Portugal’s treasures are manifold everywhere from Porto to Faro. The picturesque nature extends from mighty mountains and green valleys all the way to wide, rocky coastlines and is always a little rough. The locals have adapted to the unique situation and role Portugal has played in history, and because of it their mentalities are characterised by commitment to their roots and wanderlust at the same time. Those who stand at the western most point of the country with views of the sea towards unknown lands will understand why.
Facts & Figures
Official Name: República Portuguesa (Republic of Portugal) Location: western Europe, southwest of Spain on the Atlantic Ocean Area: 92,345 km² Capital City: Lisbon Religious and Ethnic Groups: 81% Roman-Catholic, 3% other Christians / homogeneous Mediterranean with a low number of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa Language: Portuguese (official language) Geography: A mountainous north down to the Tagus river gorge, a south of gentle plains. Highest point: Ponta do Pico on the Azores (2351m) Time zone: Western European time (UTC +1) Politics and Economy: Parliamentary republic, GDP: 173.1 billion EUR (2014) Currency: Euros (since 2002)
Arrival and departure
Visa: Vaccinations: Generally, vaccinations (for long stays) against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and, for young people, against Meningococcal diseases are recommended. Transport: The rail network is considered good but not considerably faster than driving.
Climate and best time to travel
Portugal’s climate is moderate-maritime; in the north it is cool and wet, in the south it is warm and dry. Winter average temperature: 11°C (lowest temperature of 7°C in February) Summer average temperature: 23°C (highest temperature of 30°C in July) Water temperature: max 22°C in August
The country is worth a visit all year round, however the best time to go is between April and October due to the pleasant temperatures.
The most beautiful holiday regions
Algarve – Sandy coves and rocky grottos Madeira – Steep cliffs and biodiversity The North – Surfing and port wine
Public holidays and celebrations
New year’s day (1st of January), Shrove Tuesday (falls between the 3rd of February and the 9th of March), Good Friday (on the seventh day of Holy Week, that begins on Palm Sunday), Easter Sunday (first Sunday after the Passover full moon), Anniversary of the Carnation Revolution (1974) (25th of April) , Labour Day (1st of May), Camoes Day national holiday (10th of June), Portugal Day (10th of June), Feast of St Anthony, in Lisbon (13th of June), Feast of St John the Baptist (24th of June), Assumption day (15th of August), Republic Day (5th of October), All Saints Day (1st of November), Restoration of Independence (Freedom the Spanish rule) (1st of December), Immaculate Conception Day (Holy Virgin) (8th of December), Christmas Eve (24th of December), Christmas day (25th of December), New Years Eve (31st of December)
DOs and DON'Ts
DOs • Drink Bica. Bica is an espresso-like coffee shop that the Portuguese are very proud of. • Pay attention to warnings. Never go in water where there is a no swimming sign.
DON’Ts • Do not try to communicate in Spanish. Portuguese and Spanish are two different languages, so don’t assume that people will respond if you speak to them in Spanish. • Don’t get impatient in the evening. Evening events in Portugal usually begin after 9pm. Many restaurants also open later in the evening.
Is the tap water drinkable? Portuguese tap water is not always drinkable. Instead, bottled or boiled water should be used. Do I need an adapter? You will need a standard European plug socket adapter for UK and US plugs.
Top tips and discoveries
Porto The old city of Porto is nestled on the bank of the Douro river and has a fantastic view of winding streets and colourful houses from many points throughout. Everyday life is influenced by the river and even today you can see numerous Barcos Rabelos, the traditional sailboats for transporting port wine barrels. At night, the city cloaks itself in soft light and becomes the focal point for all party and dance enthusiasts.
Rota Vicentina This trail on the west coast displays over 300km of the diversity of the landscape of Portugal. The coastal section of the route, the Fishermen’s trail, runs along the edge of the sea passing soft beaches, rugged cliffs and remote bays. Forests and fields, deep valleys and streams are all part of the route on the historic path that extends further inland. The Vicentina is divided into stages so that every visitor – depending on time and capability – can enjoy this nature discovery trail.
Sagres Sagres is at the extreme western tip of the European Mainland and echoes emotions and memories of the past. The curiosities and uncertain expectations of sailors and explorers are as palpable as the hopes of those that remained on the mainland. Looking out from the crag at the seemingly endless sea, you dream of unknown worlds and find yourself awe-struck. As well as the cliff itself with its mighty lighthouse, the nearby town of Sagres and countless diving and surfing opportunities make the trip a special experience.