Portugal is sometimes considered Spain’s little brother. Although if you asked the Portuguese, they would hotly dispute this! However having said that, the Portuguese people have the same easy going manner as the Spanish and are friendly and generally happy to help out the lost tourist. Portugal is truly a great country to tour. A very modern country it boasts all the things you would expect from a civilised European country. Things like great roads, excellent railway network and fabulous mobile phone coverage.
Travelling Portugal can be very cheap as it tends to be overlooked compared to the bigger tourist centres such as Spain and France . This can be used to your advantage when booking hotels and flights and rental cars. As the Portuguese love to haggle. Mentioning that it was cheaper in some other country, can often fire up the competitive streak that is found in almost all Portuguese.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is as cosmopolitan as any of the other cultural centres of Europe, such as Madrid, Rome or Vienna. It boasts a population of about a half a million people (545,245 population), which is small when compared to many other European capitals. It is still a big enough population base to give the city a wonderful international feel. However it is not to big to feel crowded and constricted. It is definitely one of Europe’s most liveable cities and with its growing financial centre, it is quickly becoming a city of the affluent.
Portugal being situated where it is, is one of the southern most countries in Europe and there fore experiences a very mild climate. Lisbon is known to have the warmest winters of any European capital city and the rest of the country follows Lisbon’s lead. It’s position within the European continent has often meant that rampaging armies have used it as a base to either attack northern Africa or as a staging place to attack Europe. This was especially so during the Muslim period when the Moors from northern Africa attacked Europe and reached deep into Portugal and Spain. They were eventually pushed out by the Christians however the Moors left a lot of influences on the Portuguese population that carries through to this day. This cultural heritage is wonderful and makes travelling through Portugal a joy as the food definitely has a Moroccan feel about it with lovely aromatic spices featuring heavily.
A good map of Portugal is a must when touring this country. in these days of gps units, which are fantastic! It is nice to have a paper backup just in case. Even though the mobile/cell phone network is excellent you can not always get a signal as is the case in any part of the world, so you can’t rely totally on the internet for your directions. Have a backup plan and the lack of worry will allow you to better enjoy your trip.