Whether it’s the Portuguese food, a special honeymoon, or just a weekend minibreak – I love going to Portugal for a long, relaxed holiday. Here’s an idea for you: how about a driving trip along Portugal’s shore, often called the West Coast of Europe (more about its geographic significance rather than any resemblance to California). Portugal isn’t a huge country, which means you can take your time exploring, enjoying the view without being in a rush to get to the next destination. Check out some of the stops along the way in this photo essay.
At the mouth of the Rio Lima, Viana do Castelo has long had an associate with the sea. It was once a hot spot for pirates, but today it’s a friendly fishing village with beautiful architecture and some interesting festivals and events. Around the outskirts of the city are some fantastic beaches and places to relax. Also, check out the famous filigree jewellery that’s long been associated with the city.
Porto is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, with its architecture – both historic as well as modern – public art around every corner, as well as the home of many famous and traditional national dishes. Just walking around this town is a real treat, so park the car, stretch your legs, and come hungry. Worth spending an extra night for sightseeing.
Want to get in the water during your trip? Slip into that wetsuit here at Peniche, called “the European Pipeline” for its powerful waves. Surfing, windsurfing, kit surfing, and bodyboarding are some of the options here; in summer you can also take a ferry over to some interesting islands off the coast, the Berlengas Islands.
Cascais is Libson’s coastal extension, one of the affluent suburbs of the city and home to a number of great beach resorts and vacation spots. Cascais is very photogenic and worth the stop, including a few museums or maybe just sitting in the beautiful town square having an ice cream in the sun.
Vila do Bispo, in the famed Algarve, is a pretty little town, with old houses and 16th century architecture lining the streets. There are quite a few restaurants for it being such a small town, and it’s fairly quiet, making it a wonderful place to stop and feel the breeze. This is a great stop for families with plenty of spots for the wee ones to roam free.
Tavira is an interesting place because it has a lot of archaeological significance and a lot of history. Tavira also has the lovely Tavira Island, making plenty of room for you to find a place for your beach towel and relax after that wonderful long drive! And if you wanted to keep going, Spain is just right around the corner.
What’s your favourite spot on the Portuguese coast?
Posted : Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.