Six things to do in picturesque Portugal
1. Hire a car
Starting in Madrid with a trusty sat nav as guide, we motored up through Salamanca in western Spain and into Portugal's north-west, through its spectacular rocky mountain ranges and gorges.
Many of the homes in this northern region are beautifully crafted from stone. The cultivated fields are full of grapevines and olive, chestnut and cork trees. From here it's a cruise down to Braga and onto the Atlantic coast. (Hire: Audi A3 cost $520 for two weeks.)
Porto's historic centre is perfect for strolling and admiring the many architectural beauties. If you're feeling fit, climb the stairs of the 17th-century belltower at Clerigos church and enjoy the spectacular views of the city and Douro River.
Wander down to the Douro for lunch or cross it and take a tour at Taylor's vineyard and sample its delicious fortified wines.
The Portuguese Centre of Photography in Porto is a stately former prison and now home to a world-class collection, including curious espionage cameras discreetly hidden in cigarette cases and cola cans.
Porta 4 tapas bar in Porto offers a cosy, authentic dining experience with local produce and wines. The octopus and celeriac mash was wonderful.
Swim at Nazare and indulge in coffee and custard tarts at one of the beachside cafes.
If you're there between October and March you may encounter whopping 30-metre waves at Praia do Norte - they attract the world's elite surfing community.
On Sintra's horizon is the imposing 8th-century military fort Castle of the Moors. Walk up the hill to the castle past stately homes and gardens and take in the panoramic views.
No wonder Lord Byron loved Sintra, resided here for a bit and wrote prose. Divine.
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