's old town centre (which includes historic churches and Peniche Fort, built in the 16th and 17th centuries, used in the 20th century to detain political prisoners, and now a museum), while divers can catch a boat to the clear waters around the Ilhas Berlengas nature reserve just off the coast.

3. Rondinara Beach, Corsica, France

The setting of Corsica's Rondinara is almost as stunning as the beach itself. Image by photovideostock / iStock / Getty Images

The setting of Corsica's Rondinara is almost as stunning as the beach itself. Image by photovideostock / iStock / Getty Images

Let’s dispense with the idea that Rondinara is in any sense undiscovered. In high season (July and August), a flotilla of fancy yachts drops anchor here, while the powdery sand disappears beneath a mass of bronzed French bodies. Corsica guards its gorgeous beaches jealously, though – and rightly so. Rondinara, which lies at the end of a nondescript road off the N198 midway between glamorous Porto Vecchio and historic Bonifacio, is no exception; careful management ensures this is a sumptuous spot despite the footfall, a perfect horseshoe of sand enclosing a shallow, limpid blue bay set like a jewel amid hills of reddish rocks and dusty maquis.

Rondinara’s sheltered location means it’s free of all but the most child-friendly waves, another boon for families staying at the well-organised campsite nearby (camping-rondinara.com). The beach has plenty of parking for day-trippers and a restaurant on the sand serves up food and drink between May and September.

4. Cale Goloritzé, Sardinia, Italy

The effort of reaching Cala Goloritzé is half the fun. Image by elisalocci / iStock / Getty Images

The effort of reaching Cala Goloritzé is half the fun. Image by elisalocci / iStock / Getty Images

Beach perfection comes in many forms in Sardinia. But for sheer drop-dead beauty, few places can rival Cala Goloritzé; a tiny inlet of bone-white pebbles overshadowed by towering, macchia-clad rocks, it's one of a series of beaches on the Golfo di Orosei's dramatic coastline.

It's not your classic poster beach with silky soft sand and a palm-fringed backdrop; rather, its appeal lies in the drama of its setting and its turquoise waters. There are only two ways to reach it: by boat or on foot. Most people cruise in from Cala Gonone, but for a truly memorable experience, you can trek down an old mule tack from the Golgo plateau some 400m above. And if that's not climb enough, once you make it down you can join the local climbers and pit yourself against the beach's rock spire, the 148m-high Aguglia.

5. Vik Beach, Iceland

Gothic and other-worldly: Iceland's Vik Beach. Image by marchello74 / Shutterstock

Gothic and other-worldly: Iceland's Vik Beach. Image by marchello74 / Shutterstock

With black sands, mists and tales of trolls and sea monsters, Vik Beach (Reynisfjara in Icelandic) is the antithesis of its Caribbean counterparts. Found at Iceland’s southernmost point – the wettest place in the country – this wind-beaten volcanic beach has a gothic, other-worldly feel, underpinned by local folklore. Look west to spot the Trolls of Vik (Reynisdrangur), craggy stacks of basalt said to be the petrified remains of three Icelandic trolls. At low tide, explore caves composed of cooled lava; legend has it their geometric columns once sheltered mythical creatures. Keep your eyes peeled for puffins nestled in the nearby cliffs – the area is a haven for seabirds.

Vik village and Reynisfjara are easily accessible from the main ring road and make a great final pit stop before heading back to Reykjavík. Stay at Icelandair Hotel Vík and spend an extra day touring nearby Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

6. Bantham Beach, England, UK

Devon's Bantham Beach is an all-rounder with waves, sandy spots, dunes, rock pools and more. Image by Ann Taylor-Hughes / iStock / Getty Images

Devon's Bantham Beach is an all-rounder with waves, sandy spots, dunes, rock pools and more. Image by Ann Taylor-Hughes / iStock / Getty Images

The south west of England is spoiled for rugged beaches and some of the country’s best – Woolacombe, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands among them – are found in North Devon. But they have a rival to the south... Bantham Beach, which lies in the South Hams, is a true all-rounder: surfers love its reliable waves; families come for the winning combination of sand, dunes and rock pools; and walkers admire its drama as they pass by along the South West Coast Path (southwestcoastpath.com). For added interest, visitors can hop over to neighbouring Bigbury Bay and visit the elegant art deco Burgh Island Hotel; cut off from the mainland at high tide, this glamorous throwback once hosted the likes of Agatha Christie, Noel Coward, and Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson.

Bantham forms part of an estate owned by the same family for a century until it was sold for £11m last year. The new owner, who beat competition from the National Trust to buy it, has promised to be a similarly conscientious custodian. Let’s hope so.

7. Sandwood Bay, Scotland, UK

Beaches don't come much more dramatic than Scotland's remote Sandwood Bay. Image by richsouthwales / Shutterstock

Beaches don't come much more dramatic than Scotland's remote Sandwood Bay. Image by richsouthwales / Shutterstock

First things first: for all the efforts of the Gulf Stream, the waters off northern Scotland are very cold indeed. To swim here, either hardiness or a wet suit will be involved. But beaches aren’t just about sunbathing. They’re about the dramatic meeting point of land and water, and Sandwood Bay, at Scotland’s remote northwestern tip, is a magnificent case in point.

Getting there is half the fun: the beach is a four-mile walk from the nearest road, the path winding through moorland and grassy sand dunes. When the view of the mile-long beach, overlooked by the limestone sea stack of Am Buachaille, finally opens up it feels like ample reward. This sweep of sand has cliffs around it, a freshwater loch at its back and faces on to waters that stretch to the Arctic. Tall tales of ghosts, shipwrecks and mermaids add garnish, but most people find a tramp around this beautiful place poetic enough.

8. Cala Macarella, Menorca, Spain

Cala Macarella is one of the hidden delights of Menorca. Image by tagstiles.com - S.Gruene / Shutterstock

Cala Macarella is one of the hidden delights of Menorca. Image by tagstiles.com - S.Gruene / Shutterstock

The Balearics often get a rough ride, brushed aside by independent travellers as a fast-track to package holiday hell. But Menorca – the shy little sister of Mallorca – is not only a cracking deal for families, with its gently shelving beaches, low-key resorts and waters made for snorkelling, it also hides some of Europe's finest beaches.

One such secret is Cala Macarella, a horseshoe-shaped cove in the island's south-western crook, where cliffs draped in pines and holm oaks enclose flour-white sands. Get there bright and early, or linger to see day fade into a pink-tinged sunset, to experience it at its silent best. What else? A photogenic walk over the cliffs brings you to the tinier, quieter and just as lovely Cala Macarelleta, where nudists top up their all-over tans.

9. Voutoumi, Antipaxi, Greece

Look down on dreamy Voutoumi while sipping an ice-cold Mythos. Image by Netfalls - Remy Musser / Shutterstock

Look down on dreamy Voutoumi while sipping an ice-cold Mythos. Image by Netfalls - Remy Musser / Shutterstock

Seen one Greek Island, seen them all? Antipaxi, the pipsqueak of the Ionian Islands, might just surprise you, with some of the most gorgeous beaches you're ever likely to clap eyes on.

Dangling just south of Corfu and easily reached by hydrofoil to Paxi then taxi boat, this tiny island is a walkable four-by-three kilometres and home to a year-round population of... 20. But what a beauty it is: cloaked in vines, olives, orchards and wildflowers, scalloped with pearly beaches, and lapped by a sea that fades from turquoise to indigo. Nowhere will leave you itching to leap in like Voutoumi, an arc of ivory-white pebbles and sand, where you can lounge in seclusion before trudging up 200 steps to a taverna for calamari and an ice-cold Mythos overlooking the beach.

10. Curonian Spit, Lithuania

The Curonian Spit contains Europe's largest moving sand dunes. Image by Tatiana Rodionova / iStock / Getty Images

The Curonian Spit contains Europe's largest moving sand dunes. Image by Tatiana Rodionova / iStock / Getty Images

Dividing the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon that stretches from Lithuania into Russia, this sliver of land is one endless expanse of beach. Mile upon mile of fine white sand awaits those looking for a real escape. This landscape itself, however, is not so sedate. Lush forests and grasslands attract an array of winged wildlife, earning the Curonian Spit a reputation as a birdwatcher’s heaven. Amid this terrain you can marvel at the spectacle of Europe’s largest moving sand dunes. For superb views over this Unesco World Heritage site, hike to the summit of the Parnidis Dune, a great spot to catch the last golden rays of the sun before it dips gently below the horizon.

Thanks to Lithuania’s inclusion in the eurozone earlier this year, it is easier than ever to travel around the region. Tread carefully – metaphorically and literally – if you do go, though: responsible tourism holds out the hope of safeguarding this fragile ecosystem; anything else will only speed up its destruction.

Source: Lonely planet

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