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The main scheduled airlines flying to Portugal are the national carrier TAP and British Airways. They offer regular services to Lisbon and Porto from London Heathrow (LHR) and London Gatwick, while British Airways also offers flights from both airports to Faro.
They are not necessarily more expensive than the budget airlines so they’re worth checking out, particularly for city breaks as their flight times may be more convenient. That said, prices tend to shoot up in line with seasonal peaks such as Easter, school holidays and major golf tournaments on the Algarve such as Portugal Masters in October.
Most cheap flights to Portugal land in Faro on the Algarve, where the majority of Portugal’s package tourism is focused. Package holidays and tours can also offer excellent value flights, and are worth considering for family travel during the summer.
EasyJet flies to Faro from Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow (GLA), Liverpool, Newcastle (NCL), and London’s Luton (LTN), Gatwick and Southend (SEN) airports; while Ryanair flies from Birmingham, Bournemouth (BOH), East Midlands (EMA), Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds (LBA), London Stanstead (STN) and Manchester.
British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways fly to Madeira Airport, 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of the island’s capital Funchal. João Paulo II Airport (PDL) on the island of São Miguel is the main international airport of the Azores, and is located 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) west of the town of Ponta Delgada.
Air Azores and Ryanair operate direct flights to São Miguel from London’s Gatwick and Stansted respectively. Alternatively, TAP operates flights from Manchester via Lisbon, while there are also seasonal summer flights via Porto and Faro.
While you won’t be able to beat cheap flights to Portugal on price, overland routes combining ferry, rail and road travel enable you to see some of the French or Spanish countryside as you go. Driving the 2,500 kilometres to Portugal from the UK through France and Spain takes approximately 24 hours.
The fastest – and most fun – train route, meanwhile, is via the Eurostar from London to Paris, then south on the high-speed TGV to Irun where you transfer to the overnight Trenhotel, the Sud Express, to Lisbon. Just remember that train and ferry fares are at their highest during the summer and school holidays.