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 travelling.