When in Portugal what to see?
Well, I live in Lisbon most of the time but if I was a tourist in my country I would definitively start by taking a few days to get to know the westernmost European capital, Lisbon. The city is beautiful and places like the Baixa area (the city downtown area), the Jerónimos Monastery and the amazing Bullfight arena of Campo Pequeno are not to be missed. This last one is both a magnificent and unique building in terms os architecture where the Mourish influences are always present tough it has only been built around 1900 (and recovered a pair of years ago).
Near the Portuguese capital Lisbon, a day tour to villages like Cascais (near the beach) and Sintra (on the hillside) are also mandatory. These villages have many stories to tell and centuries of history associated to them. Both are home to some of the most beautiful palaces and castles Lisbon area has to offer. In Cascais make sure to take a walk on the sands of the Praia da Rainha (the beach of the Queen) and in Sintra, besides the obvious Pena Palace and Mourish castle, I would recommend an extra visit to the city park.
Still in the capital area of influence consider a visit to Santarém. The city is rather close to Lisbon (80 km away) and it offers several beautiful spots to visit. The old castle for instance comes with the most amazing view. From the top of the mountain where it stands it would be for sure an easy taks for D. Afonso Henrique's army (the first King of Portugal) to control all the plains surrounding the Tagus river. Santarém is the capital of the Ribatejo district and it's a city specially well preserved. Circling in the streets of the old city center will transport you far back in time.
Leaving the capital area a visit to the South of the country is a "must do" for all beach lovers. In the Alentejo coast you'll find several natural and rather unexplored beaches near places Vila Nova de Mil Fontes, Zambujeira do Mar (here avoid the Summer Festival unless of course you like loud music) and Odexeixe. A bit far to the South you'll reach the aera of Algarve, home to the most know beaches in Portugal. Here, you can expect to find next to the golden sandy beaches that extends for several kilometers a mixture between old Portuguese architecture and many recent apartment buildings. Near to the Spanish border, the small and characteristic city of Vila Real de Santo António is one of my personal favorites.
Ending this article, I estimate that a road trip like this would be apropried for a 2/3 week period - 4/5 days in Lisbon and the rest in the South. One last note for the Portuguese people (very nice people that enjoy to have visits) and for the amazing food you'll be tasting in this vacations! Well, I guess that's about it, hope I've inspired you to visit my country so - see you soon!
Author bio: Joao lives in Portugal and writes regularly about travels on his Vacation and Travel Photos site. In his spare time he enjoys activities like traveling, cycling and photography. He also takes part on the Open Galleries project where he shares some of his photos.