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Golden beaches sheltered by towering cliffs, cities bursting with nightlife, lush valleys of endless vineyards and gleaming white villages… if you’re craving laidback charm, culture and beauty on your next holiday, Portugal delivers.
From the islands of the Azores and Madeira to coastal villages and hilltop cities, each part of Portugal has a unique personality. Combine that with long summers, soft-sand beaches and kid-friendly resorts and hotels and you soon see why Portugal is a brilliant holiday destination.
On a city break, you can explore the rich history of Portuguese culture and dip into the creative energy that gives each city its charm – meander across Porto’s impressive bridges and pretty cobblestone streets or ride Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams to incredible viewpoints over the city.
Head south, and beach life takes over. For cheap fly-and-flop family holidays, the allure of the Algarve is hard to resist. Go all-inclusive and add an extra level of chill to your holiday, with bountiful buffets, stellar sea views from your balcony and cool pool complexes with cocktails on tap. Relaxing on the beach knowing that almost everything is included in the price? Now that’s what we call a holiday!
In the north, wild, windswept beaches give way to the dense green of the Minho valley, where vineyards clamber over hillsides and a cold glass of Portugal’s famous “green wine” is never a bad idea. Or, discover the untouched beauty of Alentejo, an enormous central region known for sleepy hilltop towns, such as Evora, and a rugged chunk of pristine coastline stretching from Sines to Zambujeira do Mar.
The pretty resort village of Carvoeiro, with its easily accessible sandy beach (from here you can kayak to the gorgeous Benagil Cave), is a popular choice for young families. The resorts here are well set up for kids, with plenty of family-friendly restaurants, shops and bars.
Alternatively, stay in Vilamoura to be in the heart of the Algarve’s bustling summer scene. The Aquashow water park is a quick trip away, and the area has loads of brilliant kid-friendly beaches to discover.
Prices have stayed low in Central Portugal, a lesser-visited region with lovely beaches and historic towns. In and around Aveiro, there’s affordable accommodation, with Praia da Barra, a huge beach with sand dunes and cute cafés, just down the road.
For romantic castles and palaces straight out of a Disney movie, Sintra is a superb budget-friendly town north of Lisbon. Visit Pena National Palace at the top and the world-class surfing beaches below. There are some great cheap hotels around Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
Portugal’s Algarve is a golfing mecca with many resorts teeing up tempting golf package deals. Play a round or two in the undulating landscapes of Monte Rei Resort near Tavira in the eastern Algarve, or perfect your swing at Dom Pedro Victoria Course just outside Vilamoura.
There’s more golf near Lisbon, with impressive courses around Sintra and Estoril, just a short distance from the museums and nightlife in the capital. The flat green of Oitavos Dunes is one of Portugal’s best courses, while West Cliffs has sand dunes, pine trees and Atlantic breezes to challenge your game.
All-inclusive resorts stretch along the coastline of fantastic Albufeira. There are resorts with huge family-friendly pools, kids clubs and all-day ice cream. Adults may prefer the area’s many kid-free hotels and resorts, where cocktail bars, pampering spa treatments and a party atmosphere replace water slides and kids’ clubs.
If you’re looking for luxury, the charming town of Alvor has exquisite all-inclusive resorts with majestic pool complexes, fine restaurants and entertainment from morning to bedtime.
Make a beeline for the turquoise waters of Tavira, where the glorious beaches of Ilha de Tavira await. The island can only be reached by water taxi from Tavira. Once you’re there, you won’t find much more than dunes, pine trees and a few cafés and restaurants. It’s beach bliss.
Also on the south coast, Lagos has some of the Algarve’s best beaches, with shallow coves, sheltered bays and plenty of water activities. Take long beach walks down Porto de Mós, paddleboard at Praia da Batata and snorkel from Praia do Camilo.
Elegant and cool, Lisbon is a wonderful mix of old and new. An influx of young creatives, driven by low rents, has helped create an exciting gourmet scene and nightlife making it perfect for a weekend break. Meanwhile, the city’s fine historic buildings and cobbled old town maintain a classic European beauty. Accommodation varies from boutique hotels to cheap and cheerful hostels, with options to suit all budgets in between.
Alternatively, head north to Porto. Set on the banks of the Douro, the city’s colourful riverside old town is brimming with restaurants and cafés. Churches everywhere are adorned with Porto’s famous blue azulejo tiles and port makers, such as Sandeman and Fonesca, run tasting tours of their cellars.
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