In this blog we post local travel tips and information about
Portugal and the Portuguese culture. Enjoy!
Portugal and the Portuguese culture. Enjoy!
Walking is free, relieves stress, sparks creativity, helps you sleep better, is a great way to stay fit without intense physical effort, and the list goes on… Everyone is well aware of the uncountable benefits of walking on a daily basis and it is fairly easy to squeeze a short walk here and there on weekdays and a longer one during the weekend. However, holidays tend to ruin good habits and the walking routine is replaced by the tempting moto “eat, sleep, repeat”. What if you could pair both and go for a “walk, eat, sleep, repeat” kind of day?
Rota Vicentina is the perfect place to do so. It matches spectacular walking trails, beautiful beaches, fresh and delicious food and peaceful villages where relaxing and going offline seems almost mandatory.
From north to south, June is all about the summer celebrations, more commonly known as Santos (saints).
They have their origin in the summer solstice pagan rituals. This phenomenon, that creates the longest day with daylight and marks the beginning of summer, can be witnessed in the northern hemisphere around the 21st of June. Before Christ celebrations were thrown to praise the sun, the light and the fire and, at the same time, people asked the gods of fertility to ensure good crops for the following months.
Afterwards, with Cristianism spreading fast all over the country, the Church took over this celebrations and changed them to the 24th, the day St. John the Baptist was born. Later on, the 13th and the 29th were added to the religious festivities calendar to pay homage to St. Anthony and St. Peter. These are the three main saints celebrated in June and are considered the patron saints of the month.
Portugal is an absolute paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Although it has a fairly small area it offers very diverse landscapes and plenty of reasons to visit: spectacular sea views, quiet river banks, daunting mountains, long stretches of sand, stunning caves, never-ending plains, and the most spectacular sunsets…
There are many natural parks in Portugal mainland that are worth a visit and May is a great time to explore them. Unlike peak season, spring time is never crowded, temperatures are mild and nature is at its best! The ideal way to explore the parks is to combine road trips with walking trails or outdoor activities as some of the most beautiful places are not accessible by car.
Here we selected some of the best ones, from north to south.
Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal, cornered against the immense Atlantic Ocean. This Portuguese region has been home to many civilizations throughout the years. Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans and Moors all left a little bit of their heritage behind, which is still present in different fields such as architecture and art. In fact the word azulejo (tile) comes from zulaich, which means “small rock” in arabic.
When speaking about Algarve the first thing people mention is naturally the beautiful beaches. They are definitely a great reason to visit, specially if you’re in need of a vitamin D boost, but despite its stunning coastline Algarve is still an amazing destination. The peaceful vibe, the natural landscapes, the food and the historical heritage are also good enough reasons to visit.
So instead of soaking up the sun at the beach, we challenge you to discover the other Algarve.
Being Portugal a very catholic country, most of our traditions are strongly related to our religious heritage, particularly in the countryside. It is notorious the presence of religion in all fields, from architecture to gastronomy and, of course, our festivities. When it comes to celebrations the most important one is, without a doubt, Easter, as it represents Jesus ressurrection. Maybe that explains why we suffer in anticipation for so many days and then celebrate it with a bang!
Spring is a great season to visit Portugal. The weather is usually mild, the landscapes are stunning and there are no crowds so you can wander freely and really experience our culture. From north to south, there are many places worth a visit, but we have selected these three as our top picks and you’ll easily understand why.
The origin of this festivity dates back to ancient times, when people celebrated pagan gods and the mother nature. Many centuries later, the church recognised the Carnaval as a religious celebration, and it is now seen all around the world.
Carnaval, or entrudo, are the three days before Ash Wednesday. The main celebration is the “Fat Tuesday”, the last day for people to party and eat and drink too much. The word Carnaval has latin roots and means “farewell to meat”, as during Lent (the 40 days until Easter Sunday) devoted catholics give up their main pleasures, including meat.
In Portugal there is a big tradition when it comes to Carnaval festivities, since the Middle Age. Not only from north to south, but also in the islands of Azores and Madeira, Carnaval is celebrated with a bang! Portuguese people tend to believe “No Carnaval ninguém leva a mal”, a saying that means no one takes personally what is said and happens during this time of the year, being a time of excess and revelry.
If you are around in the pre-Len, do not miss the Carnaval celebrations we have picked, as they’ll probably be the highlight of your trip!
Changing temperatures have blurred the seasonal boundary and nowadays Portugal can be explored from north to south almost all year round. The weather plays an important role, but it is not the only reason why people have started venturing off the beaten path and looking for less known locations. Travellers want to discover and truly get to know the most authentic regions, to find well preserved locations and have real local experiences.
That's why we have tried to come up with the best places to visit in each month. With that said, some of them can and should be visited more than once, ideally in different times of the year, as the landscapes change abruptly and the feeling you get is very different.
Two subjects we don’t play with... Christmas in Portugal means quality time spent with the family: long meals, full tables and happy loud people.
Everyone is well aware we take food seriously, and the sweets we make for Christmas have been part of our traditions for generations. Every family claims to have the best recipe, and it is true. Every single one of them is to die for!
Here are a few (believe me, there are more!) of our favourites:
"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." - E. B. White
There is an undeniable beauty in city lookouts. Magical, some of them unknown, spots where you just stop to enjoy and contemplate landscapes and breathtaking views. Porto’s are simply unique and can´t be missed: inspiring gardens and bridges, impressive monasteries and surprising hidden streets or terraces, spread out all around the city.
Check out #MyBookpack recommendations as the pictures speak for themselves.