The furthest-west country in Europe, found on the Iberian Peninsula on the European mainland, Portugal is home to some ten million residents and noted for its good food, great weather and many cultural landmarks. Bordered only by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal has nonetheless a unique cultural identity best experienced by a visit there.
Should you visit during winter, Portugal's average daytime maximum temperatures are an approximate 16 °C, similar to that on the coastal towns of Spain. The average number of sunshine hours is five to six per day during these winter months. Portugal receives refreshing sea breezes, making for very pleasant conditions during the summer months, where maximum temperatures average 28 °C alongside averages of 12 hours of sunshine per day.
Named after its second largest city Porto, which came from the Roman name for the Port of Cale - a vital port town in the north of the country - Portugal was formerly at the forefront of overseas exploration; with many colonies in the Far East and South America. Their trade routes helped them to become a major force on the world's economy, until left-leaning constitutions took hold in the mid-20th century and caused the grant of independence to many of their colonies.
With only Spain as its neighbour on the whole peninsula, Portugal packs more than 35,000 square miles into its borders, ensuring that there is more than enough things to see and do for anyone making the trip there. Capital city Lisbon and second city Porto attract the majority of travellers looking to expand their cultural horizons; both are on the west coast of the country which will have afforded their major city status while acting as shipping trade ports.
Given its rich history, Portugal is home to many significant sites that are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, making a trip to see them essential. The Alto Douro Wine Region is one such location; it is believed that the agreeable climate and healthy soil has seen grapes grown here for wine production since Roman times. Other sites of major historical interest include two 12th century monasteries and the Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley, located near the Spanish border.
The nightlife particularly in Lisbon is diverse and hugely popular among visitors and residents alike; as are the most celebrated sports in the country. World-famous footballers such as Eusebio are still held in high esteem by fans of his main club Benfica; with whom he won eleven league titles. Visit a Benfica or Sporting Lisbon football match to see just how seriously the Portuguese take their football!
Last updated: 14 March 2014