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Portugal Summer and Winter Holidays
Lying along the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is hugged by Spain on the east and borders the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The climate is warmer than most European countries, with mild, wet winters and sunny hot summers. Winter months are low-tourist season and offer great travel deals; summer months provide perfect beach weather for Portugal’s surfing communities. Here are some winter and summer travel ideas in Portugal.
Spring and Summer Travel
Southern-most Portugal is the country's most prized tourist destination: the Algarve. The Algarve is the sunniest, driest, and warmest part of the country. It is also a food-lovers paradise. Fresh seafood is available daily, and due to its warm climate, field-to-table dishes include figs, almonds, oranges and pomegranates. Its principal city is Faro, offering scenic gardens such as the Nature Park of Ria Forma, located on small barrier islands with lovely beaches.
The beaches are a destination for surfers, with the Atlantic Ocean waves reaching almost 100 feet at Nazaré. Other beaches, with less dangerous swells, invite sun worshippers with golden sand and unusual rock formations. Visit these beach locations in Praia Dona Ana, Praia da Arrifana and Praia de Marinha.
Fall and Winter Travel
September to October is a great time to visit the capital city of Lisbon, because the hotel rates are lower, the weather is still warm, and there are fewer tourists around. In those months, you might also be able to squeeze in a few beach days. Although the winter months tend to be wetter, taking a city break in winter makes sense, as it will allow you to visit museums and castles without the long lines.
Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, is located on the Douro River. Its historic neighborhood was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and features ancient architecture, palaces and cathedrals. This area is also the birthplace of port wine. River cruises on the Douro River will take you to quaint villages and pretty vineyards.
The Islands: The Azores and Madeira
Portugal’s islands are worth a visit, too. The archipelago of Madeira, 300 miles off the coast of Africa, was discovered and claimed by Portuguese sailors in 1419. The island offers its signature Madeira wine, culinary excellence and historic structures. The capital of Funchal has a cruise port in its main harbor, and attracts around 1.4 million tourists a year.
The Azores, a cluster of nine volcanic islands located 850 miles west of mainland Portugal, are hilly and green, with lots of sheep farms and historic villages. The main city is Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel, offering shops, restaurants and guest houses. The city is fun to explore, with fascinating public squares and unique Baroque and urban architecture dating back to the 17th century.
Whichever region you select, you’ll find historic sites alongside peaceful, lush landscapes, excellent beaches and the sunny warmth of the Portuguese people.
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