Portugal Holidays Guide - Portugal Cheap Flights
PortugalHolidays & Cheap Flights Guide. Browse travel information on Portugal
Portugal Holidays, Portugal Holiday Packages Overview
Portugal shares the Iberian Peninsula with Spain, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. Its long, varied coastline, sunny climate, and the relaxed lifestyle of the inhabitants of its charming towns and villages have made it a sought after holiday destination. The delight of Portugal is that, although it is undeniably part of modern Europe, it retains some rural enclaves where time has stood still and traditions flourish. In the southern province of the Algarve, modern high-rise resorts line the coast and buzz with all the trappings of a package tour destination; the capital city, Lisbon, on the west coast, is a bright, busy, crowded metropolis surrounded by bustling tourist resorts. Travel a few miles north or east, however, and discover a largely undeveloped picturesque countryside full of medieval villages and towns where life has changed little over several centuries.
The Portuguese have a close affinity to the sea; for centuries their famed mariners led the way in the exploration of Africa and the Americas, and opened trade routes to the East. The country became a strong colonial power, and remained so until the mid-20th century, resulting in distinctive foreign influences on the local culture and architecture. From Africa, for example, was imported the now traditional, sentimental fado music, which is one of the country's unique experiences for visitors, particularly in the cafés of Lisbon.
In recent years Portugal, long overlooked on the list of the world's top vacation stations, has been investing time, money and effort into ensuring it is discovered by the world's travellers, just as once it was the Portuguese who discovered the world. This new age of discovery is paying off, as increasing numbers of visitors arrive each year and hotel and resort construction has exploded. From the visitor's point of view the compactness of the country makes it easy to take in all the best elements: sandy beaches, scenery, history, wonderful cuisine, lively entertainment, charming handcrafts, thrilling nightlife, country fairs, excellent sporting facilities and warm, friendly people.
From the cobbled winding streets of Lisbon's medieval citadel to the cork forests in Alentejo, and from fishermen mending their nets on remote beaches to the shopping malls and sophisticated glitzy resorts, Portugal is a country well worth discovering.
Portugal Regions, Provinces & Travel Destinations
The capital of Portugal has experienced a renaissance in recent years and has reclaimed its rightful place as the 'golden city' of southern Europe. After slumbering for decades, the city's modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan identity is today much similar to that which it enjoyed in the 15th and 16th centuries during the age of the great discoverers, when Lisbon was the centre of trade with the East and the starting point for maritime exploration of the globe.
The southern Portuguese province of the Algarve, divided from the rest of the country by a series of low-lying mountains, is one of Europe's most popular coastal holiday destinations, catering for millions of tourists every year. The region's capital, Faro, is built around a charming harbour beside a wide lagoon. An international airport was opened near Faro in 1965 to cater for the incoming tourists, making the city the hub of the resort trade.
Bridges and port wine are what characterises Oporto, Portugal's gracious northern capital and second largest city after Lisbon. Oporto sits astride a great gorge at the point where the River Douro enters the Atlantic, and although it is mainly industrial, the city centre has plenty of charm with some art treasures, medieval cathedrals and museums, along narrow streets sporting wrought-iron balconies and bright splashes of potted geraniums.
The remoteness of the archipelago of the Azores in the North Atlantic has saved the nine beautiful green islands, which belong to Portugal, from becoming overdeveloped. International flights do make their way to the Azores, which lie 907 miles (1,460km) from the coast of Europe, west of Portugal, but as yet tourism has not spoilt the traditional way of life of the islanders or marred the magnificent natural attractions. Those who visit soon manage to drop the words 'stress' and 'pollution' from their vocabulary, and give in totally to enjoying the islands' year round subtropical climate with mild temperatures and high humidity. The only concern that might arise is the odd earth tremor: the islands are rather geologically unstable and pitted with volcanoes and hot sulphur springs. The 250,000 inhabitants seem unperturbed by this, however, and go about their daily rounds much as their forefathers did hundreds of years before. The daily business is generally agricultural labour. The Azores is characterised by large tracts of vineyards and farmland, sprinkled with little settlements of whitewashed houses. The gently sloping hillsides are carpeted with vineyards and fruit orchards. The coast of the islands is, in the main, rather rugged, but there are bays and inlets with odd stretches of white sand for swimming and sunbathing. Island hopping is simple to achieve because all the islands are connected by ferry and local air services.
Most people have heard of the Portuguese island of Madeira, but not many know exactly where it is. Located more than 600 miles (966km) southwest of Lisbon, and off the west coast of Morocco, it is a mere speck in the vast Atlantic Ocean. Madeira, along with its sister island of Porto Santo, is actually the summit of an undersea mountain, rearing up with craggy cliffs from the warm blue Gulf Stream waters in one of the deepest parts of the Atlantic. It features one of the world's highest ocean cliffs, soaring 1,933ft (589m) above the sea, which presented a forbidding sight to the ancient Portuguese mariners who first discovered the island archipelago in the 15th century. In fact Porto Santo and Madeira were the first 'new worlds' that were colonised by Henry the Navigator in his quest to explore the world.
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