Portugal Tourism And Travel Guide
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April to October
7 to 9 Days
Portugal, the westernmost country in the south of Europe is a tourist haven. With its line of beaches, antiquated castles, gothic chapels and fortresses, the country is par brilliance. You will find yourself in the mildest European weather with a vivid Mediterranean touch while enjoying almost all seasons here. Tourism in Portugal is defined by a lot of history, culture and beaches. So if you are a fan of this mix, pack your bags. Because here is a travel guide to take you through Portugal.
How to Reach
Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Goa (seasonal) have one-stop flights to Portugal’s major international airports like Lisbon, Faro, Portela, Humberto Delgado and Madeira. The regular airlines plying on these routes include Lufthansa, Air India, Air France, British Airways and Jet Airways.
You can reach Portugal from European neighbouring cities like France, Spain etc by either hiring a car or availing the bus services run by ALSA, Auto Res and AnÍbal. For internal travel in Portugal, you have taxi services provided by centraldetaxis.pt, as well as taxis on hire instantly on roads. Uber is available in bigger cities like Lisbon.
The Eurail network ensures great connectivity of Portugal to all major European destinations like Madrid, Paris, London, Belgium, Amsterdam etc. For internal domestic commute too you have a fairly widespread network of railway lines, right from the south of Portugal in Faro upto the northern city of Braga. Cities like Porto and Lisbon also boast of local trains called ‘urbanos.’
Getting around in Portugal can be done by two usual ways - the local transport like trams, local trains (urbanos) and buses, or private cars that you hire. Taxis are of two types, the ‘A’ marked ones are for hire and use metres while the ’T’ marked ones can be called from private companies and have a pre-designated fare according to your destination. Big cities like Lisbon, Porto etc have Uber app services nowadays too.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Weather in Portugal is almost always quite good, given the country's tag for the ‘mildest’ European weather. The best time to visit Portugal is around its spring and autumn seasons when crowds are lesser and temperatures soothing.
Spring (March to May):
This time is the beginning of tourist season in Portugal and surfing schools fill up with European kids on the coast. February is a mild time while March comes with blooming fruits and flowers. Rains are negligible and temperatures hover between 13-21°C.
Summer (June to September):
Summer is the hot, sultry time here, with the beaches and coasts providing some respite. The northern parts of Portugal are still milder while islands like Madeira retain their eternal spring temperatures as well. Mid-July marks the hottest time and Portugal is basically hounded by European tourists. This is quite an expensive time, albeit the best to enjoy the seaside..
Autumn (October to November):
Autumn is a lovely time to visit Portugal, what with all the dropping temperatures and velvety reds and golds lining the trees. The weather is mild with 17°C temperature going down to 11°C by season’s end. Fog is thick on some days and rains can make the evenings chilly. The beaches are still warm though and islands good for a last holiday time before winter.
Winter (December to February):
Winters in Portugal are milder and temperatures remain between 5-9°C in most lowland places. The nights might see some frost and below freezing point temperatures but they are pretty bearable as you are asleep in the warmth of your heated chambers. Madeira is the only island in the country where you will be able to enjoy even in winters, as it is still lush and in bloom, warm and cozy.
Things to Do
Enjoy the Portuguese Beaches:
Portugal is the most renowned for its southern-Europe beaches that span its expansive coastline like a slumbering feline. Some of the best European beaches are to Portugal’s credit, including Praia da Marinha, Praia de Odeceixe, Ilha de Tavira and Praia da Falesia. The magical blue Atlantic ocean with Mediterranean weather just makes these beaches all the more beautiful along the Algarve coast. You can enjoy diving, swimming, snorkelling, surfing and sun-bathing here among other things.
Visit a Museum-City - Evora:
Evora is a city of Portugal that can, for all intents and purposes, be called a museum city. It was once under the Roman rule and later fell to the Moorish. Today it has winding ways through the hill and ancient narrow streets that have Roman charm written all over it. Churches and thermal baths and ruined temples aside, Evora also is home to the Evora Se Cathedral, Temple of Diana, Dona Isabel and the megaliths. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stroll down Alfama:
Lisbon is known for many things, but it is renowned for its ancient district of Alfama that engulfs the culture and tradition along with the quintessential sky-line of white houses and red roofs of Lisbon. A district by the water-side, Alfama has some of the most beautiful pebbled streets and tram-lines along those streets; cafes, restaurants bars and churches all echoing with local life. Fado clubs are the best here and you can walk around to explore monuments like the Lisbon Cathedrall, Castle of São Jorge and Santa Luzia.
Enjoy Fado music with a glass of Port:
Fado is the traditional Portuguese music and Port wine is the land’s own drink of choice. The combination of the two is a real cultural treat. Port is largely produced in the city of Porto in the Douro valley, made from the choicest grapes. The best place to get Port as well as Fado is Solar da Vinho da Porto in Lisbon.
Live on an Island of Eternal Spring:
Madeira, an island in Portugal, is given this title for a reason. It truly sees spring sunshine and temperatures and blooms all through the year; making it a year-round destination. There is much to do here, from visiting small towns and villages to enjoying water sports like scuba-diving, sailing, swimming and kayaking. You will be able to live out your days in happy spring!
What to Eat
Traditional Portuguese cuisine is something the Indian palate will be a little familiar with, given our Goanese cuisine is highly evolved and inspired from the same. You must try some classic Portuguese dishes here like bacalhau, which is a dried salted codfish, best served at A Casa do Bacalhau in Lisbon. Sardines are also great snacks for summer in Lisbon, quite famous at Festo de Santo Antonio. Other famous dishes to try are Cozido a portuguesa (a platter of rice, meat and veggies), Bifana, Arroz de marisco (a paella-like rice dish) and Pasteis de Nata or pastries with rich egg custard cream filling. Pasteis de Nata are best eaten at Lisbon’s Pasteis de Belem.
Where to Shop
Portugal is famous for its wine called the Port, handcrafted jewellery, pottery items, embroidered linens and artefacts, leather shoes, and canned sardines and other fish like tuna. For souvenirs, you can take back products made of Cork from streets or flea markets, along with tuna packs, sunglasses and shoes. The best place to really shop-shop is Lisbon’s flea market Feira da Ladra by the National Pantheon on Saturdays and Tuesdays. There are also big bouitiques and garages like Embaixada, Cork & Co. and Pelcor. The best canned-fish shopping is done at Conserveira de Lisboa.