Portugal

portugalCapital: Lisbon
Population: 10.8 million
Language: Portuguese
GDP per Capita: $23,000
Highlights: Algarve, Lisbon, Madeira
Cost: Reasonable – It’s cheaper than UK, France, Spain, etc..
Blog Entries: find here

*Facts taken from CIA World Factbook

I traveled to Portugal with Seth in April 2012. This was the best time of year (in my opinion) to travel there! The peak season for tourists usually starts in June, so it can get really busy in the cities and at the beaches. However, at the end of April, it’s still the low season, but the weather starts warming up and the temperature is usually in the high 20’s. It’s warm enough to go tanning on the beaches, but it’s not crowded at all. More than once we had the beach entirely to ourselves! The only downside to traveling this time of year is that the ocean hasn’t quite warmed up enough for swimming on the mainland, but if you check out some of the Portuguese islands, it’s warm enough for swimming there!

We spent a few days along the southern coast of Portugal visiting the Algarve region, which has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches and sandstone sea stacks. Then we traveled up the coast to Lisbon, we didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the city, but we did do some hiking along the coastline. Finally, we flew to Madeira, a volcanic island along the coast of Morocco. Portugal has two sets of islands that are kept pretty secret (at least I’d never heard of them before). There’s the Azores, which are a set of tropical islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and Madeira, which is a volcanic island further south.

The Algarve

The Algarve

Unlike most of my European trips, I didn’t take the bus around Portugal. We flew to Faro, which is on the southern coast, took one bus up to Lisbon, and then flew to and from Madeira. Flights are pretty cheap and we flew EasyJet the whole way. It’s a little more expensive to fly to Madeira, but I flew from London to Faro, Lisbon to Madeira and back, Lisbon to Barcelona, and Barcelona back to London for just $300! I’m not sure how the cost would compare if you were coming directly from overseas though. Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to London and pick up a cheap flight from there.

Funchal, Madeira

Funchal, Madeira

Overall, Portugal was pretty reasonably priced. We stayed in nice hostels for about $20 a night and the food is pretty cheap. We had some delicious seafood while we there and it didn’t cost us too much. It’s actually cheaper that a lot of the rest of Western Europe. While we didn’t get the chance to visit any of Northern Portugal, there’s quite a lot of nice cities there as well. There’s a lot of wine country once you leave Lisbon and Porto is supposed to be a really nice city. If you go way up north, there’s also a few National Parks with some nice hiking. Along with Croatia, Portugal is my favourite European country!

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