The small Portuguese town of Sintra near the capital Lisbon attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over Europe every year. No wonder: after all, the idyllic city of 9,500 inhabitants at the foot of the Sintra Mountains is world-famous for its numerous enchanting castles, palaces and well-preserved castle ruins. The entire region has therefore been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The Cape “Cabo da Roca”, the westernmost point of mainland Europe, is also an extremely popular attraction for tourists and locals. A trip to “Cabo da Roca” is a must for any vacation in the region.
“Fairytale Castle” Palácio Nacional da Pena
One of the main attractions in the country is the Palácio Nacional da Pena. The fairytale castle, which is located on a green hill and once served as the summer residence of the Portuguese kings, is also known as the “Neuschwanstein of Portugal”. While the exterior is mainly characterized by its numerous domes and towers in different colors, the interior of the castle impresses with its wealth of valuable paintings and other works of art. Around Sintra there are numerous other large and small palaces and fortresses – including the “Palácio Nacional de Sintra” and the Palácio de Monserrate. The entire Sintra region is also a real paradise for hikers and mountain bikers.
Tropical nature, fascinating mountain landscapes and numerous sights: the island of Madeira is not called the “Pearl of the Atlantic” for nothing. The island, which is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, attracts millions of holidaymakers from all over the world all year round. The tropical climate on Madeira provides for species-rich and colorful vegetation, which has given the island, which belongs to Portugal, the name “Flower Island”.
“Cabo Girao”: Europe’s highest cliff
Due to its volcanic origin, Madeira is mainly characterized by low and high mountain landscapes. With its large network of well-developed hiking and cycling trails, the island is a real paradise for hikers and mountain bikers. Climbers also get their money’s worth on the rock faces in the north of the island and on the cliffs. A very special attraction on Madeira is the “Cabo Girão”. At 580 meters, the cliff in the south of the island is one of the highest steep cliffs in Europe. From here you have a breathtaking view of the entire island. If you are on a relaxing holiday in Madeira, you should also pay a visit to the island’s capital, Funchal. The most famous attraction in the city of 100,000, where football star Cristiano Ronaldo was born, is the Sé Cathedral. The botanical and tropical gardens in Monte shouldn’t be missed, as well as the Nossa Senhora do Monte church. Funchal Airport is located around 15 kilometers from Funchal. The international airport is served daily by major airlines.
When traveling through central Portugal, a visit to the city of Óbidos and the district of the same name should be planned. Óbidos is located around 80 kilometers from Lisbon in the Centro region in Estremadura, a historic area on the coast. For guests, the city looks like an open-air museum, in which every age – the Middle Ages, the Gothic, the Baroque and the Renaissance – has left stone witnesses. The nickname “City of Queens” was given to Óbidos due to a custom from the 12th century: During the ruling regent’s wedding celebrations, he gave the city as a gift to his wife.
Buildings worth seeing in Óbidos
For those on study trips interested in history, the sacred buildings in Óbidos, some of which were built in the Middle Ages, are particularly worth seeing. The church of Santa Maria was built in the 12th century and its walls are decorated with ceramic tiles. Also worth a visit are the Igreja de São João Baptista and Igreja São Pedro and São Martinho, a burial chapel from 1320. We recommend a detour to the city museum, which houses an exhibition of paintings, to the aqueduct from the 16th century and which is still there today accessible city wall from 1527.
Special highlights in the historic city
A visit to the Bar de Gelo eo Chocolate Lounge, a chocolate and ice cream bar in Rua Direita, will be unforgettable. Up to 20 visitors can be accommodated here at a temperature of around minus six degrees Celsius. Furnishings such as bars, stools and tables are made of ice. During their stay, during which fruit juices are served in addition to cherry liqueur and vodka, guests receive warming anoraks and gloves. The bar is open – as far as the outside temperatures allow it – in the months of December and January. Every year in March, the Chocolate Festival takes place in Óbidos. City visitors can taste imaginative chocolate creations in the streets and are invited to create their own sweet creations.