LISBON REGION

LISBON REGION

UNDISCOVERED GEMS!

Lisbon, the oldest capital city in Western Europe and surely one of the most elegant. Built on more hills than Rome, perched on the northern banks of the Targus river and on the cusp of the Atlantic Ocean.

Narrow, cobbled, steeply sloped-streets emerge into elegant, wide, imposing boulevards. Charismatic, century old wooden trams trundle to and fro, up and down the seven hills across which Lisbon is draped. They offer the most romantic and least exhausting way of exploring this enchanting city. As you would expect from a nation’s capital, Lisbon offers an abundance of attractions and historical sites, not to mention a myriad of shops, bars and romantic restaurants. If your visit is of a whistle stop nature, be sure at least to experience the medieval, Moorish district of Alfama and the imposing castle of St. George with its majestic views over the city. Also highly recommended is the riverside area of Belem, where Lisbon celebrates maritime glory with the Tower of Belem and the impressive Monument to the Discoveries. It was from here that Vasco da Gama set sail to discover the great unknown!

The Lisbon region encompasses four different areas, Lisbon itself, the Lisbon Riviera which embraces sophisticated Estoril, the relatively unspoiled fishing village of Cascais and Sintra, site of royal palaces and much favoured by Lisbon’s socialites. An hour to the north of the capital brings you to the Silver Coast and the medieval city of Obidos, while to the south of Lisbon lies the Costa Azul (blue coast) which stretches from Costa Caparica to Setubal. 

CASCAIS/ESTORIL/SINTRA

THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE

Often referred to as the Lisbon Riviera, Cascais, Estoril and Sintra compliment each other perfectly to satisfy discerning golfers. 

Cascais, a former fishing village complete with a picturesque harbor has developed into a vibrant holiday resort without losing its charm and character. A plethora of seafood restaurants punctuate pedestrian precincts, which also boast a bevy of bars, not to mention a sensational selection of shops. Situated a short distance from mainland Europe’s westernmost point, Cabo da Roca, a drive along the magnificent coast road passes breathtaking beaches, coves and the must see “Boca da Inferno” (the Jaws of Hell) created by nature, illustrating to the extreme the powerful force of the oceans!

By contrast, cosmopolitan Estoril exudes an aristocratic atmosphere bristling with romance, glamour and charisma. Traditionally the weekend playground for Lisbon’s well heeled elite, you can imbibe the decadence and sophistication of a by gone era at the grandiose Hotel Palacio or Estoril Casino, Europe’s largest. Not that Estoril dwells in the past, boasting beautiful beaches and palm fringed esplanades, it is a lively resort with just a dash of cutting edge chic!

Completing the “Golden Triangle” is Sintra, where picture book palaces perch precariously on mountain tops. The chosen summer retreat for Portuguese royalty, there are no fewer than six palaces plus the Castle of the Moors, surely enough to sate the most avaricious culture vulture! Unsurprisingly deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sintra has long been a magnet for artists, writers and poets and was once described by non other than Lord Byron as a “Garden of Earthly Paradise”. Within touching distance of the coast and central to a multitude of golf courses, Sintra is the ideal base for a relaxing golfing holiday.

THE SILVER COAST/OBIDOS

IF YOU COULD TURN BACK TIME!

Once a lonely golfing outpost for those willing to undertake the pilgrimage one hour north of Lisbon to visit the golfing shrine that is Pria D’el Rey. Now a golfing destination in its own right with the opening of the Royal Obidos course plus the Bom Successo Resort. Add to these nearby Golden Eagle and the impressive Campo Real courses and you can now enjoy a weeks golf without the need to travel vast distances. Indeed, apart from arrival and departure there is no need to visit Lisbon unless it is see the sights.

However, if its sights you want to see, the Silver Coast has one or two up its sleeve, from stunning beaches which are pounded by the Atlantic breakers, quaint villages largely untouched by time, to endless acres of verdant vineyards as the Silver Coast is one of Portugal’s prodigious producers of wine.

Rising up from the surrounding countryside, clinging to the hillside is the magnificent medieval fortress town of Obidos, still encircled by its protective ancient walls. As you pass through the town gates it is akin to stepping back in time. Whitewashed houses huddle under terracotta roofs linked by a labyrinth of winding, confined cobbled streets and intriguing alleys giving a glimpse of times gone by . Slowly saunter soaking up the ambience and antiquity stopping occasionally in a shady square to slake your thirst at a traditional tavern. 

At its highest point stands the majestic castle, now converted into a palatial Pousada (a hotel sited in an historic building).

 Obidos is the perfect place to stay particularly if you wish to combine golf and the cultural experience of proper Portugal. Central to all of the areas golf courses, a multitude of charming bars and exceptional and extremely good value- restaurants wait to be discovered.

IF YOU COULD TURN BACK TIME…OBIDOS…YOU CAN!!

COSTA AZUL

Stretching from the southern banks of the Targus river to the northern banks of the River Sado at Setubal, the Costa Azul is a picturesque peninsula known locally as the Setubal Peninsula. Its magnificent and dramatic coastline begins in the north of the region with the 18 miles of marvelous beaches of the Costa Da Caparica, much favoured by serious surfers (of the wave kind) before transforming into a coast of colossal cliffs and charming coves, circumnavitgating Cabo Espichel, complete with lighthouse and cliff-top convent.

On the southern coast of the Costa Azul lies the charismatic fishing port of Sesimbra. Festooned with fantastic fish restaurants, top quality hotels and a sublime beach, it is the perfect base for exploring the peninsula and its five golf courses, eight if you include the courses further inland at Santo Estevao and Ribagolfe.

Continuing along the coast, sitting at the mouth of the River Sado is Setubal, Portugal’s third largest seaport and one of its major cities, rich in history and culture. A short ferry cruise across the estuary delivers you to the paradise peninsula of Troia, home to miles upon miles of white sandy beach and one of the best golf courses in the world!

Once considered as very much the alternative golf destination to the Algarve, the Lisbon area has rapidly developed into a serious rival and indeed more than matches in terms of quality golf courses and hotels its illustrious neighbour in the south. The options are limitless, you may choose to stay in a central location and visit courses from the entire region or you could opt for one of the four sub-destinations and just explore the courses that are local, in which case you can look forward to golfing holidays galore  without exhausting the endless possibilities and surprises.

Lisbon, an area from where great explorers discovered much of the world and yet is home to so many ……

UNDISCOVERED GEMS!