From sunset to sunset
Portugal has always interested me due to its beauty. Got a chance to visit Portugal in May 2019 for the first time and visited several cities including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and Braga.
One day I hope to walk a bit of the Pilgrim's Walk - The Camino de Santiago or at least part of it. The Camino Portuguese is the second most popular pilgrimage route on the Iberian Peninsula. Most prefer to start at Porto, while the route itself officially starts in Lisbon.
In general, Portugal is a rural country and it lacks high culture resources. Turismo de Portugal, I.P., is responsible for the promotion, development and sustainability of tourist activity in the country.
My trip was mainly about sightseeing, enjoying the sea, good food and a company of a friend throughout the journey. Explored a bit of the nightlife - met some fun people with whom we sang Hakuna Matata and played the game of fountains.
The country is geographically isolated from the rest of Europe. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal with a population of over 500,000 people living in the city.
It is bordered to the east and north by Spain, to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to mainland the country has islands Azores and Madeira.
There are different activities one can do in Portugal for example cycling, walking, wildlife as well as enjoying the nature and the culture of the country.
Once out in Portugal, a visit to Sintra is a great idea. The city is easily reachable from Lisbon and you can make it there as a day trip. Sintra has been a popular destination during the 19th century for wealthy artisans and elites of Europe.
There are different palaces in the area and the surrounding nature is breathtakingly calm and beautiful. Great landmarks to see are the Pena Castle, the Moorish Castle, the Church of São Pedro, Penha Verde, the Cruz Alta, and Palace of Seteais - restored gracefully to preserve the authentic vibe the destination possesses.
You can reach Sintra by train and driving there is not the best idea - the road is really narrow and driving in the narrow, steep roads of the mountain can be tricky. The train tickets are also fairly cheap and it takes around 45 minutes to reach the city from Lisbon.
Cultural Landscape of Sintra is listed as a UNESCO's World Heritage Site.
STOP, PAUSE AND DRINK A CUP
Lisbon has been chosen as the European Green Capital of 2020 due to its initiatives the city has taken towards to provide a more sustainable environment. Lisbon signed the New Covenant of Mayors for Climate Change and Energy in 2016 as the first capital in Europe, the city achieved a 50% reduction in C02-emissions (2002-14), which is remarkable.
When walking around Lisbon there are nice, narrow streets. Quirky alleys, cozy cafes, warm and welcoming food establishments and a lot of sun.
When visiting Lisbon, it is also worth paying a visit to the LX Factory - a district of of hip mix of shops, office spaces, food establishments and residents based in a former 19th century industrial site.
Due to the amount of sun the country is having (around 300 days of sun in a year) it is pleasant to walk around from place to place since it rarely rains, just have to remember the water bottle (durable one if possible - avoid buying and using singular water bottles).
SEA, SUN, SAND
Once done walking in the streets of Lisbon, it is seriously time to take a walk by the sea. Portugal is a popular destination for 12.7 million tourists visiting it annually. The tourism sector is a mature one and it has seen a massive growth in recent years alongside the more general economic improvement of the country.
The growth in tourism has been enabled by the introduction of golden visas. The concept of golden visas in Portugal enables a residence permit for non-EU/EEA citizens in exchange for a 5-year investment in the country.
TAKE A TRIP OUTSIDE OF LISBON
Some problems Portugal has faced due to fast growth in tourism has been the shortage of qualified workers, low-paid industry, concentration of tourist demand meaning that Lisbon and Porto are getting overcrowded, which adds pressure to the infrastructures of the cities.
When flying out to Portugal, make sure you would visit the other parts of the country and go outside of Lisbon and Porto.
Cycling and waking are good ways to see a city, interaction with the locals is encouraged and Portugal also offers a wide range of cycling routes.
EMBRACE THE BEAUTY WITHIN
Portugal has received multiple awards for its destinations and significant investments have been done towards the tourist attractions. In 2017 World Travel Awards named Portugal as one of the World's Leading Destinations and it was also awarded as Europe's Leading Destination, and Europe's Leading Beach Destination.
Most of the country’s protected areas are in the mountainous regions including Serra dos Candeeiros and Montesinho. The government has declared some of country’s areas to be protected landscapes including Sintra-Cascais region near Lisbon.
ECOTOURISM AND SUSTAINABILITY
Nature plays an important role in forms of tourism as for an example, ecotourism, adventure tourism, and wildlife-based tourism are closely linked to nature tourism and all of the mentioned tourism is usually done in the natural environment.
Everyone could be more responsible during travels including the usage of durable water bottles, turning off the lights when exiting a room, pursuing the usage of the same towel throughout the vacations if possible and focusing on buying from local producers as well as dining out in local establishments.
DREAM, TRAVEL, EXPERIENCE
Portugal's mainland, Madeira and Azores are definitely worth a visit. There are a lot of things to, see and experience as are in some other parts of the world. Travelling is a great way to meet new people, experience and learn about new culture, absorb the different vibes of districts while possibly gaining new friends.
I have been amazed by people's generosity and hospitality. When visited Sintra I booked an accommodation at a local homestay and the host I had was lovely.
There are different challenges the tourism sector faces with over-tourism, but sustainable ecotourism can help to overcome some of the issues with the help of multiple key players aligning with different authorities' initiatives.
The world is beautiful and filled with multiple options and the individuals need to have awareness of the choices one makes. There are different things to see in this world, learn and to be aware about and being socially responsible while travelling can contribute towards a better future.
"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world."
TRAVELING IN PORTUGAL
Bring your water bottle, pack up some sun screen. Mainland has 3000 hours of sunshine and 850 km of beaches.
Possibilities for nautical sports all year round, Gulf Stream is coming up to the islands nicely.
Madeira is a subtropical destination with the hottest months being August and September.