Portugal is the nearest European country to North America. Travelers can fly from Boston to the Azores Islands, an autonomous region of Portugal, in just four hours. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is Europe’s westernmost mainland city. Lisbon was founded 2,500 years ago by Ulysses, yet lately has been recognized for its “cool” factor—with hip restaurants, hot nightspots, trendy boutiques, stylish hotels and booming high-tech industries.
Throughout Portugal are ancient cities and hilltop villages where today’s travelers can stay in Pousadas—a network of former monasteries, castles, fortresses and manor homes that have been turned into welcoming lodgings open to the public. Visitors can explore Roman ruins, palaces and castles, cork forests, olive groves, open fields and the sweeping peaks that mark the border with Spain.
Two popular resort towns, Estoril and Cascais on the Atlantic Coast, are popular tourist destinations. Portugal’s southernmost coast has an abundance of beaches and golf courses, and a year-round warm climate in which to take advantage of them.
In addition to its mainland, Portugal also has two archipelagos off its coast—the Azores Islands and Madeira. Madeira is made up of two main islands with warm, tropical climates. The Azores are nine remote islands that for centuries served as a stopping point for ships sailing the open seas. Each one of the islands has its own personality and culture.