Portugal has for years been a top destination for travel and tourism. The glorious beaches and holiday hotels attract visitors from far and wide.
Sadly, it also has some of the worst and most dangerous taxi drivers I have ever experienced in Europe. Despite the white-knuckle ride I endured when taking a taxi to my Faro hotel some years back, Portugal is a country I rate highly as it simply ticks all the boxes when it comes to what we as tourists demand from a holiday.
The coastline of the Algarve has some of the finest beaches in Europe while the capital city of Lisbon as well as Porto provides history, culture, and nightlife. If you want to get out and about, then you have plenty of national parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy. In addition to this, Portugal has pretty good food, superb beer, a warm climate, and incredible history. Overall the country is a bit of an all-rounder.
Portugal also has some great island destinations. Madeira – the pearl of the Atlantic with its flora and fauna and its Madeira wine. You can stay or enjoy an afternoon tea at the famous and ever so fabulous Reid’s Palace Hotel in Funchal. The Azores islands provide opportunities to spot migrating whales along with superb walking and hiking.
Portugal has plenty to offer the holidaymaker or intrepid explorer.
Memories Of Portugal
You have to spend the time to immerse yourself in all that Portugal offers. You can’t simply “get it” on the first visit as you may be sadly disappointed. I certainly was. It was not just those taxi drivers. It was also the service in some hotels that had been a bit of a letdown – the occasional rude waiter or barman. There was also cold food that was occasionally served up. I guess I expected more of Portugal in those early visits. In recent times I have visited with less expectation and been quietly surprised. Very similar to my first impressions of Malta.
Madeira is a beautiful island. Staying in a Quinta – an old manor house – was a highlight. I remember one I stayed at had a resident giant tortoise who patrolled the gorgeous grounds.
Porto Santo off Madeira is another hidden gem away from the crowds with its pretty little villages and a shoreline where you can be the only person strolling along a golden beach with the roaring Atlantic ocean before you – just magic!
Getting Around Portugal
The three main airports in Portugal are Lisbon, Faro, and Porto. All have excellent connections throughout Europe and beyond.
Taking the bus is a cost-effective means of travelling to various parts of Portugal.
Car Hire gives you the freedom to explore. Something to consider is the cost of tolls in addition to the car hire itself.
No trip to Lisbon and Porto is complete without taking a ride on the local tram.
Portugal has a good train network between all the major cities. There are also connections to some of the more off-the-beaten-track parts of the country. The cost of taking trains is reasonable.
Top Things To See & Do
The Algarve follows the south coast of Portugal. Tourists flock here for the beaches, the nightlife, and the Mediterranean sunshine. Cities and towns worth visiting are Faro, Lagos, Tavira, and Silves.
The charming town of Braga in the north of Portugal is known for its nightlife, narrow streets, stunning architecture, and numerous churches.
A very popular excursion from Lisbon is to this quaint fishing town where you can explore the streets and then stop at a restaurant for a long lunch and views of the Atlantic.
Coimbre is one of Portugal’s most pretty and welcoming cities. Discover the UNESCO-protected historic buildings of Velha Universidade surrounding the central collonaded square.
The capital of the Alentejo region is a popular excursion for its old town, charming atmosphere, and imposing cathedral.
Lisbon is on the banks of the Tagus River. Highlights include the architecture, gardens, castles, churches, restaurants, and bars. The different quarters of the city make it a fantastic city break destination. Visit the Chiado, the cultural centre, Belem for its palaces, and Alfama the Moorish quarter.
The spectacular walled fortress fortifications of Obidos are worth a visit. The charming town is full of streets containing shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Every year a medieval festival takes place in this charismatic town.
Straddling the Douro River, the city of Porto is famous for its port wine. Be sure to visit the Luis 1 Bridge for great views and the Cais do Ribeira promenade, an area by the river full of lively restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Also, why not head out to the beaches at Matosinhas or even take a day trip to nearby Braga or a vineyard excursion? Porto is a dreamy city break destination with additional attractions nearby if you are staying a little longer.
The romantic and famous Portuguese town of Sintra is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and worth a visit for its architecture, cobbled streets, and pastel-coloured houses.
Consider a trip to Madeira, Porto Santo, or the incredible Azores.
Visit Sintra Cascais National Park for its historical sites. The Penada-Geres mountains are ideal for hikers and walkers. Both offer some of the best nature and mountain scenery in the country.
Pre-bookable Excursions in Portugal
Contact Visit Portugal or your local travel agent for more information on holidays to Portugal.