Forget geographical proximity - Portugal is thrillingly different from Spain, quietly tending wonders ripe for savvy discovery. Its immense Atlantic shore mixes dune-backed beaches with rugged sea-cliffs and fishing spots sizzling seafood by the quay. The vast Alentejo – a third of Portugal - is a lush patchwork of vineyards, cork woods and medieval hill towns. Nature stars in the Sierra Estrela's rugged peaks and the trail-laced wilds of the Peneda-Geres National Park.
The atmospheric glories of Lisbon – among Europe's cheapest as well as loveliest capitals - are complemented by the sherry mecca of Porto plus myriad less-explored beauties. Discover Portugal's early history amid the cobbled lanes of Guimaraes – its 11th century first capital. Delve the ancient university towns of Coimbra and Evora, and the 'Iberian Venice' of Aveiro. And make time too to reassure Europe's gentlest people that, though their global empire has gone, their country remains a global wonder.