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Attitudes toward homosexuality vary by region, with Lisbon, naturally, being the center of gay male life (less so for lesbians). The country has a strong Catholic heritage, and public displays of same-sex affection, especially in rural areas, might bring disapproval. Even so, overt homophobia is rare in Portugal. Nearly all hotels in Portugal are savvy about checking in same-sex couples, even if a double bed is requested.

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 800/448-8550 in the U.S. or 954/776-2626; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay and lesbian-friendly travel businesses; go to the website and click on "Members."

Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries to Portugal specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Above and Beyond Tours (tel. 800/397-2681 in the U.S.; www.abovebeyondtours.com) is the exclusive gay and lesbian tour operator for United Airlines. Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951 in the U.S.; www.nowvoyager.com) is a well-known San Francisco-based gay-owned and -operated travel service.

Gay.com Travel (tel. 415/644-8044; www.gay.com/travel), is an excellent online successor to the popular Out & About print magazine. It provides regularly updated information about gay-owned, gay-oriented, and gay-friendly lodging, dining, sightseeing, nightlife, and shopping establishments in every important destination worldwide.

The Canadian website GayTraveler (www.gaytraveler.ca) offers ideas and advice for gay travel all over the world.

The following travel guides are available at many bookstores, or you can order them from any online bookseller: Spartacus International Gay Guide (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com/gayguide) and Odysseus: The International Gay Travel Planner, 17th Edition; and the Damron guides (www.damron.com), with separate, annual books for gay men and lesbians.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.