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Portugal Map and Travel Resources

From James Martin,
Your Guide to Europe Travel
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Use our Map of Portugal to plan your trip

Here's a travel map of Portugal showing some prime tourist destinations, most of which are covered in articles on this site.

portugal cities map

Portugal in a Nutshell

Portugal is a country with strong traditions that is changing rapidly with its inclusion in the European Union. For this reason, the festivals in Portugal are outstanding.

Portugal isn't a cheap as it once was, but if you're looking for a European destination in which splurging won't cost you an arm and a leg, Portugal's system of Pousadas will fit the bill without breaking the bank. The historic inns are now managed by a private company, and offer a great value in luxury lodging and good food that follows the traditions of the land. You can save even more with the specials linked to the page linked above.

Most visitors to Portugal will spend time in the capital, Lisbon. An inflow of EU money has meant that Lisbon continues to update its infrastructure and modernize, while retaining the traditional feel of the Portuguese capital. I enjoyed my last stay in Lisbon very much. See our Lisbon Travel Planner, or take a look at the Lisbon Picture Gallery for a virtual tour. Also consider a day trip (or longer) to Sintra.

Besides Lisbon, many travelers flock to historic Porto and across the bridge to Vila Nova di Gaia to visit the port wine houses. Another popular destination in Portugal is Coimbra, which has one of the oldest Universities in Europe with a very interesting library to visit. Coimbra also has a few gardens of note as well; the Botanical gardens are said to be the fifth oldest in the world. To the east of Coimbra is one of our favorite rural places to visit, the Schist Villages. Between Porto and Coimbra is the "Portuguese Venice" of Aveiro, with its canals, its characteristic pastry called Ovos Moles de Aveiro and its new and unique ice cream.

Also popular are Portugal's major islands, the Azores and Madeira. You'll find surprises in each, like the toboggan rides down the slopes of Madeira in a wicker sled or the tea plantations in the Azores.

Portugal by Train

The Portuguese Railways have an extensive network of trains, look for the English link on the upper right . There are around 2,850 km of tracks, mostly broad gauge in Portugal.

It may surprise you to know how far you can get out into the country on Portuguese railroads. See a pretty extensive Rail Map of Portugal. Bus coverage of Portugal is good as well.

Two types of service are found on the trains: Conforto and Turistica, corresponding to first and second class respectively.

Alfa Pendular are the fast trains in Portugal, Intercidade (IC) or Intercity trains are fast trains that make few stops between cities. Interregional trains cover the local long distances and Suburban or Regional trains stop at almost every rural station.

The ALFA Pendular trains run along the Lisbon - Porto - Braga and Porto Lisbon Faro lines.

Night Trains: There is a Lusitânia Hotel Train between Lisbon and Madrid, and aSurex service from Irun on the brench border to Lisbon. The Spanish hotel train or trenhotel is called Elipsos and leaves Madrid in the late evening around 9:50 pm. You need to book these trains at least two months before your departure. Rail Europe offers a ticketing service you can use for this.

Rail passes: Rail Travel in Portugal is covered by a Single Country Pass, or in combination with Spain as part of an Iberic Railpass.

Getting Around in Portugal: By Car or Plane

There are almost 60,000 km of paved roads in Portugal, 797 km of that are expressways. With lots of construction, we highly recommend a good road map of Portugal.

There are large airports in Lisbon, Porto Faro, Ponta Delgada, and Madeira and they can be accessed by the umbrella site Aeroportos de Portugal SA.

Other Maps of Portugal

There is also a Portugal Regions Map with travel planning information on the five regions of Portugal and the tourist destinations you'll find in each.

Portugal Travel Video

Top 5 Places to Visit in Portugal - New to Portugal? Here's the video you should view first to get an idea of the "best" destinations, the hubs for your exploration of Protugal.

Tour the Cathedral of Books in Porto - Lament the loss of bookstores in the US? Well, there's one in Porto that will knock your socks off, and it's been knocking socks off (and selling books) for about 100 years. And...if you like staircases that catch the eye...

The Alto Douro - This wine region in the North offers spectacular vistas and very good wine.

Parque Natural do Douro Internacional - If you're planning a vacation in Spain and like dramatic scenery, this park between Spain and Portugal might make a fine stop on your vacation.

Taking Boat Rides on the Douro River in Portugal - It's a very popular vacation activity in Portugal.

Tips for Staying at a Vineyard in Porto - If you like wine, why sleep far from barrels of it?

Portugal Resources on Europe Travel

Be sure to check out our Portugal Travel Information Directory.

Pictures of Portugal

See our Portugal Picture Gallery. We also have some Azores Picture Galleries. The Azores Islands offer the traveler to see a quite different part of Europe in the Atlantic.

Portugal Essentials: Currency

The currency in Portugal is the Euro. At the time the Euro was adopted, its value was set at 200.482 Portuguese Escudos. [more on the Euro]

Portugal Essentials: Language

The Portuguese language is derived from the Latin spoken in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula. A few words were picked up from invading Germanic tribes from about 400-711. Then invading Moors conquered the peninsula and many of their words got added to the language. Modern Portuguese began in the 16th century with the first grammar texts. But the language kept evolving, adding Castilian words and later, modern technological words.

English is spoken in large cities serving tourist populations, but in the smaller, out of the way places you might have a bit of trouble. Don't let that deter you. Pointing and smiling can work wonders with the friendly people of Portugal.

Eating Out in Portugal

Portugal offers a wide variety of food for the tourist. Coastal regions offer great seafood, and sometimes the seafood is combined with meat, as in the classic dish of Pork with Clams.

Lunch is generally served between 12 and 3, while dinner is served from 7:30 to 11pm. Be prepared to wait, eating the bread and olives that are served you, as it is tradition in Portugal to prepare fresh food from scratch. Other foods you haven't ordered may come to your table just after you sit down. You'll be charged for the plates you eat from, so it's best to wave off what you don't want as it's presented to you.

Food in Portugal is slightly less expensive than most of the rest of Europe. Many people are surprised at the quality of wines as well. Ask for a "vinho da casa" for the house wine. After dinner, remember that the Portuguese are known for their fortified wines, Port and Madeira.

In Portugal's Alentejo region, you can drink Vinho de Tahla, a wine made the way the Romans made wine 2000 years ago. And it's usually quite good.

Restaurant Types:

  • "tasca" (tavern) may serve a "casa de pasto" (a three-course tavern meal)
  • " cervejaria" (beer joint, often with food)
  • "restaurante"
  • "marisqueira" (fish and shellfish specialties)
  • "churrasqueira" (spit roasting).
  • Look for the "prato de dia" (dish of the day) for bargains in the smaller places.

Portugal Travel Essentials: Tipping

While service is included in the bill, a tip of 5-10 percent is not uncommon. For two, a tip of 2 to 5 Euros is recommended. Do not leave fewer than 2 Euros, as this would be considered an insult.

Portugal Hotels

Portugal has an extensive network of historic lodging called Pousadas. I recommend staying in one on your vacation, as they tend to be less expensive in Portugal than other countries. See our Pousada Resources for more, including a review of a typical pousada.

If a hotel is what you're looking for, the booking agent I use most is Venere, who maintains a list of hotels in Portugal ranked by people who've stayed in them.

Portugal Essentials: Weather

The weather in Portugal varies with altitude and proximity to the sea. For representative temperatures in four Portuguese cities, see Portugal Travel Weather.

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