Portugal has a rich seafaring past, superb beach resorts, wistful towns, and a landscape wreathed in olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Littered with Unesco World Heritage sites and graced by one of Europe's most relaxed and attractive capitals, it also remains refreshingly affordable.
Savouring life slowly is a Portugeuse passion, and much of the best is humble - traditional folk festivals; simple, honest food drowning in olive oil; music that pulls at the heart strings, recalling past love and glories; and markets overflowing with fish, fruit and flowers.
Four decades of dictatorship sidelined the country from modern progress and Europe's power centres, but like its neighbour, Spain, it has spent much of the last 20 years trying to move in from the periphery, forging new ties with the rest of Europe, restructuring its economy, and struggling to maintain what is best in its national culture despite the sudden onslaught of international influences.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track