Pulsating Portugal

Matosinhos Beach

Matosinhos Beach - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating Portugal Matosinhos Beach sits to the North of Porto and is made up of a long strip of golden sand that is flanked by a promenade.

Locals flock here, especially in the summer months and you will find lifeguards on duty. This means that there’s a good choice for families with young children who can bathe here with peace of mind.

Beach activities include soccer and volleyball and you will also find lots of opportunities for water sports.

Watch out for the waves you can even go surfing here when it’s good.

Lisbon Oceanarium

Lisbon Oceanarium - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalLisbon Oceanarium is one of the best places to come in the city if you are travelling with children.

The project is dedicated to educating the public on marine conservation.

You will find four separate ecosystems that are divided geographically to represent the Antarctic, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Just some of the species you will find here include sharks, rays, sea otters, and penguins.

Silves Castle

Castelo de Silves - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalLocated in Xelb, Silves Castle used to be the capital of the Moorish Algarve.

The castle would have stood here to protect the region from intruders although it was later captured by Crusaders.

The architecture here is notable as the building is made from red sandstone.

Don’t miss the Medieval festival that is held here every August.

Evora

Roman Temple At Evora - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalSet in the province of Alentejo is Evora known for its Roman history after the Romans settled here in 57 BC.

As a result, you will find the ruins of a Roman temple here. It’s thought to have been built between the second and third centuries.

After the invasion of Evora by the Romans, it was recaptured by Christian armies, which explains the presence of the Se. A cathedral consecrated in 1204 and built in the Romanesque, baroque, and gothic styles.

Sao Jorge Castle

Sao Jorge Castle - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalSitting on a hill in Lisbon is the Castelo de Sao Jorge. The castle dominates the city skyline and looks over the Baixa district.

The castle has been renovated several times since the 12th century when first built under King Afonso Henriques.

Much of the castle is now open to the public and you can wander along the ancient ramparts as well as take in the ornate tower.

Standing on the ramparts you will get some of the best views of Lisbon that stretch all the way down to the water.

Furnas Lake

Lake Furnas - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalOne of the top spots in Azores is Furnas Lake which is a crater lake known for its blue waters tinged with green. Roam around and find the mud volcanoes and hot springs.

If you like brooding volcanic landscapes, then this is not to be missed.

In addition, you can go hiking past the calderas or take to the waters and go canoeing. This allows you to get up close to the amazing multi-hued waters.

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Jeronimos Monastery - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalLocated in Lisbon, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is one of one of the most important buildings in all of Portugal.

The church and the adjoining monastery are built in the Manueline style. Much of the interior is ornately decorated, particularly the section known as the South Portal.

There are also monuments here such as the tomb of Vasco de Gama and the famous Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes.

Museum Calouste Gulbenkian

Museum Calouste Gulbenkian - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalOne of the most famous museums in Lisbon is the Museum Calouste Gulbenkian.

The museum has 6,000 artefacts that used to belong to Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian. Gulbenkian was an Armenian national living in Portugal who donated his art collection to the museum before he died.

As a result, you can expect to find an incredible collection that will take you back 4,000 years. All kinds of pieces such as Oriental, Classical and European art are on display for your pleasure.

Some notable pieces include Roman medallions, paintings by Rembrandt and Turner and furniture that would have belonged to Louis XV and XVI.

Bom Jesus do Monte

Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalBom Jesus do Monte is said to be the grandest of all the religious buildings in Portugal and sits on a slope amidst lush woodlands.

It is six kms outside of Braga and is still a spot of pilgrimage for devotees across the country.

It is made up of a grand stairway and the church of Bom Jesus and you will find a range of smaller chapels here. Also, to be found are fountains and intricate carved scenes from the Bible.

Pilgrims here climb the long staircase made of granite and takes you past the 14 Stations of the Cross.

Palacio Nacional de Sintra

Palacio Nacional de Sintra - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalThe National Palace of Sintra sits on its scenic central square. You will know it as soon as you see it thanks to the massive round chimneys that sprout from the top.

The palace dates from the 14th century and has the claim to fame of being the oldest palace that still stands in Portugal.

It spans several ornately decorated floors, each of which have a different theme. One of the signature features is the Sala dos Brasoes which is the main hall topped with a sparkly dome.

Also make sure you check out the 72 coats of arms on display here if you enjoy your heraldry.

Torre de Belem

Torre de Belém - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalLocated in the Belem district in Lisbon is this iconic tower which was built in 1521.

The aim of the fortification was to guard against an invasion via the River Tagus. The building is considered a master class in how to build a successful fortress.

The tower is designed in the Manueline style and is covered with a picturesque facade.

Make sure not to miss the maritime touches carved into the stone such as ropes and an armillary sphere.

It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site which tells you everything you need to know about its beauty.

Ribeira District

Ribeira District - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalIf you visit Porto then make sure to come to the old quarter of the city which is also known as the Ribeira District.

The area looks out over the scenic River Douro and it is known for its dining and nightlife scene.

The main road of the Ribeira District is called Cais da Ribeira and you will find bars, restaurants, cafes, and pretty monuments like fountains.

If you want to party into the small hours, then this is the place to do it. If you happen to be here for the Festival of St. John on June 23 even better.

This is a large celebration that involves revellers hitting each other on the head using toy hammers made of plastic.

Algarve Beaches

Algarve Beaches - Irish Rugby Tours, Pulsating PortugalDo you know that some of the world’s best and most beautiful beaches are to be found in the Algarve?

There are so many lovely interesting sandy beaches in the Algarve that you will find amongst them a good selection.

Along its 200-kilometre coastline, these beaches vary from the small sheltered coves to broad endless stretches of sea washed sand. The entire coast enjoys a Mediterranean-style microclimate temperatures that vary from 15º C in winter through to 30º C in summer.

Hardly surprising then that the region is a favourite for sun-seekers coming from the most diverse locations.

Impressionable Tantalising Ancient Lovable Young Italy

The Vatican City

Vatican City - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To RomeThe Vatican City is actually its own state within Italy and is the smallest in the world.

When you’re here then you should definitely consider one of the most important religious spots in the world. Located inside its square are powerhouses such as the Piazza San Pietro and St Peter’s Basilica.

You can also take in the majesty of the Vatican Palace. Also recommended is the Sistine Chapel which features the Creation of Adam.

The Colosseum

Colosseum - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyYou can’t come to Rome and not visit one of the most famous attractions in the world, the mighty Coliseum.

The ruins of what was once a magnificent amphitheatre are one of the greatest historical relics of our time and once it would have had a capacity of over 50,000 spectators.

The amphitheatre is most well known for the gladiator matches. Spectators would spend the day baying for blood and didn’t care who’s it was.

Rome’s Ancient Forum

Rome's Forum - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To RomeJust a stone’s throw from the Colosseum lies the fantastic ruins of Rome’s ancient Forum.

The Roman Forum is another one of Italy’s big hitter attractions and lies between the Capitoline and the Palatine hills in Rome.

This would once have been the centre of the mighty Roman Empire. You can take in the beautiful complex here as well as enjoy views from the terraces all over the wider city.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyCinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as being designated as a national park.

Nestled in Liguria, the ‘Five Lands’ is made up of five distinct villages. These villages sit on top of the craggy cliffs overlooking the famous Italian Riviera.

The five villages include Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and Monterosso, and each has its own unique charms and sights.

The area of Cinque Terra sprawls between La Spezia and Levanto.

Here you will find romantic olive groves and traditional eateries. There are Azure sea views all the way along the coast.

Boat Trip Along The Almalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyThe gorgeous Amalfi Coast is one of the most scenic spots in Italy. If you want to experience as much of it as possible then consider taking a boat trip along the shore line.

A number of companies offer boat rental and you can take in sights such as the towering Lattari Mountains. Plus, you can take in all the various cute coves and inlets as well.

Seemingly out of nowhere traditional Mediterranean villages will appear. Boat tours usually come with food and drinks included so that you can snack on local produce as you take in the views.

Valley Of The Temples

Valley Of the Temples - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyIf you are going to visit charming Sicily as part of your travels, your first stop needs to be the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.

Here you will find a huge archaeological complex that has some of the most intact Doric temples that were built here in the 5th century.

One of the best things about the temples here is that they overlook the town below and you can take in the stunning views as you tour the historical site.

Climb Stromboli

Stromboli - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyOn a visit to Sicily you absolutely can’t miss the chance to climb at least part way up Stromboli, a still active volcano. If you are looking for an easy trek, you can walk 400 meters up the sides of Stromboli by yourself.

Wishing to continue on to the crater which still billows clouds of ash and fire, you will need a certified guide to take you.

To get to the top takes around 3 hours with the descent coming in at around 2 hours, so all in all you need to allow a five to six hour trek in order to see everything.

A slog to the top but it is well worth it for the spectacular views. In addition to saying, I have stood at the top of a live volcano, tick bucket list.

Juliet’s Balcony

Juliet's Balcony - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyVerona is home to what is said to be the balcony of Juliet, the character made famous in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the city of Verona bought the home featuring the balcony in 1905.  The purpose of doing this was to make it into an attraction sadly Romeo and Juliet never existed in real life.

Still, the balcony is a pretty spot in the city and couples flock here to declare their love for each other.

If you want to reenact the famous scene, line your lines and away you go.

Pompeii

Pompeii Temple of Apollo - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyPompeii is famous for the events that took place here in 79 AD, when Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the town in ash.

The eruption meant that Roman life was captured and frozen in time, and when the site was excavated it offered a glimpse of a bygone era.

If you visit Pompeii today you can expect a kind of open air museum. Here you will find preserved houses, baths, and ancient Roman forums. They are all filled with the relics of the people who were living here when the eruption took place.

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyMount Vesuvius is one of the most famous mountains in the world. Trueof its famous eruption that covered the unsuspecting town of Pompeii in volcanic ash.

Nowadays Vesuvius is mostly considered safe to climb. You can trek to the crater of the mountain which looks like something you would find on the surface of the moon.

Needless to say, the views from the top are just spectacular. The hike is suitable for a range of abilities so you will be well looked after.

Lake Como

Lake Como - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To MilanLake Como in Lombardy spans an amazing 146 square kilometres and is the perfect place to get out on the water and explore Italy by boat.

The area around Lake Como has houses owned by some of the richest celebrities in the world. This tells you everything to know about the kind of views you can expect here.

The landscape surrounding the lake is covered with alpine forest and traditional villages. Plus, dainty ornate houses that make you feel as if you are in a picture postcard version of an Italian masterpiece.

Nearby is Gardaland a huge theme park for all the family, age has no boundary when you want some enjoyment.

Historic Siena

Historic Siena - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyThe city of Siena is often overlooked in favour of Florence. Although this is unfair as there is a huge amount to see and do here. Parts of the city are as pretty as its neighbouring rival.

The Historic Centre of Siena in particular is well worth a visit. It starts at the Piazza del Campo which leads to a historic district that is covered with Gothic architecture that dates from the 12th century.

This mingles with buildings from the Middle Ages and signature points.  Look out for include the mighty Duomo, the Pinacoteca Nazionale, and the pretty Palazzo Salimbeni.

Saint Mark’s Basilica

St. Marks Basilica - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To VeniceVenice has a range of peerless attractions although perhaps the most famous of these is Saint Mark’s Basilica.This is located on the famed Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark’s Square.

The basilica is the final resting place of Saint Mark the Evangelist and started life as a Byzantine church before being developed over the years.

The church is a work of art in its own right. You will find glittering mosaics and gorgeous marble decorations all over the complex as well as bas-reliefs and touches of gold leaf.

Venice Grand Canal

Venice Grand Canal - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To VeniceThe Grand Canal in Venice is one of the most famous waterways in the world. There are a variety of ways that you can enjoy it.

One of these is to take a water bus known as a vaporetto. This takes in various parts of the canal where you can marvel at the little bridges and traditional Venetian homes.

Another more romantic way to travel around the canal is to take an iconic gondola ride. Here you can imagine that you are back in the Venice of a different time.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyThe Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa is a fluke of architecture. When the tower was constructed it immediately started to sink into the marshy ground beneath it.

This gave the tower its signature crooked stance. At various times in its existence it has been open and closed to the public as architects struggle to asses its safety.

When the tower is open you can climb to the viewing platform at the top where you can look across all of Pisa.

Blue Grotto Boat Trip

Blue Grotto Capri - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To ItalyOne of the premium sights in Capri is the Blue Grotto, also known as the Grotta Azzurra.

The grotto is the result of a cavern which is filled with water that glows a luminescent blue.

This happens when the sun hits it through shafts in the sides of the rock. The acoustics must be incredible, imagine playing an instrument from the boat.