Portugal, with its capital, Lisbon, lies in the southwest of Europe in the Iberian Peninsula. It borders to the east and north with Spain, and to the south and west with the Atlantic Ocean. It also comprises the autonomous archipelagos of the Azores and of Madeira, both lying in the northern hemisphere of the Atlantic Ocean, and includes furthermore the uninhabited island chain of the Islas Salvajes, south of Madeira.
The Algarve, in the south of Portugal, is by far the most important tourist area, both for Portuguese and foreign visitors. The climate and the water temperature are the two factors that have contributed to the tourist boom in this region. Lisbon and Porto attract many tourists, these being cities renowned for their nightlife, their placement each on its respective river (the Tajo and the Duero), and for their monuments. Porto retains a special place in the cultural panorama of Portugal and of Europe. The Serralves Foundation and the House of Music are places that have to be seen. Madeira is also a tourist centre, due both to its pleasant climate throughout the year, and to its extraordinary gastronomy. And other important sites on the tourist itinerary are Chaves, Tomar, Sintra, Aveiro, Coimbra, Évora, Braga, Guimarães and the Duero Valley.
The Portuguese climate is described as Atlantic- Mediterranean. It is a maritime climate, influenced by the Atlantic, cold and rainy in the north, and warm and dry in the south. Annual rainfall varies greatly from south to north: Faro- 524 mm; Lisbon- 750 mm; Coimbra- 1000 mm; Porto- 1200 mm; Viana do Castelo- 1400 mm. In continental Portugal the temperatures average 13ºC in the north, and 18ºC in the south. Madeira and The Azores, due to their situation in the Atlantic, are rainy and humid, with a lower temperature range.
Portugal is one of Europe’s warmest countries. Spring and summer are sunny and the maximum temperatures in July and August are between 28ºC and 35ºC, sometimes rising to 40ºC in the interior in the south. Autumn and winter are typically rainy and windy, although sunny days are not unusual. Normally the temperatures do not go under 2ºC in the coastal areas, and they usually stay around 8/11ºC.