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With its mild climate, 3000 hours of sunshine per year and 850 km of splendid beaches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is the perfect holiday destination all year round. It is a beautiful land with fascinating cities and an exceptional range of landscapes. The white holiday beaches of the Algarve give way to the green Monchique hills, then to the cork tree-covered plains of the Alentejo stretching to Lisbon, among the loveliest of all European cities, and beyond to wooded and vine-covered hills encompassing vibrant towns before finally reaching the Spanish border.
Portugal is ideally suited for touring holidays. The distances are not great and the roads, although sometimes winding, are in good repair. Very comfortable accommodation in character hotels, historic manor houses and Pousadas is readily available. Hospitable and warm people, fine wines and excellent cuisine make this an outstanding holiday destination.
The Azores form an enchanting archipelago of nine emerald green islands set in the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal (1,500km) and North America (3,900km). At one time thought to be part of the legendary lost continent of Atlantis, the islands were discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese navigators en-route to the New World and became the link between Europe and the Americas. In fact, they belong to Portugal and are part of Europe.
The islands of the archipelago can be separated into three groups: the Eastern group of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria; the Central group of Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial; and the Western group of Flores and Corvo.
Because of their remote location, the traditional lifestyle of the Azores, outside of the main towns, has remained virtually unchanged. There is hardly any industry apart from agriculture and fishing and pollution is unknown. The pace of life is slow and tourism is in its infancy.
The volcanic formation of the islands has endowed them with a spectacular natural beauty. Vast craters nurturing glistening blue lakes, sheer black cliffs falling in to the ocean, lush rolling valleys, rugged mountains and hot mineral springs and geysers combine to form a truly diverse scenery found nowhere else in the world. The climate is temperate, which ensures an abundance of flowers strewn across hedgerows and fields throughout the summer season, and the deep greens of the lush grasslands contrast markedly with dark volcanic stone walls and neat whitewashed houses.
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