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With its vast rugged coastline, beautiful beaches, and historical coastal towns, Portugal is a dream destination. Prices are lower than other Western European Countries, which makes traveling here much more affordable.
We spent a week hopping from village to village and from beach to beach in Portugal’s southernmost region: Algarve. We were so impressed by the delicious seafood, the Moorish architecture, and the pristine sandy beaches. We’ve detailed all our recommendations in our Algarve Travel Guide. Next time we visit, we hope to explore the North.
Official Name: República Portuguesa
Government: Parliamentary Partycracy – “A pseudo democracy where people do not elect representatives directly instead voting for a Party. The parties appoint its representatives via pre-formed lists usually consisting of party cronies, family, friends and favor-givers.” (Source: Portugal.com)
Regions: Portugal is divided into 18 districts and 2 autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira). The 18 districts are: Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Braganca, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu.
From a tourist’s perpective, Portugal’s main regions are: (1) Porto and the North, (2) Center, (3) Lisbon and Tagus Valley, (4) Alentejo, (5) Algarve, (6) Azores Islands, (7) Madeira Islands.
Population: 10.32 Million
Language: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official, but locally used)
Tipping Etiquette: It’s customary to leave a tip of 10% on restaurant bills. Taxi drivers can be tipped by rounding the fare up to the nearest 5 Euro.
Water Quality: Historically, Portugal has had a poor reputation in terms of its water quality control. However, between 1993 and 2004, the coverage of safe drinking water increased dramatically. CDC says, “Most travelers do not need to take special food or water precautions [in Portugal] beyond what they normally do at home.” (Source). That being said, when we stayed with some local families during our trip, they always filtered the tap water using a Brita water filter.
Something Interesting: Portugal is the oldest nation-state in Europe. The country’s borders have barely changed since 1139.
A vida e o amor que criamos são a vida e o amor que vivemos.
The life and love we create is the life and love we live.
From small intimate coves to broad stretches of endless sand, exploring Algarve’s beaches is an ever unfolding adventure. Algarve has 200 kilometers of coastline and nearly 100 beaches to choose from.
Over 80 beaches in Algarve are marked with the prestigious Blue Flag, which is an ecolabel award for beaches and marinas that demonstrate good practices with regards to water quality, environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education. Beaches awarded with the Blue Flag will fly the Blue Flag emblem during the official bathing season.
The most striking feature of many Algarve’s beaches are the limestone rock formations that stud the beaches. The contrast between the yellow rock and teal water is breathtaking.
In restaurants, waiters/waitresses will bring you a choice of different meal starters (known as couvert) to your table without an explicit request. These starters typically include bread, butter, and olives. They may also include cheese, sliced sausage, and sardine spread. The couvert are not complimentary, so make sure the waiter/waitress removes what you don’t want to eat from your table. You are obliged to pay for what you try, and what’s left on your table. So, if you just want the olives, just say “Azeitonas.”
Arroz de Marisco – Razor Rice with seafood. The seafood generally consists of clams, prawns, mussels and other fish. It’s similar to paella, but a bit more broth-y. This dish serves a minimum of two people and is prepared freshly when you order it. You may wait up to 30 minutes, but it’s worth it.
Cataplana de Peixes e Mariscos – Cataplana of Fish and Shellfish is a regional dish served in a pot. The base consists of onions, peppers, potatoes, garlic and coriander. Fish and shellfish are added in afterwards. This dish also serves a minimum of two people and is prepared freshly when you order it.
Frango Piri Piri (Chicken Piri Piri) – Piri Piri is a spicy pepper. Chicken Piri Piri is roasted/barbecued chicken that has been marinated in a flavorful sauce containing crushed piri piri, citrus peel, onion, paprika, oregano, basil, tarragon and lemon juice.
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