Portugal is featured on many European cruise itineraries next year. It should be as it has retained its fabulous authentic Southern European charm. The ‘other’ country of the Iberian Peninsula has a few ports that ships can dock in and here we will take a look at two of the more well known ones – Leixoes and Lisbon.
Leixoes and its port is located near to and serves Porto (aka Oporto), the area most known for its port wines. The port contains two different terminals with the most commonly used dock being Avenida Dr. Antunes Guimaraes. However, when several ships are making calls on the same day, some are diverted to the alternative terminal, the Matosinhos Beach. Both terminals are relatively the same distance from the city centre of about 10 kilometres.
Getting Around from the Port
From the cruise port, you can easily make your way to Porto by taking local bus 76. Another option is a short walk from the port to the Sr. de Matosinhos Metro station and board for a 30-minute train ride to Porto. At the dock, there is a Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus that tours Porto. Taxis are readily available and pricing is favourable for the short trip.
Many passengers head directly to Porto but Leixoes is a major seaport that can easily be explored on foot.
What to See
Porto is a vibrant area that is well known around the globe for its high quality wine and many historical areas, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Riberia. This is well known for the old stone wall that supports the multi-storey housing, each floor with different coloured doors and differently designed windows. Another notable structure is the impressive Ponte de Dom Luis I, a two layered iron bridge straddling the river Douro.
Check out the beautiful Porto Cathedral. Constructed in 1737, this cathedral is flanked by two enormous square towers and is designed in an attractive Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque style. This is a perfect spot for photo opportunities. At the wineries, you can take guided tours and also taste the product at the end of the tour.
Back in Leixoes near the port area, stop in a local restaurant along the vast sandy beach and try local specialties of fresh grilled sardines. You will also be able to find some old fortifications there.
PORT OF LISBON
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and it is perhaps the most toured city of the whole country. There are five different docking areas in Lisbon, consisting of Santa Apolonia, Jusante, Jardim do Tabaco, Alcântara and da Rocha.
Getting Around from the Port
All of the major points of interest are located close to Lisbon’s Port. If the ship docks at Santa Apologia, getting to the city centre can be reached by foot if you like walking!. However, the quickest way is the Blue Line Metro.
If the ship docks at Alcântara and da Rocha, passengers will be 5 kilometres from the city. The best way to reach the city is via metro with many buses available too. Vending machines sell unlimited use one-day-passes.
What to See
Lisbon has a wealth of things to see whilst you are in port. The UNESCO Heritage Site Torre de Belem is well worth viewing. This fortified tower that serves as a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery is truly stunning. You can even enter the tower on a tour and take photos of the interior.
Portugal’s religious history can be seen in detail with the Jerónimos Monastery that dates back to 1501. It is one of the most famous monuments in the country and is another perfect place for photo opportunities.
Developed in 1910, one of the highlights in Lisbon located in Parque Eduardo VII is Estufia Fria Garden. Horticulturists will be impressed by its beautiful collection of tropical plants placed in the greenhouse areas.
Like other large cities, Lisbon has its share of museums. Art lovers will appreciate priceless works from the 14th to the 20th centuries at the National Art Museum.
The Aqueduct of the Free Waters highlights the complex water supply system that was used during the 18th century. The total length of this aqueduct is 36 miles (58km).
Containing a collection of more than 20,000 costumes from various centuries, The National Costume Museum will appease those who love fashion.
Less than 30 miles away, there is fairy tale Sintra with its incredible palace perched on top of a hill. It is a mystical place, with its winding cobbled streets and grand old houses from the stately days of old.
Nearly every major cruise line has either Leixoes or Lisbon on their Mediterranean itineraries for 2015 and 2016. Be sure to book a cruise that includes either port and discover the old world magic that still surrounds the region.
Written by Veronica Shine