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Portugal - The Westernmost Country of European Continent – VIDEO
Wine, coffee, cliffs, waves. The western-most country of continental Europe is of the sort everybody likes. It belongs to the top 20 most visited countries in the world. There are beautiful beaches including the best surf beaches of all Europe. Nature in the inland is magnificent as wel. Culture is rich and cities are lively and busy. Let's visit Portugal!
Majority of you will start their trip in Lisboa, the capital. Every Portuguese tells you that Lisboa doesn't feel Portuguese. They are right. The capital is getting distant to Portuguese culture. This, however, is far from implying that the capital is not worthy your visit. Quite the contrary! We are going to spend an entire article in the capital. There many interesting spots to explore there.
For a quiet and peaceful vacation at the sea head south. Near the town of Faro, there is beautiful coastline and almost perfect weather. It is close to the famous cities of the south of Spain such as Sevilla, Cordoba, and Malaga. Morocco is close as well. Therefore, you can set off to explore cultures vastly different from our own. Also, Azores islands and Madeira are parts of portugal. More demanding beach goers will enjoy it there for local beaches belong to the world's top. Garrett McNamara, a surfer from Hawaii, rode probably the biggest wave ever in 2013.
The most popular city in Portugal, which is the second largest in the country, is Porto. There are beautiful historical streets, the Douro river, grandiose steel bridges, famous Porto wine, and wine cellars. There they show you how the wine is made. People are friendly. Porto is also one of the stops of our series. Visit a wine-growing region situated down the stream of the Duoro. It is this very region the famous Porto wine originates in. Many say this is the most beautiful part of the country.
The central part of the country is worth visiting as well. We talk about the town of Coimbra. There is the oldest Portuguese university. It is also one of the oldest in the world. We make a stop in Coimbra. There are beautiful mountains, national parks yet people tend to over look them. When we don't include islands, the highest mountain range in Portugal is Serra de Estrela situated in the central part of the country. The highest Peak - Torre - rises to 1993 meters. By the way, the famous serra cheese originates in here. People can ski there in the winter season.
There are hundreds of places to explore in Portugal. Nature is diverse and you can notice many cultural influences there. There are even landmarks from the Roman Empire era. Portugal's regions diverse widely one from another. While travelling from the south to the north of the country you will feel like you are in two different countries.
Coimbra City used to be more than a century, at a time when the Portuguese fought for the rights of the Arabs in the territory, the Portuguese capital (1143-1255). Since the year 1290 there is still work to university - we will not - you count the break, which, together with the status of the capital was moved to Lisbon.
Everybody knows port wine. Perhaps you also link Porto the a high steel bridge and its majestic arch crossing the Douro river. Perhaps you would think of wooden boats carrying wine barrels from the inland wineyards. Porto is, however, a diverse city. There is great history, culture, cuisine, and beaches along the Atlantic coast. Every year, an increasing number of visitors visit this city.
Knight of Templars are still veiled in mystery. And a lot has been written about the order, both fiction and non-fiction. Yet seldomly do we meet any Templar knight. Well, I don't mean face to face as the order was abolished by the pope in the year 1312 but its structures and art.
"The birthplace of Portuguese nation" is how this city is dubbed or as "the cradle of Portugal". they believe that the first Portuguese king was born here. Close to here, a decisive battle on country's future was fought. Every Portuguese patriot must visit Guimarães. Yet what can a foreign visitor, e.g. from the Czech Republic, get from visiting this place?
Isle of the Eternal Spring? In the middle of the Atlantic? This is the Azores archipelago. Nine notable volcanic islands protruding into the Atlantic Ocean. Towards the west is the island of Flores and the island of Corvo, in the middle of the islands of Graciosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial and east of Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas. All islands except Santa Maria are volcanic. It is on three lithospheric plates: Eurasian, African and North American.
Not far from Portimão on the south coast of Portugal lies the small town of Carvoeiro. At the same time, it offers beautiful scenery and small beaches protected by majestic cliffs, where you can enjoy some peace and privacy even in the greatest season.
There is a lot to see at the westernmost tip of southern Portugal. Among other things, a large national park, which protects the best preserved part of the coast, as well as the important fortress of Santo António de Belix in Sagres, to which we will now go.
There is another lighthouse near Sagres. Its current appearance dates back to 1908 and its optical devices are among the 10 largest in the world. The lighthouse can be reached around beautiful cliffs in probably Portugal's most scenic area.
Coimbra, a student town of 150 thousand is situated somewhere in the middle between Porto and Lisbon. There is one of the oldest unviersities in Europe sitting on the hill above the Mondego river. The university, which is the oldest in Portual, was founded in 1290 – 60 years before the famous Charles University in Prague was founded. Tens of thousands of students at this university make this town great including the nightlife there.
Just 45 minutes by train from the center of Lisbon there is the city of Sintra. It became famous for its castle, palaces, and many beautiful buildings. Moreover, there is a beautiful nature park Sintra-Cascais, unusual mountains which will lure you to make a trip. Let’s see Sintra together.
Fátima - Mecca of all Catholics, and one of the most visited pilgrimage sites around the world. It is located in central Portugal, about 120 km from Lisbon. There is a place, where the Virgin Mary appeared to three children, and prophesied many later events.
Incredibly, it is still possible to travel. One of the European countries that can be easily reached without tests from Prague, but also very cheaply from Vienna, is Portugal. Low-cost airlines fly from Vienna to the Portuguese city of Faro, which lies in the beautiful Algarve region. The sandy beaches are lined with beautiful cliffs, the water is crystal clear. From Fara, the train leads to the city of Lagos, which is one of the most beautiful in the Algarve. Then you can continue by bus to the very southern tip to the picturesque town of Sagres.
Lisboa is righteously one of the most visited cities in Europe. Yellow trams, hills, cable cars... You can easily get lost in its colorful streets for hours. Washed laundry waves in the wind, you can drink coffee with locals at one of many great cafes and taste local sweet pastry. You can also just set off to the grandiose Ponte 25 de Abril, a red bridge which looks like Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
It is an archipelago and also an island which is located in the Macaronesia region. Only two islands are inhabited as the whole archipelago is a natural reserve. These islands are Madeira and Porto Santo.
Travel to Madeira by plane only. There is probably no other way to travel almost 1000 kilometers from Portugal and 600 kilometers from North Africa. Moreover, sailing on a ship might not be comfortable for everybody.
A 5 thousand meters high massif of lava was created after huge explosion in the Atlantic. Today we can see only a glimpse of it and this glimpse is Madeira. The island is self-reliant. There are couple of power plants (water, wind), fertile soil and sea rich on fish.
Apart from famous Madeira wine (Japan is its largest importer), poncho (a liquor with lemon flavor) is another traditional beverage. You can replace lemon juice with orange or maracuja juice. It is served cold for refreshments. Or it is served also warm as prevention from getting cold. The wine festival takes place end August beginning September.
Another stop to the west of the island is Porto Moniz. From Sao Vincente you travel through tunnels. Make a stop at Ribeira da Janela town. It is a place of dark volcanic rock. The lovers’ rock rises from the sea there.
Today, we take a look at the eastern part of the island in the direction from Funchal to the easternmost part where are droughts. It seems as if it was not Madeira there. The landscape is vastly different and there grows almost no vegetation at all. It is only after rains when it gets bit of green there. No levada leads to this area. You can find them only in the mountains. The area is inhabited, however. Therefore, some vegetation is actually there.