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 fetuses.
Lisbon (Lisboa), the country's capital, stands breezily on the banks of the Rio Tejo. The city's low skyline, unpretentious atmosphere and pleasant blend of architectural styles conspire to make it a favourite with many visitors. Orientation is fairly straightforward - apart from the puff required to negotiate the hills - with most of the daily activity centred in the lower part of the city.A clear choice for Lisbon's finest attraction is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Construction began about 1502 and was completed towards the end of the century. It survived a great earthquake in 1755, and is today the principal remnant of Manueline architecture found in the city. Nearby is the Torre de Belém, a Manueline-style tower which stands in the Rio Tejo, and is probably the most photographed monument in Portugal.Lisbon has a number of attractive museums, including the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which contains superb displays of decorative tiles; the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, which houses the national collection of works by Portuguese painters; and the immense Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, considered the finest museum in Portugal, with exhibits of paintings, sculptures, carpets, coins and ceramics from around the world.Other places of interest are the districts of Baixa and Alfama. Here you'll find some of the city's oldest and most rewarding sights: anarchic cobbled streets, squares and alleys; markets and craftspeople; and colourful buildings and brooding castles.Lisbon has a wide range of budget accommodation and cheap eateries, mostly found in the central parts of the city. Lisbon's nightlife is boisterous, and includes drinking in bars, raving at discos, bopping to jazz and African rhythms or puzzling over fado. Local soccer matches and bullfights are the biggest daylit thrills.
The town of Sintra lies immediately north-west of Lisbon and 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 and ramshackle glamour. Dominating the town are a number of palaces and ruins, including the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, an interesting amalgam of Manueline and Gothic architecture, and the Palácio Nacional da Pena. Just outside the town are the rambling Monserrate Gardens, while further out is the Convento dos Capuchos, a tiny 16th-century hermitage enclosed in forest, with cells hewn from rock and lined with cork.
The walled town of Évora is one of the architectural gems of Portugal. Situated in Alto Alentejo in a landscape of olive groves, vineyards, wheat fields and brilliant spring flowers, it's a charming town with one-way backstreets so narrow that car wing mirrors have the potential to be lethal.The focal point is the Praça do Giraldo, and its attractions include the Sé (cathedral), which has a museum of ecclesiastical treasures; the picturesque Templo Romano; and the Igreja de São Francisco, which contains a ghoulish ossuary chapel constructed with the bones and skulls of several thousand people.
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