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Portugal Travel Guide Travel Information

 

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Overview of Portugal

Portugal Travel Guide

This small country is one of the most important tourist destinations of “the Old Continent” (Europe).

Once a major maritime super power, Portugal had many colonies and many geographical discoveries were attributed to it. Many of us have heard of Ferdinand Magellan (the first man who has circumnavigated the World) and about Portugal’s talented football players and renowned wines…

 

Our guide will unveil this beautiful country in front of your very eyes…

 

Portugal Travel Factsheet

State, geography 

Official name:

República Portuguesa (Portuguese Republic)

Government type:

Parliamentary republic

Location:

Western Iberian Peninsula, on the southwestern part of Europe.

Area/surface:

92.345 km² or 35,645 sq mi

Geography overview:

Mainland Portugal is mountainous, hilly with. Its western parts are washed by the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Portugal has a number of outlaying islands, territories belonging to it that have local autonomy: the Madeira Islands, the Azores Islands. The Madeira Islands and the Azores are volcanic islands with high mountains, deep valleys and gorges. Most of them are green, covered with almost untouched/well-preserved forests, other islands are rather sandy, semi-desert-like areas cover them (such as Porto Santo and the Desertas Islands from the Madeira Archipelago).

Demographics, population

Official language(s):

Portuguese

Regionally recognized languages: Mirandese

Locally used languages:

-

Other widely spoken languages:

-

Nationalities, ethnic groups, races:

65.05% European (Spanish, others); 10.08% African (Igbo, other); 23.84% Mulatto and Mestizo

Population:

10,7 million

Population density:

114/km² or 295/sq mi

Capital city & population:

Lisboa/Lisbon (urban area: 564.000, metropolitan area: 2.641.000)

Largest city & population:

Lisboa/Lisbon  (central area: 745.000, urban area: 3.130.000, metropolitan area: 3.686.000)

Other large cities & population:

Porto/Oporto (urban area: 221.800; metropolitan area: 1.700.000)

Amadora (urban area: 176.000)

Braga (urban area: 175.000)

Seixal (urban area: 165.000)

Coimbra (urban area: 138.540)

Funchal, Madeira (urban area: 100.000)

Religion(s):

-

Economy

Currency:

1 Euro (EUR) = 100 Euro Cents

Symbol/sign: €

Foreign currencies widely used:

-

GDP (nominal):

244,6408 billion USD

GDP per capita (nominal):

23.041 USD

Other data

Time zone:

Western European Time - WET: UTC +0h

Country telephone calling code:

+351

Internet TLD(s):

.pt

Electric power system:

Voltage & frequency: 220-240 V/50 Hz

...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Plugs/sockets/outlets: C, E, F

Driving system:

Right-hand drive

 

Portugal Interactive Map

 


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Places to Visit & Things to Do in Portugal

Lisbon

The capital of Portugal. An agglomerated city full of apartment blocks which has a busy airport. Many people from the former colonies arrive to Europe through Lisbon.

The old part of the city is beautiful and is best viewed from the fortress that is located on top of a hill. You will have to walk up there to get in and it might seem difficult to find the entrance through the labyrinth-like neighbourhoods.

From the fortress you can admire almost a complete panorama of the city. You will see about ¾, maybe even more of it. A great place for taking pictures with yourself and Lisbon in the background.

Estoril

A beach destination not so far from Lisbon. You can get there by bus or with a rental car.

The castle at Tamariz Beach is particularly beautiful, worth taking a look at from close.

Porto/Oporto

The second largest city. The Portuguese call it Porto, the Anglo-Saxons often Oporto.

The old bridges and houses along the river banks are fantastic.

Both old and modern architecture are present in this city, which is not at all less impressive than the bigger Lisbon.

Faro

Located on the south of mainland Portugal. It is the main city of the Portuguese Algarve region.

Old buildings, friendly streets are typical in the port city of Faro.

The Madeira Islands

This archipelago is located north of the Spanish Canary Islands, close to Morocco.

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal with its own local government, flag and certain regulation.

The only inhabited islands are: Madeira and Proto Santo. Both have airports and are economically highly developed. Great places for spending vacations.
 

The Madeira island is home to the capital of Funchal. A city of over 100.000 inhabitants and lots of hotels, as well as 2 interesting old fortresses.

This island is 80 % forest-covered and can leave your jaw open with its fantastic views. Beautiful passes, mountain ranges, cool green valleys, beach cliffs (such as the famous Cabo Girão, which rises 589 m from sea level – one of the biggest sea cliff in the World).

It is worth taking a tour around on this island. It has 57 km in length and 22 km in width, big enough to keep you occupied for at least a week. One can travel all around the island and deep into its central parts, discovering shockingly different landscapes.

Madeira is a quiet place, preferred by seniors, it’s not a noisy disco island like the Balearics.

 

Porto Santo is slightly smaller than Madeira, but is the only one with a natural sandy beach of over 9 km.

This island is preferred by young people.

There is a house on the island in which Christopher Columbus used to live.

The Azores Islands

Colder than Madeira, these islands are way out west from mainland Portugal, in the Canada direction.

Attractive for the beautiful landscapes and friendly cities with slight differences between its islands, the Azores are beautiful, yet not a beach destination. Rains and cloudy weather are frequent, cold winds will freeze you to the bone.


Transportation

By Air

Flights are ensured by a number of airlines operating in Portugal. Many foreign carriers, including a large number of low cost airlines, but also indigenous airlines.

Prices of flights between the mainland and the outlaying islands, Madeira, the Azores are costly. Prices from Lisbon to Funchal (Madeira), for example vary between 150 and 500 Euros. Flying between islands, in the Azores, for instance are also very expensive, you should expect fares above 100 Euros.

On Land

Roads are very good in Portugal, the Azores and Madeira as well. Even so, it’s not a good idea to travel to Portugal from any other country on the road, unless you are already very close to the border. The drive would be long, tiring and the airline connections are much better.

Trains ensure international connection primarily with cities in Spain.

On Water

Cruise ships stop over at a number of Portuguese destinations, especially at Funchal in Madeira.

Otherwise there are a number of local companies that offer cruise trips around smaller areas.


Best Time for Visiting Portugal

 

April – September is all right, but even Madeira is cold in September. The best time to catch the warmth and good sun in in the June – August interval. Prices are higher and crowds to be expected.


Risks & Precautions in Portugal

Theft, Pick Pocketing

Theft and pick pocketing in mainland Portugal is the main problem. Usually non-Portuguese immigrants (especially the Balkans) operate on crowded vehicles, stations, around tourist attractions and mostly steal from foreign tourists. Avoid looking rich and take extra precaution when manipulating your camera, wallet or other belongings.

Gang Attacks, Football Hooliganism

Gangs and football hooliganism occurs often. Avoid areas around places where football matches are held.


Interesting Things About Portugal

This country has known some of the biggest fluctuations from the economical point of view: at the beginning of the 20th century, Portugal was one of the richest countries in Europe, then it has plummeted to become one of the poorest countries, then it has redressed as it joined the European Union in 1986.
 

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