Explore Virtually Along the Iberian Peninsula
Portugal is the kind of destination that calls to travelers to participate, rather than simply observe. The art here is not reserved only for staid gallery walls, it overflows into the streets, adorning town squares and archways and alleys. The tables are not just filled with tasty cuisine, but cuisine that has been woven into the very fabric and tradition of the towns for centuries. Music is not only for listening pleasure, but meant to be danced to and interpreted during one of the many festivals that come to life throughout the country. Portugal is a place you feel and experience, its beauty diverse and widespread from the picturesque southern coast of the Algarve to the culture-rich and cobbled cosmopolitan center of Lisbon.
As the oldest country in Europe (established in 1139) with a pivotal position at Europe’s westernmost point on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal has seen it all. And travelers here can see the vestiges of the influences from the country’s past, from Celts and Romans to Moors and Christian Crusaders; sleepy fishing villages to formidable coastal castles and sweeping natural landscapes.
Crystal guests can explore many sides of this captivating country, with seven destinations throughout Portugal featured on upcoming luxury voyages. Each boasts its own charm and tales to tell. We recommend planning your journey to explore properly, but can’t resist a virtual taste of Portugal this Wanderlust Wednesday.
Said to be 400 years older than Rome, Lisbon is the world’s last colonial empire, turned bustling cosmopolitan city. Lisbon has dozens of Moorish castles, pastel buildings, and white sand beaches to explore, with highlights particularly appealing to art and literary enthusiasts. Galleries, museums and even cafes showcase the diverse and international creative influences in the city, from modern and contemporary design to ancient Byzantine, Greek and other civilizations’ treasures. Bookworms should plan to visit the world’s oldest bookstore – Bertrand’s Bookstore in the Chiado District, established in 1732.
Funchal – Crystal Endeavor, 2021
The sub-tropical island of Madeira was the favored retreat of Sir Winston Churchill – a blissful island wonderland of rugged mountains, colorful flowers and ornate architecture. The town – especially the fishing quarter of Zona Velha – is a hub of bustling shops filled with local intricate embroidery, vibrant tapestries and detailed wickerwork; numerous cafes perfect for taking in the city scene; and some of the best museums and galleries on the island of Madeira.
Oporto (affectionately known as Porto) lies blissfully along the Douro River – the perfect setting for sipping the city’s signature port wine and taking in the sunset views. Here, you’ll find the best of Portugal: warm sunshine, a relaxed riverside setting, grand churches, winding medieval streets, and courtyards filled with geraniums. Travelers here will easily reach their daily step count goals, as the city is hilly and meandering, with many buildings set into cliff faces and stairs built into several steep grades. The rewarding perspectives on this storied city, whose historic center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ilha de Porto Santo, Madeira – Crystal Endeavor, 2021
Earning its nickname with the sprawling golden beaches that ring the island, contrasted by deep blue sea that welcomes snorkelers and divers nearly year-round, Porto Santo has been a haven for those seeking respite since Christopher Columbus. Today, beyond the abundant outdoor pursuits exploring the island’s beauty and warm waters, travelers can also visit Columbus’ home in the capital city of Vila Baleira.
The sea is the heartbeat of life in Portimão, in the western part of the stunning Algarve region. The old docks have been transformed with promenades and pretty plazas, while the old town is dominated by the architecture of the late 19th and 20th centuries: houses boasting wrought-iron balconies, ornate stonework around the windows and doors, balustrades of stone and tile-covered ceramics and walls. Everywhere you explore, you’ll find nods to the town’s fishing heritage and hints of the natural beauty of Algarve. Portimão is also known for its extraordinary Portuguese cuisine, centered around the bounty of the sea and served in eateries both casual and elegant.
Cascais – Crystal Endeavor 2022
Tranquil fishing village turned Portuguese Riviera harbor is a beacon to sun-seekers and holiday revelers. Like Portugal overall, Cascais wears its history proudly, accessorizing with delights of the present. Here, you’ll find posh resorts sharing coastal space with sites like Estoril’s Monserrate Palace and the ruins of Moors Castle. The hills of Serra Sintra offer a rugged retreat from the hubbub of town, and sparkling golden bays and shorelines are ideal for surfing, kitesurfing, sunning and swimming. Venturing from the shoreline, designer boutiques, stylish museums and galleries and fresh seafood restaurants line the lanes of the old town.
Viana do Castelo – Crystal Endeavor 2022
Exploring this gem along the Costa Verde is a bit like peeling back the layers of a cultural onion. At its heart is a medieval past – a hub of Rococo palaces, ancient neighborhoods and narrow, 19th-century avenues and the Santa Luzia Sanctuary. The next layer is a lovely riverfront near where the Lima River meets the Atlantic, while the city is outlined by pristine beaches for idyllic afternoons in the sunshine and renowned waves for kitesurfers, windsurfers and virtually all other kinds of surfers.
Crystal invites travelers to book now and plan your journey to Portugal with added peace of mind and flexibility as we look ahead to sailing together again.