Portugal's history stretches far back in time but it was during the 16th century that Portugal became a great power and conquered part of the world. From here came Henry the Navigator who sailed around the world to spread Portuguese knowledge, culture and language. The Portuguese opened up many trade routes around the world. Even Johanniter knights have been in Portugal and to this day there are traces of both them and the sailors in the form of stunning palaces, ancient castles and fortresses.
Today, more and more people visit Portugal for its cultural heritage, its climate and its history, it is a really country that appeals to everyone. In Portugal, you'll find everything from big cities to quaint villages, and it is inexpensive to live in the country. Portuguese wine has in recent years become more and more recognized around the world and they are nowadays very affordable. Looking at food, seafood is a large element on the menu. English language works well in Portugal and TV shows are normally kept in their original language.
Portugal is easy to fly to. There are three international airports available, Lisbon (central), Oporto in the north and Faro in the south. For all the destinations you can fly direct flights in TAP Portugal, the Portuguese airline flies daily to several Europe destinations and additionally several low cost companies fly to Portugal on a daily basis.
In: Turismo de Portugal.
Lisbon is composed of several distinct neighborhoods with many historical attractions where several buildings are on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. Here you can walk around and enjoy the historic town, or visit the trendy restaurants, bars and cafes. Shops are everywhere but especially in the very center of Lisbon, in Baixa and Chiado districts. Here you will find a wide selection of shops, ranging from simple budget to most luxury brands. One of the city's best qualities is the pleasant climate year round. Even in January, the sun is shining quite often and the outdoor life is in full swing with people who enjoy life over a glass of Vinho Verde on restaurant terraces. Only 25 minutes from Lisbon, lays the lovely coastal towns of Estoril and Cascais. The proximity to the heartbeat of the city of Lisbon with its vast array makes it convenient and easy to live in these areas. Estoril and Cascais are high quality residential areas where shops, restaurants and cafes are open all year round.
Cascais is one of the oldest cities (1200's) in Portugal and compared to Estoril less classic, yet contemporary and more lively. In Cascais everything is within walking distance and the city center has many pedestrian streets. Cascais is an old fishing village but with the years it has become a nice town with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants and a maze of tiny cobbled streets. Cities along the coast have more or less been combined with a nice boardwalk that local inhabitants use for their weekend afternoon walk with the family. In the vicinity of Estoril and Cascais are also several top class golf courses. In connection with these cities are also beautiful beaches and nice green areas. Lisbon and the coastal towns can be easily reached by train. The train has frequent departures and takes you on a nice journey along the sea into the center of Lisbon in 25 minutes. Other nice places of interest to visit are the old fortified town of Sintra, World Heritage Site north of Cascais and also the Troia Peninsula in the south. Estoril and Cascais has in recent years become very popular destinations for foreigners who want to move abroad for retirement. The nice climate, street life and an attractive tax situation make this area a good choice to live in permanently.
Estoril is slightly closer to Lisbon compared to Cascais. In the Estoril park, close to the train station with views of the beach and the sea, lays one of the first casinos in Europe. The city consists of several smaller village centers, an example of such is Monte Estoril in a style very reminiscent of the French Riviera. It is live year round and here you will find many nice restaurants. Estoril and Cascais are considered the best suburban areas to Lisbon and prices are therefore on a par with that fact.
Algarve's coast far south stretches from the Spanish border in the east to Portugal's most southwesterly point Cape São Vicente towards the Atlantic Ocean. The entire coastline is a well known and established area with several gorgeous beaches and beautiful cliffs. Algarve has been through many years the Portuguese holiday resort and many Britt’s and Irish have over the years found their way here. Algarve offers everything from ancient fishing villages to modern cities. There are also several neighborhoods built around golf courses and you are never far from a beach, a wonderful natural beauty and several good restaurants. Driving down from Lisbon to Algarve takes about 21/2 hours and should you want to travel by train the trip is around 3 hours. The climate is pleasant all year round and the weather in January could be compared with a nice day in May in Central Europe.
If you are interested in the Algarve and want to live here year round, it may be a good idea to rent a car during the winter months and drive around between the locations. There are several active places and we will obviously give you directions.
Lagos in the western part of Algarve is originally an old fishing village from 1300's. This picturesque town may look and feel a bit compared to Cascais with its fine cobbled labyrinth streets and historic buildings. In Lagos, there is also a newly built modern marina with restaurants and several new modern apartment complexes with sea views. Here you get the best of both worlds i.e. old and new. In Lagos restaurants, cafes and shops are open year round and there is plenty of street life.
Portimão is one of Algarve's major cities with about 50 000 inhabitants. Portimão central building consists largely of high-rise buildings located along the main beach of Praia da Rocha. Praia da Rocha is known for its beautiful beach with golden sand. Should you wish a bit calmer areas, the fishing villages of Ferragudo and Carvoeiro are at close distance from Portimão. In these smaller cities you can find restaurants, cafes, bars, quaint squares and a couple of smaller beaches. When you miss the big city life, it is only a few minutes to Portimão.
Albufeira is both a popular tourist destination but also a city that lives yearround. Albufeira has a nice old town center that is located directly on a beautiful beach with a great range of restaurants, bars and shopping. On the hills around the town are several nice neighborhoods scattered, many with stunning sea views and private sandy beaches.
Vilamoura is a popular spot, especially if you like to play golf and/or have an interest in boating. Here are several of the best golf courses in Portugal and a large newly built marina.
Around the marina of Vilamoura you will find a large number of restaurants and bars. This is a popular tourist destination with a lot of street life and also with an active night life. In winter, however, is somewhat calmer. Some of the residential areas in Vilamoura are located inside a golf resort so most people actually live by or very near one of the many golf courses in the area.
Tavira, near the Spanish border in the eastern part of the Algarve, is also an old picturesque fishing village dating back to Roman times. Here you are sitting under cork trees and dining at one of the many town squares.
In Tavira, nature and the coastline is a somewhat different compared to the rest of the Algarve. Here the beaches are on one of the sandy islands just outside the town. You just have to cross the narrow creek that contribute to the varied fishing and bird life in this part of the Algarve and you are out on the wonderful beaches. You can also reach these wonderful sandy islands and beaches by daily taxi boat from the city center. Tavira is a popular area for those who want a little quieter environment with nature around the corner.
Another beautiful area is the Silver Coast, the coastal strip that starts northwest of Lisbon, which runs northwards. There are many ancient historical cities to visit on this coast. If you should consider living here year round, you should keep in mind that it is colder here in winter compared to other regions more south. The climate can be compared with November weather in Central Europe with some rain and wind. Summertime, it is quite hot here just like the rest of Portugal, even if it does not reach the really high temperatures, such as in the south.