The highlights of Portugal are spectacular football, great beach holidays, and delicious cuisine with aromatic wines.
Portugal is a country for experienced hedonists. Wandering along the cozy streets of its cities, you can feel for a moment somewhere in Spain or southern France. With only one fundamental difference: there are almost no ubiquitous tourists of the “gallop across Europe” format, this place is more likely for wealthy travelers who prefer a special, elitist vacation. Here they value traditions, honor a rich historical heritage, know how to enjoy life, and do not skimp on comfort, creating it both for themselves and for dear guests in every sense.
Inhaling the scent of oranges and eucalyptus trees, strolling along the embankments, enjoying wine accompanied by sad fado songs in colorful cafes, you can get to know the real Europe a little closer – one that is too proud and beautiful to participate in tourist races.
There are regular direct flights to Lisbon, Faro, and Porto from all over Europe and some US cities, though travelers from outside Europe may find it cheaper to fly via London and arrange onward travel from there. If you want to see some of France or Spain en route, or are taking a vehicle, there are overland combinations of the ferry, rail, and road to consider, though these nearly always work out pricier than flying. Package holidays and tours can be good value, whether it’s an Algarve beach holiday or escorted walking tour – and travel agents and specialist tour operators can also provide car rental, hotel bookings, and other useful services.
Air, train, and ferry fares are at their highest in school holidays and summer (basically Easter to September), and around Christmas/New Year and Easter week. The cheapest flights from the UK and Ireland are usually with the budget airlines, though watch out for the airport taxes, which can cost more than the flight itself, as well as additional charges for checked luggage and allocated seating. Major scheduled airlines are usually (though not always) more expensive, while specialist flight, discount, or online agents can sometimes offer special student and youth fares plus a range of other travel-related services.
Portugal has a subtropical Mediterranean climate: mild, without sudden temperature fluctuations. In the north, because of the Gulf Stream, a maritime climate prevails. Summer here is dry and sunny, but not hot (average temperature is about +20 ° C, in the mountains – about +18 ° C), winters are cool (from +4 ° C to +10 ° C) and rainy. The south of the country is warm and dry. Average temperatures in January +5 … + 10 ° C, July +20 … + 27 ° C. In summer, the water warms up to +20 … + 23 ° C.
It is best to get to know Portugal from May to October: the weather at this time is almost always warm and sunny, rains are rare, which means it will be comfortable both on a walking tour and on the beach. But you should be careful with swimming: because of the ocean currents, the water on the Portuguese coast is cool. It is better to swim south of Lisbon: the Atlantic is warmer there by 2-3 ° C, and the difference is quite noticeable. North of the capital, most holidaymakers prefer to sunbathe and enjoy the scenery. Spring is the best time for surfing, but in winter it is rainy in the country, although the sun often returns to the south.