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“Eternally whimsical and singing with joy.” This line from a classic song heard in Lisbon’s fado clubs best describes Portugal. Travel with us to this dynamic country where past and present mingle to inspire your spirit of discovery.

The 7 Wonders of Portugal

On July 7, 2007, the auspicious day the new 7 Wonders of the World were announced in Lisbon, the 7 Maravilhas de Portugal were also revealed. After 7 months of voting by the public, these historic architectural masterpieces, all designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, were chosen:

Castelo de Guimares – Built to protect the population from attacks by invaders, this imposing Celtic castle has eight crenellated towers and dates from the 10th century.

Castelo de Obidos – Surrounded by walls 45-feet high, this 12th-century structure stands guard over the romantic city of Obidos.

Castelo da Pena – Constructed in the 14th century and located in Sintra, this palace is a combination of Moorish, Gothic and Manueline styles, with two remarkable conical chimneys.

Mosteiro de Alcobaca – Portugal’s largest church, this monastery was founded in 1153 to commemorate a victory against the Moors.

Mosteiro da Batalha – Magnificent Gothic architecture and exquisite 16th-century stained-glass windows make this monastery a must-see.

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos – One of Lisbon’s most visited monuments, this monastery was built by King Manuel I in 1502. Explorer Vasco da Gama and numerous royal figures are entombed here.

Torre de Belem – A majestic symbol of Lisbon, this tower was built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the harbor.

Fado — The Soulful, Stirring Music of Portugal

The mournful melodies and lyrics of fado are often associated with tales of the sea or the lifestyles of the down and out. But by definition, fado is a form of song—its subject can be about anything. Though its roots go back to the 1820s, fado is alive and well today, especially in Lisbon, where you can hear it performed in venues ranging from elegant restaurants to neighborhood taverns.

Obidos – A Picture Postcard-perfect Village


Known as the “wedding present town,” the romantic medieval village of Obidos was a gift from King Dinis to Queen Isabel when they married in 1282. Picturesque cobblestone streets, colorful houses, brilliant flowers, whitewashed churches and dazzling tiles lie behind the town’s fortified walls. Fast-forward to modern times when every November, chocolate lovers flock here for the International Chocolate Festival, complete with fanciful chocolate sculptures, tastings, competitions and delicious indulging.

Claudio Corallo – Chocolates Like You’ve Never Imagined

Chocolate lovers, book your flight. It’s worth a trip to Lisbon just for the taste of nirvana that awaits at Claudio Corallo Chocolates. A Tuscan who has his own cacao plantations on the West African isles of São Tomé and Principe, Corallo uses no additives to create his to-die-for sweets. So all you taste is pure, natural, exquisite chocolate. The shop is at Rua Cecilio da Sousa, 85.

Sesimbra – A Scenic Fishing Village


With its proximity to Lisbon, Sesimbra is a popular get-away for city folks. Here, you can stroll on the promenade, relax on the beach and enjoy fresh-from-the-sea cuisine. On a hilltop above the town, a restored medieval castle stands watch. Behind its five towers and thick walls is another must-see antiquity—the 12th-century church of Santa Maria. Sesimbra is also home to many festivals and street fairs throughout the year.

Lisbon’s Pestana Palace Hotel


Make this magnificent 19th-century palace your home base for exploring the Lisbon area. Formerly the private residence of the Marquis of Valle Flor, its elegant ambiance will make you feel like royalty. Surrounded by lush gardens, this five-star luxury hotel offers elegantly appointed rooms and stunning views of the Tagus River. Its 21st-century amenities include gourmet dining, indoor and outdoor pools, and a spa.

Discover Hidden Treasures Along the Fresco Route


Rent a car or hop on a tour bus and head south to the Alentejo region in southern Portugal. Along the way, you can visit local churches that hold one of the country’s best-kept secrets—magnificent murals that date back hundreds of years. Visible beneath the whitewashed walls, the paintings are created in colors that reflect the local landscape. When you work up an appetite, be sure to try the traditional Alentejo cuisine.


Port Wine Tasting in the Douro Valley


The Douro Valley is Portugal’s answer to California’s Napa Valley and France’s Loire region. Located along the scenic Douro River about two hours from Oporto, this port-producing region has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage region. The grapes are harvested, vinified and fortified in estates called “quintas,” after which the wine is sent to lodges where it is aged and stored. The lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia, near Oporto, offer VIP port-wine-tasting excursions no serious wine lover would want to miss.

Walk the Levadas on Madeira


Situated in the Atlantic Ocean halfway between Portugal and Africa, the island of Madeira is famous for its wine, flowers, embroidery and spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display. The best way to take in the island’s natural beauty is by strolling its network of paths along the ancient aqueducts, or levadas. If walking isn’t your thing, grab a bike, seek out one of the island’s deserted beaches, go game fishing or try whale watching.

Castelo da Pena — A National Treasure and a Must-See


If you’re visiting Lisbon, be sure take a side trip to Sintra to see this magnificent example of 19th-century European Romanticism. Reigning from a hilltop above the town, the palace has served as the summer residence for the royal family for centuries and was designated as a national monument in 1910. Often used for state occasions, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

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