Portugal - Attractions
Lisbon's position on seven low hills beside a river once lured traders and settlers, and it's still a stunning site. Add to that its cultural diversity, laid-back feel and architectural time warp, and you have one of the most enjoyable cities in Europe - and also one of the most economical.
Lisbon is the kind of place where you can sit at street cafes - sampling food or fado - and watch the world go by. But for the eager there are also plenty of cultural activities. In addition to architectural masterpieces at Belém, Lisbon has over 50 museums to visit.
Lagos, on the south coast of the Algarve, is one of the country's most popular tourist resorts. Most visitors are drawn to the superb beaches, which include Meia Praia, a vast strip of sand to the east, and the more secluded Praia do Pinhão to the south. The town has abundant facilities for renting bicycles, mopeds and horses, and there are also boat trips from the main harbour. Apart from the sun and sand, the resort's other highlight is the Museu Municipal, which has eccentric displays of ecclesiastical treasures, handicrafts and preserved animal foetuses.
The town of Sintra, northwest of Lisbon, was long favoured by Portuguese royalty and English nobility (Lord Byron was mad about it) as a summer destination. Its appeal is still evident today, with its thickly wooded setting, romantic gardens, amalgam of Manueline and Gothic architecture, 16th-century hermitages, and ramshackle glamour.
The walled town of Évora is one of the architectural gems of Portugal. Situated in a picturesque landscape of olive groves, vineyards, wheat fields and brilliant spring flowers, it's a charming town whose attractions include a cathedral, a roman temple and a ghoulish ossuary chapel constructed from the bones and skulls of several thousand people.