With 1,000 miles of beautiful Atlantic coastline, sunny Portugal is a fantastic cruise destination. Two Portuguese ports – Lisbon and Porto – are featured on some Mediterranean itineraries, especially those that include ports in Spain, Portugal’s neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula. Madeira, a Portuguese island is a popular stop for ships making transatlantic crossings between the Mediterranean and Florida.
Lisbon is a capital city of historic boulevards, castles, monuments, and museums, as well as charming neighborhoods and parks. This is one of Europe’s oldest cities, but most of its medieval buildings were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Still, the Lisbon Cathedral survived, along with the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, rare examples of Portugal’s Manueline architecture. And watch for distinctive black-and-white mosaic-style “Portuguese pavements” in the city’s plazas. If you’re interested in food, get to know some Lisbon favorites: caldo verde soup, bacalhau à brás (cod with potatoes and eggs), grilled sardines, Azeitão cheese, or bifana (a marinated pork sandwich). For something sweet, try pastéis de nata (egg custard tartlets), dusted with cinnamon. Or, head out of the city on an excursion to gorgeous Sintra-Cascais Nature Park.
Porto is perched at the mouth of the Douro River and its port wine region. If you’re comfortable with heights, get a birds-eye view of the city by strolling the pedestrian deck atop the Dom Luís I Bridge. Visit a wine cellar in the Ribiera District to taste different varieties of port, or explore how salt is mined near the colorful town of Aveiro. You can also take an excursion to Portugal’s only national park, Peneda-Geres, for panoramic views of mountains, lakes, stone-walled fields and Roman-built roads.
About 600 miles southwest of Lisbon, mountainous Madeira rises from the Atlantic. There’s a lot to see in the city of Funchal, where the parks are full of gorgeous palms and flowers. Tour the island’s rugged peaks in a 4x4, explore caves and waterfalls on the north side, visit fishing villages and sea pools along the western shore, or take a catamaran off the southern coast to look for whales. Snow is very rare here, but you can still take a toboggan ride down a steep street (using a woven basket sled, with two drivers to safely guide you). Like Porto, Madeira has a long and delicious winemaking history, too.
To reserve your spot on a cruise that visits one or more of Portugal’s beautiful ports, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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