Set in the south western corner of Europe, Portugal is a country of contrasts and a perfect holiday destination. Steeped in history, it offers World Heritage Sites, medieval towns, pretty fishing villages and cosmopolitan cities. The landscape is both beautiful and diverse, ranging from plunging mountains and lush valleys to a beautiful coastline.
Villages, towns and cities
Culture vultures will be in heaven exploring Portugal’s magical historical sites. Wander the quaint cobbled streets of Lisbon, visiting cathedrals and monasteries and watch the sunset from the Moorish castle. Soak up the atmosphere of a local festival and eat and drink at one of the many restaurants and bars.
Enjoy the beauty of the mountainous region of Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon, visiting the Pena Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the traditional fishing villages.
Marvel at the maze of medieval streets and buildings of the university town of Coimbra and wander along the leafy riverfront, numerous gardens and parks or through the Roman ruins at Conimbriga.
Porto, Portugal’s second city, located in the north, is a hotchpotch of wide boulevards and neat squares, lavish baroque churches, medieval alleys, galleries, boutiques and an impressive metro system. It’s a great place for sightseeing, shopping or sunbathing. Evora, located in the Alentejo region, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and well worth a visit with its beautifully preserved town centre, ancient medieval walls and historic monuments.
Portugal’s southernmost province, The Algarve, is the country’s premier holiday destination. It enjoys the most annual sunshine hours in Europe and has a stunning coastline, so this is the place to come if you’re looking for all inclusive luxury holidays. A quick search online for Portugal all inclusive holidays will reveal some of the best resorts in the region. There are golden beaches with crystal clear waters and The Algarve is a paradise for golfers. The pretty whitewashed towns come alive in the summer months, but if you prefer to avoid the masses there are quieter castle towns and villages and unspoilt stretches of coastline. Inland you’ll find a mountainous interior, quaint towns and rural farming communities.
The capital of the region is Faro, which feels distinctly Portuguese and has a fascinating medieval quarter. Lagos, with its vibrant nightlife, attracts a young crowd, while surfers flock to the small towns of Sagres and Carrapateira on the rugged west coast.
Madeira and the Azores islands, nestling in the middle of the Atlantic, are easily accessible from the mainland and have long been popular holiday destinations. The semi-tropical island of Madeira offers a dreamlike blend of an excellent climate and beautiful natural scenery. It is an oasis of subtropical flora and home to some of the world’s best luxury hotels. The untouched beauty of the Azorean archipelago, with its volcanic scenery, is popular with nature lovers looking to get off the beaten track. Watch whales and dolphins, trek over the breathtaking landscape and tuck into a meal cooked underground in the steaming volcanic hot springs on São Miguel Island.