Posted on Fri, April 13, 2012 at 10:03AM
From the Travel Editor: When you head to Portugal this summer on our five-night hotel-and-flights package, we have no doubt you’ll be spending lots of time exploring the lively port city of Lisbon. You might even dedicate a day to making the three-and-a-half hour trip up to Porto, the ancient home of the port wine industry. It’d be a shame to go all that way, though, and not venture out of the major cities. The countryside is where you’ll experience the real rustic charm of Portuguese culture: from the baroque churches to the tapas-like petiscos. Which is why we’d recommend dedicating a good chunk of your trip to exploring Portugal’s less urban side. Here, our top picks for a quick day trip — all of which happen to be conveniently located to the Penha Longa Hotel. Sintra (less than 15 minutes away) Considering how close it is to your hotel, you’d be seriously remiss if you skipped out on visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its winding cobblestone streets, 8th- to 11th-century Moorish architecture, and Renaissance-era palaces and churches Évora (1 hour 45 minutes away) A day trip to this one-time capital is sure to leave you wishing you had longer to explore its unique patchwork of architectural styles. Find the remains of a Roman temple next to a medieval cathedral across the street from a 17th-century palace with arched Moorish windows, and you’ll just be getting started. When you need a break, relax with locals at the cafes in the main square. Óbidos (1 hour away) This well-preserved 13th-century village perched above rolling vineyards has a history of romance that extends beyond its charm and beautiful location; for 600 years, each Portuguese king gifted the town to his queen as a symbol of his love. Tomar (1 hour 45 minutes away) The Portuguese capital of the Knights Templar (medieval crusaders if you’re not up on your history), this pleasant riverside town boasts more than its fair share of historic churches and checkerboard squares. Most impressive, though, is how much of medieval Portugal has been preserved here. Get your adventure started by grabbing our Portugal offer, with dates available all summer long. The hard part, now, is deciding which of these day-trip-worthy towns you’re going to visit.