Portugal

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A Quick Guide to... Portugal

History Portugal

Portugal is an ancient nation. It was first founded by Celtic settlers before becoming part of Hispania, which encompasses the entire Iberian Peninsula, from about 45 BC to 298 AD. Portugal was conquered by the Christians during the middle ages and the Reconquista period, and the County of Portugal was founded in 868. Portugal officially separated itself (from the Kingdom of Leon) into its own kingdom in 1139 with Alfonso Henriques as King. Portugal entered the war in the 14th Century and suffered heavily from the Black Death. The 15th and 16th centuries brought about a world exploration boom headed by Portugal, called the Age of Discovery. From these expeditions, the Portuguese landed in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and other lands.

From the late 1500s to 1640, Portugal was ruled by King Philip of Spain, creating a union of the two nations that ended with the return to independence. This independence went unrecognised by Spain until the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 1668.During the 18th Century, many Portuguese emigrated to the Portuguese colonies of Brazil in the wake of the discovery of gold and diamonds. With the French invasion of 1807 (under Napoleons command), the royal family also moved to Brazil. Led by Pedro, the son of King Joao VI, Brazil became independent of Portugal in 1822, following the return of the royal family to the mainland. After falling out of power in Brazil, Pedro returned to Portugal to regain control of his birthright, winning the throne in 1834. The nation was divided between traditional monarchists and liberals, who fought constantly for a favoured constitution. It was not until 1910 that the nation finally found peace, settling on a Republican constitution.

When to go Portugal

It is within reason to say that there is no bad time to visit Portugal. This nation has a diverse repertoire of sites and an overall temperate climate. Therefore, a good number of travellers base their visits on holidays either from work or school or upon local festivals and events. Throughout the country, Epiphany is celebrated in January. During this time, celebrations and parades are held throughout. Carnival comes to Portugal in February, and the entire nation celebrates. However, cities such as Lisbon, Nazare, Viana do Castelo, and Loule celebrate with a Brazilian flair reminiscent of Rio de Janiero, filling the streets with floats, costumes, music, and revelry. Spring brings Easter to Portugal. Due to the largely Roman Catholic population and the heavily religious heritage, this is a big deal in Portugal, and every city and town will be in celebration. Porto has a large event on Passion Sunday that features a procession through the city. The celebrations in Braga include torches, bare feet, and hoods that lend themselves to an eerie parade about the town.

Summer festivals include a religious pilgrimage in Fatima, the festival for Santa Joanna, the drunken Queima das Fitas in Coimbra, and a whole host of local festivals in every town across the nation. In the fall, the traditional Feira de Santa Iria in Faro, Feiras Novas in Ponte de Lima, Festas do Sao Paio in Aviero and much more show the popularity of fall festivals in Portugal. Finally, in winter comes the holidays. All Soul's Day (November 1st) is a holiday. December 1st is the national Independence Day, and Christmas Day celebrations stretch the entire month of December. On Vespera do Ano Novo (New Year's Eve), celebrations include fireworks and parties as well as a tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for luck.

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Weather Portugal

Portugal is a Mediterranean land, which means it has a Mediterranean climate. Average year-round temperatures in Portugal range from 12C in the higher elevations to 18C in the lower elevations, and as you can see there is quite a difference. With that being said, Portugal is known to have an overall temperate climate throughout the entire year. The summers are known to be warm, which means that beaches are a popular locale during these hotter months, while winters remain mild, with snow being extremely rare. The average rainfall in Portugal is over 3,000 mm in the mountainous regions, while only 300 mm in the drier regions. Generally, Portugal sees about 2500 to 3200 annual sunshine hours. Days are long during summer and short (about 4-6 hours) in the winter.

As Portugal is a large country there is some distinction between regions in regard to weather. Warmer temperatures are found near the Guadiana river basin. In this area, summers often have an average daytime high of 25C. The Algarve, which is a highly popular tourist region, is known for an impressive 155 kilometres of coastline that includes dramatic seaside cliffs and breathtaking beaches. In addition, here are the Monchique Mountains that reach a highest peak of 902 metres. Except for rarities in high elevations, the only places to find snow in Portugal are the Vila Real, Braganca, Guarda, and Viseu districts of central and northern Portugal.


Best locations Portugal

Portugal is a nation on the Iberian Peninsula that is bordered by Spain to the east and north and the Atlantic Ocean on every other side. Also part of Portugal is the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, or strings of islands. Portugal has a wide range of things to do, and a holiday there is not limited to one type of traveller. For the beach lover, consider taking your stay in the Algarve region, home to over 200 kilometres of clean, sandy beaches. This southern part of Portugal features the cities of Faro, Lagos, Albufeira, Portimao, and Silves among others. The Algarve is the most popular destination in Portugal for the beaches, but visitors will also love the castle at Silves as well as Lagos city with its ancient inner city, complete with narrow streets and tiny shops and caf?s.

The big cities have cultural and historical sites as well as bustling night-life scenes. In Lisbon, sites such as the Cristo Rei (statue of Christ, much like that of Rio in Brazil) and the many old churches and funiculars are well-liked attractions by day while the Bairro Alto is popular at night. Porto is also a great big-city destination. Home to the famed Ribeira, Port Wine Cellars, and a very lively night-life, Porto attracts many tourists all year-round. Finally, for a quiet, culture-filled holiday, consider the outlying towns along the countryside. Viana do Castelo is notably a city of incredible beauty. Here, you will see the Republic Square, Basilica of Santa Luzia, the Fountain at Praca da Republica, and the Fort of Santa da Barra among many other breathtaking historical and architectural gems.

Disable visitors Portugal

Portugal signed Operation Protocol and the United Nations Convention in support of persons with disabilities in the community as well as those visiting the nation on holiday. These legal agreements pertain to fair and equal treatment of those with physical limitations. In accordance with an August 2006 decree, the nation has put importance on the building of accessible facilities and public spaces for those with disabilities and decreased mobility. While on holiday in Portugal, people with reduced mobility or disabilities will find there are many areas with easy access. These include rest-rooms, beaches, walkways, and public buildings. All major cities in Portugal have hotels and resorts offering accessible lodging with ground floor rooms or elevators/lifts to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

All major Portuguese airports offer assistance to disabled visitors. Upon arrival, guests are asked to inform the staff of their arrival, usually via a telephone placed at a convenient location outside the terminal. Airport officials offer assistance with check-in, ticketing, baggage, and (in most cases) security, customs, and boarding. It is recommended that travellers alert their airline at least 48-hours in advance of their need for assistance while in the air. This will help ensure that the appropriate arrangements are made. Upon landing in Portugal, most airports offer a meeting place, where disabled guests can announce their arrival and await assistance with their baggage, transfers, and ground transport.

People Portugal

The Portuguese people have similar ancestry to western and southern Europeans, especially the Spanish. The people speak Portuguese, and because of the early colonization of remote countries in Africa and South America, the Portuguese language and culture can be seen well outside the confines of the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal does practice a separation of church and state. However, about 97% of the population considers themselves Roman Catholic and many of the official holidays, show a deep correlation to the religious heritage of Portugal. Generally, the Portuguese people are considered to be mellow and laid-back, and this has a lot to do with their culture. It is not uncommon to see locals sitting at a caf? for hours on end, socializing with a cup of coffee. Natives generally greet friends and even visitors with a continental kiss on both cheeks. The Portuguese are big on celebrations and the many festivals that occur throughout the nation are evident of this, if you are travelling during a major celebration, then be prepared to get involved.

Portugal has a rich arts culture. Most cities in the nation have at least one concert hall, theatre, major music venue, cinema, and art gallery. Famed artists from Portugal include Amalia Rodriguez (Queen of Fado- national music of Portugal), Jose Saramago (Nobel Prize-winning writer), and actor Joaquim de Almeida. The Portuguese people also take their football very seriously and Jose Mourinho of coaching fame with F.C. Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid is one of the most notable people in Portuguese sports.

Portugal driving tips

Driving in Portugal is simple, since most of the large roads are in good state and nearly all major cities are easy to find from the main motorways. Unfortunately, a jaunt off the beaten path can become a bumpy ride if one is not careful. Many roads charge a toll, many of which are collected by licence plate recognition. Therefore, visitors will need to purchase a pre-paid toll ticket, device, or card. The rules for driving in Portugal are similar to many countries, but it is a good idea to be reminded of the details before you set off. Firstly, you must know that the Portuguese drive on the right-hand side of the road. You will be required to have your own countries full driving licence to operate a motor vehicle in Portugal. You need to always have this within arms-reach in the event of a traffic stop. Seatbelts are the law and must be worn in both the front seat and the back of the car.

The law enforcement officials take speeding very seriously; if you are caught speeding you will be fined. Fines are paid on-the-spot, which means the officer will likely even have a credit/debit card machine on hand to ensure you do not leave without paying. Speeds are often monitored by radar and often times tourists are caught by speed traps set by the police. Look out for in the drink driving laws in Portugal. The limit of alcohol allowed in your bloodstream is 0.49 g/L or 0.05% BAC. The penalty for driving above this limit is up to a fine of 1250 Euros and usually a twelve month suspended license.

Red tape visa Portugal

There are three circumstances covered under the visa laws for visits to Portugal. The following covers the three common situations for entering Portugal. No visa is required in the event of a short-term (a stay of less than three months) to Portugal from any destination in the European Union. The same rule applies to any Schengen nation and the following countries: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Republic of Turkey, Poland, Romania, San Marino, El Salvador, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, Uruguay, USA, and Venezuela.

A Schengen visa is required for those travelling from all other countries aside from the above noted. In order to receive a visa in this instance, travellers must complete an application, present a recent photo and passport, show travel itinerary, including airline tickets, provide proof of finances, proof of holiday or employment, a copy of alien registration certificate, all fees, and permit to re-enter another country upon departure. In addition, documents proving the nature of your visit must be provided. These documents include hotel reservations for holiday travel, proof of conferences or meetings for business travel, legal invitation to a family visit, or a certificate of need by a doctor in the event of medical travel.

The third situation pertaining to a visa is that a visitor is planning a longer stay in Portugal. This includes students, workers, and temporary residents. Among the above-stated items, these applicants will also need criminal, financial, and medical records, a recommendation letter or declaration of intent, and either proof on enrolment (for student visa) or contract and approval by the Inspeccao-Geral de Trabalho labour ministry (for work visa).