With its mild climate, 3000 hours of sunshine per year and 850 kms of splendid beaches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is the perfect holiday destination all year round.
This is a country that has the oldest borders in Europe, with an exceptional range of different landscapes just a short distance away, lots of leisure activities and a unique cultural heritage, where tradition and modernity blend together in perfect harmony. Its superb cuisine, fine wines and hospitable people make this a tourist paradise of the highest quality.
Situated in the extreme south-west of Europe, just a few hours from any of the other European capitals, Portugal attracts visitors from all over the world. Come and discover the charms of this country too.
Portugal is situated at the south-west point of Europe and also includes the Madeira and Azores archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean. Mainland Portugal occupies an area of 88,889 km2. It is 218 km wide and 561 km long. It has 832 km of Atlantic coast and a 1,215 km border with Spain.
The Azores are situated in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America. They have an area of 2,355 km2 and consist of nine islands – São Miguel and Santa Maria in the Eastern Group, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial in the Central Group and Flores and Corvo in the Western Group. It takes about two hours to get from the Azores to mainland Portugal by plane.
The Madeira Archipelago has an area of 741 km2 and lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 500 km from the African coast and 1,000 km from the European continent (1½ hours flying time from Lisbon). It consists of the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo and the uninhabited Desertas and Selvagens islands, which are nature reserves.
The climate in Portugal varies considerably from one region to another and is influenced by the relief, latitude and proximity to the sea, which offers mild winters, especially in the Algarve.
In the Porto e Norte area and Beiras region, particularly inland, nearer Spain, the winters are colder, although the temperatures are still mild when compared to the rest of Europe. There is some snowfall. It occurs most in the Serra da Estrela mountains, where we find the highest point in mainland Portugal (1,991 m) and where it is sometimes possible to ski. The summers are hot and dry, especially in the inland areas (Trás-os-Montes in north-eastern Portugal and Alentejo). Temperatures are slightly lower in the coastal areas, because of the influence of the sea. There are often warm, sunny days in autumn. Nice weather at the beginning of November is often called “St. Martin’s Summer” as this saint’s day is on 11 November.
The climate in the Azores is influenced by the islands’ latitude and by the Gulf Stream, and temperatures are mild there all year round. The same factors also influence the sea temperature, which is very pleasant both in winter and summer and ideal for nautical sports all year round.
The subtropical characteristics of the weather in the Madeira Archipelago can be explained by its geographical position and mountainous relief. The climate in Madeira is exceptionally mild, with average temperatures varying between 24 ºC in summer and 19 ºC in winter. The sea temperature is also very pleasant all year round, thanks to the influence of the warm Gulf Stream. It varies between 18 ºC in winter and 22 ºC in summer.
Portugal has a population of about 10 million.
The population density is at its greatest in Lisbon, the capital and its suburbs, where about 1.9 million people live. The second largest city in Portugal is Oporto in the north. Generally speaking, there are more people living in the country’s coastal regions than in the inland areas.
The majority of Portuguese are Catholics, but the Portuguese Constitution guarantees religious freedom and there are a number of different religions in Portugal.
From a Latin root, Portuguese is spoken by about 250 million people in every continent, and is the 5th most spoken language in the world and the 3rd, if we only consider the European languages.
The Portuguese-speaking countries are scattered all over the world. Portuguese is spoken in Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé e Príncipe), in South America (Brazil) and in Asia, (East Timor, the youngest nation in the world), and it is also the official language in Macao Special Administrative Region of China.
In Portugal there are lots of people who are able to communicate in English, French and Spanish.
Portugal’s cuisine is as rich and varied as its landscape.
The most distinctive feature of Portuguese cuisine comes from the sea. As you enjoy a simple grilled fish, always fresh like the seafood that abounds from end to end along the coast, you can be sure that you are in Portugal! Cataplanas, bouillabaisses and any other fish or seafood dish are also excellent choices.
For meat dishes, our main suggestion is cozido à portuguesa, a mix of meats, vegetables and various sausages, cooked in a delicious way. We have excellent DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) meats, from north to south, whether it’s beef, pork or kid. Many vegetables and fruit also preserve the taste of the old times, and some also have the DOP label, especially as many are produced organically.
Portuguese olive oil is of prime quality and is part of every dish, including cod (for which it is said that there are 1001 recipes!), which we excel at preparing and enjoying.
Each dish is matched to the right wine. The whole country produces wine and, while Port wine is famous, the Douro, Alentejo and many other table wines are no less superior.
And the cheeses! While Queijo da Serra (mountain cheese from Serra da Estrela) tops the bill, all the cheeses from Centro de Portugal, Alentejo and the Azores are delicious.
The sweets, whose roots go back to the many convents where they were originally prepared, even today make us “give thanks to heaven”. And a pastel de nata (custard tart) is a must. It is delicious with coffee, which we drink in the form of espresso.
At the end of a meal, we might make a toast with some Port or Madeira, fortified wines that have been spreading our name to faraway lands for centuries. Or with an excellent sparkling wine produced in Portugal, to celebrate a memorable meal provided by the country’s talented chefs.
It is the capital of Portugal. A vibrant city full of history that conserves a human dimension, with its historic neighborhoods, monuments and tile facades.
Called the white city by the sunlight reflected by the river, it won the Travelers’ Choice title on Tripadvisor now and back in 2013, when it was also voted Best Destination on European city vacations by the World Travel Awards.
Lisbon is a city that makes you want to explore, every neighborhood, every street. It has a friendly and safe environment with lots to see and is relatively small. It is ideal the place to stay in for several days or to serve as a starting point on a trip around the country. It is ancient. It is modern. It is, without a doubt, always surprising.
We can choose a theme or topic to explore. The offer is vast: Roman Lisbon, Manueline, baroque, romantic, literary, bohemian, nightlife, the city of Fado. And how you decide to wander can also vary: by foot, by trams, by segway, by hop-on-hop-off bus, in a tuk tuk, or a river view from a boat ride or on the other bank, after crossing the Tejo in a ferry… the suggestions are endless.
Nevertheless, there are obligatory sites that are not to be missed and are always to be part of the list such as the historic neighbourhoods of Alfama and Castelo, with one of the most fabulous views over the city and river.
We must pass through the Baixa, towards Belém, the neighborhood of the Discoveries, where the Tower of Belém and the Jeronimos Monastery are situated, both World Heritage, and also by the original Car Museum or the modern Belém Cultural Center. Oh, and we must not forget to try their delicious cream pastries!
We save the end of the afternoon and the night time to get know Chiado and Bairro Alto, poles of guaranteed animation. As well as the Cais do Sodré, which is closer to the river.
But the new part of the city should not be forgotten where there are great reference museums such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in the north and the National Tile Museum. On the way to Parque das Nações, you can see the port area that was completely rebuilt for the 1998 Universal Exposition. Today, it is an important leisure area with a new urban landscape.
Proceeding along the mouth of the river you begin to understand why it is said that Lisbon is the center of a vast resort. Along the marginal road, we will visit beaches and seaside resorts that combine villas and hotels from the beginning of the 20th century with harbors, terraces and modern sports equipment, with particular emphasis on cycling, golf and recreational boating. Following the coast we will find world-renowned surf spots and also the palaces scattered throughout the cultural landscape of Sintra, World Heritage.
Both the north and south of the capital, the wide variety of landscapes and heritage is always within walking distance. With beaches, natural parks, cultural routes and accommodation for all tastes, it is difficult to escape to region of Lisbon on a visit to Portugal.
The fado is another Portuguese expression also elevated to World Heritage. So dining at a fado house will be another experience not to be missed. Then, we get together in lively bars and nightclubs, where we celebrate the arrival of those who visit us.
PLACES TO GET TO KNOW
- Commerce Square
- Sao Jorge’s Castle
- Belém Tower
- Monastery of Jeronimos
- Stadium of Light (Benfica House)
- Teleferico de Lisboa
- Warehouses in Chiado
- Vasco da Gama Shopping Center
- Shopping Colombo
- Amoreiras Shopping
- Dolce Vita Monumental Shopping Center
- The English Court
- Portuguese life (traditional vintage style products)
- Parque Eduardo VII (typical white towels.) In the upper part of the park, in Alameda Cardinal Cerejeira, every day a lady sells these towels for 5euros)
- Freeport Outlet
- Bica do Sapato (Santa Apolonia Station)
- Pap’Açôrda (Bairro Alto)
- 100 ways (Bairro Alto)
- Lost in (Principe Real)
- The Decadent (B. Principe Real)
- The Insolito (B. Prince Real)
- Bistro 100 ways (Chiado)
- Ribeira Market (Cais do Sodre) – Time out Ribeira Market, Trincas, and several others
- At the pier, on the water’s edge, Ibo seafood; House of Pasto, Sun and Fishing;
- In the Docks – 1300 Tavern in the LX Factory
- Alfama: Well, Café (Rua S. Joao da Praça, 93)
- Campo de Ourique: Corner Tasca and Cervejaria da Esquina
- Yakuza by Oliver
- Old May Day in Bairro Alto
- Cervejaria Ramiro – seafood
- Brewery Trinity
- Casa dos Presuntos
- Old Belem Confectionery
One of the well known attractions in the city are the trams and elevators that connect the Baixa to the highest districts and the belvederes: Glória, Bica, Lavra and Santa Justa. Tram 28 runs through the city, through historic districts and is referenced in many tour guides around the world. Tram 15 goes from Praça da Figueira to Belém, along the Tejo River. Information on www.carris.pt.
From Terreiro do Paço, you will connect by boat tô Barreiro – www.transtejo.pt.
To cross the river, there is the train on the 25 de Abril Bridge, with Fertagus company (www.fertagus.pt), or bus www.tsuldotejo.pt.
- Lisbon Card – card that allows access to public transport and provides you with discounts for access to monuments and other touristic services in the city.
- Information and tourist offices at www.askmelisboa.com
- Tourist information on Lisbon churches, with visit proposals and event agendas and masses: www.quovadislisboa.pt