Portugal is one of the Iberian Peninsula’s most fascinating destination. With a combination of old-fashioned charm, friendly people and breathtaking natural beauty it has everything to impress its visitors. From the beautiful beaches of the southern Algarve, to the amazing inland countryside with picture-perfect villages it is the ideal place for nature lover. As for culture buffs, Portugal amazing history can be felt everywhere, from the World heritage sites such as Sintra to the ancient university town of Coimbra, passing by numerous medieval castles across the country.
For the sun worshipers , the resort towns of Cascais and Sagres are the ideal place for a beach holiday. As for the more adventurous type, Portugal has plenty to offer as well, from its fabulous remote islands of Madeira to the dramatic end-of-the-world cliffs and hidden coves bordering it’s never ending Atlantic facing coastline.
Portugal is also a fantastic place for city lovers, with the charming Porto to the north and Lisbon, the country’s capital further south. Both are ideal places to wander around their narrows streets or take a tram from the riverside to the top of the hill.
If you are looking to spent a wonderful time with friends or family, be immersed with world class cultural and natural sights, enjoy delicious food and succulent local wines or vinho do Porto, then Portugal is definitely the place to be for a memorable holiday.
How to get to Portugal
Portugal is served by many international airports including Faro, Lisbon , Madeira, Porto and Porto Santo as the main hub for the Madeira islands. Once on location, Portugal is also a great country to be discovered by car, to get to those remote romantic beaches and charming towns. Check out the latest car hire deals in Portugal.
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Portugal offers some of the best weather in Europe along with thousands of kilometres of beautiful coastline blessed with sandy beaches. The heart of the country is worth visiting as well with many picture perfect towns, ideal to get away from it all. Portugal is also an excellent choice for golf lovers with plenty of excellent course to choose from, some even with impressive views over the Atlantic.
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Top holiday destinations in Portugal include:
Algarve is the southern coastal region of Portugal and perhaps the best known and most popular beach resort destination of the country. It is a naturally blessed region with amazing sandy beaches surrounded with impressive cliffs and rocky coves, guaranteeing you a memorable sun and sea holiday. The region is also famous for offering some of the best golf courses in the whole of Europe with no less than 14 out of the top 100.
The Algarve region offers great weather, the finest beaches, beautiful natural wonders, and a variety of historical attractions, making it the perfect holiday destination. From all inclusive family deals to self catering and camping sites, the region has hundreds of resorts and hotels to choose from.
Lisbon is one of the most impressive capital in Europe. It offers the perfect combination of a cultural destination and vibrant city life combined with a chilled beach holiday. Indeed there are numerous places to relax in an around Lisbon, enjoying the sandy beaches or trying some water sports such as kite surfing. As for the city itself it offers a variety of museums, castles and churches where you will be immersed in the county’s culture and history. Lisbon is also a shopper paradise with its Centro Commercial Colombo being the largest shopping mall on the Iberian Peninsula, as well as other smaller local markets such as the interesting Campo de Santa Clara flea market.
Lisbon is blessed with amazing natural beauty, set between seven hills on the banks of the River Tagus. It offers an abundance of great districts with top attractions, cultural sites, shopping boutiques and remarkable views. From the Castello de Sao Jorge to the vibrant nightlife of Bairro Alto passing by the Baixa city center with its various squares, Lisbon is packed with wonderful treasures to be discovered.
The Portuguese capital is a cosmopolitan and creative city, the perfect mix of old and new, of traditional and cutting edge, vibrant and laidback, packed with top of the hill cafes and riverside restaurants, making it an absolute must visit destination.
The northern city of Porto sits on the Douro River and is steeped in history. It is an ideal place to start discovering Portugal unique architecture and try fantastic Portuguese cuisine. Porto is also home to the famous strong wine bearing its name, and it’s a must when visiting the city.
Top hotels in Portugal
Portugal has a vast array of excellent accommodations to choose from at very reasonable prices, especially compared to other European destinations. From budget hotels to luxury accommodations such as the amazing Moorish styled Sheraton Algarve set on top of cliff overlooking the Algarve’s stunning coastline, the country has it all.
Book a Portugal holiday now, or check out the latest hotels and flight deals, best prices guaranteed. Some of the most popular hotel and resort locations include Lisbon, Porto, Albufeira, Lagos, Faro, Tavira, Villamoura, Portimao, Coimbra, Funchal, Vale De Lobo, Cascais, Evora, Fatima, Braga and Guimares.
Portugal top places to visit
Portugal has some of the most interesting places to explore from cultural and historical sites to amazing natural destinations. The most touristic hotspots include the country’s biggest city of Lisbon and its surrounding area, the southern coast of Algarve as well as the Atlantic island of Madeira. Other amazing places becoming increasingly popular, include the northern region of Costa Verde and Douro Valley, home to excellent wines and port, the southern in land region of Alentejo as well as the island of Porto Santo, the smaller northeast neighbour of Madeira. Portugal is also home to various UNESCO’s World Heritage sites including the restored towns with well-preserved architecture of Evora, Batalha and Alcobaça. As for the lesser known tourists destinations offering remarkable beauty it included Templários, Costa Azul, Douro Sul and Planície Dourada.
Top 10 Portugal Regions
The most exciting places in Portugal include the following top regions:
- North West Portugal: Minho
- Northern Portugal: Douro Literal and Tras-Os-Montes
- Porto: birthplace of Portugal
- Central Portugal : The Beira and Coimbra
- Central West Portugal: Estremadura and Ribatejo
- Lisbon region: between the city and the coast
- Southern Portugal: Alentejo
- Algarve: perfect beach holiday
- Atlantic islands west: Azores
- Atlantic islands west: Madeira
North West Portugal: Minho
Minho is the north west region of Portugal famous for is verdant landscapes and various rocky terrains such as what can be found in the spectacular Peneda-Geres, the only National Park of the country. The region is famous for its wine Vinho Verde especially around the capital city of Braga and the coastal region of Viana de Castelo.
Northern Portugal: Douro Literal and Tras-Os-Montes
Northern Portugal is a historic region consisting of the country’s second largest city Porto on the western coast as well as the provinces of Douro and Tras-Os-Montes. The various urban areas north of the Douro River valley are becoming an increasingly popular destination especially with wine lovers, some placing it as the third most visited destination in the country.
Porto is perhaps Portugal’s most famous city right after the capital, especially considering that it gave its name to the country. It is often considered the birthplace of the nation as well as known for being home to the country’s greatest export, the Porto wine.
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Central Portugal : The Beira and Coimbra
The central region is often identified as the Portugal traditional province of the Beira which can be further divided into Beira Alta and Beira Baixa. The city of Coimbra is the main hub of the area is a must-sees destination. Other places of interest worth discovering within the Central Portugal region includes Aveiro towards the Atlantic coast and other inland towns such as charming Viseu, Guarda and Castelo Branco.
Central West Portugal: Estremadura and Ribatejo
The Central West Coast is shared between the historic province of Estremadura and Ribatejo. The area is blessed with some excellent Ribatejan wines, beautiful medieval monasteries and the 14th century walled town of Obidos. Other key cities include Leiria and Santarem.
Lisbon region: between the city and the coast
Lisbon, welcoming over seven million tourists per year is one of the most visited cities in Europe. It has recently even surpassed the popular coastal region of Algarve as the leading tourist destination in Portugal. Some of the key destinations of the region include the charming Sintra, the resort towns of Cascais and Estoril as well as the lovely municipality of Setubal further south.
Southern Portugal: Alentejo
The Southern Portugal is mostly covered by the Alentejo region, which can be translated into “’beyond the Tagus River’” and mostly famous for its wide horizons which changes colour according to the season. The local people are known for their easy-going lifestyle and song-like accent, making it the ideal place if you are looking to relax and get away from the crowds.
The key city of the region is Evora, known as the Museum City with a variety of historic monuments, churches and museums. Nearby is one of Europe’s most important megalith centre, with amongst other various standing stones dating back thousands of years. Other cities worth discovering is Portalegre in the north , Beja towards the south and Sines towards the Atlantic coast.
Algarve: perfect beach holiday
The Algarve is the most popular destination in Portugal when it comes to the perfect beach holiday with a variety of charming towns and fully equipped resorts to choose from.
Atlantic islands west: Azores
The Azores are the westernmost Portuguese group of islands in the Atlantic. The archipelago has a variety of sights to be discovered including the Lagoa das Sete Cidades, the active caldera of Lagoa das Furnas and the Lagoa da Fogo or Fire Lake.
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Atlantic islands east: Madeira
Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago and the most popular of the all the Portuguese islands. It consists of two populated islands including Madeira the biggest and Porto Santo, as well as the unpopulated islands of the Desertas and Selvagens. Madeira is world famous for being the Islands of eternal Spring with a mild climate throughout the entire year.
Its biggest city and regional capital is Funchal, home to a variety of tourist resorts and gorgeous panoramas. Some of the island key attractions include the Levadas aqueducts, the Cabo Girão, one of the world’s highest ocean cliffs and various gardens such as the Jardim Botânico Funchal Botanical garden, the Jardim do Monte Palace and Jardim Orquídea Orchid garden.
Top 10 Portugal cities
The following are the top 10 most important cities in Portugal
- Lisbon is the national capital famous for is cultural heritage and vibrant nightlife
- Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal
- Braga is known as the city of Archbishops
- Coimbra is home to one of the world’s oldest university
- Évora is Alentejo regional capital also known as the Museum City
- Funchal is the capital of Madeira
- Guimarães is known to be the founding place of the nation
- Porto is the northern capital known as the Invincible City
- Viana do Castelo is famous for hosting the Nossa Senhora da Agonia Festival
- Faro is the biggest city in the Algavre region
The following are some of the key facts about Portugal:
- Full name: Portuguese Republic
- Population: 10.7 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Lisbon
- Area: 92,345 sq km (35,655 sq miles)
- Major language: Portuguese
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 euro = 100 cents
- Main exports: Textiles and clothing, wood products, electrical equipment
- GNI per capita: US $20,940 (World Bank, 2009)
- Internet domain: .pt
- International dialling code: +351
Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe sharing the Iberian peninsula with neighbouring Spain on the east and bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The country also have a set of archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores and Madeira. Portugal is named after its famous city Porto which Latin name was Portus Cale.
Portugal is a country with a very rich history from prehistoric to modern time, passing by the Roman, the Moors, the Christian Reconquista, the age of the grest Discoveries, the Spanish invasion, absolutism and the area of reforms amongst other. The country’s external influences can still be seen today in its architecture , arts, dance and folk music such as the melancholic fado. Another great example of its historical heritage is the increasingly popular tourist destination of Jeronimos Monastery.
One of the greatest time in all of Portugal history goes back to the 15th century when some of the best explorers and sea navigators such as Vasco da Gama took upon the challenge to find a new way to the commercially lucrative India. Less than a century later , Portugal and its famous sailors managed to build an empire from Brazil to Asia passing by South Africa. Even today, a vast community of Portuguese speakers remains with no less than 200 million spread across the world.
The story of the 20th century Portugal is mostly remembered by the decades of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar dictatorship. Until 1974 that is, the year of the coup also known as the Revolution of the Carnations, which resulted in a democratic Portugal and the independence of former African colonies.
The story of Modern Portugal starts in 1986 with the country’s integration into the European Community and followed a constant growth. What was traditionally an agricultural economy started to move towards more of the service sector including tourism.
Today, tourism is playing an increasingly important role in Portugal’s economy, with the country receiving an average of 13 million foreign tourists each year, putting it within the top 20 most visited countries in the world. Most tourists come from Britain, Spain and Germany, travelling by low cost airliners. Those visitors are looking for a sun and sea holiday as well as to discover various cultural, gastronomic, environmental or nautical experiences.
Portugal has perhaps one of the best climate in Europe with some of the warmest regions such as the southern Algarve and Alentejo. In mainland Portugal, yearly temperature averages are about 15°C (55°F) in the north and 18°C (64°F) in the south.
Madeira and Azores have a narrower temperature range as expected given their insularity, with the former having low precipitation in most of the archipelago and the latter being wet and rainy.
Portugal, blessed with a great weather and a variety of vines type, produce some of the best wines in the world’s. From red to white passing by a delicious rose and famous port, it has everything to satisfy even an experienced connoisseurs. With such a quality of wines at affordable prices, it is no wonder that wine drinking during and after meals remains a very common practice in Portugal.
Portugal along with neighbouring Spain is known to have a special kind of white wine, which is actually green. This Vinho Verde is a light, dry and refreshing wine with a very crisp taste, best served cold accompanying fish dishes. The Vinho Verde is a must when visiting the regions especially knowing that it is very affordable.
Portugal is best known as the home of Port wines, its most famous export and ideal drink both as an aperitif or with dessert. Porto or Port is a fortified wine (20%) made by adding brandy to the wine before fermentation is complete. According to EU laws, port wine can only be named as such if the grapes are grown in the Douro valley, and the wine is brewed in Porto. The end product is strong, sweet, complex in taste and if properly stored will last 40 years or more.
There various varieties of port include:
- Vintage port is the real deal but very expensive as it is kept for 5-15 years.
- LBV port or Late-Bottled Vintage is a simulated vintage kept in barrel longer, ready to drink and perfect if you are on a budget.
- Tawny port is aged for 10-40 years before bottling, which distinguishes itself by a more brownish red colour and a slightly smoother bouquet and flavour.
- Ruby port is the youngest and cheapest characterize with a deep red "ruby" colour.