Cultural holidays in Portugal

Shun the beach in favour of Portugal’s cultural gems

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert


Lisbon cityThe word culture, now more so than ever, can be used to represent such a wide spectrum of pursuits. In the modern age, the term can be conjoined with anything from retail outlets to video games and mass media. In its classical and most prominent domain, however, we tend to associate culture with the more traditional fields of art, architecture and history. Think Paris, London and Vienna and you’re on the right track. And although it usually invokes more audible connotations of beach-orientated breaks in the sun, Portugal has a few unheralded gems to rival the best.

Even away from the stunning capital city of Lisbon, you’ll find a host of UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered throughout the country. Every region presents their own unique cultural qualities, all set amidst the temperate Mediterranean climate that attracts visitors in their droves.

 

Top five destinations for Portugal cultural holidays


   

Cultural holidays in Portugal: Lisbon Cultural holidays in Portugal: Lisbon

Lisbon is naturally the first place that springs to mind when considering a visit to Portugal – and in terms of cultural significance, the capital is a veritable goldmine. The Berardo Collection Museum should be your first port of call, with works by Picasso and Warhol among the 4,000 on display. Elsewhere in the city, be sure to check out the Church of Sao Roque, inconspicuous from the outside but secreting an interior that will surely take your breath away. Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery are also worthy of a visit.

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Porto Cultural holidays in Portugal: Porto

It speaks volumes for Porto that the main cultural attraction here is, for all intents and purposes, the city itself. Its historic centre is one of the oldest in Europe, and blessed with some of the continent’s most mesmerising buildings into the bargain. Whether there is an event taking place there or not, the eye-catching Casa da Musica is an inspired architectural masterpiece, likewise the Serralves Museum and the magnificent park that encircles it. The Soares dos Reis Museum, meanwhile, is home to the symbolic O Desterrado, the most revered work of the eponymous sculptor. 

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Guimaraes Cultural holidays in Portugal: Guimaraes

It’s a widely held belief in Portugal that Guimaraes is effectively the birthplace of the country – and when you take a stroll through the town, it’s easy to see why this is the case. The 10th-century castle still dominates the centre to this day, testament to the medieval roots that shaped a nation. To really absorb the aura of the place, head for a coffee or cold drink in Olive Square, flanked by the charmingly constructed Olive Church and Padrao do Salado. 

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Douro Region Cultural holidays in Portugal: Douro Region

Culture comes in many formats, and one of the largest elements of Portuguese culture is its rich wine-growing heritage. The northern region of Douro is arguably responsible for some of the country’s finest produce, with the terraced vineyards as beautiful as they are bountiful. Vila Real is the main municipality of the region, and a splendidly picturesque city in which to base yourself for a tour of the vines. Whilst there, why not treat yourself to a tour of the Solar de Mateus, the stately home depicted on the label of the famous De Mateus wine?

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Braga Cultural holidays in Portugal: Braga

You won’t see much in the way of fanfare for Braga in most travel guides. But what the northern city boasts is an understated class and charisma. The most striking feature is the Bom Jesus do Monte, an aesthetically remarkable church perched atop a mountain just outside of the city. Whilst ascending the stairs, you’ll stumble across a series of chapels before you reach the 18th-century building itself. Whether you love or loathe football, you should make the trip to see the Braga Municipal Stadium, an incredible feat of engineering with a cliff face incorporated within its stands!

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Portugal Holiday Homes

Spacious air-conditioned apartment communal pool and close to beach

This tastefully furnished, spacious, ground floor apartment is situated in a quiet cul-de-sac in the highly desirable Sao Rafael village and is set in several acres of mature tropical gardens with a large communal pool and separate children’s pool...

Beautiful 3 Bed Sea View Apt with pool and 2 terraces

A luxury 3 bed apartment situated 150 metres from the beach. The property comprises 3 bedrooms: 1) Master bedroom with king size bed, built in wardrobes, bedside cabinets, ensuite shower room with toilet. Pool view. 2) Double bedroom with doubl...

Large ground-floor apartment with communal pool, close to village & beach

Situated in the Mato Serrao part of Carvoeiro, just one and half kilometres north west of the picturesque and highly popular resort centre, Vila Nova is an attractive, well maintained, low rise collection of thirty six apartments built in older, m...

Villa Gale - Sleeps 8 - *Free Car/Transfer offer*

*Free Car or Transfer offer available on next 10 bookings – see Solmar Villas site for details* Decorated to the highest of standards and located less than a five minute stroll from Gale’s popular sandy beaches, Villa Gale is sure to be a firm fa...

Villa Monte De Madrinha *Free Car/Transfer offer*

*Free Car or Transfer offer available on next 10 bookings – see Solmar Villas site for details* Decorated to the highest of standards and located less than a five minute stroll from Gale’s popular sandy beaches, Villa Gale is sure to be a firm fav...

Villa Aqua , Vale De Parra - *Free Car/Transfer offer*

*Free Car or Transfer offer available on next 10 bookings – see Solmar Villas site for details Located almost equidistantly on the outskirts of the popular family friendly resorts of Vale de Parra and Albufeira, Villa Aqua sits in a peaceful pictu...

Villa Karlia, Vale De Parra

Villa Karlia commands a truly perfect situation, located a short drive from the fabulous sandy beaches of Gale, the colourful and cosmopolitan town of Albufeira and within a short stroll of a handful of local shops, cafés and restaurants. With its...

Villa Caly, Albufeira - *Free Car/Transfer offer*

*Free Car or Transfer offer available on next 10 bookings – see Solmar Villas site for details* Located almost equidistantly on the outskirts of the popular family friendly resorts of Vale de Parra and Albufeira, Villa Aqua sits in a peaceful pict...

Quinta Da Vinha , Gale- *Free Car/Transfer offer*

*Free Car or Transfer offer available on next 10 bookings – see Solmar Villas site for details* This superb four bedroom villa features many unique architectural details, such as the terracotta tiled ceiling in the dining area, an exquisite stain...

Villa Severino - *900m to beach *400m to amenities* - *Free Car/Transfer offer*

*Free Car or Transfer offer available on next 10 bookings – see Solmar Villas site for details* Just a short stroll from the seaside village of Castelo and with impressive panoramic views, Villa Severino enjoys the serenity of a relatively rural s...

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