A sun-soaked land on the Iberian Peninsula with plenty to offer to both short- and long-term visitors, Portugal’s greatest attraction is it’s gorgeous coastline. The southern region of the Algarve is a firm favourite, where an array of top-class beach resorts, once sleepy fishing villages, provide luxurious ocean side accommodation.
Portugal Travel Guide
The region’s fine, year-round climate and ease of access mean that it is a hugely popular winter sun vacation destination. Additionally, there are several low-cost European carriers that provide direct cheap flights to the Algarve.
It also serves well as the perfect place for a weekend getaway when the daily grind of city life becomes too much. Seaside towns like Albufeira and Lagos are home to some of the best beach resorts in the Algarve, providing a heady mixture of sheltered beaches, outstanding natural scenery and high-quality lodgings.
There is far more to Portugal than it’s beaches, however. As anyone who has ever set foot in Lisbon’s historic Alfama district, or travelled to the medieval town of Évora will tell you, the country is home to some breathtaking architecture and cultural treasures.
Notable tourist sights in Lisbon include the Jerónimos Monastery and it’s Manueline architecture, the iconic Monument to the Discoveries, and the most-photographed building in all of Portugal, the Tower of Belém.
This geographically varied country also offers skiing opportunities at the Vodafone Ski Resort in the Serra Estrela Mountains. This craggy, forested mountain range is also a great area for walking and hiking trails, and is the place to go for those craving the pampering of a spa resort holiday in Portugal.
Best time to visit Portugal
Portugal has a typically Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers, and cool, wet winters. The southern coastal region of the Algarve is more temperate than inland regions. The best time to visit Portugal is during spring and autumn, when the weather is warm and fine, and there aren’t too many tourists around. However, summer is the high season, and is probably when the ocean is at it’s most appealing. During winter, airfares and accommodation prices are much lower, serving as a bonus for budget-conscious travelers.
What to pack
Pack plenty of sunscreen for a holiday in Portugal, as well as some after-sun lotion, which can soothe the worst effects of spending too much time out on the beach.
What to buy
Fado music CDs, iconic dolls from the Nazare region, and local Portuguese fashion, which, although not widely known, is often chic and trendy.
Piri-piri chicken (especially from Guia), and salted cod (bacalhau).
A final word
Whether you choose to relax on one of it’s golden beaches, or head inland and do a little exploring of the country, you are bound to have a rich and rewarding experience travelling through Portugal. The perfect place to see buildings and history.
DISTANCE FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE: 7 kilometres
TIME ZONE: Summer: GMT +2 hours, Winter: GMT
CURRENCY: Euro (EUR)
LANGUAGES: Portuguese is spoken all over the country, along with a handful of minority dialects. English is widely understood in tourism hubs.