Best of the best
- 1Villa Opuntia
Caniço (Santa Cruz)
- 2Hotel Porto Mare
- 3Hapimag Resort Albufeira
- 4Vila Mia
- 5Hotel Eden Mar
- 6Pension Vila Horizonte
- 7Hotel The Cliff Bay Resort
- 8Hotel Riu Palace Algarve
Olhos de Água
- 9Hotel Algar Seco Parque
- 10Galo Resort Galosol
Caniço (Santa Cruz)
- 11Hotel Riu Palace Madeira
Caniço (Santa Cruz)
- 12Corinthia Hotel Lisbon
Facts and information about Portugal
Portugal Facing the Atlantic, Portugal listens to the sea as to a long-standing friend in whom we have become accustomed to confiding, one who speaks to us by signs, knowing that these will be readily understood in the unique language understood only by ourselves. This relationship goes back a long way since the life of Portugal has always revolved around the sea, a fishing people in close contact with the waves, storms and ocean currents. The climate results from sea-bornet winds and the heat which the privileged south enjoys in abundance. An invariably pleasant, Mediterranean atmosphere. The fresh winters are followed by days of alternating sun and rain, prelude to the later, hotter days typical of mid-year. Portugal’s isolation from the rest of Europe has been a constant factor, with the plains of Castile and the Pyrenees constituting virtually insurmountable obstacles in days of yore when neither roads nor means of transport existed. Lying in south western Europe at the ocean’s edge, Portugal is a land of multiple landscapes, mountains and valleys in the north and centre making way for plains in more southerly latitudes. The entire coast is fringed with a succession of beaches, some small and backed by an amphitheatre of rock, others endless stretches of finest sand seeming to be bleached daily whiter by the transparency of the ocean waters. And, as for the past, memory can barely encompass such a wealth of momentous events. The name Portugal almost certainly arose from that of a city situated on the estuary of the Douro River, a village of streets and houses inhabited by fishermen and life-long merchants. Portus Calle was the name by which it was christened by the Romans, later to become one of the busiest urban centres of the peninsula. This is today’s Oporto, the country’s second city, washed by the weary waters of the river winding between vine-laden hillsides, dwellings perched on the slopes, beneath a vault of unpredictable sky. The north was likewise the cradle of the country that was created when a Prince of Burgundy was granted the regency of the County of Portucale, an honour upon which he did not hesitate to expand when he was struck by the notion to be king. Portugal — united around the talent and courage of her first king, Dom Afonso Henriques — became independent in 1143, though future events were to prove this triumph to be ephemeral. But, for the time being, Portugal had freed itself from Castile. The situation was reversed in 1580 when the linking of royal blood allowed a Spanish monarch to ascend the Portuguese throne. This monarch was Dom Felipe, first of three of the same name who were to impose their rule on the Portuguese until the mid-XVII century. Independence was won back in 1640, the preceding period constituting but a brief interregnum in national pride but, nonetheless, important enough to be set down in the pages of history and to brand the already sceptical nature of the people. Wherever you go, you encounter sights dating back to distant eras, when the days passed slowly and every season was a cycle in itself. From time to time, the habitual tranquility is broken by feast days on which large processions devotely follow the statue of the patron saint standing on a flower-decked pedestal, devout festivals where the colours of the procession vie for attention with the hues of local china and regional costumes. On such occasions, the crowds gather to live every moment as though it were the last, knowing that another busy year must pass before the festivities can be repeated. The old red of the roof tops stoop before the lofty church towers and the central squares welcome chattering groups as the sun descends in splendour over the horizon. Everywhere there are castles, grey stones methodically chiselled into shape to produce battlemented towers, solid ramparts, fortifications encircling villages which are genuine living museums. These constructions are landmarks on the path followed by the Christian kings in their struggle against the Moors, strategic points resounding with tales of princes and fairies, spots which the modern world has not shorn of their memories of warfare, names and places keeping alive a common geneological tree with roots burying deep into the north of Africa. But this is not the only mark of courage recorded from the past. There were others in which daring was not the product of the suffering of war but of the pain of separation and distance. They were times of discovery in far seas, first the Atlantic islands of Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde and, later, other continents. Contacts which were maintained over the centuries, as though the ocean had brought about precocious maritime relationships with ever more distant regions. The ships departing from Lisbon at the end of the XV century knew with certainty only that the sea held secrets to be discovered, that the bad weather waves dredged evil beings up from the depths, that the end of the world lay somewhere beyond the horizon. But the months passed between sea and sky held less terrible surprises for these sailors. Even before the century turned, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, allowing the Portuguese to reach the eastern coast of Africa and so on to India. In 1500 different routes were explored, leading to the discovery of Brazil, yet another continent and, implicitly, a new concept of the Earth, facts recorded by Manueline art in every monument erected during those days and glorified in inspried epic form by Camões in his “Lusiads”, a long poem admirably expressing the saudosismo, the nostalgic yearning, inherent in the Portuguese character, faith as the driving force behind all action, the past excelling over anything the future might hold. And between those early days and the present so much has happened, vicissitudes of feast and famine, joy and sadness, boom and dispair, such as was experienced in Lisbon at the time of the great earthquake in 1755, providing Pombal with the chance to build a new city while saving the country from economic decline. But the country was to be subjected to further suffering, on the dawn of the new century. Portugal was invaded by Napoleon’s armies, occasioning years of profound desperation. The revolution of 1910 made way for the Republic, with the royal family and aristocracy departing for exile in Great Britain. The following years of unstable government were ended by the dictator’s coup in 1926, allegedly to save the economy and instituting policies which were to isolate Portugal from Europe and the rest of the world. Plural democracy was established by events beginning in April 1974 after decades of obligatory and absurdly proud isolation to which the Portuguese people were forcibly subjected. Events, every one, to test a nation’s strength of character. But, surprisingly, this political and social diet appears not to have affected the Portuguese nature, one of mingled melancholy and passion, lowered eyes and open heart, tears provoked by the sad plaint of fado song flowing together with tears of joy. As though, when all is said and done, these facets, being the most genuine, were stored in the deepest recesses of the Portuguese soul, out of reach of external reality. Airports/Car rental The main airports are Lisbon, Porto and Faro. The ANA is the company that controls the operation of all the airports. The two main airlines are Air Portugal TAP Portugal and SATA. To rent a car you must be at least 21, have identification and a valid driving license that s more than a year old. Cars can be rented at most international airports, train stations and large towns.
The official language is Portuguese, but many people speak and understand Spanish and English.
Portugal joined the Euro in 2002.
Best travel time
Portugal is located in an area of Atlantic-Mediterranean climate. Coastal area have a maritime climate, this makes the north often clod and rainy while the south is hot and dry. The hot season starts in May and lasts till September. Summer is warm with long hot days, with temperatures exceeding 20 ° C . It is not uncommon for the temperature to exceed 40 ° C in the height of summer. However thanks to the westerly winds especially on the coast, the atmosphere is not stuffy and humid. The winters are generally short and mild. The average temperature in this period is between 5 ° C and 14 º C, with a mixture of sunny and rainy days. By contrast it is much colder in the mountains.
European Union citizens can enter and stay in Portugal under the free movement of persons act, with an identity card or passport. Travelers from outside the European Union must present a valid passport at the border, after which they will receive a tourist visa for up to 60 days.
You do not need any vaccinations to go to Portugal, unless instructed to do so. Refer to your country of origin.
Country and People
Traditions and Culture
Portuguese mentality is characterized by openness and natural goodness. Many parts of their culture have strong maritime links. Deep rooted in this culture is the traditional Fado music, which has developed from the songs of sailors. Although the days of the Fado are gone and the mentality has changed the Portuguese entry into the European Union, and the descendants of the old fishermen and sailors today have risen to entrepreneurs and businessmen, the fado is still a very valuable cultural history of the country. The population of Portugal is about 11 million. The most important cities are Lisbon, with approximately 1 million inhabitants, and Porto, with about 500,000. More than a third of the population is rural and live in towns and villages usually grouped around the church.
Although most of the Portuguese belong to the Roman Catholic Church, there are also a few Anglican and protestant communities. Religion plays an important role in the life of Portugal. It manifests itself in many religious ceremonies and the worship of saints. The most important festivals are Easter, Christmas, Corpus Christi and All Saints Day. In addition to this there are also many local festivals. An important religious site in Portugal, is Fatima, where it is reported in 1917 the Virgin Mary appeared to 3 children.
Discover and Enjoy
The Algarve in the south is the main tourist spot, due to its warm climate and abundance of things to do. Lisbon and Porto also attract many tourists. Night-life is one of the many attractions. Porto has an important place in the cultural landscape of the country. It was European Capital of Culture in 2001. Madeira is also a major tourist destination, both for its climate as for its cuisine. Other attractions are the cities of Chaves, Tomar, Sintra, Aveiro, Coimbra, Elvas, Évora, Braga and Guimarães, and the Duero River Valley.
The national holidays are New Year's Day (January 1), Freedom Day (April 25), Workers Day (May 1), Portugal Day (June 10), the Assumption of Our Lady (August 15), the Establishment of the Republic (October 5), the feast of All Saints (Nov. 1), the Restoration of Independence (1 December), Immaculate Conception (December 8) and Christmas (December 25). In addition to religious holidays, such as pilgrimages to Fatima, throughout the year there are lots of activities, such as the River Festival, the Festival of Flowers or Queima das Fitas and above all, a great number of festivals throughout the country, including the Festival Sudoeste TMN, the AngraJazze, the Festival of the Arts and the Tide of August. In addition every four years is the feast of "Tabuleiros", a show that is worth seeing.
The food in Portugal is rich and varied, with the sea being a large provider. The Portuguese are particularly proud of the different ways they can cook cod (they say there are 1001 recipes) Fresh fish and shell fish are abundant on the coast, perfect simply grilled and served with rice. With regards to meat, the most famous dish is a Portuguese stew, a mix of meats and vegetables. Portugal is also an important wine country; wines include the famous wines of the Douro, Alentejo and Dão, green Minho wine, and fortified wines of Port and Madeira.