Don’t miss these top UNESCO locations in Portugal on your Nomadic Journey
If you look beyond the sprawling beaches and gastronomic hotspots for which Portugal is famed for, you’ll find a country with a rich and diverse culture, boasting some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes and structures anywhere in Europe. If you’re planning your next trip to Portugal’s sunny shores, why not consider a day trip to one of its 17 UNESCO locations – which of these will make your list?
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte
Designated in 2019, this hillside sanctuary is one of the latest locations to be added to Portugal’s UNESCO catalogue. Whilst you have the option of scaling the site by foot or by tram, be warned, a trip to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus on foot is no walk in the park. Instead, it’s a trek up the 580-odd steps of its magnificent Baroque staircase, through rows of allegorical sculptures and fountains which line the historic stairway. Once at the top, the 116-metre incline will reward you with breathtaking vistas of the city of Braga and a close-up view of the Baroque-style church, which has inspired many other buildings the world over.
Royal Building of Mafra
If you’re looking for an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, look no further than the Royal Building of Mafra. Constructed in the 18th Century by order of King João V, the Palace sits just 30 km outside of Lisbon and was built to exhibit the wealth and influence Portugal held at the time. With 1,200 rooms, 156 stairways and 29 inner yards and courtyards, the Palace remains a clear, albeit outdated, reminder of the supremacy once held by the Portuguese Empire.
Alto Douro Wine Region
Believe it or not, landholders have been producing wine in the Alto Douro Region for 2,000 years and it remains one of the country’s most renowned wine-producing regions, famed for its port wine in particular. Whilst getting to Alto Douro may seem a daunting journey, some three-hour train ride from Porto being the most picturesque, once there, you will be greeted by 24,600 hectares of sprawling vineyards, sheltered from coastal winds by the Marão and Montemuro mountains. If combining beautiful landscapes with great tasting wine sounds like your ideal afternoon, then Alto Douro should be at the very top of your Portugal to-do list.
Laurisilva of Madeira
Being Portugal’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage site, Laurisilva of Madeira truly is a unique location. Covering around 20% of the Island of Madeira, this remarkable stretch of land remains the most extensive surviving expanse of laurel forest anywhere in the world, with a staggering 90% of the area believed to be made of primary forest. Whilst there are vast measures in place to protect the important biodiversity of Laurisilva, visitors are welcome to navigate the meandering paths that line the forest to explore the park in all its majesty.
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