Portugal shares the Iberian peninsula at the western tip of Europe with Spain and has a rich, unique culture, lively cities and beautiful countryside. The country offers outstanding landscape diversity, due to its North-South disposition along the western shore of the Iberian peninsula. You can travel in a single day from green mountains in the North, covered with vines and all varieties of trees to rocky mountains, with spectacular slopes and falls in the Centre, to a near-desert landscape in the Alentejo region and finally to the glamorous beach holiday destination of the Algarve.
Porto A beautiful coastal city set on the Douro River and known for its beautiful Baroque monuments, stately bridges and port wine production. A great city for sampling local food and wines!
The Douro Valley
Known as the Port Wine Country located in the north of Portugal, it is a river, a valley and a famous wine growing region and popular river cruising destination.
Portugal’s capital city full of historical treasures and a fabulous gastronomy destination. It is a great city to explore on foot with its historical centre and picturesque suburbs.
The Algarve Portgual’s southernmost region known for stunning beaches and resorts. Whitewashed villages surrounded by rolling hills over look the Atlantic where there is over 200km of coastline to explore.
Islands of the Azores An archipelago in the mid-Atlantic known for dramatic landscapes, green pastures and sparkling lake filled calderas.
Portugal can be visited year round. July and August can be quite hot.
I adore the Douro – dense forests, groves of impossibly tall thin eucalyptus and vineyards carved into steep ravines. Dotted along the river are villages of whitewashed houses with orange tiled roofs and simple little churches with a plaza in front where the locals meet to chat. The only way to experience it is by cruising – we stop at villages in the morning, then after a three course lunch with local wines we siesta on the sun deck with the odd splash in the pool….
Brett Barclay, Director
Why we love it Cruising the Douro River through spectacular scenery, drinking a local Port wine, dining on some of the incredible seafood and stopping at little villages where life seems to have stood still. Or wandering the boulevards of Lisbon – a favourite city in Europe that many have yet to discover. Spending an evening at a Fado club being swept away by music of such emotion.
Weather The months of May to October and warm and dry, the winter months tend to be colder.
Social customs & quirks Like citizens of many other Mediterranean Sea nations, the Portuguese take great pride in their food, family and fashion. Men in berets and women in black shawls still believe in evil eyes and other ancient superstitions in rural villages. Many Portuguese are very conservative and very polite.
Festivals & events The normally conservative and polite Portuguese have plenty of occasions to let their hair down and celebrate throughout the year. Each community has both its own patron saint and saint’s day celebrated with church processions, dancing, music, wine, and fireworks. However, no Portuguese celebration is livelier than Carnaval in February. Each community celebrates in its own way, but none is bigger than in Lisbon’s Parque Nações, whose street parades and theatrical performances are filled with elaborate costumes, masks and floats which take several weeks to build. The Algarve celebrates Carnaval by sailing carefully decorated traditional Portuguese boats along the coast.