Welcome to Portugal - from pretty villages and modern metropolises to vibrant beach resorts and uninhabited wilderness, this narrow strip of land celebrates everything inquisitive, idyllic, historical and hospitable in life.
Despite being bordered by only one other country (Spain), Portugal has an intercontinental feel. The culture, architecture, language and cuisine have all been influenced by centuries of global travel. Living standards are high due to the advanced economy, peaceful governance, and emphasis on moral freedom for its citizens.
The weather is uniformly warm in the summer months, while temperatures in winter vary depending on location. For example, you’ll find snowfall in the mountains, mild microclimates by the coast and subtropical islands. But it’s the stunning variety of terrains that draws so many tourists and expats to the country. You can hike in the national parks, walk the cobbled streets of the historic villages, search the Atlantic horizon for glimpses of North America from dramatic cliffs or lounge on one of the many glittering beaches.
The Portuguese have a hospitable nature and you can expect to eat freshly sourced ingredients cooked simply and served with a flourish. Fish, squid, smoked meats, olives, cheese, bread and local wines are plentiful and you’ll find produce markets and restaurants at every turn. Feasts are central features of many of the festivities but you’ll also find music, dancing and night-time revelries at the frequent celebrations throughout the year.
The north of Portugal is rocky and rugged and famous for the port wine-growing region, the Douro Valley. Rising up from the rural interior are wild mountains dotted with hunks of granite and flowing from them, the wide, fertile Tagus, Guadiana and Douro rivers. Lisbon is the most densely populated city, closely followed by Porto, and the southern Algarve region is a tourist hotspot. The Madeira archipelago is made up of 8 volcanic peaks, only two of which are inhabited and there are 9 islands in the Azores offering pale beaches, thermal lakes, geysers and black lava fields.
This land has been fought over by Celts, Goths, Greeks, Romans and Moors, each of whom have left their architectural marks. Modern property development tends towards spacious, open-plan homes with echoes of these historical styles. The people of Portugal revere a rural life and as a result, there are a lot of villas or plots of land for development available in the countryside. In contrast, the cities and coastal regions are filled with affordable apartments.
The road networks are good, air travel is quick and easy from northern Europe and America and there are high-speed international trains from connecting cities in France and Spain. Children are legally required to be in education from six to eighteen years old and there is a range of schooling options for international students, from public state schools, private faith schools or international schools. There is a state healthcare system in Portugal too. EU citizens can access it for free once they’ve registered and received a healthcare number (cartão de utente).