Enjoying the Natural Beauty of Portugal

Just 550kms long and 220kms wide, Portugal occupies a rectangular chunk of the Iberian Peninsula, west of Spain. Its southern Algarve coastline is one of the most dramatic and picturesque in Europe, while the rest of the coast is Atlantic facing and is similarly pretty. The country enjoys an incredible variety in geography. The northern and central areas have large populations with lush landscapes, characterized by rivers, valleys, forests and mountains – the highest range being the Serra da Estrela, peaking at Torre. The south is drier and less populated, while the rural interior is undeveloped.

Some of the best scenery is found in the north along the Costa Verde, including the lovely Douro valley near Oporto, famous for producing port wine. Along the eastern flank of the country are a series of unspoiled and wild national parks, some quite mountainous.

Beaches run unbroken down most of the west coast. Only two significant cities exist, Lisbon, near the centre of the west coast, and Oporto, further north. To its west and southwest lie porto-343487_960_720the islands of the Azores and Madeira, isolated out in the Atlantic.

Portugal enjoys a temperate climate with hot, lengthy summers and reliable sunshine. In the south, summers are warm with very little rain except in early spring and autumn, leaving the landscape somewhat dry. Typically the thermometer reaches well into the 30s C. in this region during the summer.

Lisbon and its surrounding region are a little more temperate and comfortable during the summer, with temperatures dropping to single figures in the winter.

The North tends to receive higher rainfall, but remains dry during the summer. The northwest has mild winters with high levels of rainfall and fairly short summers, while the northeast has longer winters and hot summers.

The interior gets cold in the winter on account of the altitude and snowfall is common on the Serra da Estrela. The Alto Douro and the Alentejo do have uncomfortably hot summers and droughts are common.