Portugal travel tips
Portugal: getting there and facts
Portugal (officially: República Portuguesa) is in the south-western extreme of the Iberian Peninsula.
It borders on Spain and the Atlantic Ocean. The islands of the Azores and Madeira are also part of Portugal. Due to its geographic and cultural independence from its neighbours,
Portugal has developed a rich and unique cultural and natural landscape. Portugal is divided up into the regions: the Algarve, Costa do Sol, Alentejo, Vale do Douro and Minho. The most important river in Portugal is the Tejo.
The three most important airports in Portugal are in Porto, Lisbon, and Faro.
Portugal's climate and geography
The north of Portugal has a relatively cool and humid climate. In the north-east, on the other hand, is Trás-os-Montes (behind the mountains). This region is very mountainous and the winters here are therefore very cold and summers hot. The most significant environmentally protected area in the country, the National park Peneda-Gerês, is located here. Important cities in the north are Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Matosinhos, Braga, Vila Real and Bragança.
Central Portugal is to a large extent hilly to mountainous and has a significant mountain range with a skiing region, the Serra da Estrela. Important cities in the centre of Portugal are Lisbon, Aveiro, Sintra, Coimbra, Viseu, Leiria, Castelo Branco and Santarém.
The south of Portugal is made up of the area Terras do Sado, Alentejo and the Algarve. The countryside here is flat to hilly and has a dry, hot, North African climate. The largest cities in the south of Portugal are: Portalegre, Évora, Beja, Faro and Lagos. The most important river in the region is the Rio Guadiana.
Lisbon and other interesting destinations
Lisbon (Portuguese Lisboa), the capital city of Portugal, is on the estuary of the Tejo by the Atlantic Ocean. As Portugal’s largest city with the most important harbour, the seat of the government and all the highest state and government administrations, seven universities, and the Academy of Sciences, Lisbon is the political, cultural, and economic centre of Portugal.
The climate here is Atlantic, summers are dry and seldom hot, and during the winter months the temperature rarely drops below freezing point. The business and bank quarter of Lisbon is the Baixa (the lower city). About 6 km north of the city centre is the international airport Lisbon-Portella. The Torre de Belém is the “trademark” of the city, and was declared a world heritage Site by UNESCO. Other places of interest are the Mosteiro dos Jerónimus (Hieronymus monastery), the Castelo de São Jorge, the Catedral Sé Patriarcal, Centro Ciência Viva (Science Centre) and the Oceanário de Lisboa as the second largest ocean aquarium in the world.
Other interesting cities in Portugal are Aveiro, Cascais, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Porto, Peniche and Sintra.