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spacerPortugal. Europe's Undiscovered Gem!
Santa Cruz Monastery
 

Americans are just now discovering what sophisticated European travelers have known since the Romans first introduced Lusitania to the world nearly 2,000 years ago. That Portugal is one of the most unique, exciting, enlightening, fun and affordable destinations on the Continent.

You can still see the Roman influence everywhere you go. Temples, bridges and aqueducts that rival those found in Italy. The Moors, too, who left their mark on Portuguese architecture?  Like the vivacious colored azulejos (tiles) that decorate the facades of Portuguese buildings.  Then there are the castles from the time of the Reconquista that dot the Portuguese landscape.

Portugal has more than its share of UNESCO World Heritage Cities.  The capital Lisboa is definitely a city you’ll want to explore. It’s the westernmost city in Europe, predating London, Paris and Rome by hundreds of years and full of important monuments. Like the Tower of Belem, Jeronimos Monastery and the Castelo de Sao Jorge in the historic Alfama district and Plaza of the Americas honoring the Portuguese sailors and explorers like Vasco de Gama. You’ll also want to meander along the elegant Marques de Pombal Avenue leading to the vivacious Plaza de Rossio and the Bairro Alto the where the locals like to gather at night.

Once you leave Lisboa you can travel north and visit the lovely resorts towns of Cascais by the Sea or historic Sintra on a hill, home to the Castle Castelo dos Mouros and the Pena National Palace Castelo and once a favorite vacation destination of the Portuguese Royalty.  As you continue north you can also visit the historic city of Obidos or visit the Sanctuary of Fatima an important spiritual pilgrimage destination.

Another must-see Heritage city is Porto, a favorite stop for cruise lines as well the starting point for River Cruises down the beautiful Duero River, surrounded by vineyards and excellent wineries. This city has become a favorite destination full of charming little inns and taverns as well as important monuments. Like the Sè Cathedral and the Tower of Clèrigos, to name just two. You might choose to wind your way through the ancient narrow streets of the Barredo or the Quarter do Ribeira with its picturesque manor houses.  From Porto you can also visit the city of Guimarães, Portugal's first capital during the 12th century.