Portugal has a seafaring history, and the country is blessed with a great climate and fine beaches and seascapes. But there is much more to explore in this popular and accessible country. Here are 10 major reasons to visit Portugal to help start your holiday planning.
Beaches: From huge stretches of golden sand hugged by craggy honeycomb cliffs in the Algarve to small coves and rolling waves on the north and Silver coasts.
Nightlife: The Portuguese like to party so the clubs and bars are open until dawn. Spot celebs at Vilamoura’s marina bars, join in the party at Lisbon’s Alcantara docks or listen to haunting fado in a family-run restaurant.
Food: The Portuguese dine late and like to linger over their meals. Typical dishes include bacalhau (salted and sun dried codfish) served countless ways, caldo verde (green cabbage soup), cabrito (roast kid) and seafood cataplana (fish stew).
Wine: There are wine-growing regions all over the country, the best known being the Douro in the north, where rich reds and port wine are produced in the cellars of Oporto, the Alentejo and Minho, famous for the white, lightly sparkling venho verde.
Architecture: Outstanding examples of Baroque, Medieval, Manueline and Neoclassical architecture can be found all over Portugal. Visit Oporto’s Se Cathedral, Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery, Viana’s Old City Hall and Sintra’s Pena Palace.
Cities: The country has an abundance of UNESCO heritage cities with the historic centres of Oporto, Evora and Sintra leading the way. Lisbon buzzes with museums, historic monuments and fashionable bars and restaurants.
Nature: Go north to the Douro Valley for spectacular scenery and steeply terraced vineyards and the Algarve for scented orange groves, spectacular Monchique mountains and Ria Formosa national park. There are 12 national parks in Portugal.
History: Did you know that the Algarve was a Moorish province for 500 years or that the Portuguese were among the great explorers during Europe’s Age of Discovery with Prince Henry the Navigator leading the way?
Shopping: Colourful markets selling leather goods, embroidery and brightly-coloured hand-painted tiles and ceramics are everywhere. You’ll find department stores in Lisbon and large cities.
Touring: Hire a car and tour the ‘Real Portugal’ in the north, staying in a pousada (a building of historic interest) along the way. Go inland to the Alentejo plains or head north to the Serra da Estrela mountains.
So – a holiday in Portugal offers fabulous sandy beaches backed by dramatic honey-coloured limestone cliffs and neatly-terraced vineyards producing vintage port and robust wines. Sleepy white-washed villages nestle in the hills not far from the Algarve’s holiday resorts while vibrant historic cities bustle with life and brim over with culture and history. With many discount flights to Portugal to be had from all over Europe , now is the time to think of your Portuguese idyll.