Mainland Portugal shares the Iberian Peninsula with south-western Spain, offering visitors a fine range of architectural cities combined with warm temperatures. With an expansive coastline wrapping around the western and southern reaches, Portugal’s cities are easily accessible via an ocean-based cruise.
Lisbon is probably the first city that springs to mind and it is easy to see why this is the case. The Portuguese capital is home to an array of charming streets and bridges that are synonymous with those that you may find in San Francisco. You can wander these streets at a leisurely pace or opt to take a traditional tram ride for a unique flavour of the local culture and history.
If you are looking to admire the historical architecture, be sure to take a short journey out of the city to the district of Belem. Here, you will discover many spectacular landmarks including the magnificent Jeronimos Monastery – a fine example of 19th century Gothic-style architecture in Portugal.
Another coastal city to consider is Porto which, although being a cosmopolitan and modern city, has maintained many historical elements that are true to the city’s traditional culture. If you enjoy a good book – or even if you aren’t a frequent reader – it is worth visiting Livraria Lello. This wonderfully-decorated venue has been in business since 1906 and is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Enjoy a coffee in the on-site café and take a moment to soak in the interior design. If you fancy something a little stronger, a journey to one of the many cellars will offer the chance to try locally-produced port wine.
Porto is also a popular starting point for river cruises along the Douro, which opens a gateway to some of the more hidden destinations in the northern regions. Soaking in the golden sun and warm weather, you can admire pristine hillside vineyards that are overseen by grand manor houses.
If it is peaceful conditions, pristine beaches and warm weather that you’ve come to enjoy during your time in Portugal, look no further than the Algarve region of southern Portugal. You will discover many stretches of golden sands brushed by crystal-clear waters and fringed by swaying palms. Away from the beaches, you can also try your hand at one of the many lush green golf courses – some of which are regarded as being among the finest in Europe.
Continuing the search for peace and tranquillity, you may be glad to know that Portugal also offers a range of isolated island paradises. The island of Madeira is situated off the coast of Morocco and just north of Spain’s Canary Islands. It offers a unique ecosystem, with many breath-taking natural landmarks and a range of indigenous flora and fauna.
To the north-west of Madeira – slightly further afield – is the volcanic island group known as the Azores. Glistening likes, calderas of now-extinct volcanoes, and surrounding waters that are teeming with dolphins and whales collectively make this group of islands an absolute must-visit destination.