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Overview Lisbon & Algarve
Portugal is a country that effortlessly combines culture, heritage and liberal attitudes to create one of Europe’s finest holiday destinations. Once a powerful navigating kingdom that dominated the merchant routes to Africa, South America and the Orient, Portugal today is a friendly, low-key place with a laidback vibe and a fantastic coastline, much of it fringed by golden sands and endless dunes.
Set across a series of hills overlooking the broad estuary of the Rio Tejo (River Tagus), Lisbon’s stunning location and effortless beauty immediately strike most first-time visitors. It’s an instantly likeable place, a big city, with a population of around two million, but one that remains human enough in pace and scale to be easily taken in over a long weekend.
Wander through the vibrant mosaics of Rossio Square where art nouveau shops and street cafés face the Baroque fountains , or the whitewahed streets of the Alfama district where medieval alleyways invite you to get lost. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Hieronymite Monastery or watch an amazing sunset next to the Belém Tower.
The Algarve region is Portugal’s sunny southern coast, which has become the natural emblem of the country because of its alluring beaches. Lagos, in the western Algarve, one of the region’s main towns, founded on centuries of seafaring and as popular as central Albufeira, a lively port town with family-friendly beaches east and west. Faro, the area’s lovely capital.
Sagres is quite less developed as it has many nearby protected natural parks, providing a rather traditional slice of Portugal on the westernmost tip of the Algarve. The west coast of Sagres faces the powerful Atlantic Ocean, making many of the surrounding beaches great for surfers and water-sports enthusiasts. But inland the Algarve looks green. It is the home of cork forests, nature reserves and pretty hilltop authentic villages such as Alte, Monchique and medieval Silves.