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15 of the prettiest villages in Europe

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15 of the prettiest villages in Europe

Almost everyone loves a pretty village, you know a place where the houses are impossibly perfect and time just seems to stand still. Well luckily Europe has plenty. From dreamy fishing villages to tiny fortifiedtowns, here are our favourite picturesque villages in Europe guaranteed to impress your travel snob friends…

Eze, France

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The ancient village of Eze – with its fabulous views over St Jean-Cap Ferrat – is a more traditional alternative to the glitz and glamour of the Côte d’Azur’s resort towns. Perched on rock 1,400 feet above sea level, the focal point of the village is the ruins of a 12th-century castle. Wander through its labyrinthine streets and then stand back to admire the gorgeous view of the villas that lead down the hillside to the Mediterranean.

Pitigliano, Italy

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Surrounded by woodland and the fabled rolling hills of Tuscany is Pitigliano – an ancient small town built on sheer cliffs. Dating from as early as 1061, the town is filled with Etruscan tombs (which locals use to store wine) which are connected by a network of caves and tunnels. An extraordinary, steep fortress surrounds the commune which ensures its status as one of the most unusual and photogenic towns in the area.

Polperro, England

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The popular English holiday county of Cornwall is filled with chocolate box pretty villages, but perhaps the most beautiful is Polperro. With its narrow winding streets and cottages perched on steep slopes overlooking a tiny harbour it seems to be everyones idea of a picturesque Cornish fishing village.

Hallstatt, Austria

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Often considered to be one of the most beautiful places in Europe, Hallstatt is very picturesque. This is mostly due to its location on a narrow rocky west bank of the Hallstättersee with the sheer rising mountains behind it. Famous for its production of salt, this tiny village was once a settlement that dates back to prehistoric times.

Wengen, Switzerland

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Wengen is an impossibly perfect example of an Alpine village where traditional timber chalets cling to the slopes of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Yes, it does look something straight out of Heidi and although it’s a little touristy in the summer, in winter the high altitude attracts so many skiers its population increases almost ten-fold. Although Switzerland is famously expensive it doesn’t always have to be, especially if you look around for some late deals.

Obidos, Portugal

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This is an ancient fortified town located in the Estremadura Province. In the 13th century, Portuguese Queen Isabel was so enamoured by the village of Obidos that her husband, King Denis I, gave it to her as a present. Today its perfectly preserved collection of medieval architecture ensures its status as a popular tourist destination.

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Deià, Mallorca

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Deia is a renowned picturesque village – located on the northern ridge of the island – which is known for its literary and musical residents. Positioned in a valley in the shadow of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, its home to a cluster of stone built houses complete with terracotta roofs which seem to hug the dramatic mountain range.

Ravello, Italy

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The Amalfi coast’s most peaceful and charming resort is easily worth the stomach-churningly steep drive to get to. A favourite haunt of celebrities (Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy and Tennessee Williams all holidayed here) Ravello is known for its mostly traffic-free lanes, elegant gardens, picturesque squares and its famous vertigo-inducing glimpses of the Mediterranean miles below.

Pučišća, Croatia

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Pučišća is a small and gorgeous harbour town located on the northern coast of the island of Brač. Sheltered by a protective cove and filled with attractive Mediterranean style white and terracotta houses, this kind of place is the reason why Croatia is such a popular travel destination.

Kazimierz Dolny, Poland

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This small historic town has a pre-war, precommunist charm which really draws the crowds. Besides the cobblestone streets, preserved Renaissance buildings and picturesque ruins of a medieval castle the town is also known for its superb panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Autoire, France

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Autoire – located in Lot, close to the border with the Dordogne department – has the honour of being titled as one of the ‘most beautiful villages of France‘. A place where little has changed in 800 years, it’s filled with a collection of attractive 16th and 17th century honey coloured houses, a pretty church and central fountain all set with a backdrop of the dramatic cliffs of the Causse.

Carlingford, Ireland

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Just an hour’s drive from either Belfast or Dublin, Carlingford Heritage Village is famous for both its attractiveness and its surrounding landscapes. It enjoys a very beautiful location on the southern shore of Carlingford Lough and at the foot of Sliabh Foye surrounded by Irish myth and legend.

Mittenwald, Germany

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Mittenwald is where ‘Old Germany’ stills exists. Traditionally very Bavarian, its has gorgeously decorated houses, painted facades and ornately carved gables. The painted buildings are exceptionally pretty so take your time to stroll around while doing a spot of shopping at the same time.

Crupet, Belgium

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Crupet is a small pretty village set in a woody valley of Wallonia and surrounded by a large moat. Dating from the 13th century its famous for its beautiful castle and its grottoes. Although the medieval Crupet castle can’t be visited (it’s privately owned) it makes for an extremely photogenic backdrop.

Fjallbacka, Sweden

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Fjallbacka is a dreamy fishing village which is also a gateway to Sweden’s most westerly islands, The Weather Islands. Soon you’ll also be hearing a lot more about this tiny village – the forthcoming feature film and TV series, The Fjällbacka Murders – are currently being filmed here.

Source: www.globalgrasshopper.com

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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal

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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal

With its cities fast becoming chic hotspots and gorgeous coastline where you still can escape the crowds, Portugal is entering a new era of cool. So what are you waiting for? Here are ten of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal:

Lisbon

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Being the capital of Portugal, Lisbon is an obvious place to start. It receives around half the fuss of other European capitals, but can easily equal them in beauty and charm. A lot of its attraction probably lies in its deep-rooted history, coming second only to Athens in the oldest European capital stakes. It’s actually a beautiful mix of old and new, and alongside the city’s endearing old-fashioned qualities, there is also plenty to please the boutique crowds. Visit the Gothic cathedrals, historic cafes, vintage trams and narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets and don’t forget the vibrant coffee bars and fabulous restaurants. The city is built on a series of hills, meaning that everywhere you venture within Lisbon you are practically guaranteed to have a gorgeous view.

Sintra

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Lord Byron’s favourite Portuguese haunt is this exceptional village, ripe with richly coloured buildings and breathtaking architecture. Palaces, turrets, a romantic Moorish castle and a misty dense forest are all part of this sweet little place. The vegetation is lush and exotic due to the microclimate. There are a host of historic buildings to take a look at, as well as clusters of leafy mansions with immaculate lawns and stunningly decorative features.

Porto

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With its 14th century walls, medieval winding streets, colourfully picturesque houses, bell tower and ornate tiles there is much to see in the newly fashionable city of Porto. Sit under the arches at Placa da Ribeira (the riverfront square) and watch the boats float past. Most apartments in the area have terraces that overlook the tranquil waters. Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it’s a combination of old worldly charm and bustling metropolitan culture, making it a very intriguing travel destination.

Douro Valley

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The river Douro winds through Spain and Northern Portugal. It was once a wild turbulent river, but the clever introduction of eight vast dams has tamed its spirit and it is now is very tranquil and peaceful. The beauty of the area isn’t limited to these still and shimmering waters, though. Bordered by stunning sweeping hills and expanses of delicate almond blossoms, it really is a beautiful part of the world. The area remains, for the most part, unspoilt, with roads zigzagging through the mountains and cruise boats softly pressing through the water. The Douro Valley is famed for supplying grapes to the best Port companies. In fact, you can see all of the major names proudly displayed on the hillside vineyards, which change colour through the seasons as the vines mature.

Óbidos

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This is an ancient fortified town located in the Estremadura Province. In the 13th century, Portuguese Queen Isabel was so enchanted by the village of Obidos that her husband, King Denis I, gave it to her as a present. This prompted a tradition of Portuguese kings buying this picturesque village for their queens, which lasted for many centuries. When you visit this beautiful spot, you’ll understand exactly why Isabel fell in love with it.

Cascais

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Once a sleepy little fishing village, Cascais is now a chic coastal resort famed for its glorious beaches, sophisticated nightlife, water sports and adventure pursuits. Always popular with artisans, writers and artists, due to its exquisite scenery, it boasts a remarkable selection of art, proudly displayed in The Conde de Castro Guimares Museum. Another of the town’s attractions is the smart new marina filled with yachts which shimmer and glisten in the bright sunshine.

Praia da Marinha

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Because of its proximity to the overly touristy Algarve region, many dismiss the beautiful beach at Praia da Marinha. It is certainly worth visiting though, as it is considered by many to be the best beach in Portugal and is classed as one of the Top 100 beaches of the world. Ideal for snorkelling and striking rocky cliff faces, it’s no wonder that this destination is so popular for luxury 5* holidays in Portugal.

Marvão

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Marvao is a beautiful medieval mountainside town in Alentejo that still has its original 13th century walls. The streets wind seductively between the surrounding walls, making Marvao a very beautiful place to visit. As you can imagine, the views from across the town are not to be missed. The lovely hotel Pousada do Marvao, Santa Maria, is the ideal place to stay. It consists of two of the village houses that have been converted, ensuring it is in keeping with the rest of the town.

Salema

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Situated three hours South of the capital, near Cape Sagres, Salema is a beautifully tranquil beach. Although located in the package holiday favorite the Algarve, this pretty village remains comparatively untouched by the ravages of tourism, offering just a scattering of eating places, a traditional outdoor market, one small main street and clusters of pretty white stucco houses. This peaceful fishing village is located between two sharp cliffs with a glorious sandy beach rolling between.

Évora

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Évora is a Portuguese city in the municipality of Évora. The beautifully preserved historic town has been classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and when you visit, you’ll soon discover why. It’s home to a 2000 year old Templo Romano, a 16th century aqueduct that can be followed by foot for five miles and the incredible Capela da Ossos – a sinister crypt – which displays the full skeletons of over 5000 Evora residents.

Source: www.globalgrasshopper.com

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Areias do Seixo: the perfect way of living

Areias do Seixo is a modernist glass and concrete construction located on a protected patch of Portugal’s Costa de Prata, just 30 minutes north of Lisbon.

14 uniquely designed bedrooms are equipped with polished cement floors, pebble walls, soft quilts and sleek hanging stoves, relying entirely on geothermal energy and solar power! How would you love to escape to this intimate oasis for a few days?

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What is Portugal? 10 words that define an indefinable country

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What is Portugal? 10 words that define an indefinable country

RESILIENCE

The country with the oldest borders in Europe, the first to adopt its local tongue as its official language, has against the odds survived nine centuries of battles, wars, earthquakes, revolutions, the creation and loss of the world’s first global empire. The Portuguese resilience and adaptability makes certain that no matter what crisis the country goes through, there will always be a nation named Portugal, a bright city called Lisbon, the Tagus, the Douro, and the hills of Sintra

MONSARAZ | VILA VIÇOSA CASTLE

MONSARAZ | VILA VIÇOSA CASTLE

GLOBAL

With such an inviting coastline, Portugal has never been limited by its borders. Being the first Europeans in so much of Asia, Africa and the Americas allowed the Portuguese to transplant their culture in every corner of the globe. The result is that now Portugal has the broadest global spread of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any country. There are Portuguese forts, churches and other monuments in the oddest, most unlikely of places – from China to Iran, Morocco, India, Malaysia, Kenya… And walk around Brazil and you’ll feel Portugal in a more tropical climate, including in Rio’s beaches, with their Lisbon-inspired wave-patterned pavements. Go to Thailand and the desserts you eat are of Portuguese influence. Learn Japanese and you’ll find that many words originate from Portuguese. Portugal is, more than any other, a global country.

SAGRES (ALGARVE)

SAGRES (ALGARVE)

TIME

Money can’t buy time and Portugal values time. Everything is discussed and decided over a long lunch or dinner where eating is less about being fed and more of a social ritual meant to be well savored. Portugal feels confident and mature enough to just sit back and relax, like a wiser old man who’s had a long fulfilling life and pauses to appreciate the views or a good cheese and bread, a fresh fish just out of the ocean, a glass of wine… Making time, being present and enjoying the now is what makes Portugal so seductive. Spend a few days in Alentejo or even in Lisbon and you begin to feel the clocks ticking slower, telling you to enjoy the moment. Time is Portugal’s wealth.

CASCAIS

CASCAIS

INDIVIDUALITY

It’s Mediterranean but it’s on the Atlantic, it’s Iberian but it’s not Spanish, it’s European but focuses more on the ocean, it’s Latin but with a more reserved Nordic-like temperament. Portugal is difficult to define in familiar terms, a low-profile land with a feeling of apartness, in its own little world that’s more ocean than dry land, more an island than part of a peninsula. It’s a tiny oasis of peace that prevents it from showing up on the radar screen of world news, making it an inconspicuous, indefinable, often overlooked country in a world driven by flashes, categories and trends. It’s a soulful place with a rare individuality, with a consciousness of its unique character, and with little-known treasures that make it so enigmatic and magnetic.

QUELUZ PALACE | ALENTEJO

QUELUZ PALACE | ALENTEJO

DISCOVERIES

Portugal was the pioneer of world exploration, giving “new worlds to the world” five centuries ago, but the country remains a land of discovery today. It probably has the most beautiful places you’ve never heard of and it’s very likely that it has the biggest variety of landscapes per square mile in the world — from the volcanic craters of the Azores to the subtropical world of Madeira, to the plains of Alentejo, the mountains of the Beiras, the verdant parks of Minho and Trás-os-Montes, to the ocher cliffs of Algarve. If the Gerês National Park or the medieval villages of Monsaraz or Marvão were in Italy, France or Spain they’d be filled with tourists at any time, but they’re usually deserted in Portugal. This is a country of constant surprises and unexpected, unsung wonders.

CABO DA ROCA | PORTO

CABO DA ROCA | PORTO

SEA

A small rectangle on the edge of the Iberian Peninsula which only takes two hours to cross from east to west really doesn’t have an interior. Portugal is therefore just one long coastline, a natural port that’s the entrance and exit point of Europe with an endless stretch of sand. Best of all are the mystical capes of Espichel, Sagres, Carvoeiro or Roca which still give you the feeling of being on the edge of the Earth as they did centuries ago before everyone knew the planet was round. It’s not surprising that the Age of Discovery and globalization started here by crossing the horizon as the West looked for the East.

Portugal is still energized by the ocean and the rivers that flow into it, getting from them much of what it eats and drinks – from the Atlantic, the Douro and the Tagus. Some of the country’s biggest icons also float on water – the rabelo boats, the old caravels and the colorful moliceiros of Aveiro.

SÃO LOURENÇO'S CHURCH, ALMANCIL | ÓBIDOS

SÃO LOURENÇO'S CHURCH, ALMANCIL | ÓBIDOS

BLUE

You may paint the word “Portugal” blue. That’s the color that covers the country, and not just because of the Atlantic. It’s also the color of the skies (Algarve is the region with the most sunshine hours per year in Europe and Lisbon is the sunniest capital), the color of the Azores stunning lagoons, and above all the color of the tiles (“azulejos”) that decorate the country from north to south. They’re in almost every church interior (and exterior, as seen in Porto), in train stations, in palaces, and in ordinary homes around Lisbon. Blue also colors the edges of buildings in the many mostly-white villages such as Obidos and around Alentejo. Portugal is blue.

SÃO FRANCISCO'S CHURCH, PORTO | ALGARVE

SÃO FRANCISCO'S CHURCH, PORTO | ALGARVE

GOLD

Portugal is also golden. That’s the color of Algarve’s cliffs, of the profusion of jewelry used in Minho’s folklore and traditional costumes, and of the filigree of the local handicrafts. But then there’s the extraordinary gilding in the churches and palaces, perhaps second only to the azulejos as Portugal’s national art. And gold and blue often go together around the country, presenting some of the most artistic and unique baroque art in Europe (in fact, the word “baroque” derives from Portuguese).

ALMENDRES CROMLECH, ALENTEJO | MONSANTO

ALMENDRES CROMLECH, ALENTEJO | MONSANTO

STONE

One of the most curious and fascinating aspects of Portugal is its abundant use of stone and how well preserved its pre-historic heritage is. From the world’s biggest outdoor Paleolithic art gallery in Foz Coa, to the numerous dolmens and stone circles in Alentejo, to the dinosaur fossils and footprints around the town of Lourinhã that is a real Jurassic Park. There are also the works of art in cobblestone that cover almost every city, the marble towns of Alentejo (Vila Viçosa, Estremoz), the well-preserved Roman mosaics of Conimbriga, or the Manueline architecture that stuns for its carvings. And the countless medieval castles or entire villages made of stone like Monsanto, Marialva, Sortelha, or Piodão… And every town of any importance has a “pelorinho,” stone columns or pillories, symbols of municipal authority transformed into works of art, usually richly decorated with Manueline motifs.

ALENTEJO

ALENTEJO

“SAUDADE”

Using “Portugal” and “saudade” in the same sentence may now sound like a cliché but it’s true that one word defines the other. Saudade has no exact translation in other languages, and it’s much more than nostalgia or melancholy as it’s often explained. It’s an intense passion for life, an acceptance of the incomplete, an appreciation of achievements or generating strength from the good and the bad times. It’s being aware of the passage of time, knowing that you can’t always control the randomness of fate, an insatiable appetite for romance and romantic images; it’s closing your eyes for a moment as you enjoy the image of a fantasy that you don’t dare say out loud. It’s filling the heart with a good memory brought about by a smell or by a feeling caused by a sound. It’s enjoying the view, feeling the serenity of a moment of silence as you sit in the sun or gaze out to the sea and the horizon. It’s finding happiness in simplicity and in small pleasures. It’s living with passion in small steps and being at peace between reality and desire. All this is caused by Portugal, through its history, its geography, its Fado music, its traditions and its “gentle ways.” So to truly understand Portugal you have to be consumed by “saudade” and that only happens after spending some time in the country. Saudade is Portugal and Portugal is saudade.

 

Source:http://www.lisbonlux.com

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Horses, houses and Supermercados

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Horses, houses and Supermercados

I stopped off, as I usually do, on my way home from riding my horses, in a supermarket in a rural area.  This is something I have been doing for the last two years, in the time that I have owned my horses here.  I have to say, that Portuguese hospitality is such, that the shopping for the day usually only involves enough for a light supper, and not for two meals.  But if you arrived in the middle of the night, as I had, and still went to ride the next morning, (this is normal for slaves of horses), then getting home asap is on the cards, to catch up on sleep.  And, in the case of horse-slaves, to be better equipped to go back and fight another day!

I was inspired to put my experience down in writing, after having relayed it to a friend here.  It struck me, that it is worthy of note.

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I had been absent for a bit, and the owner was at the check-out till.  They treat me like an old friend, and he likes to speak to me in French.  It pleases him, and it pleases me, for it gives us the chance to communicate, and practice our language skills.  I find that the Portuguese ability to speak more that their mother tongue is something that they are all proud of, and rightly so.

I bought a bottle of the wine I usually buy, and he suggested I might like to try a similar type which was produced by the local estates.  He fetched it for me, and gave me a bit about its provenance.  I could see that the exercise was as much customer orientated, as supplier supportive.

How community spirited is that.

Portugal is such a nice place to be.  The people are so friendly.  The Eurozone is in a dreadful state, and weaker members are hit the hardest, and hit first.  So it has been here.  Has it changed them?  Yes.  If anything, for the better.  The desire to pull together is very strong here, and a sense of common adversity makes itself felt.  And it binds them closer to each other.  They take care of each other.  And also of visitors!

Saude!

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Portugal’s got talent

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Portugal’s got talent

No, there isn’t any series of the latest success show “Britain’s got talent” planned for Portugal. We do have some entertainment shows that are in line with Idols and this one in particular, but what we bring to you today is a different kind of talent. Not better just different and as well, a reflection of what Portugal is about by the hands of some of our dearest citizens that leverage this nation thorough their actions and success.

Portugal, with a privileged geographical position on Europe’s West Coast, has an Atlantic vocation that has always left its mark on the country’s history and culture.

The country’s proximity to the sea had a key influence on the maritime discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries in which Portugal played a pioneering role in connecting together the world’s continents - thus triggering the first wave of economic and social globalisation. Today, Portugal is proud of the many influences that it has assimilated – visible in much of the country’s material and immaterial heritage - and also the influence it has left on other countries and continents, including the fact that the Portuguese language is spoken by over 200 million people.

In a territory of only 92 000 Km², there is such a tremendous diversity of landscapes and cultural and historical riches that visitors are sure to find of a wide array of experiences close at hand - whether in the mountains or the sea, in cities or historic villages in the hinterland.

Enjoying a particularly dynamic moment in its history, Portugal is the homeland of many people renowned throughout the world for their talents. Allow us to present six among many others and some of their thoughts towards their country.

José Mourinho – Football Coach

José Mourinho – Football Coach

My country has 220 days of sunshine a year. Sunshine and a gentle climate are bound to be waiting for me, whenever I return to Portugal.

Portugal has the highest number of sunshine hours per year in Europe. In the Algarve, where I like to spend my holidays, there are over 3,000 sunshine hours a year… and whether travelling north or south, in any season, Portugal always offers perfect conditions for enjoying nature, travelling or breathing in some fresh air.”

 “21% of my country is constituted by Nature Reserves and Parks. I can find charming, natural landscapes throughout the country, either along the coast or in the interior.

I was born in Gaia, next to Oporto. The River Douro flows into the Atlantic in this spot. Port wine and the river forge a special union between Gaia and the city of Oporto - located on the opposite bank. Oporto and the Douro’s winegrowing cultural landscape are two World Heritage jewels.

It’s possible to have a pleasant seaside walk along the 12 km eco-track starting in Gaia, or in the nature trails in Cabo da Roca, integrated within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.There are also many BTT and pedestrian trails in the interior, for example the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, in the Alentejo, that includes Marvão - a walled hilltop village. The Alentejo is better known for the beauty of its vast rolling plains, that is particularly popular in springtime when the fields are filled with scented flowers.”

Vanessa Fernandes, triathlon world champignon

Vanessa Fernandes, triathlon world champignon

Mariza, Fado singer

Mariza, Fado singer

 “The capital of my country is the only one in Europe where the sun sets over the sea. Lisbon is a city of contrasts where history and modernity are to be found standing hand in hand on the banks of the River Tagus.

 One of the most memorable concerts of my career took place in Belém. This is an area full of monuments, where modern buildings have successfully joined together with the uniquely Portuguese Manueline architecture classified as World Heritage.

Walking through Alfama – or Mouraria, where I grew up and learned to sing fado – you will eventually arrive at the Castle with its fabulous view over the river and sea. Stay there for a while to watch the sunset and then enjoy dinner in the typical atmosphere of a fado house.”

“In my country, I can appreciate over 20,000 years of History, from the early rock paintings to more recent contemporary art.

At the present time, Portugal is marked by harmonious contrasts between an age-old culture and all the excitement of innovative projects, geared towards the future.

Portugal is the country with the oldest borders in Europe, the homeland of the discoverers who, in the 15th and 16th centuries, set sail to conquer the seas and ended up connecting continents. Throughout its history, Portugal has brought together different and remote cultures, all of which have left their marks on the national heritage and on the personality and lifestyle of its free-spirited and hospitable people.”

Joana Vasconcelos, fine artist

Joana Vasconcelos, fine artist

Nelson Évora – triple jump world champignon

Nelson Évora – triple jump world champignon

My country has Europe’s longest white sand beach. 30 km of fine, golden sand awaits you next to Lisbon. Along Europe’s West Coast it’s possible to find open beaches and invigorating waves together with small coves and bays where one feels like an explorer. To the south, the waters are calmer and warmer, ideal for those who enjoy warmth and sun bathing.

My country is the world’s finest golf destination. With a gentle climate and lush, green landscapes overlooking the sea, holidays spent in Portugal offer an oasis in my annual schedule, whether in the island of Madeira or in the rest of the country.

The green turfs that I know best are those of football pitches but I also know that Portugal is famous for its first-class golf courses – with over 70 located throughout the country. The Algarve, in addition to being the country’s leading tourism zone is also famous for its golf courses and has been classified as the world’s finest golf destination. The Lisbon region - previously elected Europe’s best golf destination - has over 20 golf courses along the Estoril and Cascais Coast. I’m familiar with some of the resorts, located in wonderful settings, offering views over the sea or the Sintra Mountains - an exquisitely beautiful region included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

But for me, holidays are above all an opportunity to enjoy the sea and Portuguese gastronomy. The island of Madeira, where I was born, has a subtropical climate and bountiful flower-filled vegetation. For me, the local fish and shellfish taste better than in any other part of the world. And I also think the fruit has a more intense flavour!

Cristiano Ronaldo, football player

Cristiano Ronaldo, football player

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There many other talents behind this great country, great communities of mix cultures that thrive this nation and as a all make also outstanding achievements. Portugal, Europe’s West Coast is also known by having the biggest solar plant in the world and being the fastest growing European country in wind energy.

Source:Condensed information www.visitportugal.com, Portugal Tourism Board

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Ericeira, the Meca of Portuguese Surf fans

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Ericeira, the Meca of Portuguese Surf fans

On the West Coast of Portugal, internationally known as the Silver Coast is located a beautiful and traditional fishing village by the name of Ericeira.

This charismatic beach town has developed enormously during the 20th century due to the growing interest in it as a summer resort. It has, however, maintained its original character and its own individual atmosphere.

This ancient town that goes back to the XII century was once the safe passage and home of Phoenicians. Its name means Land of hedgehog clerk, posted due to the abundance of hedgehog clerk in its beaches.

Thorough the century’s local inhabitants have always been blessed by the sea, that even with its tempers, provided abundance of fish and shellfish that feed the nearest towns. It was however on the XIX century that Ericeira received special attention as a trade and costumes point. It was from these docs that the Royal Portuguese Family exit the country to exile ending the monarchic regime.

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Its commercial heritage is now translated in a remarkable tourism flow driven from an excellent location and privileged weather conditions. More recently a wave took over creating enormous opportunities and boosting this small finishing economy. Surf, a nature sport captivate every year hundreds of people from all ages. Surfers and body-boarders constantly search for the best waves. With 850km of coastline, Portugal promises waves to suit every taste. This coastline is like one gigantic beach that is ideal for thrill-seekers. Ribeira d’Ilhas, ‘Coxos’ and ‘Super Tubos’ are world-famous, and by many the Meca of Portuguese surfing.

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You don't have to be a surfer to enjoy Ericeira, as it is not only famous for its constant swells, but also for its healthy air, beautiful beaches and landscape, the excellent food served by local restaurants and its raving weekend parties.

Nearby golf courses, horse riding facilities or bike tracks and paragliding areas are just some alternatives to the life on the 8 sandy beaches of Ericeira.

300 days of sunshine, mild temperatures in winter and sea-breezed summers invite you to come all year long. A beautiful and completely redesigned, oceanfront 4* hotel, two family owned 3* hotels, one self-catering apart-hotel, several hostels and b&b's, a camping site with wooden bungalows, privately owned apartments and a selection of surf-camps offer lodging for all tastes. Studio visits at local artists, scrolling through handicraft shops, fashion boutiques and surf shops are just a few distractions that will make your visits worthwhile.

Fifty kilometres from Lisbon, in an easily accessible area, its beaches are very crowded during the summer, and are considered among the best in Europe for surfing. Ribeira d`Ilhas Beach, where one of the World Surfing Championship contests is held every year, is worth a special mention.

When visiting this town you will have to try the shellfish and fresh fish dishes, the speciality of the regional cuisine.

Our recommendations:

  • Restaurants: Dom Carlos in Ericeira; phone : +351 261 866 371;
  • Esplanada Furnas in Ericeira ; phone +351 261864870
  • Best spots: Eribeira beach, Ribeira D’Ilhas e São Julião beach
  • National heritage: Ericeira village and Mafra Palace
  • Others: NEUHAUS – Chocolate Store in Historic Centre

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Silver Coast, a different kind of place . . .

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Silver Coast, a different kind of place . . .

Summer is a great time to relax, to be with family and friends, travel around the world discovering fantastic places, different cultures and celebrating life. I’ve been in Bilbao and Pamplona in the summer and took part of Sanfirmin bull-running which is quite an experience and also in Amsterdam and London which are two beautiful cities. I’m passionate about Cultures and Architecture and the way both mark each country and its people.

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This summer is being busy as ever and I have decided to stay at home and enjoy some quality time with my family whenever the job allows. For my surprise I’m doing what I usually recommend my clients, which is enjoying the beach and this fantastic weather, visiting places and delighting myself with the local gastronomy - sea food is highly recommended.

I discovered numerous events taking place in Óbidos and other parts of the Silver Coast and they are just making this summer such a special one. I start with Golf in the morning and a light breakfast around 10AM. Beach follows and I tend to vary between Praia D’El Rey beach, Foz and São Martinho. Occasionally I pick up the jeep and discover new and isolated places, which are so perfect without a single foot print. At night Óbidos and Foz have been my favourites. Foz has a fantastic night life, the bars are crowded and Greenhill night club, who has been open to public for more than 25 years, has many surprises Óbidos is always a fun place to visit and this summer is repeating the success of previous years.

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The medieval market has invaded the village and even confined to the castle walls, in the narrow streets is common to come across with knights fitting for land or a peace of meat.

This event is undoubtedly one of the most popular organized in Obidos. Flowing vibrant banners and heraldic flags, wizards, jugglers, court jesters, wandering minstrels, musicians, mimes and thespians provide the vivacious merriment. Craft demonstrators and some 150 food, beverage and merchandise vendors recreate the customs and spirit of medieval Europe. The afternoon concludes with four jousting knights on horseback.

For half a dozen "torreoes", the fair's official coin, visitors can buy a little bit of everything from medieval clothing to shoes, jewellery, or even experience a "medieval" meal

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The Opera Festival is held every year and in its five years of existence has drawn a large audience to the many operas that have been staged. It is a unique project that mergers the cultural heritage to the promotion and valorisation of Óbidos. This summer festival is unique in the country and presents some of the most popular operas of all time, always with an exceptional backdrop of Óbidos.

The operas concerts are "9th Symphony"  - Beethoven; The Barber of Seville" - Rossini; "La Bohème" - Puccini; and Opera Gala with Elisabete Matos (for more details go to obidos.pt)

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