Holidays in Portugal
Portugal Holidays at a glance
Portugal lies to the west of Spain and is home to some of the most captivating coastline and beautiful beaches in Europe. The seas which lap the lovely white sands of her shores are cleansed and cooled by Atlantic waters, bringing a refreshing air and cool dip to complement the long hours of sunshine.
One of the oldest countries in Europe, Portugal spreads her cultural heritage out before visitors in its magnificent monuments, castles and churches, and in the beguiling traditions and colourful street ceremonies which captivate visitors each year. Alongside them sit futuristic buildings and technologies, reflecting the move towards modern trends and contemporary lifestyles in cosmopolitan destinations that will satisfy the needs of the most sophisticated of travellers.
Portugal Holidays - Destination Profile
A country of uniquely diverse and exciting landscapes and culture, Portugal has something to offer everyone. From the sun-drenched white sands of the Algarve, through the breathtaking beauty of the interior to the tropical atmosphere of the floral covered Madeira islands and the verdant cliff tops of the Azores, there is so much to savour. And with some of the best golf courses in Europe complemented by fabulous hotels, including the world-renowned Pousadas, it is no wonder Portugal has become a firm favourite among British holidaymakers.
Away from the endless beaches, historic cities such as Porto and Coimbra offer museums and monuments galore; the capital, Lisbon is steeped in the country's cultural heritage as well as being a shopper's paradise. But if your aim on holiday is to avoid cities, the untouched, natural countryside has plenty on offer, too. Perhaps best known are the national park in Geres or the Douro Valley near Porto. Look for the small villages scattered over the rolling hills, inside old castle walls; try the magical town of Sintra with its hilltop, fairytale palace and ancient castle.
It can't be denied though, that it is the 100 or more long, languorous beaches of Algarve, surrounded by amazing cliffs and crystal clear waters for which Portugal is best known and, with the highest amount of sunshine in Europe, it is easy to see why it has retained its position among the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. Holidays here are great for families offering perfect conditions for sunbathing and swimming and a variety of resorts many of which were formerly fishing villages, retaining their authentic charm in the whitewashed houses and cobbled streets.
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Holidays in Portugal - Things to see
Holidays to Portugal are filled with opportunities to explore some fantastic countryside, towns and villages as well as places of historical interest. Here are just a handful of possibilities:
Conimbriga: Situated 10 miles from Coimbra, the ruined Roman town of Conímbriga is one of Portugal's largest and best preserved Roman sites. The complex is vast and impressive and contains some wonderful mosaics and an excellent museum.
Cape St Vincent: Europe's most South Westerly point is still an important shipping landmark with a lighthouse that is visible from 50 miles away. Some of the old town is still surrounded by the old Roman walls that date back to the 9th Century. Away from the town some wonderful secluded beaches with that 'edge of the world' feel are to be found.
Costa Vincentina National Park: On the way to Cape St Vincent the Costa Vincentina National Park is the place to witness some spectacular sunsets. The rocky windswept headland rising 60m above the sea really gives a feeling of being at the edge of the continent.
Parque Natural Da Serra Da Estrela: Filled with rocky, barren mountains and emerald green rivers cutting the glacial valleys, this park offers perfect hiking trails that take in peaceful plateaus, green pastures and craggy, rugged mountain ranges.
Lagos: A major port and formerly the home of Prince Henry the Navigator. It still retains many architectural pointers to its ancient past.
Loule: The walls of this historic town's 12th Century castle still stand, and now surround the town's museum, displaying yet more treasures of this beautiful town's past.
Ponta de Sagres: The fortress of Henry the Navigator. It is here that he once brought together the greatest minds of his day to aid him with his voyages.
Tavira: Escape the more 'modern' resorts of the Algarve and surround yourself in the history and architecture of probably the region's most elegant town.
Things to do on a Holiday in Portugal
There's no doubt that Portugal is perfect for long lazy days in the sun and relaxing strolls into town and along the coast. But what if you prefer to break up your days with a bit more action?
Golf: Golf is becoming increasingly popular in Portugal and particularly in the Algarve, which is is home to many of the world's top courses and has played host to many international tournaments and competitons. Whether you are a skilled-amateur looking for new challenges, or just a beginner looking for a relaxing break from the stresses of everyday life, the golf courses of the the Algarve are the place for you.
Bowls: There can be few things more relaxing on holiday than a spot of outdoor bowls... and there are few more relaxing settings for the sport than the Algarve. The beautiful climate, glorious sunshine, calm sea views and cooling sea breezes make the Algarve the ideal surroundings for your game.
Watersports: With the beautiful coastline and beaches that the Algarve has to offer tourists... it's no wonder that some of the most popular and enjoyable pursuits in Portugal are water sports.
Hiking: Whether you like mountains, valleys or coastal scenery, Portugal offers perfect hiking opportunities for you. From the Douro Valley whose grandeur is striking to the beautiful paths along the wild and unspoiled Costa Vicentina National Park to the many coastal walks throughout the Algarve Portugal has it all.
Eating/Drinking During Portugal Holidays
Food and drink is one of the great pleasures to be enjoyed whilst on holiday in Portugal. The country is popular for its cafes serving traditional Portuguese cuisine. Many assume Spanish and Portuguese cuisine to be very similar but in fact the food and style of cooking is very different. Portugal is well known for its fine wines and ports so for those of you who enjoy a tipple, Portugal holidays are a must. Areas such as Lisbon as very popular for seafood, whilst the Algarve widespread popularity for holidays ensures the cuisine is more international.
Getting Around on Portugal Holidays
Travelling to and around Portugal and the Algarve in particular is a very simple process. Flights into the region arrive at Faro airport and are available from most major airports around the world, making it the quickest and easiest way to travel.
Once in the Algarve, getting around is just as simple. There is a wide range of public transport which is reasonably priced and very efficient. There is a train service from Vila Real de Santo to Lagos that stops off at all the major towns along the way. There is also a comprehensive network of buses that cover the entire region, including the smaller villages.
If that's not enough, the mini-cabs also tend to be well priced and easily found in all major town centres and resorts. But for those who prefer to travel around without the hustle and bustle of public transport, car hire is a viable option.
Portugal Holidays Shopping
Holidays to Portugal offer the perfect opportunity to pick up bargain, whether it be wine, liqueurs, spirits, cigarettes or tobacco.
Locally produced arts and crafts make wonderful gifts with items such as pottery, crystal, copperware, embroidery and jewellery widely available.
Leather goods are particularly cheap in Portugal and bags, belts and shoes are available at a fraction of the price at home.
Weather and climate information
The weather in Portugal is perfect for holidays, this is because Portugal is one of Europe's driest and warmest countries. The summers are hot and dry with some areas reaching 45°C and winters are cooler but still very mild.
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