Spotlight on Portugal
10 November 2020
With 850 km of coastline, boasting some of Europe’s finest beaches; and miles of open plains, through regions such as Alentejo; Portugal’s natural appeal is evident. Add to the mix cultured cities, remote islands, a unique culinary offering and some of the world’s premier hotel brands, and you’ll see why Portugal is turning heads for 2021.
Did you know?
- Go West: Portugal boasts Europe’s most westerly point: Flores Island in the Azores. It is also home to mainland Europe’s Westernmost point – Cabo da Roca.
- Portugal has the world's eighth-largest area of vineyards.
- When it was built, Portugal’s Vasco da Gama bridge – named after the Portuguese explorer who discovered the sea route to India in 1498 – was the longest bridge in Europe. It crosses the Tagus River at Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, with a span of 17,185 metres.
"Once a small fishing village the resort has blossomed into one of the most popular on the Algarve. The town is split into the Old Town and the Marina area. The Old town is surrounded by the 16th-century walls which have beautiful cobbled streets, plazas and some unique churches and historical sights to visit. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from and the Praca del Gil Eanes has children’s entertainment and music most evenings which was perfect for us each evening before or after dinner. There are also several streets off the Praca for exploring and souvenir shopping."
Ursula, Travel Counsellor, after her trip to Lagos
When to visit
- February sees huge Shrove Tuesday celebrations across Portugal, including Podence, Lazarim, Loulé, Sines, Óvar and Mealhada.
- Spring is beautiful – almond groves fill with scented blossom to announce the end of winter and you'll find ideal hiking or cycling weather.
- Summer sun: June through September is almost universally sunny, with temperatures typically around the 30˚C mark.
- September is grape harvesting time and a wonderful time of year to visit Portugal’s wine-producing areas in Alentejo and the Douro valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Portugal’s Atlantic archipelago of Madeira is an ideal Winter sun destination.
"As our trip was early October, the resort was quiet and we were lucky enough to share it predominately with the locals. Five of us were enjoying a two-course meal with wine for around £12-£15 each. The weather was also fab, not too hot but warm enough to sunbathe comfortably. I'd absolutely go back to this lovely little gem either with friends, family or with my husband as a couples getaway."
Karen, Travel Counsellor, after her trip to Olhao
Things to do in Portugal
- Relax. Portugal has many wonderful beaches – some of which are just a day trip from Lisbon, enabling you to easily combine a fabulous city break with a beach holiday.
- Play golf. The Algarve is home to 40 golf courses, which include world-class greens and some exclusive golf resorts, including the region's first, Penina.
- Sunbathe. The Algarve’s beaches range from long sandy shorelines, bordered by promenades and cafes, to secluded sea-sculpted coves dotted with caves and interesting rock formations and framed by golden sandstone cliffs.
- Explore. In Madeira, wander the narrow, cobbled streets of its capital Funchal, then soak up the sun at a seaside lido. Pay a visit to Blandy’s Wine Lodge to sample the island’s eponymous wine. And spend a day or two exploring the island’s rugged interior by hiking its network of hillside irrigation channels, or “levadas”, for awe-inspiring views.
Try something a little different…
- Lisbon has many world-class museums and galleries, including one dedicated to the traditional Portuguese music of Fado. Here you can learn about the music, its stars, the art it has inspired, and perhaps even catch a live performance at its auditorium.
- Explore the sculpted shapes and caves of the Algarve’s stunning coastline from the sea: take a boat trip from Albufeira’s harbour and you may even see pods of dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
- The Dom Pedro Golf Complex at Vilamoura is one of the best, with four fabulous courses: Old, Victoria, Laguna and Pinhal.
- Portugal's beaches are washed by the Atlantic Ocean – making them ideal places to try your hand at a spot of deep-sea fishing.
- The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is just a day trip away from Lisbon. The pretty pastel-hued Unesco World Heritage-listed centre, Sintra-Vila, is a picturesque base for exploring. Perching above the town, Pena Palace is stunning inside and out – and offers a fascinating glimpse into the wealth and life of Portugal’s monarchs at a time when this tiny nation ruled the waves and this was their summer palace.
"No visit to Funchal would be complete without a ride on the cable car from Funchal to Monte (or a journey between heaven and earth - as it is advertised). The cable car is 3300 metres long and takes you over Funchal to the village of Monte. The views are spectacular, you can see all of Funchal and the harbour where cruise ships dock. P&O Azura was in overnight while we were there."
Allan, Travel Counsellor after his stay in Madeira
For more ideas about what to do in Portugal, how to get there, when to go and where to stay, get in touch with your local Travel Counsellor.