Portugal, that small country where the green blends with the blue of the Atlantic Ocean. That small country where the entire world rests inside of it. Just go... go and fall in love with Portugal.
Portugal lies along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula, with its warm and mild climate, shaped by the waves of the ocean and the pure green of its Nature. The oldest nation-state in Europe that became a Parliamentary Republic with a total area of 92.000 km2 and 10 million inhabitants.
A friendly country built by its gentle and relaxed people, with a culture plenty of tradition, incredible Gastronomy and Wines. Considered as a safe place, Portugal is just a few hours from any other European capital. And it is so unequivocally brilliant that it would take an extraordinary effort not to love it.
The Mediterranean climate of Portugal pleases everyone. It is considered one of the warmest of all European countries. Here, summers are warm and long, receiving as much as 12 hours of sunshine a day. It hardly rains during these months and the hot days enjoy an agreeable sea breeze, especially the coastal towns. And its short and mild winters have about six hours of sunshine a day. However, various regions may experience differences in the climate depending on the location.
The Culture and Gastronomy
Portuguese culture is based on past dates back to prehistoric times and has been heavily influenced by a rich variety of countries and customs over the years. It is a lovely mixture of many people who settled here and of those who the Portuguese navigators encountered on their journeys of Discoveries.
From urban and modern towns to rural and historical lands, there are 19 classifications by UNESCO in this country including monuments, landscapes and intangible heritage. The Portuguese people also have a great tradition of art, music, dance and drama and an incredible Cuisine.
The Mediterranean Diet is acclaimed in the entire world. The sea heritage created divine delicacies of fish and seafood and the game meat of the North completes an unforgettable Gastronomy and Portugal is also serious about wine. Considered one of the best wine destinations, its famous Port Wine is the king of its nectars.
The Portuguese Islands
The Azores Islands rise from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean and lie on the nexus of the European, American and African tectonic plates. They are nine poetically-named islands with an untouchable scenery: sapphire blue and emerald green lakes, dormant volcanoes and craters, fumaroles, natural warm pools, colourful hydrangeas and azaleas, UNESCO sites. They are also known as “The Green Islands” due to its intense vegetation, covering almost every inch of the landscapes.
The Archipelago of Madeira, an exuberant botanical garden of volcanic soil, comprises two inhabited islands and two uninhabited groups. With a stunning 99 miles of coastline, it’s characterized by a surrounding blue crystal clear sea, magnificent cliffs, natural pools craved out of lava rocks, waterfalls and quiet valleys with rustic villages. Known worldwide as the “Islands of the eternal Spring”, here the mountains have breathtaking views and the trail paths through the Laurissilva Forest are globally appreciated.
In Portugal people speak Portuguese. This is the 6th most spoken first language in the world, with around 203 million speakers, as a result of the colonization. This Latin language brought there by Roman soldiers can be found in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, as well as East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Goa and Macau.
It can be a difficult language but in Portugal you will easily find people who are able to communicate in English, French or Spanish.
In spite of being located at the extreme southwest of Europe, Portugal can be reached within 2 hours from all major European cities and just a few hours from the Americas. Five main airports are strategically spread throughout the country (Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, Azores and Madeira), where low-cost, first class and business class travel companies land.
And as Portugal is not a large country people can get almost everywhere easily by train, bus or car. CP (“Comboios de Portugal”) operates all trains, covering the country from Faro in the south to Valença do Minho in the north.
But roads are also a plus, with highways considered some of the best in Europe. Private companies of buses connect almost all of the country’s towns and villages and with a car people can reach every place without scheduled times. Here driving licenses from most countries are accepted, so there’s no need to get an international one.
The Official Currency
Portugal joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1986, now designated as European Union (EU). In sequence of this alliance, the official currency is the euro (€). For tourists, banks understandably offer the best exchange rates. They usually open from Monday to Friday, roughly speaking, from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ATMs are also at hand for this purpose.
And, curiously, Portugal remains as one of the EU’s least expensive destination, without compromising the safety and the high quality.