Lonely Planet Portugal

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Portugal is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Stand at Europe's southwestern edge on the barren cliffs of Cabo de Sao Vicente, stretch a towel on the golden sands of Algarve and hear soulful fado in Lisbon; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Portugal and begin your journey now!

  • Inside Lonely Planet's Portugal Travel Guide:
  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - architecture, arts, music, religion, history, wine, cuisine
  • Over 70 maps
  • Covers Lisbon, the Algarve, Porto, the Douro valley, Faro, Sintra, Evora, the Alentejo, the Beiras, Coimbra, the Minho, Estremadura and more.

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Portugal, our most comprehensive guide to Portugal, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on Lisbon? Check out Lonely Planet's Pocket Lisbon a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

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Lisbon & Around

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Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon has captivated visitors for centuries. Windswept vistas reveal the city in all its beauty: Roman and Moorish ruins, white-domed cathedrals, grand plazas lined with sun-drenched cafes. The real delight of discovery, though, is delving into the narrow cobblestone lanes.

As yellow trams clatter through tree-lined streets, lisboêtas stroll through lamplit old quarters, much as they’ve done for centuries. Gossip is exchanged over fresh bread and wine at tiny patio restaurants as fado singers perform in the background. In other parts of town, Lisbon reveals her youthful alter ego at bohemian bars and riverside clubs, late-night street parties and eye-catching boutiques selling all things classic and cutting-edge.

Just outside Lisbon, there’s more – enchanting woodlands, gorgeous beaches and seaside villages – all ripe for discovery.

AMay After the winter rains, late spring is lovely, with sunny days and flowers in bloom.

 

Lisbons Architectural Highs

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Lisbon is packed with stunning architectural works that span more than five centuries. You’ll find wildly intricate Unesco World Heritage sites commemorating Portugal’s Golden Age of Discoveries, whimsical works of wrought-iron elegance (with grand views over the old city) and cutting-edge designs of the late 20th century.

 

The Algarve

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The alluring coast of the Algarve receives much exposure for its breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, scalloped bays and sandy islands. But 'sun, surf and sand' is far from the end of the Algarve story; there's no shortage of other attractions – activities, beach bars (and discos), castles (both sand and real), diving, entertainment, fun…

Let's be frank: Portugal's premier holiday destination sold its soul to tourism in the '60s and never really looked back. Behind sections of the south coast's beachscape loom massive conglomerations of bland holiday villas and brash resorts. However, the west coast is another story – one more about nature and less about development.

Yet the coastal Algarve is a 'drop in the ocean' for any visitor. The enchanting inner Algarve boasts pretty castle towns and historic villages, cork tree– and flower-covered hillsides, birdlife, and the wonderful Via Algarviana hiking trail crossing its breadth.

AAny time The region is blessed with good weather, with a mild winter, and sun almost year-round.

 

The Alentejo

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Go to be bewitched. Portugal’s largest region, covering a third of the country, truly captivates. Think dry, golden plains, rolling hillsides and lime-green vines. A rugged coastline, traditional whitewashed villages, marble towns and majestic medieval cities. Plus a proud if melancholic people, who valiantly cling to their local crafts.

Centuries-old farming traditions – and cork production – continue here. Alentejo’s rich past offers Palaeolithic carvings, fragments from Roman conquerors and solid Visigothic churches. There are Moorish-designed neighbourhoods and awe-inspiring fortresses built at stork-nest heights.

And the cuisine? Alentejo is the destination for traditional food. Gastronomic delights are plentiful – pork, game, bread, cheese, wine, and seafood along the coastline. Bird life and rare plants are prolific, and walking opportunities abound.

The world is (finally) catching on to Alentejo. Get there before it does.

AApr & May Red and yellow flowers mingle with golden plains, and it’s baby stork time!

 

Estremadura & Ribatejo

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Stretching from the Rio Tejo to the Atlantic Ocean, Estremadura and Ribatejo constitute Portugal’s heartland, but their central importance goes beyond geography. These fertile lands have formed the backdrop for every major chapter in Portuguese history, from the building of key fortified settlements in the 12th century to the release of Salazar’s political prisoners in 1974. Two of medieval Portugal’s critical battles for autonomy – against the Moors at Santarém and the Spaniards at Aljubarrota – were fought and won here, and remain commemorated in the magnificent monasteries at Alcobaça and Batalha, both Unesco World Heritage Sites. A third Unesco site, Tomar’s Convento de Cristo, was long the stronghold of the Knights Templar.

These days the region draws visitors not only to these renowned monasteries, but also to its vineyards, beaches, castles and historic villages – and Fátima, modern Portugal’s premier religious shrine.

AApr & May Beat summer heat (and crowds) with a springtime visit to the region’s World Heritage Sites.

 

The Beiras

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Three worlds rolled into one, the Beiras offer as much diversity as any region in Portugal.

Along the Atlantic, the Beira Litoral lures surfers and sunseekers with scores of sandy beaches. Here, the sophisticated university city of Coimbra and the brash casino-party town of Figueira da Foz arm-wrestle for visitors’ attention.

Move inland to the Beira Alta highlands and the mood shifts entirely. Stoic stone villages cling to the slopes of Portugal’s highest mountains – the Serra da Estrela – and cast their gaze down at the fertile wine country of the Dão valley.

East of the mountains, in the hypnotically beautiful Beira Baixa, vast expanses of olive and cork-oak forest spread across a hotter, lonelier landscape. Here, surveying the borderlands from the ramparts of nearly abandoned medieval fortress-towns, you'll feel centuries away from the coast you just left behind.

AEarly May Queima das Fitas fills Coimbra’s streets with students in dashing capes.

 

Porto, the Douro & Tras-os-Montes

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It's the dynamic Rio Douro that brings diversity to the province it has defined, a province with granite bluffs, wine caves, medieval stone houses and steep, terraced vineyards. Romantic Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is at its mouth; one of the world’s oldest demarcated wine regions is close to the source; and scores of friendly villages in between have always relied on it for water, food and commerce. Alongside the river, the region also boasts intricately carved cathedrals, baroque churches, palatial quintas (estates), beaux arts boulevards and 18th-century wine cellars.

Sandwiched between the Rio Douro and the Spanish border in Portugal’s extreme northeast corner, ruggedly beautiful Trás-os-Montes is named for its centuries-long isolation ‘behind the mountains’. Life here unfolds at a different pace, dictated by harsh, pristine nature. Both its food and its people are hearty and no-frills, as you'll soon find out when travelling its towns and wilderness areas.

 

The Minho

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The Minho delivers world-class natural beauty with a knowing smile. Here are lush river valleys, sparkling beaches and granite peaks patrolled by locals – who, whether they are charging 2m waves along the Costa Verde or shepherding their flock into high mountain meadows, seem particularly in tune with their homeland. This is, after all, the birthplace of the Portuguese kingdom, and it would be hard to find better-preserved landmarks than those uplit and on display in the Minho’s gorgeous old cities.

Then there’s the bold, sharp and fruity vinho verde to consider. This young wine is fashioned from the fruit of kilometres of vineyards that wind along rivers, over foothills and into Minho mountain villages. The crops are eventually crushed and bottled in community adegas (wineries), giving each destination its own flavour. Of course, if you sip enough along the way, they may all blend into one delicious memory.

AMay In the first week of the month, Festa das Cruzes turns Barcelos into a fairground.

 

Directory AZ

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For more accommodation reviews by Lonely Planet authors, check out http://lonelyplanet.com/hotels/. You’ll find independent reviews, as well as recommendations on the best places to stay. Best of all, you can book online.

In popular tourist destinations prices rise and fall with the seasons. Mid-June to mid-September are firmly high season (book well ahead); May to mid-June and mid-September to October are midseason; and other times are low season, when you can get some really good deals. Outside the resorts, prices don’t vary much between seasons.

In the Algarve, you’ll pay the highest premium for rooms from mid-July to the end of August, with slightly lower prices from June to mid-July and in September, and substantially less (as much as 50%) if you travel between November and April. Note that a handful of places in the Algarve close in winter.

We list July (high-season) prices in reviews.

The following price ranges refer to a double room with bathroom in high season. Unless otherwise stated breakfast is included in the price.

 

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