Spring, Summer, Autumn
March – May
June – August
LCY → LIS
Freedom of movement
Taxi: 9 £GBP (25 min)
Bus: 1 £GBP (25 min)
Subway: 1 £GBP (10 min)
Lunch ≈ 7 £GBP
Dinner (for two) ≈ 21 £GBP
Espresso ≈ 1.80 £GBP
Bottled water ≈ 0.40 £GBP
It has been a European favourite destination for generations and it is not surprising when you consider Portugal’s compelling mix white-sanded beaches and impressive scenery has meant it has been a firm holiday fixture for decades. As if that wasn’t enough, the country’s fantastic weather is also a draw-card for travellers with about 300 days of sunshine per year.
Any traveller can find the perfect Portugal holidays to suit them. From unwinding on a beautiful beach, to pausing for a lunch of freshly grilled-sardines in a peaceful village, it might give you cause to wonder why the Portuguese Renaissance gave birth to so many great explorers – after all why would you want to leave such charming and diverse country in search of far-off lands.
Despite having an Atlantic coastline Portugal is described as having a Mediterranean climate, and happens to be one of the warmest European countries. So it is possible to enjoy good weather during the holidays to Portugal almost the whole year. The average temperature year-round in Portugal’s mainland varies from 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit) in the north’s mountainous interior to more than 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 Fahrenheit) in the country’s south. In the Algarve, which is separated by mountains from the Alentejo region, the climate is very similar to southern coastal Spain or Southern California. The Madeira and Azorean archipelagos have a less broad temperature range, with average temperatures annually greater than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) on the coast. Some of the islands in Azores have drier months in summer meaning they are listed as having a Mediterranean climate, others such as Corvo or Flores are Humid Subtropical or Maritime Temperate. Meanwhile the Madeira island of Porto Santo has a semi-arid Steppe climate.
Spanning the south coast of Portugal is the Algarve region, which possesses a dramatically rugged coastline interspersed with bays and coves. It is also home to a large number of resorts based close to the larger towns and also quiet fishing villages. This part of the country is also home to some of the best golf courses in Europe and some of them are truly spectacular. So don't miss an opportunity to attend it during your Portugal holidays.
Be prepared to be charmed by Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. It is a charming, cobbled city where yellow trams rattle up and down the steep, narrow streets, remains essentially 18th century and authentically Portuguese in feel without the globalisation you see in many other European cities.
Sintra has grown hugely since Lord Byron described it as “the most beautiful village in the world” in 1809 with its granite architecture. North of the city is less sun-baked making for greener landscapes. Terraced vineyards dominate the Douro valley running down to the “Golden River”, you can catch a small train follow the water’s flow or float down the river on a cruise sipping on the best local red wine on your holidays in Portugal.
Portugal’s second largest city Porto is where you’ll find famous port houses with British names like Taylor’s and Graham’s, which have been part of the city for centuries. Known in Roman times as Portus Cale (Sheltered Port) Porto might have a long history but it is anything but stuck in the past. Among the Neoclassical buildings and Baroque churches it is a modern, busy, commercial city. The riverside bairro of Ribeira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is packed with busy cafes and restaurants.
The central Portuguese city of Coimbra is the birthplace of no less than six kings and the home of the oldest University in Portugal which was founded in 1290. The 18th century library is particularly impressive and houses 300,000 books.
Madeira is about 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from the Portuguese mainland in the Atlantic Ocean, and has become known as “The Floating Garden” due to its botanical gardens filled with flowers. Old meets new in the terracotta-roofed capital Funchal with its cosy taverns alongside chic wine bars and traditional markets sitting next to chic boutiques. Visit Madeira during your holidays to Portugal and you won't regret.
North of Madeira is the tiny island of Porto Santo and is a relatively new arrival on the tourism scene meaning travellers are light on the ground here. Vila Baleira is the only town, and despite its distance from the mainland, it looks like any typical Portuguese town affair with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. The beach of the town butts up to is 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) of unspoiled sand.
One of Lisbon’s most visited areas is Belem and if it’s the Age of Discovery that captures your imagination, it is here where both Magellan and da Gama prepared for their journeys to new worlds. Its centrepiece is the Monastery of the Hieronymites but the whole quarter is filled that 15th century sense of exploration. Monuments include the Belem Tower, and the Monument to the Discoveries.
Also in Lisbon there is the oldest part of the city Alfama. It is one of the few areas that withstood the earthquake of 1775. It sits on a steep slope between the river Tejo and the Castle of Lisbon, be sure to spend time in one of the many Fado bars on your Portugal holidays.
No matter where you are in and around Sintra you can’t help but notice the multi-coloured, fairytale-like Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional Da Pena) which looms over the city from its hilltop vantage point. Make the effort to make the climb up the hill, which is called Serra de Sintra to see the splendour of the palace up close.
Hire a car and head to the edge of the European continent – Cape St Vincent in Costa Vincentina National Park. It is particularly spectacular at sunset as the sun sinks into the Atlantic, but this windswept headland which rises 60 metres (197 feet) from the sea is impressive any time of day.
Go surfing when you are on your holidays to Portugal. Portugal’s sea coasts are heaven for surfers. All of Portugal’s seacoast, both west and south, is divided into seven surfing regions: the best are Peninchem, Baleal and Ferrel. Others include Norte Porto, Beira, Lisbon, Algarve and Alentejo.