At first glance, Estoril looked unremarkable in comparison to other European coastal towns; lovely yes, but with no distinctive features to entice travelers into choosing it over its more glamourous counterparts in Italy, Spain and France. I soon discovered, however, that there is one true commodity that makes a destination stand out, the one ingredient that makes a holiday memorable years after your visit: its people.
Lush, fertile Madeira enjoys a diverse climate that lends itself to a variety of agriculture, from the growing of exotic blooms to banana plantations. Wine tasting on Madeira is a popular pastime with visitors as the island is also known for its fortified wine.
The Algarve stretches 155 km (97 miles) along the south coast of Portugal from Ayamonte in the east to Sagres in the west, and while there’s more than enough to keep families happy exploring the necklace of beaches and whitewashed towns of the region, visiting Seville from the Algarve makes for a great day trip into Spain to discover one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
There are 14 main wine regions in Portugal, with a rough split between the north and south about a third of the way down the country. The northern regions consist of the Douro, Dão, Minho and Bairrada, and the central and southern regions of the Alentejo, Ribatejo and Estremadura. The wines of Northern Portugal are varied in style, color, strength and taste.
Porto is known the world over as the home of fortified port wine but has several other epicurean delights, including the delicious and slightly sparkly Vino Verde from Amarente. You’ll certainly never be short of something to eat and drink in Porto.
With its origins dating back to Roman times, the drowsy little town of Amarante is wonderfully situated in the Sousa Valley, clamped between the bluff hills of Serra do Marão and the meanders of the Tâmega River, which is a tributary of the Douro. Spending the day in Amarante allows exploration of all the town’s charms and time to taste a glass or two of northern Portugal’s famous young wine, Vinho Verde.