Set on the Atlantic coast it also has a number of cultural influences that colour the holiday experience and the excellent food, making it an ideal spa destination with an extra flourish.
Lisbon is a spectacularly beautiful city. The hilly, coastal capital of Portugal, it is rich I historic icons such as the imposing São Jorge Castle and spectacular views such as the old city’s pastel-coloured buildings. Being by the beach, it is a wonderful combination of beach and city breaks and one of its most popular activities is surfing.
Hotspots include Carcavelos – one of the best known surf spots as well as Costa da Caparica, Praia da Poca – a small sandy beach backed by a promenade with cafes, and Lagoa de Albulfeira – a unique lagoon beach close to Sesimbra.
Porto is perhaps best known as the home of Port, amongst other famous wines, so a trip to this coastal city in northwest Portugal is a prime opportunity to do some sampling.
Architecturally it’s known for its stately bridges, its medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets and merchants’ houses and cafes, but it is very much a gastronomer’s delight.
In addition to wines, the terroir is also used to create a very distinctive olive oil that’s one of the great pleasures of the Mediterranean, and in this land of sea, plains and mountains, the food is as diverse as the landscape with fish, seafood, meat or regional and convent-made confectionery to try.
A port city in the Algarve, Portimao is known for its old quarter, busy marina and proximity to the beach. Once a centre for sardine fishing, today it is very much a holiday destination – think plenty of beach time, golf and leisure activities as well as an enviable nightlife.
Just west of Lisbon, Cascais is another coastal town that’s popular for water sports as well as beautiful historic sites. Once a minor fishing village, until King Luís I (1838 – 1889) chose it as his royal summer retreat, it is known for its high society visitors, lavish villas, ornate mansions and exquisite gardens.
Today, that trend has continued and it is an elegant fusion of decorative 19th-century architecture, traditional Portuguese charm and outstanding tourist facilities.
Alongside Vilamoura’s golf courses, beaches, casinos and large marina, this popular holiday destination in Portugal is also home to a ruined Roman villa with bathhouses and mosaics and some spectacular geographical markings such as the red cliffs that line Falésia Beach, which stretches west to the fishing village Olhos de Água.
With a reputation as one of southern Portugal’s finest resort towns, Vilamoura was constructed in the 1980s as an elite golfing centre, and has matured into a stylish and sophisticated resort, boasting world-class golf courses and superb holiday facilities, making for a luxurious escape within easy reach of the UK.