Portugal shines like distant pearl on a windswept beach. When those in colder climates decide to take a break following a cold winter there is no finer aha! moment than that which comes from putting a checkmark next to this country as a potential destination.
Plan a sparkling Portugal vacation by visiting the Country’s ocean-side region. In particular, two areas – Lisbon and Comporta – offer contrasting personalities. Explore the sites of Lisbon through children’s eyes, then take in a long day in the nearby rustic Comporta region.
Portugal’s largest city, Lisbon is a place to get your feet wet metaphorically before splashing in the surf the next day. First visit the city’s stunning aquarium, the Oceanário de Lisboa. Over 8,000 marine creatures swim, float, and splash throughout this beautiful space. As with the best aquariums in the world, sections provide immersive experiences, letting you stand within water doughnuts while marine creatures swimming about you.
Every child loves a fort. There is nothing like the Torre de Belém, a tower built in 1521 to guard Lisbon’s harbor. While the interior is rather sparse, you can climb the tower to get a view of the surroundings. If you are afraid of heights, take in the iconic exterior architecture where maritime carvings project from the limestone facades.
Finally, go underground to see an archaeological wonder: Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros is an Iron Age setting discovered in 1991. Reserve a tour, where you can see artifact collections before navigating the tunnels of a Roman sardine factory.
A time comes when you need to step away from the noise of the city and into a bucolic setting. A mere hour away from Lisbon lies the Comporta region, a clump of villages nestled among wildlife refuges, skirting along 40 miles of undeveloped seashore. You do not come here to experience noisy attractions; rather, you land for a laid-back venture exploring nature and pristine beaches. Ask locals if the quiet, unassuming ambiance is worth it, and invariably they will point you to a Comporta property for sale, because you may not want to leave.
Take a morning walk along the white beaches until the sun warms the air enough to swim. In the afternoon, amble through any of the villages among white stone buildings with thatched roofs, visit outdoor shops, and dine under umbrellas outside small restaurants; do eat fresh seafood for the best experience, though be aware salted cod – not from the region – is an area staple.
Each destination could compel you to extend your stay even longer. In any case, a true adventure awaits those who willingly make the short hop from the yin to the yang.