5 things you can still enjoy in Portugal in 2020
Nobody needs a reminder of social and travel limitations. That’s why I wanted to share 5 things you CAN still enjoy in Portugal in 2020.
All the outdoor museums, palaces, monuments, and archaeological sites are open! This is wonderful news for history and culture fans. Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, with the same borders since 1249. Many and diverse peoples have inhabited the Portuguese territory, weaving a complex genetic and cultural tapestry that lives on through our cultural heritage.
If you visit the Algarve region, don’t miss the “Fortaleza de Sagres”, a massive fortress “fused” into 60-meter limestone cliffs. This fortress was pivotal at the start of the Portuguese naval effort that ended up leading the nation into the Age of Discovery. Henry the Navigator was the brains behind this start-up. He established the foundations that allowed our small nation to extend its trading operations to all the globe. Let’s not focus too much on the fact that his first way of income was slavery…
Grim history aside, here, you’ll enjoy breath-taking ocean views, architecture and archaeology. We provide two trips here, so check our Sagres Bike tour or our Wild Southwest Algarve tour if cycling is not your thing.
Cycling and nature walks
You can enjoy most outdoor sports or leisure activities with some rules. As long as you respect a 2-meter distance between people side by side, or a 4-meter distance if they are moving in a single file.
An abundance of side roads in natural areas, and updated laws designed to protect cyclists, makes Portugal a tempting place for a cycling holiday.
There are a myriad of options and government-funded websites where you can plan your trips with every detail thought out. If you are visiting the Algarve, I would recommend checking the “Via Algarviana”* and the “Rota Vicentina”* websites. The former has all the details if you wish to cross the Algarve region from East to West. On the latter you can check the ocean route that connects the Algarve to the Alentejo region on the West coast, while enjoying the Vicentine Coast Natural Park.
And if you prefer lazy rides and would love to have a guided experience, don’t hesitate in checking our bike tours. 😉
*These routes are available and meant for hikers too.
Despite Rock Climbing’s worldwide popularity, it is still undeveloped in Portugal. And that’s a good thing!
Most of the bolting efforts are recent and done by local associations, small professional companies (like us), and passionate climbers. The well logged efforts allowed collecting accurate data on equipment wear in different environmental conditions. This means safe bolting procedures and proper equipment monitoring.
In the Algarve, we have two main climbing areas: Rocha da Pena and Sagres. The first one is the original established regional climbing site. A fantastic tabletop mountain in the interior of central Algarve.
Sagres is quite a unique area, since most of its routes require an abseil access. There are mostly intermediate to advanced routes, spread over several sectors along the coast. Most require good anchor and self-rescue knowledge.
We have little of a climbing culture in Portugal. That means a lot of deserted climbing sectors in both areas. With the recent global situation, these sites will be even more secluded than usual.
Restaurants are now opening following a strict hygiene program and operating at 1/3 of its capacity to keep everyone safe.
Food is the cornerstone of our culture. Familly meals last at least 3 hours and provide an amazing insight into the Portuguese way of life. This allows for the exchange of ideas that normally turn into passionate discussions.
As I mentioned previously, Portugal had a big diversity of settling cultures throughout its history. The result was a great variety of choices in our gastronomy and a love for fresh local produce, as well for spices from far, far away. With so many dishes, I feel I could start a whole blog about it.
If you are visiting the coastline of the south of Portugal, I would advise to try some of the best regional dishes. Some of these are Cataplana, clams at “Bulhão Pato” style, fried moray eel, goose barnacles, octopus salad, or fresh grilled fish. Someone told me once that if you have access to fresh fish, coal and salt are the only condiments you need. 🙂
If you roam towards the interior of the region, try wild boar, Iberian black pork, Tiborna, Monchique style cabbage, among many others.
Yes! The beaches reopened on the 19th of May! We can lie in the sun, swim, and enjoy those ultraviolet rays again (apart from cancer, apparently they are good to kill the virus…). You must respect a 3-meter distance between parasols and beach awnings, and a 1,5 meter spacing between groups (that didn’t arrive together). Also, you can’t do sports with over one person (it will be hard work to play rackets by yourself…).
Officially, the beach season opens on the 6th of June. From that day, there will be police and life-guards on surveillance. Besides, the beaches will have one-way pathways and a limit of users established according to their capacity. Finally, the beach access will be divided between morning and afternoon shifts, so that all folks have equal rights to the summer fun.
One thing’s for sure. It’s not the beach life we know, but it’s a start. I mean… it beats staying home locked watching Netflix…