Located on the northern Atlantic coast of Portugal, within easy reach of Porto and tucked into the untamed Douro Valley, Lamego is a town of medieval churches, winding streets and gracious shady avenues, steeped in history and with a quietly laidback atmosphere. Spending the day in Lamego also reveals one of Portugal’s most sacred pilgrim churches.
The volcanic, craggy but fertile island of Madeira sits off the coast of Portugal in the wild Atlantic Ocean; its crenellated coastline crafted from millennia of waves pounding against its southern cliffs. Visiting Cabo Girao is a half-hour scenic road trip from the pretty capital town of Funchal.
Newly elected one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa lies east of Olhão in the Algarve, a 60-km (37-mile) straggle of sand dunes, salt pans – some dating back to Roman times – and marshland rich in birdlife and rare fauna. A day in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa can make a tranquil break from the busy beaches and golf courses of the Algarve.
Better known for its eco-tourism than its museums, Madeira nevertheless has plenty of options to entertain visitors. The top five museums on Madeira showcase island life, but there is also a charming museum of sacred art that is well worth a visit.
Madeira lies in the Atlantic Ocean, far enough south to be an all-year-around destination for European sun lovers. Visiting Madeira in winter means an island without hordes of summer tourists and a pleasant temperature usually backed by hours of sun each day.