15 kilometres to the northeast of Portimão on the banks of the Rio Arade in the Algarve, lies the attractive town of Silves. Rusty-coloured rooftops, red-stone walls and narrow streets that wind around a hillside, dominant this tranquil rural town.
Faro often gets overlooked as a resort, merely because people head on to other destinations from its airport. That could be said to work in the city’s favour, as for those who do discover its charms, Algarve’s capital city remains relatively unspoilt and retains a predominantly traditional and peaceful atmosphere.
The mouth of the Rio Minho in northern Portugal marks the border both in historical and cultural terms with its much larger neighbour Spain. This important river has given its name to this north-western Portuguese province, the Minho.
Lagos is a beautiful town on the western Algarve coastline, known for its character, charm and hive of activities, which perfectly blends traditional Portuguese culture with lively tourism. The beaches in the Lagos area are hailed as some of the best in the Algarve, with golden sands stretching for miles. Vintage Travel explores some of the best beaches near this magnetic destination.
If you leave the city of Porto and head north until you reach the border with Spain, you’ll be in a region known as the Costa Verde (green coast); including the areas of the Douro Litoral and the Minho. There are some stunning vistas of green and rolling lands and a long striking beach. Small market towns are dotted around where traditions live on, pretty much unchanged for decades.
Portugal often gets missed when tourists flock to Spain, Italy and France, but this small country tucked on the Atlantic coast is increasing rapidly in popularity. Here are some of the reasons.
The majority of its awe-inspiring coastline and beaches face west, they are just perfect for watching the sun set. They will remain in your memory long after the holiday is finished.
Portugal has mild winters with temperatures rarely lower than 5ºC. Along the coast, the hot summers are refreshed by the Atlantic breeze, and it has the highest number of hours of sunshine in all of Europe.
Divided by the mighty River Douro to the south and the rolling River Minho in the north, Minho is Portugal’s greenest province. It is also a province steeped in tradition that has remained untouched from the developments of tourism.
If you were asked to name three associations with the Algarve what would it be? Golf, sunshine and beaches perhaps?
While Portugal’s popular southern spot is world-renowned for its beautiful beaches, almost year-round sunshine and being a haven for golfers, its penchant to cater for the tennis player is considerably less well documented.
With its laid-back vibe and facing an impressive Roman bridge, the charismatic market town of Ponte de Lima nestled on the south bank of the Lima River has been described as “one of the loveliest small towns in Portugal.”
With rolling verdure valleys, a network of fast-flowing rivers, hillsides carpeted in forests and a coastline of long, windswept beaches, it is easy to understand why Minho is regularly cited as being the most beautiful part of Portugal.
Asides its blatant beauty, this distinct province which lies to the north of Porto, clings on to age-old customs. Wooden carts being dragged along by donkeys down twisting cobbled lanes is just one of the many formidable snips of the past Minho keenly retains.
Bordered by the River Minho in the north and the River Douro in the south, this traditional province is one of the greenest regions in the whole of Portugal. Yes, it’s safe to say that Minho is Portugal’s best-kept secret. If you have the pleasure of visiting Minho, take a look at three ‘must see’ places that are crying out to be discovered, explored and photographed.
Guimaraes was Portugal’s first capital. It was also the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, Dom Afonso Henriques in 1110. The town boasts many impressive medieval monuments, such as its fairy-tale castle. Its ancient architecture and sites provide a ubiquitous reminder of Guimaraes’ motto “Portugal nasceu aqui” – “Portugal was born here”. Its labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and tangible sense of history has justifiably earned Guimaraes its UNESCO World Heritage status.
For those seeking lively nights and shopping-filled days on top of all the culture and history, Guimaraes’ university means the town attracts a younger crowd, and lively bars, atmospheric cafés and ‘cool’ boutiques are plentiful.
Ponte de Lima
This beautifully preserved medieval village of whitewashed houses decorated with ‘Manueline’ ropework is another sight to behold in Minho. This laid-back market town lies on the south bank of the Lima River facing a splendid Roman bridge with incredibly low arches.
The villages’ quaint old streets are lined with elegant buildings. One of the most eminent is the Palacio dos Marqueses, a 15th century fortress palace which is now used as Ponte de Lima’s town hall. One of the most pleasurable experiences of this lovely town has to be enjoying a drink outside one of the main square’s many bars and cafés, watching the bustle of life in Ponte de Lima unfold. Though it has to be said that apart from on market day, life remains extremely relaxed in this delightful old Minho town.
Viana do Castelo
Known as the “jewel of the Costa Verde”, Viana do Castelo has a double attraction – beautiful beaches outside of the city and an enchanting medieval centre. This compelling city is made up of 19th century boulevards, lined with the gnarled trunks and boughs of ancient-looking trees, rococo palaces and Manueline manors.
Lay beside the Rio Lima estuary means that swimming, sunbathing, water activities and having fun on the beach is just a quick hop from this vibrant and aesthetically-idyllic town.