Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take A Portugal Vacation

If you haven't taken a Portugal vacation yet, why not? A trip to Portugal on your holidays will bring you much joy and should be something that you do, at least once.

When you mention Portugal, most people automatically think of The Algarve. I must say that the Algarve is indeed a beautiful region of Portugal, with many things for the tourist to do. The Algarve has sun, beach and a nightlife that does not sleep. The Algarve has also got some of the Europe's most pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and serene locations that will help you get away from the party life.

But there is so much to do in Portugal, that a vacation to just one region would not do justice. This year, why not consider travelling to Portugal's North region? Portugal's North is much different, in every way, from the South. In Portugal's North region you will get a taste of history, culture and a way of life that is as far from the tourist path as you can get.

Portugal's North region is worth visiting on your Portugal Vacation, but what is most important is that you set aside time for yourself. Visiting Portugal can be quite overwhelming, because for such a small country, it has so much to offer in terms of historical buildings, festivals, carnivals, feasts and music and sites the likes you will not see anywhere else in the world.

Portugal is indeed unique in that every step you take is a step of exploration, and Portugal's North offers this in abundance. On your next Portugal Vacation, be sure to travel to Portugal's North region, to get away from the tourists and to enjoy an authentic Portuguese experience.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Hotel Mundial In Lisbon

Lisbon has many great hotels that you can stay at that are simply exquisite and superb. The Hotel Mundial is one such hotel that is in a class all its own. This modern 4 star hotel has all the amenities that you would expect from a first class hotel. It is centrally located in the Baixa Pombalina district of Lisbon, within site of Lisbon's famous St. George castle and the romantic Rossio square just a short walk away.

The Hotel Mundial opened on December 3rd 1958, and has since undergone extensive phases of renovation and expansion. The Hotel Mundial has a total of 350 rooms and 3 suites that are decorated in exceptional taste and quality. The hotel's restaurant, “Varanda de Lisboa” as first rate cuisine, with an extensive wine menu, complemented with stunning vistas of this romantic area of Lisbon

The following is a list of the facilities that the Hotel Mundial has to offer its guests:

- Business center
- Wireless Internet in public areas, meeting rooms and bedrooms
- Wine Cellar
- Free Safe in the Reception
- Wake up call
- Luggage deposit
- Shopping Galleries (our guests have 10% discount on all purchases)
- Private Garage free of charge
- Avis Rent a Car
- 24 Hour Room Service
- Aerobus service 150 meters from the hotel
- Accessibility for disabled guests (ramps, bathrooms, access and rooms)
- Currency exchange service
- Fax and photocopy service
- Laundry service
- Taxi service
- Solarium
- Terrace with panoramic view
- Sale of tickets for Sightseeing tours, Tram Number 28 and theme park

I think you will find that your stay at the Hotel Mundial will be an excellent one and one which you will surely repeat.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Albufeira Algarve Portugal

Located in the most souther region fo Portugal, in the heart of the Algarve, Albufeira is the administrative district of Faro and a perfect vacation destination. Spanning an area of 14,800 ha with a population of approximately 40 thousand inhabitants, Albufeira is divided into five parishes: Albufeira, Ferreiras, Guia, Olhos d'Água and Paderne.

The Albufeira coast is marked by it's breathtaking cliffsides and beaches. Unlike the Northern part of Portugal, the Albufeira climate and geography is markedly and Mediterranean on. The summers are intensely hot and dry, while the winters are mild and pleasant.

Tourism is the most important activity of the municipality of Albufeira and the Algarve as a whole. Albufeira is one of Portugal's major tourist centers and one of Europe's best kept secrets.

Geographically, the region has a coastline of 30 km with about 23 beaches of fine sand and azure water. Albufeira has one of Europe's largest quantity of 'blue flags' (European symbol of the quality of beaches) making it ideal for eco-tourism as well as traditional tourism.

Complimenting it's excellent touristic lifestely, Albufeira has also expanded on it's range of restaurant and bar life, making it an exciting hot spot for a young vibrant night club crowd. Don't miss Albufeira, one of the beautiful gems of the Algarve, on your next Portugal Vacation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lisbon Travel

Much has Changed in Lisbon since Amalia Rodgriques was a young girl singing in the Fado houses of it's cobbled streets. Lisbon is a European peculiarity and an enchanting city the likes of which there is no equal in the world. Lisbon is both a modern and ancient city, from it's shiny new office buildings in the commercial area to it's romantic, almost ancient streets of Alfama, Lisbon is unique.

Unlike other European cities, Lisbon has always been a city that has reached out to the world. It was from the shores of the Tagus river which runs into the Atlantic Ocean that Lisbon imposed itself on the world. Legendary figures like Prince Henry the Navigator, Luis Camoes and Vasco da Gama were all familiar with Lisbon, for it was from these shores that the world was discovered. The Portuguese carried their culture and customs with them to distant, unknown shores. In an age when many still believed that the world was flat, the Portuguese were busy creating settlements that still exist today, over 500 years later.

At the time, Sailors set course from Lisbon to the Far East, lands that up until then were mired in rumor, speculation and wonder. From Lisbon, the Portuguese were masterminding trade routes and signing pacts with many Asian, African and Indian kingdoms. All of this was occurring hundreds of years before most Europeans even knew these lands existed.

Lisbon today, with a population of approximately 2.5 millions, is also Continental Europe's most western capital. Sitting on seven hills and nestled between the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon's history predates modern times by thousands of years. Archaeologists suggest that Lisbon was already a major city hundreds and possible thousands of years before the Roman Invasion. At that time, many different cultures called Lisbon home.

It is said that the Greeks gave Lisbon it's name. The Greeks called this land, Olissipo, which is thought to have derived from the mythical king Ulysses. With the turn of the ages, the name Olissipo became Olissipona and then eventually Lisboa (Sounds like Lee-szh-Boa).

Lisbon has had numerous settlements of people, residing on it's shores, from Iberians, Celts, Germans, Romans, Moors and number of post Muslim Christian peoples who were attracted to its shores for conquest, fame and fortune.

It wasn't until 1255 that Lisbon became the capital of Portugal which effectively transplanted the seat of power from the Celtic Christian North to the more central and culturally diverse center and south. It isn't hard to realize why the kings of Portugal were so interested in far away places, since it was common place to have Arabs, Berbers and Jews so close by. The Christian kings desire for wealth eventually led to a peculiar point in time when the world would be changed for ever.

It was under the guidance of Prince Henry the Navigator back in 1419 that Lisbon began looking beyond it's borders and into the open Ocean. With the invention of the Portuguese Caravel, a new state of art hybrid ship that could sail in the open ocean, the Portuguese began to discover lands never before known or settled, including the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde, just to name a few. By the end of the 1400's, the Portuguese were well on their way to India, making Lisbon the new capital of Europe.

Today, Lisbon is a city steeped in a rich past and a vibrant, eclectic music and art scene. There are many attractions scattered throughout this glorious, clean city. Lisbon has a very relaxed atmosphere, Lisboetas are known for their easy-going and friendly disposition which make Lisbon one of the most pleasant cities in the world to travel.

With its wide avenues, mosaic decorations on its pedestrian paths and excellent outdoor cafes, Lisbon is a city designed for the people. For example, the Monsanto Park is 10 square kilometers and considered one of Europe's largest parks.

Lisbon is a growing city, and the need for new roads and bridges have been deemed a necessity. Lisbon has one of the world's most modern Subway Systems that connects to many bus and train routes, making travel a pleasure. For motorists, the recently constructed marvel the Vasco da Gama Bridge along with the beautiful 25th of April Bridge, serve exit and entry points to the city.

It should be noted that the 25th of April Bridge, looks very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This is not by coincidence, in fact, the bridge was built by the same architectural firm that constructed the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lisbon is all about charm and people and this is most obvious in the pedestrian only streets that tourists and residents alike can enjoy the wonderful shops and restaurants that are abundant in this city.

There are many things that you can do and see in Lisbon, whether you are looking for a quiet getaway to the Sao Jorge Castle or visiting modern buildings like the Lisbon Oceanarium, be sure to end your day at one of the tastefully, well preserved art-deco cafes to enjoy a true Lisbon experience.

Don't miss the Belém Tower, a medieval tower built by the Portuguese during their Golden Age of Discovery.

Lisbon will amaze and charm you like no other city. It has an ambiance that is very human and welcoming, which will keep you visiting for many years to come. Be sure to bring a pair of good walking shoes, because once you start your Lisbon Vacation, you will not want to stop.

Source of above images are as follows:

First Photograph of Lisbon Parque das Nações: Author Paulo Juntas

Second Photograph, Old Lisbon and Sao Jorge Castle by: Osvaldo Gago -

Photograph of Ponte 25 de Abril viewed towards Lisbon: Vitor Oliveira from Torres Vedras, PORTUGAL

Photograph of Rua Augusta Lisboa by: Osvaldo Gago

Photograph of Lisbon Oceanarium taken by Nol Aders on 20th October 2005

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sintra Portugal Vacation

Sintra Portugal

On the last post I told you about Porto, the major city and economic engine in Portugal's North Region. Today I'll tell you about one the most fascinating and beautiful towns that exist in the world today, Sintra.

Sintra is the former retreat of Portuguese Royalty. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and a must see for anyone who is inters ted in Seeing Portugal. People who have visited Sintra often describe it as a place out of a fairy tale. Sintra gets its dreamy quality due to the incredibly large number of Castles and Palaces that have been built there over thousands of years. Even the Sintra's Town Hall, The Câmara Municipal, which you can see on the image above, is an amazingly beautiful building.

Like most places in Portugal, Sintra has a very long history, spanning thousands of years. Sintra's long history can be traced back to the early Neolithic period, and archaeological evidence indicates a long succession of human settlements spanning through Bronze and Iron ages into modern times. During Roman occupation of Lisbon, Sintra formed part of the Roman Administration town of Olisipo (Modern Lisbon). It wasn't until the 11th century, during Moorish occupation of Iberia that direct reference is made to Sintra, at the time it was included as a dependency of Lisbon. Approximately seven years after the Christian King Afonso Henriques reconquest of Lisbon in 1147, Sintra was awarded charter as a commune. It was during the Christian Reconquest that Sintra's iconic Moorish Castle was partly destroyed.

Sintra was governed by the Knights Templars until the order was abolished, and soon passed on to the Order of Christ, which were the Knights Templars renamed. Although there were buildings built by the Portuguese Crown well into the 15th century, it wasn't until the commencement of the Portuguese Global Empire that Sintra bloomed. History suggests that it was King Manuel I, who commenced the permanent connection between Sintra and the Crown by enlarging the existing Royal Palace and the building of the Nossa Senhora da Penha Monestary, from where it is said that he watched Vasco da Gama's historical return voyage of discovery.

Today, Sintra is a place full of magic and splendor that was created by successive peoples who lived in the area. With the help of the Portuguese Crown, it is truly one of the most fascinating places on earth, and unique in every way. A visit to Sintra is a must, and should not be missed on your next Portugal Vacation.

The Following are some of the wondrous places awaiting your visit in Sintra:

The Royal Palace: Constructed in the 15th and 16th century the Royal Palace is located in the Centre of Sintra. With its two massive chimney stacks, the Royal Palace is as beautiful as it is imposing. The Palace has incorporated, extensively, the use of azulejos, which are Portuguese blue and white tile work used as ornamentation on walls.

The Pena Palace: Designed by Portuguese architect Possiddnio da Silva, the Pena Palace is a work of pure Romanticism. The prototype Of European Romanticism, the Pena Palace was commissioned by King Ferdinand II, and built over the ruins of a medieval monastery that had been abandoned after the 1755 earthquake. Extensive use of Egyptian, Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance elements gives the Pena Palace a timeless and magical feel.

The Palace of Montserrate: Designed by distinguished British architect, James
Knowles Junior for Sir Francis Cook, The Palace of Montserrate is an example of mid-19th century eclecticism. Combining Neo Gothicism and elements derived from India, Montserrate is as fascinating as it is beautiful.

The Moorish Castle: Sitting high on a mountain peak it is said that the Moorish Castle is not Moorish at all but of Visigothic origin. It was occupied by the Moors at the time of the Christian Reconquest and therefore became known as the Moorish Castle. Although the castle is partly in ruins, due to the sacking by Dom Afonso Henriques Crusade in Iberia, it is well preserved and worth a visit due to its incredible history and panoramic views.

The Quinta da Regaleira: The land where the Regaleira sits was originally owned by the Barons of Regaleira, a wealthy merchant family from Porto. It wasn't until the land was purchased by wealthy businessman Carvalho Monteiro that construction of the Regaleira commenced. Built between 1904 - 1910 the Quinta da Regaleira is inspired by mysticism, infused with symbols of alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians, the Quinta should not be missed on your Portugal vacation.

These are just a sampling of the many wonderful places to visit in Sintra. There are numerous and vast gardens with plants and trees imported from the 4 corners of the world. Sintra is more than a place, it has an energy that is beyond compare and should be on your top places to see in Portugal and the world.

Images above provided as follows:

The Royal Palace: By Delatorre
The Palace of Montserrate: Alagamares
The Quinta da Regaleira:: Lusitana

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Porto (Oporto) Travel

Porto (Oporto) Travel

Last post I told you about the northern province of Minho, and today I'll tell you about Porto, Portugal's second largest city, a great place to travel.

The city of Porto (Oporto in English) is the major economic engine in Northern Portugal. Porto, like most Portuguese cities has a very long history spanning thousands of years. Archaeological discoveries suggest that the entire region that is today Porto was originally a Coastal Celtic City, perhaps the same Celts who went on to inhabit Ireland, England and Scotland. The first written historical account of Porto was made by the Romans, who invaded and conquered this region. Back then, Porto would be considered a part of the Gallaeca province, just north of Lusitania. Porto, being a coastal town was an important route of passage to Braga, the main Roman held city and administrative area in what is today Northern Portugal, and Lisbon to the south. Porto has the distinction of being the place from where the name Portugal originated. Porto, was originally named Portus Cale by the Romans, which means Port Of Cale. PortusCale was most likely the name given to the city by the Romans after the the celtic tribe, the Callaeci,who resided at the mouth of the Douro River at the time. Over time, the word Portus Cale was used to name the entire region of Northern Portugal which extended from Porto to Galicia in Spain. Portus Cale, therefore became both the name of the region of Porto as well as the first county of what is today Portugal. Eventually, the region Portucale became the name of the country Portugal.

Porto has always held the distinction of being a working city. Porto is heavily industrialized and therefore is inhabited by a very large working class community. Although many of Portugal's largest companies are headquartered in Porto, much of the glamor and financing is stolen by Porto's colorful cousin Lisbon to the south. There is an old saying that the people of Porto use when describing their place in Portugal "Porto works, Braga Prays, Coimbra studies, and Lisbon gets the money." This is a reference to the individual qualities of all four major cities. Porto creates wealth through industry, Braga is the center of religious study in Portugal, whereas Coimbra is the home to Portugal's oldest university, lastly Lisbon enjoys the fruits of Porto's labor. It's a safe assumption that people from Porto and the North in general view the capital city of Lisbon suspiciously, the sentiments of being 'ripped off' by the greedy Lisbon Capital is a sentiment often expressed by Northern Portuguese. Mostly due to what is perceived as unequal transfer funds from the Capital to the rest of the nation.

The residents of Porto are known as Tripeiros (in English meaning 'Tripe Eaters'). The people of Porto got this distinction due to their subsistence on the left overs of slaughtered cattle, primarily Tripe, which uses the first three chambers of the cattle stomach. Although eating tripe had existed for thousands of years, for the residents of Porto, Tripe eating became an art during Portugal's world Empire, which spanned from the 1400's well into the twentieth century. In order to feed Portuguese sailors who were setting sail to distant ports, most of the best cuts of beef were salted and cured for the long journeys, leaving only partly edible and many non-edible cuts left. Making do with what was available to them, the People of Porto developed tripe eating to such and extent that eventually making eating tripe synonymous with being from Porto, hence the name Tripeiros (Sounds like Tree Pay Roosh (For the letter R just roll the tongue)).

The people of Porto are known for being both hard working and stubborn. It was from Porto where the Napoleon Army met its greatest resistance in Portugal, and from where many battles were fought against the monarchy in favor of constitution. People from Porto consider themselves Northerners and are generally very conservative.

Porto has also got the distinction of lending its name to one of the world's most famous wines called Port. Although the wine we know as Port is actually thousands of years old, the name Port wine is only approximately 300 years old. Port is enjoyed the world over by people of every background.

Today, Porto is a modern city with many great attractions like the Casa da Música designed by world famous architect Rem Koolhaas as well as more iconic Ponte de D. Luís. Porto is a city that is rooted in the past but with sights set on the future. With its state of the art Porto Metro and new office buildings as well as large factories, Porto is more than just a blue collar city. Porto is a city that has everything that a tourist can hope for and a great place for your next Portugal Travels.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Minho Vacation

Minho Vacation

Choosing your Portugal Vacation has everything to do with what you want from a vacation. As I've mentioned before, each and every region of Portugal is unique, ranging from customs, architecture and ethnicities. For such a small country, Portugal has some of the most distinctive regions that you will ever see. Often, tourists who have only traveled to Portugal's Algarve, are amazed at how it differs from the Northern region of the country. It is important, when visiting a country, not to make any presumptions on what you'll see, and more importantly not to assume that if you've seen one region you've seen them all. Today I'll tell you about Portugal's Minho Province, a green jewel in Portugal's crown.

The Minho Province was officially created in 1936 during Salazar's Fascist reign, and dissolved in 1976. That said, many Portuguese today still refer to this small geographic land mass in the northwest part of Portugal as Minho (sounds like 'Me N You'), and those born or descended from this part of Portugal are generally referred to as Minhotos (People residing from Minho). Today, the former territory of Minho is part of the Norte Region of Portugal

Before the region of Minho was dissolved, it consisted of 23 municipalities, with Braga as its capital city. Minho, if it still existed today, would include the districts of Guimarães (Birth city of Portugal) Braga (Long standing city stronghold of Ancient Celtic Civilization originally inhabited by the Bracari hence the name Braga and Viana do Castelo (An Ancient Celtic coastal town).

Minho, along with its sister province Tras Os Montes (Literally translates to 'Behind The Mountains' )to the east, are also the most ancient of all the Portuguese provinces. Minhotos are very proud of their culture and history as it has played a major role in the creation of modern day Portugal. Minho is after all, the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. Minho along with Galicia (Galiza in Spanish) is also the territory where the Portuguese language was born. There is virtually no difference in ethnicity between Galicians and Minhotos, as they are both a Celt - Iberian race, with Germanic (Swabian, Suebi or Suevi) and Roman bloodlines. During Roman occupation of modern day Portugal, Minho, along with Galicia were referred to as Gallaecia, and regarded as a threat to Roman dominance in Iberia. Along with the brave tribesmen, the Lusitanians, these people made the Roman's occupation of Iberia a very difficult one, and for many years the Roman's relegated mostly to the south of the country.

Minho, also know as Verde-Minho (Green Minho) is the most forested region of Portugal. The region itself is a nature lover's paradise with its large green landscape, mountains and rivers. Minho summers are dry and pleasant, the winters are cold, dipping from zero to -10 degrees Celsius and the a snow fall is not uncommon. Fortunately the cold winter weather in Portugal often only lasts a couple of months from late December through February. Minho gets a lot of rainfall throughout fall and winter, and not recommended as a travelers destination. If you are intent on visiting Portugal in late fall or winter, then the Algarve region in the south is the perfect destination with virtual year round sun and warmth. Traveling in the Minho province is ideal in the spring through early fall, only getting a little wet into mid to late October. The entire province is a travelers delight, with many historical monuments and wide open spaces and pristine nature reserves to keep you going. If you are traveling in Minho, make sure that you have marked out your route and stick to it, because it isn't unusual to get sidetracked. Driving in the night on the smaller mountain roads can be a little difficult, although the roads are modern, speeding drivers are still very common.

Due to its isolation, and lack of funding from the central government, the Minho province is also one of the least developed in the country. Outside of the main cities, many of the older generations, who've lived under fascism and the eye of the Catholic Church, still live a very pastoral, communal life. For those who live in larger cities, this may come as a bit of a shock, but it may be a hippies dream, without the VW and Psychedelia. That said, with Lisbon finally granting funds to build infrastructure, Minho is now developing at a very fast pace, and it is very common to see the old world and new world colliding.

The largest historical remains Celtic influence in the Minho area includes the mountain fort of Briteiros, an ancient ruins dating back to the Iron Age. There are many ancient Celtic festivals that are held every year, including stick dancing, Pauliteiros, which as legend has it is an ancient fighting system that was converted into dance in order to deceive the Roman rulers. The Pauliteiros use 2 small sticks in a rhythmic dance that to some looks similar to North American Indian tribal dances. These dances are usually accompanied by bagpipe and drums. The traditional folk dances in Mirandese Tras Os Montes, a remote Portuguese province just east of the Minho is a must see for anyone interested in ancient customs, dances and rituals.

Lastly, Minho is a region in transition. With children no longer willing to accept the agriculturally driven lives that their parents have, choosing to work in larger cities or abroad. It is obvious that the life in the Minho region, a lifestyle that is so common today will vanish by the next generation, and will only be a footnote in the history books. I highly recommend that if you are looking for a Portugal vacation that is immersed in history, Minho is the place for you.

There are many cities and villages that are a must see in the Minho province of Portugal, and I will be telling you more about them in later posts, here on Portugal Vacations.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lisbon Hostels Best In The World

Lisbon Hostels

For those of you who are looking to travel on a budget in Europe on your next Portugal Vacation, a Portuguese Hostel can often be the best way to see a city and make friends. Not all hostels are created equal, and occasionally, some can be very unwelcoming. The great news is that Portugal has some of the best hostels in the world, and at this years HOSCAR awards in Dublin Ireland, Portugal and Lisbon specifically took home 4 out of 10 top spots in the world's top hostels awards, as chosen by individuals from around the globe. The following is the list of hostels that made it to the top 10 list, I've bolded the Portuguese hostels for you. So get familiar with some travel packing tips and get ready for a great hostel vacation in Portugal.

1. Traveller’s House, Lisbon, Portugal
2. Rossio Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal
3. Lisbon Lounge, Lisbon, Portugal
4. The Riverhouse Backpackers, Cardiff, Wales
5. Greg-Tom Hostel, Krakow, Poland
6. Sitting On The City Walls Courtyard House, Beijing, China
7. Academy Hostel, Florence, Italy
8. Goodnight Backpackers, Lisbon, Portugal
9. Flamingo Hostel, Krakow, Poland
10. Mambo Tango Backpackers Hostel, Barcelona, Spain

The Portuguese hostels are world famous for their comfortable and secure rooms, friendly and chic atmosphere and an outgoing friendly staff that will assist you tirelessly. You don't often get this type of service at a regular hotel. The Lisbon hostels are top notch, and you can feel comfortable know that you will be taken care of. I think a quick overview of each of the Portuguese Hostels is in order, starting at number 8.

8. Goodnight Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal

This gorgeous 18th century building,located in the Baixa area of Lisbon is ideally located in the heart of Lisbon's downtown area. Along with Magnificent windows and balconies, this neo-classical design in currently being considered to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being centrally located means that you are steps away from all the glory of Lisbon, from the downtown core, to hip cafe's and nightclubs and great shopping.

The following is a list of offered amenities.


* 24 Hour Reception
* Free Internet Access with Room Accessible WiFi
* Guest Kitchen
* Cable TV and Playstation
* DVD`s
* Common Room
* Library
* Linen Included
* Security Lockers
* Key Card Access
* Free Breakfast
* 24 Hour Security
* Towels Hire
* Ceiling Fan
* Tours Desk
* Luggage Storage

3. Lisbon Lounge, Lisbon, Portugal

Located in the heart of Lisbon, the Lisbon lounge was the first hostel in Lisbon. You are close to all the great attractions of Lisbon's pedestrian only streets and walkways, great shopping and excellent sites that Lisbon is famous for. There are 9 rooms available from twins with satellite T.V to 8 beds rooms. You also get free coffee all day long and free breakfast. The following is a full list of what is included in your stay.


* 24 Hour Reception
* Free Internet Access & WiFi in Room
* Guest Kitchen
* Fax Service
* DVD`s
* Common Room
* Library
* Linen Included
* Security Lockers
* Reading Light
* Key Card Access
* Free Breakfast
* Washing Machine/Dryer
* Towels Hire
* Parking
* Bicycle Parking
* Bar
* Iron/Ironing Board
* Tours Desk
* Luggage Storage

2. Rossio Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal

Also located in the Baixa district, you are close to all of the glorious monuments that Lisbon is famous for. Walk out into a vibrant and hip Lisbon pedestrian only avenues and enjoy an authentic European atmosphere. Like the other Lisbon hostels, there are so many free extras included by the Rossio Hostel that it's a wonder they make any money at all. Here is a list of free things offered.

-Free Individual Lockers and Locks
-Free Towels, Linens and Duvets
-Free Coffee and Tea, all day
-Free Breakfast
-Free Wireless Internet Connection
-Free Maps and Advice
-Free Luggage storage
-Free Satellite TV and films
-Free CD/DVD Burning Facilities


* 24 Hour Reception
* Free of Charge Internet Access accessible in Lobby
* Cable TV
* DVD`s
* Common Room
* Linen Included
* Security Lockers
* Reading Light
* Free Breakfast
* Washing Machine/Dryer
* Towels Hire
* Bar
* Tours Desk
* Luggage Storage

1. Traveller’s House, Lisbon, Portugal

Also located in the Baixa district, the world's best hostel is sure to make you think twice about the meaning of hostel. The 250 year old building isn't just a place to stay, but a wonderful part of history, but you won't be stuck in the past. The Traveller's House has every modern convenience that you could wish for and many things you may not even thought of. This chic and vibrant hostel has won the hearts of travelers the world over, many travelers return year after year, often just because they love spending time at the hostel and meeting new friends. Everything about the Traveler's House is first rate and there are so many additional free of charge extras that you'll wonder how they make money. The following is a list of free extras.

-Free Individual Lockers and Locks
-Free Towels, Linens and Duvets
-Free Coffee and Tea, all day
-Free Breakfast
-Free Wireless Internet Connection
-Free access to guide books from all around the world
-Book exchange
-Free Maps and Advice
-Free Luggage storage
-Free Satellite TV and films
-Free CD/DVD Burning Facilities


* 24 Hour Reception
* Free Internet Access
* Guest Kitchen
* Card Phones
* Cable TV
* DVD`s
* Common Room
* Library
* Linen Included
* Security Lockers
* Reading Light
* Key Card Access
* Free Breakfast
* Washing Machine/Dryer
* Towels Hire
* Hairdryer for Hire
* Bar
* Café
* Tours Desk
* Luggage Storage

All of the hostels mentioned are operated by friendly and outgoing staff that really care about the traveler. The hostel offers group outings, and activities, the staff are always happy to share their experiences and knowledge of Lisbon with you. You will meet like minded travelers to hang with or if you prefer, you can just stay in your room or lounge and veg. I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the Hostels of Lisbon and hope to see you there on your next Portugal Vacation.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Portugal Vacations

Portugal Facts

As many of you already know, Portugal is the home of Port Wine. But did you also know that some of the world's best table wines come from the Douro region as does world famous brandy Maciera and the popular sweet liquor Madeira or the potent Aguardente (fire Water), also come from Portugal? Portugal is a wine connoisseurs paradise and luckily for us, has not yet been conglomerated and assimilated. Portuguese wines are some of the most flavorful and unique wines in the world today.

This post though isn't about wines, but about Portugal as a whole. Cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Funchal as well as regions like the Azores the Algarve, Madeira and Minho are enchanting gems of Europe. Since many of Portugal's major cities were built off of the Atlantic ocean, beach resorts are a common theme in most Portuguese cities, making Portugal the ideal Travel experience.

Originally called Lusitania by the Romans, Portugal is Continental Europe's most westerly country with a covetous Spanish Empire laying siege on its Eastern front and a vast and untamed sea to the west. Due to the wars of long ago and the urge to discover new lands,most would assume that the Portuguese would have become a hardened a bitter group, but the exact opposite is true. For a people who have endured many years colonial wars in Africa, Sea battles with other envious seafaring nations, and continental wars with neighboring countries, including the heartache brought on by the iron fisted rule of Fascist regime of Salazar who ruled Portugal for most of the 20th century, and stagnated its social and economic diversity, the Portuguese are surprisingly the most freindly people you will ever meet.

But the Portuguese have turned much of the bitter tears of wars and isolation inward into a magical musical genre called Fado. It was in these during the fasciast rule where a century's old musical form called Fado took hold and flousrished in the country. Fado, with the help of a musical genius by the name of Amalia Rodrigues has become the national music of the Portuguese and is now being appreciated by people from America to Japan.

As legend has it, Fado has two distinct birth places and can be divided into Fado of Coimbra and Fado of Lisbon. The Lisbon Fados are world famous and tourists from the four corners of the globe swarm to the Fado coffee houses to enjoy the mournful songs of Fado. It is said that Fado began as songs sang by the Portuguese explorers and sailors like Vasco da Gama who in their yearning for home sang these tunes of sadness. When Portugal became the world's richest nation in the Middle Ages, a colonial empire that stretched from Brazil to Africa, India, China and Japan, Fado may have been born, strengthening its roots that makes it so unique today, but never really Fado until the 1800's. But it was Amalia Rodrigues who popularized it and added vocal inflections that was unheard of before her time creating the Fado that we know and love today.

When you think about your next Portugal vacations you will be truly blessed with a vacation that has no boundaries. Your Portugal Vacation may last a week, a month or many many years and each time you will find something new and rediscover something old. Places like Lisbon, Algarve, Sao Miguel, Funchal Madeira island or the Sun dried Algarve or the great cork plains of the Alentejo is all waiting to be discovered.

Whether you are looking for a Quinta to rent or Pousada hopping, or perhaps you are a looking for returning each year with a holiday timeshare, Portugal is a country that is full of surprises. It's no wonder that British make up the largest group of yearly visitors to Portugal, a country that has friendly ties for nearly a thousand years. British expats have been flocking to the shores of the Algarve, seeking year round warmth, culture and value.

If you are traveling to Lisbon, be sure to visit the grounds of Expo 88, with its stunning Lisbon oceanarium. Close by, don't miss out on the Carriage Museum which showcases one of the world's greatest collection of Carriages used by the Portuguese Aristocracy. Or Perhaps you are looking to take in culture and history. Lisbon's Gulbenkian museum is world renown and features artifacts spanning the long history of Portugal. For Art junkies, the new Berardo Museum is a must see for its vast collection of priceless art, including Andy Warhol, Picasso just to name a few.

Traveling to Portugal is always a please surprise and you will enjoy your Portugal vacations. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, there are just too many places to visit and things to see, it is truly a gem, and you will never regret your choice of having a Portugal Vacations.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Quinta Portugal Vacation

Portuguese Quintas

Last week we spoke about Santa Maria Island. Today we'll talk about Quintas.
Have you thought about renting a Quinta on your Portugal Vacation? Unlike Pousadas, which are important historical buildings that have been converted into hotels, with emphasis on historical preservation and in keeping with the region of the country, Quintas differ slightly.

A Quinta is rural estate or farm, whose main houses encompass architectural styles from the classic to the rustic. Although many of these are historical buildings, Quintas are often privately owned residences.

Quintas are great for the traveler who's looking for a more complete travel experience. Unlike Pousadas which are operated by a private company, Quintas are generally owned by private individuals, often by the same family for hundreds of years. Many of the Quintas available are located in Portugal's North Region, which is full history and charm. Being less touristic than the south, Northern Portugal is the place to go for those looking for History, Culture and Solace, it is a true Portuguese vacation experience.

Quintas are a great way to immerse yourself in the local Portuguese communities and experience Portugal up-close. The Quinta owners will both greet you upon arrival, as well as offer you insight into the countryside from ideal hiking to shopping, that you just cannot get from a commercial establishment. Quintas are generally close to many recreational activities including fishing, hunting, golf, swimming, rambling, tennis, horseback riding, cycling and wine tasting. Best of all, you will be surrounded by culture and history the likes that you have never seen before. A Quinta is the best way to fully experience Portuguese culture, intimately.

Unlike Pousadas, Since Quintas are private residences, there are a few procedures that you should be aware of.

Prices are in Euros. There are no extra fees for children under twelve. Breakfasts are included at no extra charge and dinners available at an extra cost. Short notice cancellations may require full payment.

You can find out more information at Solares de Portugal.

Below are some Quintas available to you.

Quinta da Agra Ponte de Lima
Quinta do Albergue do Bonjardim Sertã
Quinta da Aldeia Ponte de Lima
Quinta do Baganheiro Ponte de Lima
Quinta da Bela Vista Castelo de Vide
Quinta da Calçada Melgaço
Quinta da Casa do Paço Paredes Coura
Quinta do Casal Ponte de Lima
Quinta de Cima de Eiriz Guimarães
Quinta da Comenda S. Pedro Sul
Quinta do Convento da Franqueira Barcelos
Monte da Corte Ligeira Beja
Quinta de Cortinhas Arcos Valdevez
Casa Agrícola da Levada Vila Real
Quinta da Maragoça Penafiel
Quinta da Mata Chaves
Quinta do Paço d'Anha Viana do Castelo
Quinta de Parada do Vez Arcos Valdevez
Quinta da Prova Ponte da Barca
Quinta do Rei Ponte de Lima
Quinta da Roseira Ponte de Lima
Quinta de Santa Comba Barcelos
Quinta de Santo António Monção
Quinta de São Bento Vila Verde
Quinta de São Lourenço Anadia
Quinta do Sorilhal Vieira do Minho
Quinta do Sourinho Barcelos

Thank you for visiting Portugal Vacations and we wish you a happy travel on your next Quinta Vacation.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Portugal Vacations: Santa Maria Azores

Santa Maria Azores

Last week I told you about the Portuguese Island of Flores, a gorgeous island in the Azores Archipelago, and a must see on your next Portugal Vacation.

This week I will end off the exploratory journey through the Azores with Santa Maria. Strangely, Santa Maria, is probably the most famous of all the Islands of the Azores, because Christopher Columbus short stop-over during his return trip from maiden voyage to the Americas.

Discovered in 1427 by another Portuguese explorer, Diogo Silves, Santa Maria is the southernmost island in the Azores. It's closest neighbor is Sao Miguel, approximately 30 minutes by plane to the north. There are approximately 5500 residents on the island, who are connected to the other islands via a small island airport. The people on the island make their living, much like residents from the other islands, through fishing and agriculture. Unlike the islands from the northern and Central regions of the Azores which were settled by Northern Continental Portuguese, Santa Maria was inhabited by Portuguese people primarily from the Alentejo and Algarve in Southern Portugal. The older homes in Santa Maria tend to look like houses from Alentejo rather than from Northern Portugal.

The oldest island in the Azores, Santa Maria is also the third smallest, with only approximately 97 km² in area. It is possibly the most distinct from all other islands in the Azores archipelago due to large deposits of sediments that make it's beaches the lightest in color. Santa Maria has everything that anyone looking for a perfect beach experience without the stampede of tourists on your Portugal Vacation.

Santa Maria Azores, is the very best island to visit for those who enjoy wonderful beaches and sun. Santa Maria is the perfect place to visit on your next Portugal Vacation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Portugal Vacations: Flores Azores

Flores Azores

Last week on Portugal Vacations I told you a little about Corvo (Crow Island), the northernmost island in the Azoreas Archipelago. Today, I would like to tell you about Corvo's sister island Flores.

Flores is located on the north west, Flores is another Portuguese Island worth the travel and has a total land area of approximately 143 km², and like the rest of the Azorean islands is volcanic in origin. Many interesting rock formations can be seen on this picturesque island, such as the interesting threads created from petrified basalt. The highest point on the island is Morro Alto at about 3000 feet.

Flores was discovered in 1450 by Portuguese Explorer Diogo de Teive and remained uninhabited for about 20 years, primarily due to the fact that the Portuguese were discovering new Lands almost every year and there was just not enough time to administer each and every land mass. Like many of the other central islands, Flores was primarily established and inhabited by Northern Continental Portuguese. Today, there are approximately 4000 permanent residents on the island who reside in the municipalities of Santa Cruz or Lajes, who will be welcome you warmly on your Portuguese Vacation.

Flores is the Portuguese word for Flowers. It was named thus due to the large number of flowers, hydrangeas specifically, that grow wild and plentiful in the summer months. Many who visit Flores consider it the most beautiful of all the Azores islands, and its hard to argue. With its 7 Crater Lakes and many waterfalls, Flores is a daydreamer's paradise. Along with the large number of Lakes and waterfalls, Flores volcanic history has created the magnificent cavern called Enxareus Grotto, which is approximately 164 feet long and 82 feet wide.

Whether you're looking to day-dream your days away listening to the sounds of a nearby waterfall or sailing into the blue Atlantic Ocean, Flores is a recommended Island Getaway that will keep beckoning you back to simpler days and it makes a great Portugal Vacations.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Portugal Vacations: Corvo Azores

Corvo Azores

Last week on Portugal vacations I told you a little about the breathtaking island of Faial. This week I'll tell you a little about Corvo Island (Crow Island in English).

Often, people who travel to Portugal and the Azores specifically, usually forgo a trip to Corvo. Due to its relative isolation to the other Azores islands and its very small population, Corvo can often seem to be a very far away place to visit. But for those of you who are seious about travel, Corvo should not be missed. Don't let its small size fool you, this island is a great location for enjoying nature at its fullest.

Corvo is the smallest and northernmost Island in the Azores. Along with it's sister island Flores, it is part of the western Azores islands. Corvo is approximately 6.5 km long and 4 km wide, with a total land area of approximately 17 km2 As well as being the smallest island in land area, Corvo has also got the smallest population, with approximately 460 inhabitants who mostly reside in Vila Nova do Corvo.

Most of the residents of Corvo work in Agriculture and/or fishing. Due to its isolation, the people of Corvo have learned to do things for themselves and are very autonomous and self-sufficient, the extended family is very important.

The prominent feature of Corvo is the volcanic crater of Monte Grosso which has an approximate perimeter of 4 km and a depth of 300 m. Like many of the other Azores islands, these volcanic craters create a very unique and stunning vistas that are well worth the visit. The volcano is considered dormant.

Due to it's small size and relative isolation, Corvo does not have any hotels so day trip is probably the best option. There is a small campground and guesthouse on the island. You can get to Corvo by small airplane which services the islands a few days per week, or by boat from the island of Flores.

Corvo is indeed a walk off the beaten path, and can be very rewarding for those who take the time to appreciate this small island it is a great place to go on your Portugal Travels.

I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of Corvo. Please come back next week to learn more about the great places of Portugal On Portugal Vacations.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Portugal Vacations: Faial Azores

Faial Azores

On last weeks post of Portugal Vacations I told you about Graciosa, one of the beautiful islands of the Central Azorean Archipelago. In today's post I will tell you about Faial, another of the central Azorean islands.

Originally called Ilha da Ventura (Venture Island) Faial was renamed due to the large number of Myrica faya trees that exist on the island. Some still refer to Faial as the Ilha Azul (the "Blue Island"), due to the large quantity of Hydrangeas that grow there in the summer.

Faial is a Pentagonal shaped island with a land area of 173 km². It is very hilly, with 1,043 meters high peak and with a 2 km wide inner crater that is approximately 500 meters in depth. Faial's closest neighbor is the island of Pico which can be seen at any time of year. On clear days, the Island of Sao Jorge is also visible. Faial has had volcanic activity as recently as 1958 at which time a large portion of the population fled to the other Azores islands, Continental Portugal, Brazil or the United States.

Discovered in 1427, Faial was originally inhabited by Northern Continental Portuguese who migrated to it through the island of Terceira. As time passed, Flemish migrants also migrated to Faial and integrated with the local Portuguese population.

The most important city in Faial is Horta which is located on the southeast part of the island. Horta has always been an important stopover for Portuguese explorers and merchants during Portugal's long Maritime history. The Horta fort, which today is a Pousada, played a very important role in the defense of the Azores, which over the years has experienced raids and attacks by French, Spanish and the English.

Today, Faial has a population of approximately 15,000 people, many of whom work in Tourism, agriculture or fishing. Commercial whaling played a large role in the islands economy in the earlier part of the 20th century, but vanished completely after it was banned by the Portuguese state in the early 1980's.

The island is still considered an important stop-over for small commercial fleets and private yachts sailing from the Americas and Europe.

Faial is an excellent island for boaters who enjoy a day in the open ocean, or island hopping. It is also an excellent place for whale watching. For those of you who love hiking, then Faial is also a perfect location due to it's steep hills and marvelous vistas. Make Faial one of your stop-overs on your next Portugal Vacation.

Source of all images:

isabelmar: Flickr