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The 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
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
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
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
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
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
Casa Lirio is our own home on the Algarve set in a quiet residential area with its own off-street parking behind lockable gates. It's a place to unwind with every facility easily to hand. Ideal for romantic couples, family holidays or as a perfect...
Apartment in an attractive residential complex with communal pool and covered terrace. Only 10 minutes from Ayamonte, whose white houses extend on a slope down to the harbor.
This chic apartment with a balcony and high-quality equipment has a communal pool in a private complex. Only 5 minutes from Esuri Golf Club.
Very tasteful apartment in private condominium with pool area and wooden garden furniture on the terrace. The acc. Sun terrace can be reached via a spiral staircase.
This holiday villa is ideal for a great holiday with the family. It is also perfect for families as you will find a golf course right in front of the villa. The club house is just about a 5-minute walk from the villa. The spacious villa built in a...
Only 140 km from Lisbon airport you can stay at Casa da Mata. In the next few days you will be able to relax with family or friends in a cosy country house with a beautiful view on the river side.
Waking up and enjoying the river is a fantastic ...
This wonderful 4 bedroom villa set in beautifully tended grounds enjoys spectacular views. The spacious living area with feature fireplace is equipped with a wide screen TV with SKY satellite channels and a DVD player. Double doors lead onto the l...
A spectacular villa perched on a superb cul-de-sac, benefiting of an elevated position enjoying fantastic views of Lagos Bay. Located within an easy reach is an 18-hole championship golf course. Lagos city, elected the 6th best beach & sun destina...
A unique, charming Villa, decorated in the minimalist style, which incorporates a certain attention to detail, that is both warm and welcoming. Every single detail has been carefully thought out, to produce a Villa, which is …quite simply, d...
Just a short stroll from the seaside village of Castelo and with impressive panoramic views, Villa Severino enjoys the serenity of a relatively rural setting whilst being within walking distance of the sandy beach, shops, minimarkets , restaurants...