From the towering mountains to the vast plains, from the wide sandy beaches with their gently rolling waves to the jagged coastline battered by rough seas, the country has a little of everything.
Tiles are a constant feature in Portuguese architecture and pride. There is no other country where you will see them used to such an extent to adorn the interiors and exteriors of houses, churches, palaces and other buildings. Of Muslim origin, the production of tiles in Portugal began in the late 15th century but reached its peak in the 18th century, with blue and white tiles.
You can learn about the history of tiles at the National Tile Museum in Lisbon, but to appreciate fine examples of this very characteristic Portuguese decorative art, all you need to do is travel around the country by train, visit its cities or simply use the Lisbon Underground (Metro).
Lovers of art, architecture, literature, music and everything in between will find much to become enamored with as they explore this beautiful country.
Portugal's long coastline is bathed by the Atlantic ocean, which brought Portugal closer to other peoples and cultures. For company, there is bright sunshine that turns the skin golden and warms the soul.
The sun fills the fine white sands of our beaches with light and joy. Whether they are immense stretches of sand as far as the eye can see, or little coves sheltered by rocks, each beach has its own dazzling and surprising beauty. Some are crowded, with lots of entertainment, while other remain deserted and unexplored, holding secrets waiting to be unveiled... there’s always something for every taste and state of mind, whether it’s to stretch out and relax on the sand, take a walk by the sea, to enjoy a date or to have fun and party the night away.
There is a strong bond between Portuguese culture and the country's geographical location and history. Portugal is Europe's oldest nation and its Atlantic coastline provided the springboard for the Discoveries.
Portugal's cultural heritage as well as the friendly, welcoming nature of the Portuguese themselves have been marked by African, American and Asian influences and also by the peoples who lived here before the country was founded.
From kite surfing to bike rides over hill and dale, or rock climbing, abseiling and zip wiring for the more adventurous, the options are endless for those who like to keep active.
For those wanting to pump the adrenaline, Portugal has some great challenges in its perfect waves for surfing. Or windsurfing, sailing or paragliding with winds that are guaranteed to get the thrills soaring. Skiing and parasailing, too, provide some amazing experiences.
Portugal is a friendly, safe country, with a mild climate and an excellent cuisine, ideal to tour with the family.
Today, interest in Portuguese cuisine is rising, with new, young chefs combining their contemporary flair with traditional flavours and recipes. Five hallmarks of our cuisine deserve their place in the spotlight: the best fish in the world; "cataplana" (a living symbol of Mediterranean cuisine); port wine (the one and only); Portuguese custard tarts ("a heavenly sweet"); and our chefs (who combine tradition with innovation and creativity). All of which is very much in line with the principles under which Unesco recently acknowledged Portugal as a country with a Mediterranean Diet. And, in Portugal, the table is a focal point when we have guests or are socialising, so every meal is a moment for sharing.
Portugal has 22 sites or features classified as World Heritage, including monuments, historic city centres, landscapes and intangible heritage. In the "related items" below, you will find details of each.
It is worth noting that prior to Sintra's classification there was no such category as Cultural Landscape; Unesco created it specifically for this exuberant natural landscape where the mountain and nature park are dotted with palaces and farms bursting with history and culture.
Villages and Cities
Portugal is renowned for its heritage and architecture. In addition to the World Heritage cities, many others also stand out, including Viana do Castelo, Braga, Caminha, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Amarante, in the north, Viseu in the centre, as well as Santarém and Setúbal, closer to Lisbon, Tavira and Silves in Algarve, and Funchal and Ponta Delgada in Madeira and the Azores, respectively.
While the Romanesque in the north clearly demonstrates that this was the birthplace of Portugal, the Border Castles and the Historical Villages, in central Portugal, also bear witness to almost nine centuries of history. So too do the Schist Villages and the many walled villages and towns, of which Óbidos, Marvão and Monsaraz are just a few examples. In the Alentejo, we find marble and single-storey, whitewashed houses. Like those in the Algarve, with a roof terrace.
There are many contemporary architects who have taken Portugal's name to the highest heights, including two Pritzker prize winners: Álvaro Siza Vieira, who won the award in 1992 and the 2011 winner, Eduardo Souto de Moura.