Portugal for the Independent Traveller

Sesimbra castle
View from Sesimbra Castle

One of the oldest nations in Europe, Portugal is located on the west side of the Iberian Peninsula and includes the Madeira and Azores archipelagos. Diverse geographical features such as far-flung beaches, mountainous regions, rivers and rolling plains attract visitors from around the world.

The mild climate calls to water sports lovers, golf enthusiasts and beachcombers alike. Many take advantage of "turismo de habitacao" arrangements offering privately owned homes - from farmhouses to grand manors - as personalised accommodation.

Portugal is home to dozens of castles, most of them built or rebuilt between the 12th and 14th centuries. The round chapel of the Templar Castle in Tomar was once a fortress church; oriental architecture inspired its octagonal shape. The Castelo da Pena, built circa 1839, exemplifies Portuguese architecture in the Romantic period. Located on a peak of the Serra de Sintra, it stands against a verdant backdrop.

Portuguese flag Capital: Lisbon (Lisboa)
Language: Portuguese
Time: GMT +2 hrs
Currency: euro (EUR)

Summers are filled with festivals dedicated to the "Santos Populares" (popular saints). Wine, traditional breads and sardines often accompany the street fairs, bonfires, fireworks and marriages that are common during festival time.

Particularly diverse cuisine is a testament to Portugal's active exploration throughout the ages. Visitors experiment with popular codfish dishes, order "Francesinhas," meat sandwiches covered with cheese and bold seafood sauce for late-night snacks, or stop in at the many "pastelarias" pastry shops found on city streets.

Discovering what Portugal has to offer is like opening a book and finding something interesting with each turn of the page.

Portuguese regions

Alentejo | Algarve | Azores Islands (Acores) | Central Portugal (Beiras) | Costa de Lisboa (inc Lisbon) | Costa Prata | Costa Verde | Madeira Islands | Northern Portugal (inc. Porto)