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An overview of Portugal

Despite its popularity as a holiday destination, Portugal still remains one of the most unspoiled parts of Europe, with welcoming people, a generally relaxed pace of life and much to offer visitors of all ages and interests.

Many British people have already bought a second home in Portugal. Traditionally, the Algarve has been the most popular location, but the market for foreign investors is now expanding into more northerly regions and Central Portugal, where prices tend to be lower, with the exception of Lisbon, Porto and some other fashionable areas.

Portugal's scenic diversity adds to its attractions, from sandy beaches to high mountains, from vast, arid plains to lush green fields, it offers something for all tastes. Visitors with a particular interest can choose from a variety of themed routes, including the Port Wine Route, centred on Douro. Portugal is home to a number of natural parks and nature reserves, which protect its landscapes, wildlife, monuments and ways of life.


At 92,000km2, the Republic of Portugal is slightly larger than Scotland. It is situated on the western edge of continental Europe, in the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, sharing borders to the north and east with Spain. Portuguese territory also includes the Atlantic Ocean islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores.

Portugal’s northern regions are mainly wild and rugged, while the south is largely composed of undulating plains. To the south and west lie the Atlantic and the many fine beaches for which the country is famous.

The three largest rivers are the Tagus, Douro, and Minho. The Tagus runs from Spain through central Portugal, forming a natural division between north and south.

Climate & weather

Mainland Portugal has a temperate Atlantic climate, with hot summers lasting well into September. However, there are considerable regional variations, and the highest temperatures occur only in the south. Inland areas tend to have hotter summers and cooler winters than coastal ones.

In the north, winters are cool and wet, and summers are showery. Annual rainfall is around 1,400mm, compared to about 500mm in the south. The Algarve’s climate resembles that of the Mediterranean, temperatures only seldom falling below freezing. Higher mountains, such as the Serra da Estrela, can experience significant snowfall.

Madeira and the Azores enjoy a year-round temperate climate, with significantly more rainfall than the rest of the country.

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