Lisbon is a microcosm of Portugal, and will give you a tantalizing glimpse of things to come. A short drive away from the capital is the tranquil beach town of Cascais, where you can escape the constant crowds of Algarve, while still enjoying Portugal's stunning coastline. Also equidistant from Lisbon is Sintra, an old-world city filled with eccentric Moorish palaces, complete with colourful turrets, domes, and cottages.
When you've had your fill of the capital, take a spiritual journey to Lourdes, or head straight up north to Porto, Gaia, and the Rio Duoro to see ancient Stone Age relics at Vila Nova de Foz Coa, and where sipping wine on steep terraced riverbanks is an everyday occurrence. The university towns of Coimbra and Braga preserve their old-world architecture and charm, infused with all the energy and enthusiasm of youth, while the southern beaches of Lagos, Portimao, and Albufeira offer the best of Portugal's nightlife entertainment. The country's national parks, Madeira, and the Azores Islands are well worth a visit for nature-lovers, and all three have great hiking and quad biking trails.
Seafood is an integral part of Portuguese cuisine, with codfish and sardines at the top of the list. For a lighter snack, bread, chorizo, and cheese are always good choices, and you can end your meal with a few delicious pasteis de nata made from custard and cinnamon.
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Portugal's international airports are located at Lisbon (LIS), Porto (OPO), and Faro (FAO). Flights to Lisbon will be cheaper than either of the other two airports, but if you book well in advance, you could get great deals on flights to the northern wine country around Porto or Faro's beaches in the South. You can also fly directly to the island of Madeira (FNC) or the Azores Islands (PDL). SATA and Air Transat have direct flights from Toronto and Montreal to Lisbon and Porto. Check for flights on Air Canada, Continental, United, Delta, US Airways, and Jet Airways for flights with one or more stopovers on the way.
Portugal never gets particularly cold and year-round temperatures average between 15-18°C. June to September is the country's peak tourist season when temperatures average 27°C and some areas on the southern coast can get as hot as 45°C. The winter period sees a lot of rain from November to March but some beach areas in the south have sunny weather all year round. If this is where you're headed, then the winter is an excellent time to get great deals on cheap flights and low accommodation rates