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Portugal Sustainable Destination

Portugal, a sustainable paradise

Discover unique intiatives for a greener future


Portugal has seven regions, which in itself reveals how much there is to explore and discover. And there are at least ten reasons why it's such a good choice and you should place it on your lifetime to-do list of trips. The main attractions include its history and culture, the cuisine and wine, beaches, surfing, music festivals, golf, the variety of landscapes and above all the Portuguese people, who are friendly, open and warm.

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The most diverse destination in Europe



  • If you want to discover the secrets of the Mediterranean diet that lead to a long and youthful life for the inhabitants of southern Europe, Portugal is one of the best places to visit. Although don't forget one important detail – the Mediterranean diet is much more than just food. It's also about bringing people together around the table, with an extensive and deep appreciation of culture and food preparation.The fish from Portugal is probably the best in the world. Cooked on the grill or fresh, you don't need a lot of preparation to enjoy good seafood. And when it comes to cod and sardines, which are a tradition in Portugal's gastronomic culture, there's a huge variety of dishes. The same goes for olive oil. This essential ingredient of Portuguese cuisine is produced across different areas with 'protected designations of origin'.In inland Portugal, meat is king. The quality of the country's beef, suckling pig and oven-roasted kid goat is famous. You must also try the cheeses, especially those from the Serra da Estela region. All the different varieties are delicious.The history of Portugal's famous pâtisserie started in its convents. While you're walking around Lisbon, the draw of its pastry shops is irresistible. You simply must try the delicious Pastel de Belém, the Torta de Azeitão or the Queijadas and Travesseiros de Sintra. The wines are equally sweet, and the fortified wines of Madeira and Porto are among the most coveted in the world.

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  • The coast of Portugal is a paradise extending across hundreds of kilometres. There are endless beaches, including well-known spots and hidden coves to discover. They all have white sand and crystal-clear waters; some are on islets or in marshes, others lie at the feet of spectacular cliffs. There are so many combinations of landscapes and types of beaches that it's almost impossible not to find one you'll love. There are around 90 Blue Flag beaches.One of the most renowned is Porto Santo on the island of Madeira. It has 9 km of fine sand in a quiet environment, ideal for disconnecting and finding peace. However, if you're after adrenaline and you enjoy sports like surfing, the place to go is Praia do Norte in Nazaré, which became famous in 2011 after it had a 30-metre wave, the largest in the world. For a family plan, Salema Beach in Vila do Bispo, with its clean and calm waters and fine, soft sand is perfect for the kids to play on.If you have an adventurous spirit, head to the cliffs and virgin nature of Marinha Beach in Lagoa, considered one of the top 100 most spectacular in the world. Another option is to get away from the crowds and explore the Praia da Berlenga. It has limited access, giving it an air of exclusivity, and its completely transparent waters will make you feel like you're truly in paradise.

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  • Portugal may not be one of the largest countries in the world, but the diversity of its landscapes and species will surprise you. Apart from hundreds of kilometres of white sand beaches, there are also magnificent mountains, forests, rivers, marshes and natural parks with very rare species of flora and fauna. As if that were not enough, the islands of Azores and Madeira are Portugal's two pearls in the middle of the Atlantic.In the south, the Algarve has the most beautiful beaches in Europe, whether you prefer long and open beaches or more intimate coves that are tricky to access. You can also take a boat trip along the Guadiana. In the heart of this area is the breathtaking Ria Formosa, a sanctuary for wildlife. The Castro Marim marshes contain colonies of aquatic birds and the salt flats shine spectacularly in the sunlight.Explore trails and paths perfect for cycling to discover dozens of villages hidden in the heart of nature, which have remained practically intact since time immemorial. You can also go for a swim here on the river beaches, with crystal-clear waters. Another essential is a trip to the Portuguese geoparks, which UNESCO has recognised for their exceptional nature. These areas have unique and spectacular geological formations. The views from their lookout points will be hard to forget.

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  • Portugal's wine tradition is as rich as any other in the countries of southern Europe. Production is divided by region, so there's no better excuse to visit all the different areas to try their wines and appreciate their individual nuances. Douro, Alentejo and Algarve are the best areas for a tourist visit.Without a doubt, the most famous wine in the country is port. Tastings of its different vintages are a memorable experience for wine experts and amateurs alike. The landscape of the Douro Valley is also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.Green wines are the other great Portuguese wine product that can't be found anywhere else in the world. They are produced around the Minho river and can be found in the south up to the Vouga. A light wine that's served cool, it pairs perfectly with the fish and shellfish so abundant in this country.The landscape in El Alentejo is different, with vast production areas that extend across fields and plains. Here it's worth tasting the local wines as well as enjoying the unique tourist experience of taking part in the grape harvest.Don't forget the islands. In Madeira, vineyards grow on stone wall terraces. Dazzling landscapes where grape varieties such as sercial, boal, verdelho and malvasia grow alongside the island's original characteristics.

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  • The Portuguese are renowned for their calm nature and for not raising their voices much, unlike other Mediterranean neighbours. Perhaps that serenity comes from the perfect balance of hours of sunshine, pleasant weather, abundant water, fresh food and the pure air of these lands.The therapeutic properties of the sea are well renowned. The Atlantic waters that bathe Portugal are perfect for thalassotherapy, an ancient treatment that combines the chemical elements of the marine environment, such as salt water, algae, mud and other substances. The marine environment is rich in magnesium, iodine, lithium, zinc and copper to name a few, elements that affect physical and mental well-being. If the aim of your trip is to disconnect, rest and recover, this is a perfect destination. The therapy is easy to find in numerous centres scattered along the coast, where you can enjoy relaxation techniques such as aromatherapy, yoga and meditation.Inland, freshwater springs and hot springs abound. These pure waters reach high temperatures from the depths of the Earth. Their chemical and mineral composition is very rich and is used for various therapies. Termas do Luso, a site founded in 1852 in the Serra do Buçaco, and the Termas de Monte Real, with a spa integrated into the complex, are both a must.

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  • You can travel the country from north to south following a cultural itinerary. Portugal has 25 World Heritage Sites, including archaeological sites and historic town centres. In each Portuguese village, you can easily find traces of history and signs of ancient civilisations, battles and conquest. It's common to see mountains crowned by medieval castles and fortresses, all strategically located along the border.Throughout the country, you'll also see tiles filling every corner with colour. With Muslim origins, they were used in the Middle Ages and were appreciated by the Portuguese kings. In no other European country were they adopted like here, where they can be found in churches, convents, palaces, houses, gardens, fountains and stairways. They are one of the most beautiful souvenirs to take home and, to understand the phenomenon in all its glory, there's nothing like a visit to the National Tile Museum in Lisbon.Another highly unique aspect of the immense cultural wealth of this country is the Manueline style, a genuine Portuguese artistic expression of the 16th century. When the nation was a power that spanned several continents, it extended its influence and also received knowledge and artists from all over the world. The result is this interpretation of the Gothic architectural style that is unique across the world. You must visit the Torre de Belém, the Jerónimos Monastery and the Monastery of Jesus.

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  • Portugal is synonymous with water sports. Thanks to its climate and strong winds, the coast has the perfect conditions to practise these sports all year round. The short distance between each beach makes it possible to effortlessly follow a dream surf itinerary. The same goes for those who love kite surfing and windsurfing, whose sails are a distinctive feature of the landscape. Inland, the rivers are great for rafting, canoeing and canyoning.If an adrenaline rush is not your thing and you prefer some calmer entertainment, take a boat trip to see whales and dolphins. Or head for the mountains, where there are strategic lookout points to observe the local birds and other animals.In fact, if there's one sport that characterises this country, it's golf. The slowest of them all, and a sport that allows you to really appreciate the good natural surroundings. There are more than 90 golf courses in Portugal and some are designed by famous architects such as Robert Trent Jones Jr and Jack Nicklaus. For six consecutive years, this country has been chosen by the World Golf Awards as the best world tourist destination to play golf.

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Portugal in seven regions



Azores, whales and dolphins

The Azores is a group of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic. The archipelago is a true natural paradise, and over the years it has become the number one European destination for whale and dolphin watching and a top spot for adventure tourism, as reflected in the results of the World Travel Awards.One of the islands on the eastern side, Santa Maria (also known as the ""Yellow Island"" or ""Sun Island""), has the archipelago's warmest and driest climate, which is why its beaches are famous. It was also the first to be discovered and populated. In the Bay of Maia on this island, the landscape is protected due to its highly unique features: its vineyards are arranged on terraces upon basalt volcanic stone and the 'barreiros', desert-like areas of red clay.Close to Santa Maria is São Miguel, which is known as the ""Green Island"". It's also on volcanic terrain, but absolutely everything is covered with vegetation. The caldera of one of its volcanoes is now a huge lagoon, making it the perfect place for lovers of activities such as kayaking, canyoning or diving. Its hiking trails display spectacular views of green fields and hills crowned by charming villages.In the central group of islands, in Terceira, the architecture is stunning. Its palaces, Renaissance churches, gardens and convents draw a lot of attention. Its capital, which is also the capital of the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. It has monumental buildings and its streets are full of colour. The street art in this city is one of a kind and can be found at every turn.Crossed by a mountain range topped by a large plain, from São Jorge Island the scenery is picture perfect and includes its traditional windmills. It's worth investigating everything the island has to offer, and it goes without saying that you should try the local cheese, its best-known product.Pico Island is named after its volcano, which is the highest point in the entire Portuguese territory. Its presence is imposing, but it can be enjoyed by walking the long mountain trails with their spectacular views. Next door, Faial Island also has an inactive volcano caldera covered with lakes and greenery. Its cliff faces are almost vertical.Graciosa Island sits in the middle of the Atlantic, but its appearance is typical of Mediterranean coasts with villages of white houses. It's one of the quietest and most peaceful places in the Azores. A small island with heavenly beaches where you can lie back and forget it all, or enjoy a scuba dive in a pristine sea. It's no accident that it's been a Biosphere Reserve since 2007.In the western group of islands, visitors are often lost for words when they see the natural waterfalls of Flores Island cascading over vegetation of every conceivable shade of green and red. To the north there's the smallest island of the Azores, Corvo, which is only 17 km2; 6 km long and 4 km wide. Only 430 people live there, who years ago were completely isolated and now survive through the winter with no regular maritime connections. In its only town, Vila do Corvo, sit back and relax and try a francesinha (a sandwich containing layers of meat and covered with melted cheese and a rich beer sauce).
Renowned worldwide for diving

The charms of the Madeira archipelago lie in the continuous contrast between sea and mountains. The island has the largest laurel forest in the world, declared a World Heritage Site. There are 15,000 hectares of natural habitat, with remarkable plant diversity. Best of all, most of the tours that take visitors to see the waterfalls are suitable for the whole family. The area is also coveted by surfers, who can ride the waves to their hearts' content in two sites with excellent conditions at Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar on the south-west coast.Especially at Garajau Nature Reserve, the ocean floor is perfect for diving. When spring arrives in Funchal, the blossoming is something else thanks to the subtropical climate. And as it goes, this is when the Flower Festival is celebrated.There are beaches of all kinds. Some have golden or dark sand, some are covered in stones or rocks, but what they all have in common is stunning landscapes with numerous swimming areas and good facilities. For example, on the island of Porto Santo you can find a 9-km-long sandbank that gives it its moniker of ""the Golden Island"". Its colours are likened to Caribbean destinations, and it's very simple to get there by boat in just two hours, or 15 minutes if you go by plane from Madeira.The gastronomy in Madeira benefits from excellent raw ingredients. In the midst of the Atlantic, the quality of the fish is a dream. Traditional dishes include black swordfish or tuna fillets accompanied by crispy fried corn. There's also abundant seafood. Not only octopus, but also limpets and periwinkles end up in the pot. The best place to try them is the colourful Mercado dos Lavradores. Don't forget the quality of local livestock. The beef with laurel dish is famous. Visitors also remember the quality of the home-made couscous. To drink, Madeira wine is another fortified choice that's on a par with the wines of Porto, although there are also white and semi-dry wines made with verdelho or sercial grapes.
Porto: the city that stopped time

On the banks of the Douro River, Porto is the second most populous city in Portugal and one of the oldest tourist destinations in Europe. The country's name came from this region. In ancient times, at the mouth of the Douro River there was a small Celtic village called Cale that the Romans renamed Portus Cale, from which the name Portugal derives.The historic centre of Portugal has all the spirit of the old European cities. Although it has been modernised over time, it never lost its charm. That's why it stays so special, especially considering the warmth of the locals who are always kind and generous.The best way to get to know this city is to start at the São Bento station, where time seems to stand still. Its concourse is full of precious tiles, the hallmark of the entire country. A few steps away is the cathedral, which has an outstanding view of the river and is surrounded by a labyrinth of medieval streets. It's worth stopping to look at every detail of the pediments of the façades, their tiles and their balconies. The Faculty of Architecture, designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira, and the House of Music are especially distinctive. There's also a Romanesque route with 58 monuments to visit.Cross the river by the Dom Luís I Bridge, one of the most emblematic icons of the city, to reach the legendary Porto wineries. No one should leave this city without enjoying a tasting. As a general rule, the wineries also usually offer guided tours of the facilities to learn about the entire process of making this very special wine, an activity that will be especially interesting for the youngest members of the family.The Douro Valley can be travelled by road, by rail or by water, on a river cruise. It's worth stopping to admire the beauty of the villages and appreciate the quality of the vineyards that make the city famous. Further to the north-west are the Peneda-Gerês National Park and the Arouca Geopark, where you must photograph the Pedras Parideiras da Castanheira, a geological phenomenon that creates holes in the rocks, as well as the giant trilobites of Canelas and the ichnofossils of the Vale do Paiva.
Lisbon: as sweet as the Pastel de Belém

The Portuguese capital is a tourist destination on the rise. Travellers love it, because although it is a modern city, it still retains many details from the past. A walk through its streets is full of surprises, and on every corner you might find the unimaginable. It's really worth taking a walk at the pace of the city, quiet and unhurried just like its calm and friendly people. Of course, you have to take into account that there are a good few hills. Sometimes it's more comfortable to take a ride on the renowned tram number 28.The Jerónimos Monastery and the Torre de Belém are World Heritage Sites, both featuring the Manueline Gothic style. They are both not to be missed. The highest point in the city is the castle of São Jorge. From there you have a great view of the mouth of the River Tagus. If one thing stands out in this city, it's the lookout points. Cross them all off from up high at the Miradouro da Graca, the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, the Miradouro de Santa Catarina and the Mirador de Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Many have terraces where you can relax and enjoy a drink.The Coach Museum in Lisbon is very picturesque, but also don't miss the National Tile Museum – there's nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. It's the most typically Portuguese museum imaginable, since this symbol of a nation can be found from north to south embellishing all towns and villages. The other great symbol of Portugal would be 'fado', a soulful and exciting type of music. Many clubs offer live performances, and they are as impressive a sound experience as Spanish flamenco or Greek laïko.As in all of Portugal, the cuisine includes fish and stews, but in this city in particular the pastry shops are not to be missed. The most famous is the Pastel de Belém, but you'll also see other authentic wonders in the windows that'll make your mouth water.After all this urban experience, if you feel like going to the beach just head across to Cascais and Estoril. On this part of the coast, typical Portuguese beaches with golden sands and where wild waves abound are just half an hour from the capital. Of course, in Ericeira, a small fishing village on the side of the country, you can also surf. In fact, it's one of the best destinations in the world to do so.
Discover the heart of Portugal

In inland Portugal, it's difficult to find something that's not a World Heritage Site. Among spectacular mountains, ranges and charming villages, the Sanctuary of Fátima stands out. It's visited by pilgrims from all over the world, along with the Alcobaça and Batalha Monasteries, the Convent of Christ in Tomar and the University of Coimbra, which is the oldest university in Portugal and, by extension, one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to the 12th century. In fact, Coimbra is known as the city of students.The villages of this region reflect the passing of the years and centuries like nothing else. They are all made using materials such as granite or schist, a type of stone. Some date back 900 years. They are witnesses to the extensive history here, as evidenced by the medieval castles located in strategic positions along the border.The best way to find all these gems is to follow the mountain trails and routes through virtually pristine nature, on trails that are also great for cycling. The highest mountain in mainland Portugal is Serra da Estrela, a welcoming destination in winter as well as summer.Central Portugal also has a strip of coastline with many fishing villages that preserve the traditions and cultural traits from many centuries ago. Around Nazaré beach, for example, fisherwomen still wear their classic dress of seven skirts. And even among so much tradition, you can still find the modern-day surfer: look out for them on the beaches of Peniche, with their gigantic waves.As for food, this is where that wonderful combination of the best of the sea and the best of the mountains can be found. Seafood, cod – abundant throughout the country – and stews can be found on the coast, and inland there's stewed and roasted suckling pig, beef and kid goat in the mountain areas.
From Alentejo to the sky

This region is defined by the colour of the pastures, and its plains reach the coast to form wild beaches. It's the area that most resembles the Mediterranean: the towns' houses are white, with courtyards and gardens within the buildings due to the Arab influence and olive trees everywhere.Towns like Évora, of Roman origin and with narrow streets, Elvas, the largest bastioned fortification in the world or Santarém, are charming. They are all characterised by their lookout points, from which you can see the River Tagus or, in the case of Elvas Castle, which was built in the 12th-14th centuries, the entire town.The Lezíria region is renowned for its rich agriculture and Portuguese-style bullfighting. Nearby, the Great Lake is a perfect way to spend a few quiet days of your holiday or to practise sports such as skiing, wakeboarding or kayaking. It's one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe, created in the works of the Alqueva reservoir and the largest in Western Europe.Here you'll find one of the most original distinctions of the entire country: its starry sky, which can be seen at night as if you were in a planetarium. The area is therefore protected, and is recognised as a Dark Sky Reserve. This means that the surrounding municipalities have agreed to lower the intensity of their lighting every night so that this celestial spectacle can be fully enjoyed.Although the most precious treasure of the Alentejo is its wines. The first vines in the area were planted by the Romans. Wine presses have been found to prove it, along with vestiges such as the ruins of São Cucufate, although it's believed that the Phoenicians had already cultivated vines in the region for 3000 years. The climate in this area is very mild, so the wines are smooth, harmonious and pleasant on the palate.
200 km of beaches and over 300 sunny days

Although the Phoenicians, Romans, Jews and Visigoths have all passed through these lands, the name of the Algarve is Arabic in origin, meaning that it belongs to the western part of Al-Andalus, the Muslim territory on the south of the Iberian Peninsula. It's the most visited area of Portugal. Its coastline is immensely beautiful, with 200 km of beaches of all kinds and very warm temperatures almost all year round, perfect for seaside holidays, water sports or going on excursions to see animals such as dolphins or whales. Most beaches are known for their high quality and have been awarded the European Blue Flag.In addition to the beaches, discover the swimming areas in the estuaries, islets and marshes. In some, such as those in Olhão, the nearest person could be hundreds of metres away. A boat can also be taken along Guadiana River, following routes that were very popular for trading hundreds of years ago.The capital of the Algarve is Faro, which is also the first destination for anyone arriving in the region by plane. Its Ribeirinho district is in the city's historic centre and is full of palaces and churches. It's easy to see why this city was once considered one of the most important in southern Europe. In the dunes of the Ria Formosa, the beaches span for miles. It's a true paradise that can only be reached by boat. The only buildings on the beaches are the old fishermen's houses.One of the attractions in Albufeira is its dynamic nightlife, and the beaches are also magnificent. The sands of Praia da Galé are located next to spectacular cliffs, as are the rocks of Evaristo, Sao Rafael or Arrifes beaches. In these waters, it's very popular to practise sports such as windsurfing, water skiing and diving. There are also numerous golf courses, which have holes right by the sea. A multitude of magazines in the field have considered the Algarve as the best destination in the world to play golf.In Silves you'll find a legendary mix of cultures. The city has an Arabic layout, there's a Jewish quarter with a synagogue and its castle is the largest in the entire Algarve, with 11 towers and Muslim fortifications. Inland, the white village houses with their blue doors are very photogenic.You mustn't miss the wine tasting in Lagoa. The most popular wines are white, aromatic and pleasant, but you can also find typical dry and sweet wines to enjoy with an aperitif or a dessert. In the nearby port of Ferragudo you can't get much closer to history. This was where the Romans installed tanks to salt the fish, a custom that has remained in Portuguese recipes to this day.The Algarve has everything you could possibly want. Sea, rivers, orchards and mountains. A variety that's first noticed in the kitchen. Fresh fish dishes are interspersed with shellfish, followed by game dishes such as rabbit with local vegetables, finishing off with exquisite desserts made with honey.

Portugal: Europe's best destination

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