Why Would I Want To Visit Portugal - Best Portugal Tourism
Why visit Portugal? The answer is simple; it's one of the most beautiful, charming and historically romantic countries on the European continent.
The country is home to a variety of stunning beaches - forget the Algarve ... the entire Portuguese coastline is littered with hidden, almost forgotten bays, dramatic sea-scapes and inlets that are perfect for surfers and miles and miles of shoreline that's covered in sand so fine it looks as though the coastline's been dusted with a sugar frosting.
Many tourists overlook Portugal as a place of interest, a country to explore, discover and ultimately - absorb and enjoy. Perhaps it's because of its position on the global map - the country's location is just a little off the beaten track.
Portugal sits on the very edge of the Iberian Peninsula and despite it being a part of both the EU and the European continent, it's far flung Western position - and size - almost hides it from the eyes of potential tourists.
Most visit Spain, Italy or France; all countries that dwarf Portugal by comparison - and all are popular European tourist destinations.
But then - as sizeable as all are, as well known as each country is, you know what they say about diamonds ... they never comes as big as bricks.
Which is exactly what Portugal is - the diamond in the crown of Europe.
Visit Portugal - The Jewel Of Europe
That's why you should consider a visit to Portugal - Portugal tourism is active and the country really is the jewel in the crown of Europe.
The country possesses a fascinating history, tales of seafaring heroes, venturing out into unchartered waters, discovering and conquering new lands. A rich cultural background, awash with tales of daring and adversity ... triumphs and tribulations.
Fantastic architecture, both ancient and contemporary, often existing side by side in perfect harmony.
The indigenous population are arguably some of the most passionate, warm and openly happy people the world over. They love their country with an ardour that's both personal to the people and the country. Old fashioned manners and courtesy still exist, family is ever important.
Portuguese food is a smorgasbord of delights, a true sensory overload ... some of the best seafood and fish recipes can be found within Portugal's borders and the sight, smell and taste of many of the dishes are beyond measure. For a myriad of reasons, it's a bon vivant's idea of heaven - so many dishes, so little time!
Portugal MapClick thumbnail to view full-size
Full Portugal Tourist Guide
Cheap Flights To Portugal
- Cheap Flights To Portugal
Cheap flights to Portugal and a guide to the various airports in Portugal - as well as links to cheap holidays and more.
The Portugal tourism industry is active, efficient and welcoming of overseas visitors. Much of the active tourist industry has been concentrated in the South of the country, the Algarve.
However, of late that is beginning to change. Portugal has a lot more to offer the world than the nightlife, activity and cheap flights you'll find in and around the Algarve. The whole country is criss-crossed with areas of outstanding beauty, fanstastic vistas for walking, cycling and horse riding.
There are many inland lakes and rivers, many of which offer a wide variety of watersports. There's rock climbing, skiing (in the winter), abseiling, diving, fishing, sailing and so much more. Around the coastline of Perniche there's fantastic surfing to be found - another little known aspect of Portugal.
On the West coast, North of Lisbon, golf courses and equestrian centres have either been built or are in the process of being so. There's a growing awareness related to horse-riding and the last two or three years has seen a marked influx of related European competitions, which is slowly beginning to encourage a secondary tourist industry in its own right.
There's a definite upswing across the country in relation to the West coast becoming more commercial re social tourism, though the powers that be are careful not to allow it to become a new 'Algarve'. Despite the slower growth and development of what's now known as the Silver Coast, from both a nationwide developmental perspective and that of a tourist one, Portugal is slowly becoming a strong contender in the European market.
Portugal does have a lot to offer and deserves a far better standing within both the European and global tourism market. The country is clean and largely untouched, the costs are incredibly low in direct comparison to the UK, France or Spain, the weather is simply fantastic, crime rates are low and family values are high.
What's more, in many of the tourist areas, Portuguese natives speak English to a conversational level and even when they don't, many have at least a fair grasp of the language. any little effort you make at greeting them in Portuguese will return a favorable response.
This is always a plus for a non-english speaking nation as vast amounts of money ploughed into tourism tends to come from the pockets of native English speakers. In the case that it's not, English is generally the common language spoken between non-English speaking nations.
Portuguese Phrases - Pronounciations
The Portuguese are very responsive to tourists that make even a little effort and you'll certainly gain their help a lot easier if you at least greet them in their own language then add something like:
- desculpe ... eu não falo Portugûes, sou Inglês/Americano. Tu fala Inglês ou não? - excuse me ... I don't speak Portuguese, I'm English/American. Do you speak English, or not?
I know it sounds difficult but a little will go a long long way!
Basic Portuguese Phrases
There are many quick and easy to learn basic Portuguese phrases. Whilst no expects anyone to turn up for a two week vacation/holiday fluent in the language of their destination, a few words will go a long way.
Some of the more common and worth learning/using phrases are:
- boa tarde- good day
- bom dia - good morning
- olá - hello
- obrigado/a - thankyou
- queria um/uma ... - I would like a ...
- gostaria de ir para *insert destinatation* - I would like to go to (in a taxi)
- tehno uma reserva ... - I have a reservation ...
- desculpe ... fala Inglês? - Excuse me ... do you speak English
- Como está? - how are you
- de nada - you're welcome
- sim - yes
- não - no
- até logo - see you later
- adeus - goodbye
- hoje - today
- amanhã - tomorrow
- agora - now
- aqui - here
- um café - coffee
- meia de lite - coffee with milk
- uma cerveja - a beer
- o menu - the menu
Best Time To Visit Portugal
The best time to visit Portugal would depend on how hot you like the weather. Once you hit the back of May - it begins to get seriously hot across the entire country. We're talking thirty and forty degrees right through September, sometimes into October.
Don't rely on the average weather indicators. The last two winters have been far wetter the the indicators would have you believe, the spring and summer have been hotter than the charts suggest.
I remember February 2009 hitting 22 and 23 degrees most of the month (I'm not kidding), then it cooled off again, nearer to the 18/19 degrees mark, through March and April. This year, I was in Cascais (an area of Lisbon) at the beginning of march and it was 24 degrees. So saying, the weather in Portugal is far more good stuff than the opposite.
If you like it a little cooler, go in early summer and the fall/autumn. If you want to bake, fry, look like an old leather sandal, aim for May through September.
Portugal - What To See
Here's a list and quick summary of some of the best parts of Portugal:
- Lisbon: capital city, filled with historical magnificence, contemporary living and host to some of the most wonderful food in Portugal - as well as host to the hauntingly beautiful Fado and a wide variety of places to visit and things to do.
- Porto: Northern city, industrialized but stunning, a riverside city filled with medievil renmants of the past, accessible golf courses and a wide variety of places of interest and a vast array of superb seafood restaurants.
- Algarve: Southern Portugal, well known for it's nightlife, accommodation and great food. Great destination for young adults and families - perfect sandy beaches and a strong english speaking area.
- Central Portugal: from the unbelievable beauty of the city of Coimbra, to the wonderfully medieval Obidos, the gorgeous, little known Caldas De Rainha, the delightful towns of Cadaval and Bombarral. Breathtaking scenery and terrain, a wonderful mix of architecture, from Romanesque to Baroque, Arabic and Moorish influences.
- Alentejo: Agricultural Portugal, but no less beautiful. Visit Beja, a former Roman town, or Évora, a world heritage site. These are but two of the wonderfully historic towns to be found in and around the Alentejo region. There's a fantastic array of local crafts and goods produced, from leather crafts to pottery, earthenware, hand painted furniture and much more.
Figueira da Foz
Best Places To Visit Portugal
What are the best places to visit in Portugal? You have a wide variety of options:
- city breaks
- beach holidays
- family holidays
- sporting holidays
- relaxing/cultural breaks
The above will help you determine the best places to visit - for you, or you and your family. If you're young, energetic and just want a fun week with friends, then the Algarve will more than suit.
It's also great for families, as there are lots of hotels that accommodate family groups, or provide all-inclusive deals. Shop around though - there are some great bargains to be found in the Algarve.
For those looking for something more relaxing, consider a city break. Both Lisbon and Porto have airports that have scheduled flights botn inbound/outbound, 365 days a year. What's more, besides the amazing architecture and historical sites that both cities are host to, Lisbon and Porto sit or straddle estuaries.
There are some wonderful beaches very close to both:
- Lisbon: Cascais and Estoril
- Porto: Espinho and Matosinhos
I don't have my own pictures of the beaches at Porto but I do have many from Lisbon's coastline and having been down to the Algarve, I can say with clarity that the Western coastline is every bit as beautiful as anything you'll find in the South - and far less developed!
There are many places to visit in Portugal, some of historical interest and importance, others that are relaxing, peaceful - places to recoup and recharge. There are religious towns/centres, such as Fatima - which is host to a shrine that attracts thousand of Catholic pilgrims, year on year.
Fatima - the town is located in the central region and though rather small, it has a certain religious significance for the Catholic faith. A shrine was created after three young children claimed to have seen a vision of Mary, or the 'Virgin of The Rosary' back in 1917.
In its own right, Fatima is worth a visit if for nothing more than its location and architecture. The Basilica is simply stunning and the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is one of the biggest Christian chruches the world over - the 4th largest, to be exact.
Figueira Da Foz - nestles some 125 miles North of Lisbon. It's another coastal town, belonging to the city of Coimbra and home to miles of gorgeous sandy coastline and a fantastic casino, which I've visited several times.
Accommodation is incredibly cheap in Figueira, my partner and I have stayed in a hotel almost next door to the famous casino for €30/$36/£25 a night which included an incredibly fresh, just baked breakfast every morning. The price was for two, not per person.
Definitely worthy of a weekend break or a day trip if you stay in or around Coimbra - which is another stunning city that nestles within the borders of this incredibly beautiful country.
Pictures: combination of my own and courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
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