Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and the hub of a multifaceted area that appeals to different tastes and senses.
In a city that has been influenced by many different far-off cultures over time, there is still a village feel in each historic neighbourhood. Stroll through the Pombaline grid of streets in the Baixa district that opens on to the Tagus in Praça do Comércio, then follow the river to discover some of the city’s most beautiful parts: the monumental area of Belém with its World Heritage monuments, the mediaeval quarters and the latest contemporary leisure spaces, such as the Parque das Nações.
If you continue to the mouth of the river, you’ll understand why we say that Lisbon is the centre of a vast resort. Along the coastal road you’ll find beaches and beach resorts that combine villas and hotels from the beginning of the 20th century with marinas, terraces and excellent golf courses. Further along the coast you’ll come across world-renowned surfing beaches, but also the palaces scattered across the cultural landscape of Sintra, a World Heritage Site.
Lisbon also hosts a great number of remarkable museums of ancient and modern art, some of which are Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Art, National Coach Museum, Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Carmo Archaeological Museum. But, Lisbon isn’t all culture and history; Bairro Alto is the center of nightlife with various restaurants and bars where melancholic traditional Portuguese music, Fado, can also be listened.
The best way to discover Lisbon is to get lost in its narrow streets and up and down roads! Every narrow street will tell you a different story and every story will reach to your heart easily!
Peniche is a costal city in Portugal (see map here). It is located in Oeste region in formerly Estremadura Province. The population in 2011 was 27,753, in an area of 77.55 km². The city was built on a rocky peninsula which is considered by scientists as a unique worldwide example of the Toarcian turnover during the Early Jurassic extinction.
Peniche and the sea are inseparable. It is one of the largest traditional fishing ports in Portugal and a major Atlantic hub for maritime-tourist activities.
Before heading to the beach, your visit to Peniche must include a walk through the historic centre. Besides the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Sanctuary, the São Pedro and Misericórdia Churches, the Peniche Fort is a must-see. It was built in the 16th/17th centuries to defend the coast, together with the Fort on Consolação beach and the fort on the Island of Berlengas. It played a major role at various points in Portuguese history but its most recent purpose was to serve as a political prison under the Estado Novo regime, holding some of the most important public personalities in the fight against Fascism. You will learn all about it once inside, since it is currently the Peniche City Museum.
In addition to fishing, which has always been one of the sources of income of its people, Peniche is also known for the art of bobbin lacework, perfected by the women while the men were out at sea.
The sea is still one of the main points of interest and development, and the beaches at Peniche are much appreciated. While Consolação and Baleal bays provide good shelter for a family day out, the waves on this west coast, such as the Supertubos (tubular Supertube waves) of Medão Grande Beach, are much sought after by surfers and bodyboarders from across the world. It was elected one of “Portugal’s 7 Wonders” in a national tournament. Together with Lagido Beach, it is the setting for the major world surf championship, Rip Curl Pro Portugal, an event that is part of the ASP World Championship Tour.
The Nature Reserve on the Island of Berlengas is a boat ride away. Its translucent waters are ideal for divers, who will find here a natural sanctuary for sea flora and fauna. The choppy sea and the seclusion of the Island have also prompted many mysterious stories about fishermen and sunken vessels off this coast.
At a distance of around 10 km from Peniche, the Berlengas Archipelago is a natural haven maintained in a virtually unspoilt state. Constituted by three groups of small islands – Estelas, Farilhões and Berlenga – the zone maintains extensive undergrowth, including unique species such as the Armeria berlegensis and Herniaria berlengiana, whose names indicate their origin. Many bird species find an ideal refuge here in order to nidify or as a stopping point in their migration routes. By far the most apparent presence is that of seagulls, which can be seen everywhere. Endangered species can also be seen such as the puffin, which resembles a small penguin and has been chosen as the symbol of a Nature Reserve. The protected area also covers an important 985-hectare marine reserve, with a highly diversified range of animal life.
Berlenga is the ideal spot for those who are looking for tranquillity, far from the normal hustle and bustle of daily life, given that the island can only be visited by a maximum of 350 persons at any one time. In order to get to know the island better, you may follow the pedestrian walks that will lead you to the grottoes, to the Fort of São João Baptista or simply find excellent spots in order to marvel at the spectacular landscapes.
It’s only natural that the sea dominates the local cuisine, so you mustn’t leave Peniche without tasting the bouillabaisse, the seafood rice or the charcoal-grilled sardines, always accompanied by the Western region’s wines. For dessert, we recommend the almond cakes, whether an “Amigo de Peniche” or the biscuits called “Esses”.
Coimbra is a very beautiful and peaceful town situated on the Mondego River, approximately 185 km Northeast of Lisbon and 98 km Southeast of Oporto.
The city of Coimbra served as the capital of Portugal from 1139 to 1385, and was the birthplace of six monarchs from the portuguese 1st Dynasty. Noted for its cultural traditions and artistic treasures, Coimbra was long the intellectual capital of Portugal and remains one of its most picturesque cities. With its suburb of Santa Clara, the city spreads out along the two sides of the Mondego River. The older part of the city, with its narrow, crooked streets, is on a hill. Below it on all sides are the newer, more regularly patterned city districts.
The life of the city depends primarily on the University of Coimbra. As in medieval universities, the students wear long black capes and ribbons of varying colour to distinguish the various faculties. The institution was founded in 1290 and it is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Like an acropolis, the white buildings of the University now dominate the hilltop overlooking the north bank of the river.
Coimbra has museums of natural history and archaeology and a botanical garden. The first cathedral, Sé Velha, in the middle of the old city, is one of the best examples of Romanesque churches in Portugal. The new Cathedral, Sé Nova, begun by the Jesuits in the late 16th century and consecrated a cathedral in 1772, has a single nave in the Roman style. Santa Cruz, a church dated mostly from the Renaissance, is famed for its cloisters and for the tombs of Afonso Henriques and his son Sancho I, the first two kings of Portugal. In the convent of Santa Clara, built on the height overlooking the south bank of the Mondego, are the remains of the sainted Queen Elisabeth, patroness of the city and of the University.