9 Tips for Exploring Portugal

You can't miss going to Sintra. It's about a half hour train ride from Lisbon and the perfect destination for a day trip. Literally step into a fairytale land as you explore castles and gardens fit for kings and queens.
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By College Tourist; Author: Angela Serednicki, Ryerson University

Green Energy and Blue sharks are just a small taste of what Portugal has to offer

Stop by Sintra

You can't miss going to Sintra. It's about a half hour train ride from Lisbon and the perfect destination for a day trip. Literally step into a fairytale land as you explore castles and gardens fit for kings and queens. Quinta da Regaleira showcases impressive towers, underground tunnels, and fountains, in addition to the gorgeous gothic styled palace.
-Sarah Allen, Marist College

Listen to live Fado music

When you visit Portugal you want to check out a Fado music show. Fado music originated in Portugal in the 1820s. It is a type of traditional folk music very popular in the Lisbon area, mostly dealing with love, death, and sadness. The word Fado comes from the Latin word 'fatum' which translates to 'fate' in English. The good news is that most shows are performed during meals at restaurants or cafes so you can have dinner and a show!
-Meagan Hughes, Perdue University

Tour the Douro River

When you're in Portugal, a very important place to visit because of its wonderful sights and adventures is Porto. It is known for its beautiful scenery and when you're there, be sure that you take a tour of the Douro River. In the past, wine barrels used to be transported down this exact river on boats called rabelo, and now you can cruise down the river on one of these historic wine vessels. Either an entire day on the boat or a whole day, it is extremely worth it. You will be able to see the city, hear the history of Porto's famous historical bridges and take in the entire atmosphere from the water. There's even a bridge there called the Maria Pia Bridge that was built by Gustave Eiffel. Does that name happen to sound familiar?
-Paige Wagner, Susquehanna University

Check out Lisbon's Oceanarium

The Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe with 450 marine species. The tanks are so expansive that they put off a feeling of snorkeling without being physically under the water. It is an ocean experience that really is like no other.
-Hannah McInytre, Spring Hill College

Kayak in Lagos

To find the best kept beach secret in Europe, head to Southern Portugal. Lagos is a piece of paradise that can't be missed. Make the most of your day and opt to explore the nearby caves of the Algarve Coast by sea kayak. The views are absolutely gorgeous!


Taste Traditional Portuguese Cuisine

There's no better way to immerse yourself in the culture of portugal than to dive into their delicious food. The Taste Porto Food Tours is a great way to learn about the Portuguese culture through a happy stomach. These tours are 3.5 hours and 1.9 miles long through the city of Porto. You'll be able to sample many different foods and visit the Bolhão food market. Not only does this tour offer insight on the best foods but you'll also learn much more about the culture. You'll learn about the city's history, venture through the back streets, indulge in fine wine, and experience many iconic views. It's the best bang for your buck to really indulge in the experience of Portugal. Additionally, 5% of your purchase goes to charity.
-Alyssa San Agustin, Cal State, San Marcos

The wide range of food delicacies in Portugal is something to make the mouth water. Being a coastal country, seafood is an obvious must to dine on as there is a complete and fresh selection. Cod is the most popular fish and can be prepared in many different ways. For a more ambitious meal, the Francesinha (or "Little Frenchie") is a sandwich originally from Porto filled with different kinds of pork and meat, topped with melted cheese, and covered in sauce. A little after meal treat can be completed at the famous Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon with a Pastel de Nata. This custard tart is the perfect amount of buttery, flaky, delicate sweetness.
-Kristin Naujok, Texas A&M

Swim with Blue Sharks in the Azores

One experience that is extremely unique and specific to Portugal is for the adventurous at heart. Head west right off the coast of Portugal and you will find the Azores, nine largely uninhabited volcanic islands. On these islands, visitors have the rare opportunity to dives with blue sharks. Few places in the world offer access to these beautiful, but largely harmless, sea creatures. Although any animal in its natural habitat can pose a risk, blue sharks are shy around people with no recorded attacks on humans in all of history. For anyone looking for a cool and exciting, brag-to-your-friends experience this is one that should not be missed.
-Elizabeth Tzagournis, Ohio State University

Indulge in Porto Wine

Not only is the local Portuguese food something you don't want to miss, but just as a trip to France isn't complete without trying proper French wine, a trip to Portugal would not be the same without experiencing the taste of "Port," the local Portuguese wine. Named after the town of Porto, each variety of this wine has a unique taste depending on how many years it has been stored in barrels in underground cellars. If you're in Lisbon, consider picking up a bottle of Port at a supermarket and then heading to Miradouro da Graça where you can sip wine as you watch the sun set over the city.
-Veronica White, University of East Anglia

Admire Portugal's Green Energy

When I went to Lisbon, I was impressed with how eco-conscious the city was! One of the coolest things I noticed was that trees were planted in pods in order to help them grow on the sandy beaches. On that same note, Portugal is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy. Wind, solar and hydro power supplies more than half of the country's power.
-Sammy McIsaac, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

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