From sugar-soft beaches and soaring cliffs, to vineyards, history and golf courses, there's much to enjoy about Portugal holidays...
Portugal is the westernmost country on the European continent, with miles of stunning coastline overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The nation is one of the most visited in the world and there are a number of top tourist locations including Lisbon and the Algarve. Alongside, there is a wide choice of accommodation of all styles and types to suit any visitor to Portugal.
Decide where you will book Portugal hotels with our guide to the nation's tourism hotspots...
Whether the beaches of the Algarve or the busy city atmospheres of Lisbon and Porto are your preference, there is something for everyone. The same can be said of Portugal's accommodation facilities. Fully prepared for their temporary guests, the country has a range of hotels, resorts and apartments ranging from budget to blow out and any visitor will be able to find exactly what they need for their Portuguese holiday experience.
Portugal's capital, Lisbon, is a major destination for visitors and the most popular city in Europe after Barcelona for tourism. Positioned on the Atlantic coast in the southern half of the country it is a city that is brimming with culture and an ideal destination for a city break. The city offers a fantastic selection of museums, including the renowned Gulbenkian, and traditional attractions sit harmoniously next to modern structures, giving Lisbon a vibrant personality that is instantly enchanting. Visitors can stay at any number of hotels and self-catered apartments located all around this accessible city. Travelling from place to place is never tedious thanks to its excellent public transport systems and easy, navigable paved streets.
The Estoril coastline, just a short distance outside Lisbon, stretches from Carcavelos all the way to the beaches of Guincho. With sandy enclaves and picturesque fishing villages overlooking the Atlantic, it is one of Portugal's most in-demand areas for today's visitor.
In the north of Portugal, Porto, the country's second city, is a growing site for tourism. Its ancient walled centre overlooking the Douro River is filled with bars, restaurants and interesting traditional shops. Modern shopping malls and architecture sit in beautiful contrast in other parts of the city.
Meanwhile, the Faro District's Algarve, in Portugal's southernmost region, is the tourism hub of the nation, as well as being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Visitors come for the climate and beaches on the magnificent coastline. With a number of towns, villages and resort developments in the region, they are not short of places to stay.
The choice of accommodation is vast, with visitors able to choose from high-rise resort complexes, independently-run guesthouses and self-catering apartments, to best suit their needs. However, with an average 10 million visitors a year to the region, it is definitely wise to book ahead and to be aware of accommodation costs during the peak summer season.
The region has a number of locations that are especially charming, drawing visitors from all over the globe. Lagos is one of the Algarve's most developed cities, with a vibrant night-time party scene during summer months, yet retaining a strong historical and cultural tradition. Monuments and architecture dates back as far as the pre-historic era and evidence of both its religious and military past is on show in the area. Like most of the Algarve, it has beautiful beaches interspersed with naturally formed grottos and overhanging cliffs. Its outlying parishes, such as Barao de Sao Joao and Praia da Luz, are also very popular with visiting tourists, as is Alvor and its Alvor Estuary. An area of great beauty, it boasts many diverse habitats including lagoons, saltpans, forest land and marshes, as well as impressive examples of traditional Algarve architecture and modern eco-friendly design.
The nearby town of Albufeira has a marina, golf courses, restaurants and bars mingled amongst its brightly-coloured houses and narrow traditional streets. Other top golf resorts can be found in Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. In addition, the long sandy stretches of the beaches in Monte Gordo, the picturesque fishing town of Carvoeiro with its beaches and cliffs and coves, and the area of Praia de Rocha, or 'Rock Beach', are a draw for the many wishing to enjoy Portugal's famed coastline.
The Algarve's Vilamoura is Europe's largest luxury tourist resort. Built around a marina, it is surrounded by holiday homes, hotels, bars, restaurants and even a casino. There is also a wide range of water-based activities on offer, from fishing to water-skiing and exploring local caves by boat. Largely privately owned, Vilamoura is an opulent, if pricey, destination, with accommodation ranging from three to five stars.
Just as Portugal is a nation of variation, from traditional town centres to modern cities, so too is the accommodation on offer throughout the country. Just remember to book in advance to avoid any accommodation disappointment. Hotels are always in high demand, particularly during the summer months. Portugal hotels range from five-star luxury to simple, no-frills lodgings, whilst self-catering is a very popular (and flexible) choice taken by visitors to city and seaside alike. Especially in the Algarve, there are many spa and golf-based resorts. Catering for those looking for the ultimate in luxury lodgings they offer top of the range restaurants, sports facilities and even clubs right on site.
For those who are habitual with their travel accommodation, rest assured that many of the international big name hotels also function all over Portugal. Additionally, there are a number of Portuguese chains that promise quality service wherever the location. Tivoli Hotels and Resorts are one of Portugal's main hotel chains, offering four- and five-star accommodation. Similarly, Pestana Hotels and Resorts, found across Europe, South America and Africa, are part of Portugal's large and reputable Pestana Group, which is recognised the world over for a high standard of service. Owned by the Pestana Group, Pousadas Hotels are another luxury chain that offers historic and traditional hotel accommodation. The focus of these hotels is on providing visitors an experience that is traditionally Portuguese and the hotels are found in traditional buildings as opposed to modern and new build properties. The locations of these hotels range from castles to rustic and romantic countryside settings.
Portugal is much more to holidaymakers than the beaches and golf resorts of the Algarve...
Of course the beaches and golf resorts are fantastically popular and for many excellent reasons (some of which you'll find below). Here are a few more reasons to get those flights and hotels booked and enjoy a break in sunny Portugal.
Top five attractions
The capital city sits on a series of hills overlooking the Tagus River and is the second oldest capital in Europe. See charming neighbourhoods and the highlights of the Baixa, downtown, and make for the city beaches if it all gets too hot to handle.
Turreted castles on hilltops? It can only be the fairy-tale town of Sintra, around 30 minutes from Lisbon. Day-trippers flood into the town and aim cameras at the buildings of the Romantic era; stay the night if you want to see Sintra at its best.
Sunshine, sandcastles, seaside escapades: the Algarve is a firm favourite with family visitors. Golfers also fall for the lush greens of the Algarve. One of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits, there is much to see and do and a great range of hotels.
Porto and Douro
Head north to stay in the city of Porto and take a romantic stroll on the Cais da Ribeira, which sits on the banks of the Douro River. Hire a car or book a day trip to follow this river inland to taste the produce of the Douro Valley, which includes the famed Port Wine.
The vivid hues and soaring peaks of this Portuguese archipelago make Madeira a fine holiday destination for those who love island life, excellent dining, fine wine and plenty of shops - and aren't bothered about sandy beaches (there are only two). Upmarket and sedate, Madeira also lures those looking for outdoor adventures.
Portugal knows how to party. Find out what's on when with our events guide...
Have a good time at any of the following annual events and check what's on locally so you don't miss out on a look at life in Portugal.
Loule Carnival; February/March: The Algarve city of Loule hosts one of the biggest and best carnivals in the region. A parade of colourful costumes and floats wind through the streets, with Avenida Jose da Costa Mealha becoming party central. It costs a few euros to enter but it's worth the money.
Fiesa; May-October: Another treat in the Algarve, this event showcases the world's best sand sculptors and their larger-than-life creations. Past entries have included colossal homages to the natural kingdom, superheroes and musicians - have you ever seen a giant Mick Jagger made of sand?!
Oceans Festival; July-August: Be in Lisbon for a feast of cultural offerings and some big names from the music world. There are numerous free events to attend and plenty going on for visitors of all ages.