Portugal offers a wide range of options to visitors and investors. Below you will find general information on its history, climate and culture, as well as a quick reference to help you when travelling to Portugal.
Bordering the west of Spain, Portugal embodies the westernmost coast of Europe and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal is heavily influenced by the sea both in climate and in historical background and it is a driving force in the lifestyle and tourist industry of Portugal today.
Portugal offers a rich diversity in landscape, including green mountains and vineyards in the north, dry rock faces and near-desert conditions in the certain central regions, and popular sandy beaches on the southern shores of the Algarve. For years, the southern coast has enjoyed a strong tourist trade, offering idyllic beach and golfing holidays for northern Europeans. Meanwhile the windier and more rugged shores and cliffs of the Atlantic in areas north of Lisbon on the Silver Coast, are now attracting much interest amongst a new set of visitors looking for more rural retreats away from the tourist hubs of the south.
Rich in cultural identity, Portugal abounds with religious festivals, pilgrimages, carnivals and fairs that are synonymous with life on the Iberian peninsular and southern Europe in general. Visitors are attracted by the laid-back nature of the people and the numerous wining and dining opportunities. Portugal boasts an interesting historical heritage, including much evidence of past Moorish and Oriental eras in its beautiful architecture and culture today. Historical buildings abound in Portugal, particularly in the capital city of Lisbon and Porto, Portugal’s second largest city.
The land mass of Europe and the long coastal strip of the Atlantic affect the Portuguese climate, with strong Atlantic winds blowing in from the ocean, making summers cooler and winters milder than elsewhere in south western Europe, although summers are still long and warm. On average, Portugal boasts more than 300 days of sunshine per year with maximum temperatures rising to a relatively comfortable 24°C in August.
The British tend to gravitate to the south-west corner of Portugal for the hotter sunshine and sheltered shores of the Algarve while Portuguese inland regions can achieve very high temperatures during summer. Winters are generally mild and pleasant, without the heat many Europeans find oppressive.
History of Portugal
Portugal possesses a long history of empires created by its own Vasco da Gama who set to sea in search of a passage to India in the 15th century and was responsible for the making Portugal into a then world colonial power, with territories in Brazil as well as Africa and Asia. To this day, all these countries have been left with gentle reminders of these colonial times, while Portugal’s culture has itself been heavily influenced by these colonies, eg. the melancholy Fado music, probably derived from Brazil.
Portugal has also undergone grave losses, including the devastating destruction of it capital city of Lisbon following an earthquake in 1755. Further devastation was experienced when Portugal became occupied during the Napoleonic Wars and with the loss of its colony of Brazil in 1822.
More recently, for most almost half of the twentieth century, Portugal underwent dictatorship under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar who refused to grant independence to Portugal’s colonies, resulting in bloody wars in Africa. In 1974, Portugal experienced a coup, known as the Revolution of the Carnations, resulting in the overthrowing of the dictatorship and independence for the colonies by the end of 1975, while the last of the Portuguese colonies, Macau, was handed to Chinese administration in 1999.
Medical, Water and Vaccinations
Vaccinations are not needed when travelling to Portugal, although for frequent travels to Portugal the Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended.
The water is perfectly safe to drink all over Portugal, although bottled water is also widely available.
Travelling to Portugal
Many no-frills airlines now fly to Portugal making it cheap and easy to access. Major airlines currently flying to Portugal are BA, EasyJet, Ryanair and TAP Air Portugal.