The Duero River runs from the Spanish border right through Portugal and flows into the sea in Porto. On the way you will encounter a diverse landscape, which is dominated by the terraced wine-growing areas and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. Lush green alternates with rugged rocks and wooded hills. One of the best views of Port Wine Country is on a train ride through the Douro Valley. The Linha do Douro is one of the most beautiful train routes in Portugal. Train passengers enjoy the unique natural and cultural landscape that glides past the windows.
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Traces of the dinosaurs
Hundreds of footprints dating back millions of years were discovered during work in a quarry in western Portugal. Not far from the village of Bairro, fossilized traces of the sauropods can be admired. The Pegadas de Dinossáurio Natural Monument has a 20-hectare open-air museum that provides a wealth of information about the age of the dinosaurs. In the former quarry there are good and visible traces in the petrified mud, the largest of which is 147 m long.
In southern Portugal, a beach paradise stretches from the Spanish border in the east to Sagres in the west: the Algarve. 300 sunny days spoil this region every year. The eastern Algarve is characterized by lagoons and dune landscapes, while the western Algarve is more rocky. The southwesternmost point of Europe, with steep cliffs, is located at Cabo de Sao. The hinterland is mountainous and is dominated by the highest mountain in the Algarve, the Pico da Fóia. The holiday areas are concentrated around the town of Litoral. The largest cities in the Algarve include Faro, Portimão, Olhão, Albufeira and Silves. The stalactite cave Buraco dos Mouros, the tomb complex in Sao Marcos with sites from the Copper Age and the beaches of Tavira are particularly worth seeing.
The Berlengas archipelago lies lonely in the rough Atlantic and only 12 km off the west coast and the town of Peniche. The largest island, Berlengas Grande, is inhabited by fishermen and for conservation reasons only 300 visitors per day are allowed on the island. The turbulent crossing is definitely worth it, as you will find beautiful nature there, perfect conditions for diving and canoeing, and numerous species of birds. UNESCO has declared the Berlengas a biosphere reserve. Grande Berlengas has a fortress with overnight accommodation and a campsite. Many diving centers offer wonderful diving trips to caves, gorges and cave entrances with little current. You have the opportunity to observe schools of sardines and sunfish.
The good scenic conditions and the stable climate are the best conditions for a game of golf, no matter what the season. Portugal has around 70 golf courses, most of them in the Algarve and on the Lisbon coast. Many golf courses have been perfectly integrated into the landscape by their architects and are venues for international championships. Information about the golf courses in Portugal and golf vacations can be found at www.portugalgolf.de.
Archaeological Park and Valley of the Côa
In the late 1980s, pictorial representations carved into the slate rock on the banks of the River Côa were found. That was the birth of today’s Archaeological Park in north-eastern Portugal. The prehistoric drawings of Côa, which stretch for 17 km, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. The oldest images of goats, fish, ibex and aurochs are said to be up to 22,000 years old. These “open-air paintings” are embedded in a beautiful valley landscape and depending on the incidence of light, the drawings develop their own dynamic.
The important Jeronimos Monastery was completed in 1502 right at the entrance to the port of Lisbon. The pillars and walls are decorated with animal reliefs and the entire complex was built in a lavish style typical of Portugal. The Hieronymus Monastery has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Visitors are also attracted by the extensive park area located in front of the monastery. Nearby is the Belém Tower, one of the symbols of Lisbon, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama.
Natural parks and protected areas
A must for hikers, nature lovers and those seeking peace and quiet is a trip to one of the numerous nature parks and protected areas in Portugal. Peneda-Gerês National Park stands out, but there are many more worth mentioning. In the north of Portugal are the Tras-os-Montes Park and the Litoral Norte Natural Park. In addition to the rich flora and fauna and the original villages, protected animal species such as the Iberian wolf, eagles and numerous other bird species are at home here. In the Algarve, the Ria Famosa park is particularly worth seeing. A wide lagoon landscape with canals, wetlands and sandbanks fascinates visitors.