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Portugal, Algarve Panorama Portugal, from fascinating beaches of the Algarve region to charming Lisbon, the capital of the country, is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in Europe. Marvellous landscapes, ancient monuments, modern museums, delicious foods and a lot of things to see and do – make Portugal so attractive to many tourists from all over the world.

Portugal also has a good road infrastructure. Modern highways easily connect different parts of the country. Besides, it’s easy to combine your travel to Portugal with travel to Spain, especially if you rent a car in one of numerous pick-up locations throughout the country. Portugal car rental is easy and affordable. And, perhaps, it’s the best way to get around, as it gives the freedom to travel at your own pace, see places of your choice.

Book Rental Cars in Portugal

Auto Hire Online offers various rental cars in Portugal. At your service, there are economy rental cars as well as vans, compact cars, SUVs, and premium class vehicles. Among the most popular pick-up destinations are Lisbon, Porto, Albufeira, Faro, Funchal, and Ponta Delgada. Everywhere you will find modern, comfortable cars available for rent.

Portugal Travel - Auto Hire Online

Lately such phenomenon as Portugal-addiction becomes more and more evident. Despite the world crisis, the tourists are eager to visit this country, emphasizing the advantages of such kind of journey. The words cannot describe the uniqueness of Portugal. The smell of eucalyptus, present practically everywhere, your closeness to the God, when sitting at the foot of the so-called Mountains of the stars (Serra da Estrela), the warmth, hospitality and open-heartedness of Portuguese people - these are the main characteristics of Portugal. Nevertheless, it is a wide-spread notion that Portuguese history, culture, traditions and customs are unknown to the travelers, visiting the country for the first time. The best way to travel between Portuguese cities is to go by car taken from Auto Hire Online, your Portugal car rental specialist.

Being the whole country, the regions of Portugal differ greatly from each other. Sometimes you even start thinking that you are in another country, moving just 2-3 hundred kilometers. Especially, it can be said about Central Portugal, where is a strange mix of cold and hot weather, seaside and plain. This part of the country is usually called Silver Coast, it is the ideal rest-place for those who prefer active water sports as well as for the tourists who are fond of the relaxed time wasting, just sunbathing and doing nothing. The most attractive city for the rest is Aveiro, famous for its lagoon and numerous canals. Prefer walking tours and is fond of ancient history? Then welcome to Coimbra - one of Europe’s oldest university towns, characterized by medieval arches, stairways and walls. Nearby - Roman Ruins, taking us back into the Roman period of Portuguese history. Witness the healing properties of Curia’s mineral waters. Nowadays it is a very famous health resort, suggesting unique treatments of different diseases. Being in the Central Portugal, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Obidos (Town of Queens), known for the ancient tradition to build the castles as a specific thanks of the kings to their wives.

Lisbon the capital of the country attracts tourists by its natural beauty and historic greatness. Visit the largest in Europe aquarium with sea lions, Lisbon Zoo with its dolphin show, and many other sights. Moreover, Lisbon is the only one European capital with Atlantic beaches, popular among the tourists from all over the world. 20 km from Lisbon is Estoril Casino, the largest gambler establishment in Europe and the oldest in Portugal. Not far from Lisbon there is the city of Sintra with its medieval palaces.

The capital of country’s northern regions is Oporto, interesting for its baroque style churches and castles. Worthy of a visit are the Archaeological Museum of the Dukes’ Palace, the Museum of Ceramics in Barcelos, Treasury and Sacred Art Museum, Dom Diogo de Sousa Museum in Braga. Of course Portuguese wines are well-known. Don’t miss the opportunity to try some. It is better to do it in Porto - in one of the leading centers of country’s winemaking. But it cannot compete with Douro Valley - the oldest established wine-producing region in the world and at the same time the most beautiful land. Some of the wineries are open for the visitors; here you can enjoy the traditional Duoro wines. It should be mentioned that the Douro Valley has received UNESCO World Heritage status. All said above means that every region of Portugal is characterized by its own unforgettable beauty.

Portugal Geography

The Republic of Portugal consists of mainland Portugal and the island groups of Madeira and the Azores. Madeira is located nearly 550 miles southwest from Lisbon, consisting of four main islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, Selvagens and Desertas. As for the Azores, being in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, they are practically 9 hundred miles from Lisbon. Here are nine inhabited islands, among which famous Santa Maria and Miguel, and some uninhabited rock outcroppings. The neighbor of Portugal on the north and east is Spain, on the south and west the country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. It is very interesting and also stunning that Portugal is the first European country to have its boundaries as they are today, practically unchanged.

Historically Portugal was divided into six provinces, according to their geographical location. Later every province was subdivided into several areas, but historical names were kept unchanged. The central Portugal is characterized by the diversity of the landscapes. Here the tourists can enjoy rivers, green valleys, pine forests and high mountains. Central eastern areas (Beira) are full of small farms and some objects of light industry. The southern part of Portugal, especially Alentejo, known for the wild beaches, is a wonderful place for the isolation from the rush world. Beyond any doubts, the center of tourism is the extreme south - Algarve with its warm climate, influenced by the Mediterranean sea. The capital and at the same time the largest city of the country is Lisbon. Wherever you to in Portugal, don’t forget to rent a car online on Auto Hire Online and save a lot on your next trip.

History of Portugal

The true origin of Portuguese people is still under hot discussion. Historians think that the direct ancestors were the Lusitanos, but the Visigoths, followed by the Moors influenced the development of the nation greatly. In the 10th century on the territory of modern Portugal there were two groups - Braga - Porto and Coimbra - Viseu. Sometimes they lived very friendly, sometimes were hostile to one another. Portugal as a state emerged in the early 12th century, sometime later it received the status of a kingdom. Dom Afonso became the king of an independent Portugal. Due to his politics the territory of the country had been changed greatly.

The 15th century was a golden period of Portuguese history. It was the time of great discoveries. The country got its own rout to India, Madeira Island and the Azores were explored. At that time, though for a very short period, Portugal was one of the richest countries of Europe. Being very powerful in the 15th century, the country lost its privileges the next century. First, in 1755 the awful earthquake ruined Lisbon, then came the Napoleonic Wars and as a result the independence of Brazil. From time to time there outburst the conflicts with Spain and France, threatening the country’s autonomy. With the rapid rise of the Netherlands and Spain, Portugal lost its leading positions. In 1910 the monarchy was deposed and the country got the status of Republic. The result of such movements was not comforting: a succession of 4 presidents and 44 governments and the most important - the decline in the economy.

During World War I, Portugal supported the Allied Powers but managed to keep the neutrality. In 1926 the power in the country was seized by right-wing dictatorship. Portugal, liked Spain, made no attempts to take active part in World War II, staying neutral. The date - 25th of April, 1974 became a turning point in the history of Portugal. The revolutionary events, taking place in the country, led to the independence to all of its African colonies. Adopting the Constitution in 1976, Portugal tried to follow the socialist pattern of the development, but in reality lived under the conditions of Western European political model. In 1985 the country entered European Community, all the time trying to overcome the gap between own economy and the economies of richer members of Community. In 1990 the economic progress was evident and Portugal was no longer one of the poorest countries in the world. Eight years later the country joined European Monetary Union, in 2002 it began circulating the Euro. The economic growth was permanent until 2008 when the country experienced the economic stagnation.

In some spheres of life Portugal occupies leading positions. So, in 2006 Portugal started the world largest Solar Energy plan, based in Alentejo. As for the sport Portugal is the ideal place for the golfers, as this kind of sport is widespread all over the country. The national cuisine is represented by grilled sardines, potato-based stew, and of course the best Portuguese wines: Vinho Verde, Vinho do Alentejo, sweet Port Wine, Madeira Wine and Moscatel from Setubal and Favaios. If you are looking for a quite place for rest or in search of the opportunity to have crazy fun, Portugal will for sure satisfy all your wishes.

Portugal Attractions

Portugal suggests a lot of interesting destinations for the tourists. Every region of the country has many attractions, historical places and museums. Belem, without any doubts, is worth visiting. The Mosteiro do Jerónimos, one of the most stunning monasteries in Portugal, is situated there. Architectural monuments, glorifying the Portuguese explorer spirit, are the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and Torre de Belém. It is impossible to visit Portugal and not to visit Peneda-Gerês - the only one national park in the country.

The town of Sintra, which is just a short drive from Lisbon, is famous for its Moorish Castle, ranked as UNESCO World Heritage site. The second best aquarium in the world is located in Lisbon, that’s why if you go to this city with children, visit this attraction. The main sights of Braga are the churches; there are more than 30 of them.

Portugal is considered to be the country of sea, sun and sardines. So, the most popular are the outdoor activities. Many tourists emphasize that swimming with the dolphins in the Azores is most exciting activity. The islands of Azores are one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. Another hobby of both tourists and locals is scuba-diving. Fascinating sea life, which you will see under the water, will take your breath away. The Estoril Coast is a land of golden beaches waiting for the tourists. So, the range of activities varies from the hot springs of the Azore Islands to hiking and sailing in Madeira. Portugal is also good for golf, tennis, and cycling.

Shopping in Portugal

Portugal is a country where you can bring a lot of presents from. It is impossible to leave the country without a souvenir. Buy lovely things for the kitchen in Madeira. Pot holders, the lighters, tiles, embroidered table-clothes and various decorations for the kitchen - all of the following are available in Madeira markets. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste Porto sweet wine and to buy a bottle or two for your friends. It is better to buy wine not in the shops, but in the wine cellars throughout the country. Take advantage of low prices for wine, liqueurs, spirits and cigarettes

Algarve is the exact region where the tourists can buy locally made leather goods, pottery, crystal, copperware, filigree jewelry and cork products. In every city or town of Portugal there is a covered market open every morning except Sunday. In the markets local food, vegetables, and souvenirs are sold. In Portugal some of the largest shopping malls in Europe are located. They suggest a wide range of goods for any taste.

Portuguese Cuisine

The most popular food in Portugal, especially in Lisbon, is seafood. To start off each meal the Portuguese prefer olives and fresh bread. Among national dishes the following should be named. Bacalhau (dried cod, which can be cooked in over 100 different ways), Caldo verde (green soup cooked of green kale leaves), Pastel de nata (custard tart, which is one of the most favorite national desserts).

The most wide spread ingredients of Portuguese cuisine are meat, rice and potatoes. Olive oil and wine are usually served practically with every dish. For the breakfast the locals preferably eat pastries with fried vegetable and drink coffee. They also like to eat salads made of tomatoes, onions and olive oil. The main part of Portugal cuisine is grilled sardine. As for the meat, it is usually served with national source, called piri-piri - chilli and tomato sauce. Port and Madeira are Portuguese wines deserving attention. They can be divided into two basic categories: vinho verde and vinho maduro. You won’t be disappointed if you taste the local cuisine, because it is really worth trying.