Flanked by steep vineyard-clad hills and stone terraces the Douro River is one of the most beautiful waterways of Europe. Wine production is the main industry in this part of the country and vines cover the steep riverside land in tiers like a cascade. A visit to Porto, the capital of Portuguese wine production, would not be complete without tasting the legendary Port wine at its source.
Along the Atlantic coast are the cities from which the great 15th Century Portuguese navigators set sail for the Far East and the Americas - Lagos in the Algarve is where Henry the Navigator set up his school of navigation, Sines is the birthplace of Vasco da Gama who discovered the sea route round Africa to India, and the Gothic city of Santarém, the final resting place of Pedro Alvares Cabral who led the fleet that first sailed from Lisbon to Brazil.
Portugal is one of Europe's most beautiful countries all round from its long Atlantic coast to the spectacular landscape of the Douro Valley with hillsides dotted with villages, monasteries and romantic castles. The capital city, Lisbon, is built on hills along the River Tagus and is a delight to explore. The 16th Century Jeronimo's Monastery in the old town is spectacular while the Oceanarium is a state-of-the-art aquarium and sea-life center. Along the coast is Cascais, a former fishing village that was transformed into a wealthy town when the royal family adopted it as their summer resort and the nobility built their grand houses. Northwards from Lisbon lies Coimbra, a city of royal history.