PMGY volunteer in Portugal participants are based in Lisbon. Situated by the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon lies on Portugal’s western coast. A hilly, coastal capital city, Lisbon is one of the most vibrant and charismatic cities in Europe. The city provides a great blend of traditional heritage and noticeable modernism.
Lisbon offers a range of historical landmarks and stunning architecture to be explored. In the same vein, the city offers ancient and contemporary arts and centuries-old boutiques. For the foodie inside you, compare and contrast Lisbon’s traditional food with its modern world-class cuisine.
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
Situated on the famous Tagus River, Belem is a laid-back part of Lisbon. Stroll along the riverbanks and enjoy some of the seafood restaurants the area is renowned for. In addition, enjoy iconic views of UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. If you want to explore these sites further, then enjoy a tour around each site accordingly. Another photo opportunity for you to enjoy in Belem is the houses that are decorated with colourful tiles.
PRACA DO COMERCIO
Located by the riverfront, Praca do Comercio is Lisbon’s most famous square. Historically, it is recognised as the gateway into Lisbon as boats previously disembarked here. Its grand 18-century arcades and picturesque mosaic cobbles makes it difficult to miss! The equestrian statue of Dom Jose I sits at the centre of the Praca do Comercio. The square has much history to be explored including the fall of the monarchy in the early 1900s. So why not head to the square to learn more about Lisbon’s history!
SAO JORGE CASTLE
One of Portugal’s most historic capitals, Sao Jorge Castle sits impressively on top of one of Lisbon’s 7 hills. Explore the castle and learn more about Lisbon’s history and the Moorish neighbourhood that dates back to the 11th century. Take a ride on the famous Tram 28 that stops on the corner from the castle entrance. Once at the castle, be prepared for seriously impressive panoramic views of the city from above. Furthermore, you can explore authentic neighbourhoods and traditional restaurants within the castle surroundings.
Considered to be one of Portugal’s gems, Sintra is a popular day trip option from Lisbon. Its remarkable cultural landscape has been officially recognised by UNESCO. A historic and captivating town, the landmark of Palacio Nacional dominates Sintra. Its signature twin chimneys can be seen for miles. For avid walker within you, Sintra has plenty of hiking trails to be explored in the towns hill surroundings. On a clear day, you can enjoy breathtaking views across the Atlantic coastline.
Commonly referred to as Portugal’s second city, Porto offers so much to be explored. It offers a completely different experience to what you enjoy in Lisbon. The best and most pristine granite architecture, Baroque churches and Neoclassical buildings can all be found in Porto. Its Ribeira waterfront is acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A stroll along the Ribeira will allow you to see and feel the sense of history that Porto exudes. In addition, the imposing city cathedral of Se is definitely worth a visit.
Head to the most captivating town in the Algarve for your weekend in Portugal. This laid-back town is connected via a Roman footbridge. Tavira offers all the scenery you desire and its waterfront makes for a wonderful leisurely walk. Escape to the towns castle walls to enjoy picturesque views of the old town and nearby coast. Explore further by paying a visit to Santa do Castelo church or the Nucleo Islamico museum. Choose to venture outside of Tavira to explore other parts of the Algarve including its largest city of Faro.
SERRA DA ESTRELA NATIONAL PARK
Enjoy a weekend exploring the highest peaks that mainland Portugal has to offer. At its highest point, these star mountains rise to nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. There is a wide range of walking trails to enjoy within the Natural Park that expands over 100 thousand hectares. Bask in the stunning countryside and absorb the traditional character of quaint villages like Valezim and Linhares. In the winter months, the top of the mountains are often snowcapped offering a different perspective to the Natural Park.
Head north to one of Portugal’s grandest cities and spend your weekend in Braga. Step back in time to the 18th-century as you explore Braga’s handsome mansions, imposing churches and striking palaces. In other words, the city has a long history as a religious and commercial centre to be explored. Immersed within the architecture is a number of spruce parks and gardens. Braga’s central square provides a peaceful spot to linger with many cafes to enjoy if you get hungry.