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Thursday, January 15, 2009


Though overshadowed by its more popular neighbour to the east, Portugal remains one of Europe's unspoilt gems. This land of traditional villages and vibrant cities has a countryside strewn with historical treasures and a wide assortment of World Heritage sites - natural and cultural wonders that offer a window into this once great seafaring nation. Lively citiesPortugal's lively capital, Lisbon, and its northern sibling, Porto, are magical places for the wanderer, with picturesque neighbourhoods, broad plazas and old-fashioned trams still rattling through the streets. Both cities have their share of enticing urban life, with eclectic restaurants, colourful boutiques, bohemian cafes and stylish nightclubs that make good use of the waterside setting. Smaller towns offer their own enchantment, with well-preserved medieval quarters that invite exploring in towns like Évora, Coimbra, Guimarães and Braga .