If you’re looking to brush up on your history or add a few facts to your weekly trivia memory bank, head to Portugal. The land has been settled since Roman times, and since the country itself dates back to the Early Middle Ages—and has the castles to prove it—it’s a stunning backdrop for all of your vacation activities.
On top of its famed Moorish architecture, Portugal is also home to a staggering number of fishing villages—many of which have morphed into fashionable seaside resort regions in the past few decades. You can still expect a hint of coastal charm, but not long ago Portugal’s sandy shores were more likely to be filled with beached fishing boats than swimsuit-clad visitors.
If you’re looking for a break in your day, or just a quick blast to the past, look no further: We’ve compiled a few of our favorite shots of old-school Portugal to help fuel your nostalgia and wanderlust alike. Many of the photos ahead also feature a royal visitor: Queen Elizabeth II, who visited the country in February of 1957. The Queen took the vacation with her husband, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, in Portugal after a four-month separation due to work responsibilities. The royal pair visited the Portugal Opera, small fishing villages, and various palaces while in the region—an itinerary worth repeating for anyone paying a visit.
We’re in love with present-day Portugal, but we wish we could have experienced the cultural charm of the country in the 1940s and 1950s. Do the next best thing and settle into a mental vacation—you deserve it.