Tourism in Portugal
Portugal attracts many tourists each year. In 2006, the country was visited by 7 million tourists. Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in Portugal's economy contributing about 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The main tourist areas are, by order of importance, the Greater Lisbon (Lisboa), the Algarve, Greater Porto and Northern Portugal (Porto e Norte), city of Coimbra, Portuguese Islands (Ilhas Portuguesas: Madeira and Azores), and Alentejo.
Lisbon is, after Barcelona, the European city attracting most tourists, with 7 million tourists sleeping in the city's hotels in 2006, the number grew 11.8% compared to previous year. Lisbon in recent years surpassed the Algarve as the leading tourist region in Portugal. Porto and Northern Portugal, especially the urban areas north of Douro River, was the tourist destination which grew most (11.9%) in 2006 and surpassed Madeira, in 2010, as the third most visited destination. Today, most tourists in Portugal are Spanish, British, French, Dutch, Scandinavians or Brazilians, which not only search for beach vacations, but mostly cultural ones, city breaks, gastronomy, nautical tourism or business traveling.
Tourist hotspots in Portugal are Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, Coimbra and Madeira, but the Portuguese government is currently developing new destinations: the Douro Valley, Porto Santo Island, and Alentejo.
Portugal has several other tourism regions such as Douro Sul, Templários, Dão-Lafões, Costa do Sol, Costa Azul, Planície Dourada, etc. Most of them are unknown to tourists and locals alike. As of 2007, these are being reorganized.
All these regions are grouped in tourism reference areas, which are widely known because these are the traditional regions:
- Costa Verde — The Portuguese green coast comprises all the northern coast of Portugal from the estuary of the Minho River to the city of Porto.
- Costa de Prata — Silver coast. The coast of central Portugal from Porto to Lisbon. Nazaré, Foz de Arelho and São Martinho do Porto are 3 important places at the Costa de Prata.
- Costa de Lisboa — Lisbon coast. The coast of the capital city and its important suburbs.
- Montanhas — Mountainous and interior regions of northern and central Portugal, namely Serra da Estrela and Trás-os-Montes.
- Planícies — The Portuguese plane region of Alentejo in the south.
- Algarve — The southern coast of Portugal.
- Madeira — The Madeira islands.
- Açores — The Azores islands.
The main tourist regions can be broken-down into:
- the Greater Lisbon
- the Algarve,
- Greater Porto
- Northern Portugal (Porto and Norte), and
- the Portuguese Islands (Portuguese: Ilhas Portuguesas: Madeira and Azores), and Alentejo.
Other tourist regions include Douro Sul, Templários, Dão-Lafões, Costa do Sol, Costa Azul, Planície Dourada, that are unknown to many tourists or visitors.
Most of these regions are grouped in tourism reference areas, which continue to be in a state of reorganization and evolution, some based on the traditional regions of Portugal: the Costa Verde (Green Coast); Costa da Prata (Silver Coast); Costa de Lisboa (Lisbon Coast); Montanhas (Mountains); Planícies (Plains); Algarve; and the islands of the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores.
The Rooster of Barcelos is bought by many tourists as a souvenir. The legend of the Rooster of Barcelos tells the story of a dead rooster's miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death. The story is associated with the 17th-century calvary that is part of the collection of the Archeological Museum located in Paço dos Condes, a gothic-style palace in Barcelos, a city in the Braga District of northwest Portugal.