Portugal occupies the southwest part of the Iberian Peninsula and shares borders with Spain, and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is divided into various provinces, including the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores.
The north of the country is home to the mountainous, popular ski resort of Serra da Estrela. If you head south, you'll find the beautiful, historic city of Lagos in the Algarve which is one of the most popular resort areas in Europe.
Portuguese is spoken throughout the country, however there are varying dialects spoken in the North, South and in Lisbon.
The Portuguese currency is the Euro / €.
The weather is very dependant on where you are in Portugal. Inland, it can be very warm, making for hot, dry summer breaks between June and September, but cold enough to sometimes snow in the winter!
The more north you go, the more mild the temperatures become, with a pleasant sea breezes making the heat bearable. Down in the Algarve, it is not uncommon for temperatures to reach 28'c with around 11-12 hours of sunshine a day.
There is plenty to do in Portugal, for all ages and tastes. For an amazing day trip in Lagos, why not head down to Ponta de Piedade for breathtaking views of the coast and the chance to navigate around the turquoise waters and spectacular formations in guided fishing boats.
Or how about a trek through the Serra da Estrela mountain range? Take in the breathtaking views from clifftop, be at one with nature and bask in the peaceful ambience it has to offer. In winter, grab your skis and snowboards, it's the only place you want to head to for some winter fun!
For a bit of culture, The Monastery of Alcobaca is not to be missed! Marvel in the dramatic architecture of this Gothic building which is the final resting place of several of the countries Kings and Queens. With monks dormitories, refectory, living quarters and tombs older than the building to explore, it certainly makes for an interesting afternoon.
We have listed a few good to know pointers if you are thinking of hiring a car for your stay to help you stay savvy on Portuguese roads;
- - Don't Drink and Drive! The blood alcohol limit is 50mg - Penalties range from fines to imprisonment.
- - Remember, you will be driving on the right hand side of the road.
- - Speed limits are: Built-up areas: 50 km/h - 30 mph; Other roads: 90 km/h - 54 mph; Motorways: 120 km/h - 72 mph.
- - All seat belts must be worn at all times when seated in a vehicle.
- The roads aren't always well lit, so take extra caution at night, especially outside of built up areas.
- - Children under 12 years old are prohibited from sitting in the front seat and Child, baby and booster seats are required by law up to the age of eleven.
- At the junction of two roads of equal size, traffic coming from the right has priority.
- Stick to those Speed Limits! They are heavily are enforced by radar traps and unmarked police cars.
Your best one stop shop (!) would be to head to the capital, Lisbon which offers an unmissable shopping opportunity. With large malls filled with quirky boutiques, designer outlets and local brands, it has something for even the pickiest fashionista. Aside from clothing, don't forget that Portugal produce most of the worlds cork - and not just for wine bottles! These make for creative souvenirs, and even a nice handbag!
Be sure to check out smaller, local shops in whichever city or town you visit - You'll be spoilt for choice over locally produced, handcrafted gold and silver goods, tapestries, ceramics and glassware. Make sure you take home some local Port, Wine or Cheese - as well as their delicious honeys!
Shopping hours: generally Mon-Fri 0900-1300 and 1500-1900; Sat 0900-1300. Shopping centres are usually open Mon-Sun 1000-midnight.
The larger towns offer every kind of entertainment. There are many theatres, cinemas, stage shows, folk dancing and music performances; the theatre season runs from October to May. Try catching a show at the prestigious and historical National Theatre D. Maria II for a spectacular experience!
If bars and nightclubs are what you're after, visit the converted warehouses at the Doca de Santo Amaro which are host to waterfront bars and cafés, while a little closer to the city centre the Doca de Alcântara has emerged as the hangout for Lisbon's chic. The densest concentration of popular bars and clubs is found in Bairro Alto. Clubs don't really liven up and get busy until around 2am and tend to stay open till 6am.
Food and Drink
Portuguese food is fresh, hearty and delicious. Seafood is a favoured dish, especially in Lisbon and can be found in many staple dishes. For instance, the famous Bacalhau - salted cod, can be cooked in over 365 different ways as you will find it is served differently in each region!
Other typical Portuguese dishes include:
- - Caldo verde - green soup made with finely shredded green kale leaves in broth;
- - Caldeirada - a fish stew with as many as nine kinds of fish, cooked with onions and tomatoes
- - Cataplana - a shellfish stew cooked in a sealed wok
- - Carne de porco á Alentejana - chunks of fried pork covered with a clam sauce, stewed with tomato and onions.
Rosé and White wines are popular with dinner, especially the sparkling white wine known as Vinho Verde. Portuguese brandies are also good; the best are produced around Oporto, where Port wines come from. There are no licensing hours.
Head over to www.visitportugal.com for a comprehensive guide to Portugal, or give them a call on Tel: +351 211 140 200
All car hire locations in Portugal
- Aguada De Cima
- Aguiar Da Beira
- Angra Do Heroísmo
- Arcos De Valdevez
- Armação De Pêra
- Braga Municipal Aerodrome Airport
- Braganca Airport
- Cais Do Pico
- Caldas Da Rainha
- Castelo Branco
- Chaves Airport
- Coimbra Airport
- Covilha Airport
- Faial Da Terra
- Faro Airport
- Figueira Da Foz
- Flores Airport
- Francisco De Sá Carneiro Airport
- Horta Airport
- João Paulo Ii Airport
- Lajes Field Airport
- Lisbon Portela Airport
- Madalena Do Mar
- Madeira Airport
- Mem Martins
- Moimenta Da Beira
- Monte Gordo
- Oliveira Do Hospital
- Paços De Ferreira
- Peso Da Régua
- Pico Airport
- Pinheiro Grande
- Ponta Delgada
- Portimao Airport
- Porto Santo Airport
- Praia Da Rocha
- Praia Da Vitória
- Prior Velho
- Rio De Mouro
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Maria Airport
- Santa Maria Da Feira
- Santiago Do Cacém
- Santo Tirso
- Sines Airport
- São Jorge Airport
- São João Da Madeira
- São João Do Estoril
- São Martinho
- São Miguel
- Torres Novas
- Torres Vedras
- Vale De Lobo
- Venda Seca
- Viana Do Castelo
- Vila Da Lixa
- Vila Do Conde
- Vila Franca De Xira
- Vila Nova De Famalicão
- Vila Nova De Gaia
- Vila Nova De Milfontes
- Vila Real
- Vila Real Airport
- Viseu Airport