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Portugal

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Portugal, in Southern Europe, shares the Iberian peninsula at the western tip of Europe with Spain. Geographically and culturally somewhat isolated from its neighbor, Portugal has a rich, unique culture, lively cities and beautiful countryside. Although it was once one of the poorest countries in Western Europe, the end of dictatorship and introduction of Democracy in 1974, as well as its incorporation into the European Union in 1986, has meant increased prosperity -- and increased prices for travelers. Still, it may be one of the best value destinations on the Continent. This is because the country offers outstanding landscape diversity, due to its North-South disposition along the western shore of the Iberian peninsula. You can travel in a single day from green mountains in the North, covered with vines and all varieties of trees to rocky mountains, with spectacular slopes and falls in the Centre, to a near-desert landscape in the Alentejo region and finally to the glamorous Algarve. If you want a condensed view of European landscapes, culture and way of life, Portugal might very well fit the bill.

By plane
Almost all major full price airlines fly to Portugal (British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa), besides the country's own TAP (Air Portugal). However, there are some cheap fares to be had from the no-frills airlines, like Fly Monarch, EasyJet, RyanAir and Vueling who have recently started flying to Lisbon and Porto at good prices. There are three international airports in the mainland: Lisbon (in the north of the city, and not far from the centre), Porto, and Faro. The Madeira and Azores Islands also have international airports. From the United States, US Airways offers many flights to Portugal via Philadelphia.

By train
Trains reach most larger cities from Lisbon. Lisbon is connected to Madrid, Spain. In the South it is not possible to enter Portugal from Spain. There are no train connections from i.e. Sevilla to Faro. The only option is to use buses, there are many.

For more information, contact:

CP, Portuguese Railways. By car
Roads are generally good, and you can reach almost all major cities with ease, either by motorway or by good, modern roads. The biggest cities are well served by modern highways (most have tolls), and you can travel the full North-South length of the country without ever leaving the highway, if you choose to. However, some secondary roads are ill-treated and may be dangerous if proper care is not taken. Also, Portuguese driving can seem erratic and, frankly, scary to the uninitiated. The country shares with most southern european countries something that the successive Portuguese governments have been trying to fight: terrible road behaviour from some drivers. This is getting a little better year by year, but still, there are many drivers whose dream is to own a Ferrari, but all they actually have is a Renault Clio or a Ford Fiesta, or that think that they can drink and drive without any kind of problem. In order to fight this national calamity, road laws changed recently in order to punish with great severity speeding, driving without license, driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, etc.

(From someone on a motor touring holiday in late 2006: The most obvious bit of selfish driving is overtaking. You can be on a 2-lane toll highway and be unable to see any other traffic except the car you're overtaking at 30 kph over the speed limit and the car about 6 feet from your back end flashing its headlights to get past you. "Letting on" manners when slip roads come on to fast roads are also pretty poor. On other roads, you'll get used to two classic Portuguese experiences: suicidal overtakig attempts and the resultant absurdly overdone signs indicating when you can and can't overtake - sometimes all of 5 yards apart, and the "penalty stop" traffic light as you enter the 50 kph zone in each small town, with camera to decide whether you're over the speed limit. Rather absurdly, once you're through this, you can go as fast as you like - we never saw a second penalty stop signal. Someone really should add up the cost of all the no-overtaking signs and tell Portuguese drivers how many they must be paying for each.)

It is probably unwise for those unfamiliar with Portuguese driving to try to drive in the cities - be aware if you do that city drivers give no quarter and have limited respect for lane markings. If you do want to try, choose a weekend or an hour outside the rush hour periods. These are early mornings (8 am - 9.30 am) and late afternoons (5 pm - 7.30 pm).

Information provided by Wikipedia

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