In this blog we post local travel tips and information about
Portugal and the Portuguese culture. Enjoy!
Portugal and the Portuguese culture. Enjoy!
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Every year Christmas approaches and we start thinking about the family members that are about to return home from abroad, eating the so awaited cod and roasted turkey, cosy nights by the fireplace and Christmas decorations. And outside the house there’s some kind of a “competition” going on...
From north to south there are several spots on the run for “Sparkly Destination” or “Santa’s Paradise” and other Christmassy titles. Picture everything from trains, to ice skating rinks, massive Christmas trees and even real reindeers!
There are many places worth visiting during this time of the year and here are some of the very best.
Autumn is a beautiful season for many reasons. The leaves turn brown and red, fall down and cover the pavements. Warm jumpers and fuzzy coats finally get to parade on the streets. The coffee and tea consumption increases and keeps us warm. And in the cities the air starts smelling of roasted chestnuts.
In October temperatures tend to decrease a fair bit, particularly in the mountainous regions. When the thermometer lowers people start craving for hot beverages, blankets and a cosy fireplace to stay warm. Aldeias do Xisto are a great destination during this time of the year. There you’ll find a curious mix of genuine people, comfort food and beautiful natural landscapes, which creates the perfect scenario to really unplug from the frantic rhythm of the daily routine.
Late Summer and beginning of Autumn means it’s vindimas, what we Portuguese call the harvest season. In the main wine-making regions, such as Douro, Alentejo and Dão, producers and local workers are busy cutting the grapes from de vines, bunch by bunch. It’s hard work, but as we start preparing the delicious and world-known Portuguese wine it’s also time to celebrate!
Portugal is a very old country, actually the oldest nation in Europe, with a very rich heritage. Old traditions have been preserved and passed from generation to generation, and this is part of what makes us so unique. However, the fact that our roots date back to centuries ago doesn’t mean the country is not looking forward to the future. Actually, as you travel throughout Portugal you can witness a curious balance between the old buildings and traditional customs with modern buildings and contemporary initiatives.
It’s clear that the Portuguese are exploring new areas, being active in many cultural fields and permanently innovating.
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!