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Bonnie Sherman

San Diego, California Travel Agent

The Value of Portugal

Portugal is one of Europe’s great values today. It has all the history and beauty of more-visited nations but at a much lower price and with fewer crowds. I send a lot of multi-generational family groups there for its great resorts as well as its Tuscany-style villas and great wine-growing culture.

A nice thing about these Portuguese villas is that they allow you to be immersed in the destination in addition to giving extended families and friend groups a shared living area to gather and enjoy each others company. Many families do a combination of bringing in a chef for some meals and preparing others on their own. Often, I will arrange cooking classes as well as basic language classes. And we can bring in wine and cheese tastings, or you can go out and enjoy them at a local vineyard.

Villa life is not for everyone. Some groups, typically those with teenagers and college students or people looking for a lot of on-site activity, are happier in a resort setting or a city where there is the option of nightlife. For them, the Algarve has many options. There are beaches, lots of activities and plenty of clubs.

The Douro River winds through the heart of Portugal’s wine country, so it is not surprising that Portugal has become a popular river cruising destination. I can help match you with the right ship for your style of travel.

For a truly different experience, you might consider the Azores, an archipelago of nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, in addition to lovely white sand beaches, there are black sand beaches resulting from the islands’ volcanic origins. The main emphasis though is not on the beach; it is more of a natural paradise with untrammeled trails that lead to secluded waterfalls.

One of the most unusual of the islands is São Miguel, the biggest and most populated, where you can soak in natural hot springs and hike through towering forests. Pico, the second biggest island, has vineyards along the coast. You can also visit the volcano interpretation center at Faial, the island that had the most recent eruption (1957). And the waters between Pico and Faial are a top area for whale and dolphin watching.

Since the Azores is in the middle of the Atlantic north, different species of wildlife do their migrations passing by the islands and you have more chances to watch it. A second Atlantic archipelago, Madeira, is known for its wine, gastronomy, history, and culture. Embroidery is an art form here and its ancient forests and beautiful mountains draw hikers and nature lovers year-round.

If you are looking for a European destination that offers more value and fewer crowds, along with fascinating historic sites, top-tier food and wine, and wonderful villas, resorts, and recreational opportunities, let’s talk about Portugal.

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