Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal shares the Iberian Peninsula with Spain. Its long, varied coastline, sunny climate, and the relaxed lifestyle of the inhabitants have made it a sought after holiday destination.
To the south, the Algarve is awash with modern high-rise resorts offering everything package holidaymakers could ask for. On the west coast Portugal’s capital, Lisbon is a bright, busy, crowded city surrounded by bustling tourist resorts. As with its northern neighbour, Porto, it offers eclectic restaurants, colourful boutiques, bohemian cafes and stylish nightclubs.
But if you want something quieter and more relaxed, head a few miles north or east and discover a largely undeveloped picturesque countryside full of medieval villages and towns where life has changed little over several centuries such as Évora, Coimbra, Guimarães and Braga.
Travellers have long been enchanted by the mixture of modern and traditional living in this fascinating country. Portugal's warm sunny weather makes exploring a centuries-old vineyard, visiting stone villages in the mountains or soaking up rays on the magnificent southern shoreline a real pleasure. But if you are looking for a more active holiday there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, surfing, windsurfing, horse-riding, big game fishing, kayaking, diving, golfing and mountain biking.  
Portugal uses the Euro and foreign currency can be exchanged in all banks, Airports, bureaux de change and train stations. By far the best option for travellers is to use debit/credit cards. Cash can be drawn from ATM machines 24 hours a day. The machines can be identified by the letters MB (Multibanco). Traveller's cheques are also accepted in major establishments.


The Algarve is Portugal's southernmost province and offers some of the finest beaches and recreational facilities in Europe.
The white-sand beaches are clean, and the fishing, water sports and golfing are good. For those who like to experience the true essence of their holiday destination a drive along the coast will take you through picturesque villages with their distinctive Algarvian chimneys.
Of course, the other main draw to the area is the weather. Normally it is comfortably warm and the people are friendly so it is easy to see why the Algarve is very popular among European travellers.
The Algarve region is separated from the rest of the country by a series of low-lying mountains. Its capital, Faro, is built around a charming harbour beside a wide lagoon.
Most of the Algarve's modern holiday resorts were once small fishing villages. Therefore they still feature central areas with narrow streets, whitewashed houses and ancient churches. However it is the long sandy beaches which have ensured its place as a holiday Mecca.
The coastline stretches 100 miles (161km) from Cape St. Vincent to Vila Real de Santo Antonio on the border with Spain. Much of this area is now home to high-rise hotels and holiday apartment blocks, especially to the west of Faro.
Algarve is synonymous with the almond trees that are found throughout the region. There are also groves of lemons, oranges, carobs, pomegranates and figs that are grown inland in what is known as the 'garden of Portugal'.
And of course, no holiday destination would be complete without numerous golf courses which have become associated with the real estate developments and major resorts.
See & Do
As you can imagine there is just about everything you could want in the Algarve. Whether you are looking for adventure exploring the area hiking, mountain biking or horse riding or other sporting facilities, it’s all here:
  • Golf – Vilamoura & Vale de Lobo
  • Bowling – Cuba Praia da Oura in Albufeira
  • Tennis
  • Surfing – especially Vila do Bispo & Lagos
  • Windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing – Albufeira, Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago
  • Sailing – Lagos, Portimao, Vilamoura, Albufeira
  • Scuba diving – Praia de Rocha, Lagos, Sagres, Quarteira
For a more sedate walk around the towns and villages there are also several markets that you can explore. In particular there is a Wednesday market in Quarteira and one in Loule on a Saturday which are very good.
But if you prefer your holidays basking on the beaches here are some of the best beaches in the Algarve:
  • Praia de Barril
  • Praia de Armona
  • Meia Praia
  • Praia Verdi
  • Praia Ilha de Tavira
  • Armaçäo de Pera
  • Praia da Galé
  • Praia da Falésia
  • Praia da Bordeira
  • Praia da Ilha de Faro
The main souvenirs people bring home from the Algarve are hand painted ceramic tiles (azulejos), gold filigree work, embroidered goods and other handcraft items.
There is a wealth of shopping opportunities in the various resorts. Below is a sample of what is on offer:
  • Faro
o   The main shopping is along Rua Santo Antonio & Rua Francisco Gomes
o   There is a market on the Largo de Mercado
o   Specialities are handcrafts: baskets, embroidery, local wines, clothing and ceramic tiles
  • Vilamoura
o   A purpose built resort with plenty of shopping
o   Designer outlets, shoe stores, sports outlets, perfumeries, tobacconists, jewellers etc.
o   For some local colour head for the Saturday market at nearby Loule
  • Lagos
o   Flea market
o   Lots of shops in the pedestrianised Old City
o   Main produce are local wares – wickerwork, filigree jewellery, copperware, leather goods and wine
  • Albufeira
o   Everything from seafront kiosks to large shopping malls
o   Main mall is Modelo Centre in Rua de Municipio
o   The lively Algarve shopping centre complex in Guia is nearby (includes high street shops, cinema and bowling)
  • Tavira
o   A self catering area providing supermarkets and souvenir shops (selling cork, lace, embroidery and shell art)
o   ‘Old Market’ is the upmarket handcraft shopping centre
Food & Drink
As you might guess, seafood features a lot on menus in the Algarve. But if you are not all that keen on it, there are plenty of other choices such as pork and chicken.
Because the area is a popular tourist destination there are many varied cuisines available – from traditional fare to Italian, Indian, and Chinese etc.
The national dish is Caldo Verde, a soup made from potatoes, onion, garlic and sausage. Also look out for Bacalhau (salt-cod), Porco à alentejana (pork marinated with red peppers and garlic) as well as the many delicious pastries.
As you would expect port wines feature heavily in the Algarve along with Madeira, Vinhos Verde (a green wine unique to Portugal) and, if you are feeling particularly brave, a liqueur called amarguinha.
Here are a few restaurants you might like to try during your stay in the Algarve:
  • Casa Grande – nr Burgau
  • A Máscara – Portimão
  • Minar – Albufeira
  • Museo do Lagar – Loule
  • Beiro Rio – Tavira
  • La Ruina – Albufeira
  • Os Azeiteros – Albufeira
  • Cassa de Forno – Vilamoura
  • Rosa’s Cantina – Vilamoura
  • Do Cais Bistro – Lagos
  • Duquesa Restaurant - Lagos
The Algarve may not be as buzzing as Ibiza but it has plenty on offer to keep you entertained when the sun goes down. The number of bars and clubs will depend on where you are staying, but if you like to spend the night partying then head for Albufeira.
Here are a few of the venues you might like to try out:
  • Faro – the main area is along Rua do Prior, Rua Conselheiro and Rua Infante Dom Henrique. Clubs include Upa Upa Café, Dux and Fashion Kaffe
  • Vilamoura – there are several bars and discos (e.g. Kadoc) plus an International Casino
  • Lagos – the streets are lined with buskers and entertainers in the evenings. Bars and clubs include Bar Amuras, Red Eye Bar and Zanzibar
  • Albufeira – most of the bars are around the town square or The Strip. They include Capitulo, Kiss, Sir Harry’s and Locomia
  • Tavira – a quieter area but there are still a few bars and cafes (e.g. Acro Bar and The Poet)
Wherever you are in the Algarve there will always be plenty to do. Listed below are some of the places you might like to visit. Of course, you can always take a day trip to Lisbon to experience the Portuguese city life too.
  • Faro
o   Old Town (Cidade Velha)
o   Igreja do Carmo (chapel decorated with bones)
o   Ria Formosa Natural Park
o   Estoi with its Roccoco Palace and Roman ruins
o   Archaeological Municipal Museum
o   Maritime Museum
  • Vilamoura
o   Visit nearby Loule with its Moorish Castle and 13th century church
  • Lagos
o   Customs House
o   Church of Igreja de Santo Antonio
o   Municipal Museum
  • Albufeira
o   Virtual Archaeological Museum
o   Municipal Art Gallery
o   Zoo Marine Park (in Guia)
o   Xorino Cave
  • Tavira
o   Moorish Castle
o   Various churches
Health & Safety
The water is generally safe to drink throughout Portugal. At times the temperatures can be high in the Algarve so it’s wise to always carry water with you in the daytime.
Should you require any medication whilst in Portugal, the pharmacies are recognisable by a green cross on a white background displayed outside or within the store window.  
Why do people choose to holiday in Lisbon? Well, it could have something to do with its charming historic downtown, two mega-casinos, fabulous food, unique music, lively nightlife, elegant shopping boutiques, museums and art galleries, not to mention the wonderful beaches that are within easy reach.  
Spread across 7 hills, as a city, Lisbon has undergone a fair amount of rejuvenation recently but there is still plenty of the old left to charm visitors. The delightful, picturesque medieval section of Alfama (the old city) skirts the Sao Jorge castle, and historic wooden trams ply noisily up and down steep hills past art deco cafes and mosaic-decorated pavements. An earthquake in 1755 destroyed many of the relics of the past but some survived. These attractions are complimented by modern sights such as the futuristic Oceanarium.

Lisbon may be a city but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sea and sand. Within easy reach are the sandy beaches of several coastal resorts, such as Costa da Caparica, Estoril and Cascais. There are also the forested areas of Sintra and attractions like the extraordinary Mafra monastery.  
Lisbon is truly a holiday destination with something for everyone.
See & Do
The city has a vast amount to offer its visitors. Listed below are just a few of the sights and places to visit during your stay:
  • Jerónimos Monastery
  • Discoveries Monument
  • Belém Tower
  • Coach Museum
  • The Alfama (oldest part of the city)
  • St George’s Castle
  • The Cathedral
  • Madre de Deus Tile Museum
  • Estufa Fria (glasshouse gardens)
  • Gulbenkian Museum
  • The Bairro Alto
  • Parque das Nacoes
  • Lisbon Oceanarium
  • Maritime Museum
Of course, once you have exhausted what the city can offer you can always visit the beaches at Estoril and Cascais or the mountain retreat of Sintra.
Lisbon isn’t known as one of Europe’s greatest shopping cities but it certainly offers any serious shopper some great facilities.
Downtown, in the Rossio, Baixo, Chiado, Carmo and Rua Garret areas, is a fashionable shopping area filled with small stores and boutiques. However if you crave the European style shopping mall then you will not be disappointed. Lisbon is home to 2 of Europe’s largest shopping centres – Colombo and Amoreiras, which provide you with a truly modern shopping experience.
If you prefer to see some of the traditional Portuguese markets then head for Feira de Ladra, Lisbon’s flea market. If you are looking for something a little different in the clothing line then there is Praça De Espanha. But for people watching, colour and vibrancy why not pay a visit to the fish and vegetable market, Mercado da Ribeira.
Food & Drink
Due to its close proximity to the coast, many menus in Lisbon offer fish dishes. The national dish, acorda, is well worth a try. It is a bread based stew rich in seafood and flavoured with coriander.
Many tastes are catered for in the city with a range of cuisines available. Here are just a few of the restaurants you might like to try:
  • Bota Alta – Portuguese
  • Cervejaria Trindade – Portuguese
  • Doca 6 – Seafood
  • Gambrinus – Seafood
  • Brasuca – Brazilian
  • Cantinho da Paz – Indian
  • En’clave – African
Evenings can be lively affairs in Lisbon. Depending on your taste, there should be something for you. From traditional Fado music to international concerts, theatre, opera, clubs and bars you are sure to find something to your liking.
The best area for bars is Bairro Alto – look out for Artis Bar, Enoteca, Divina Comédia and Bedroom. When you are ready for the clubs, head for the Docas district which is Lisbon’s late night hot spot. Some of the best clubs here are Queens, Kremlin, Kapital and Lux (part owned by John Malkovich).
If you prefer your evening with a bit more culture, classical music is offered at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Culturgest. If theatre is more your thing, head for Dona Maria II National Theatre or the São Carlos Theatre for an evening of opera.
There is so much going on in Lisbon itself it is easy to forget there is a lot more in the surrounding countryside to discover. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Sintra – historic town centred around 3 palaces: Palácio de Vila, Palácio de Queluz and Palácio da Pena
  • Obidos – medieval village
  • Fatima – most visited holy site in the Christian faith
  • Evora – remains of the Roman Temple of Diana, Cathedral and Capela dos Ossos
  • Estoril – golf, beaches and Estoril racing circuit (home to the Spanish Grand Prix)
  • Coimbra – home to the Mosteiro de Santa Cruz containing the grave of Portugal’s first king
Health & Safety
The water is safe to drink in Lisbon. With regards to medical issues you are advised to ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling.
Although not known for crime, Lisbon is a busy city so you should beware of the risk of pick-pockets. Also take the usual precautions regarding valuables and don’t carry large amounts of cash around with you.



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