Portugal is a small country about the same size as Scotland. It has a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and a land frontier with Spain. In addition, two attractive groups of Atlantic islands are integral parts of Portugal.

These are The Azores and Madeira. The island of Madeira is lapped by the waters of the Gulf Stream with warm comfortable summers and mild winters that make it an enchanting holiday destination all year round. Portugal has a rich seafaring past; superb beach resorts, wistful towns and a landscape wreathed in oli ve groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Savouring life slowly is a Portuguese 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.

The natural advantages of a sunny country with such diverse geographic features have turned Portugal into a chosen destination for many holidaymakers, an ideal place for practicing water sports and playing golf, offering modern tourism facilities, and quaint and personalized means of accommodation, such as ‘turismo de habitação’ (privately owned homes ranging from wonderful farmhouses to manor houses).

Most parts of Portugal are sunny. Daily hours of sunshine average from four to five in winter and ten to eleven in summer in the north. These figures rise to six in winter and twelve in summer in the far south.

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