To book or not to book a holiday in Portugal… It’s not a question… To book of course!
Portugal is one of the top 20 most visited countries in the world!
And there are number of reasons for that fact:
- Portugal has predominantly Mediterranean climate with long, hot, dry summers and mild winters;
- The country is blessed with some truly outstanding holiday resorts;
- Portugal is stunning geographical and has incredible environmental diversity;
- The delicious food; and
- The bargain prices!
Top 7 Portugal Holiday Destinations
Here are the top seven most popular holiday regions in Portugal you must visit:
- The Algarve
- Central Portugal
- Lisbon region
- The Douro region
- The Azores
Let’s take a closer look at the regions and their main cities.
1. The Algarve
The Algarve is a spectacular coastline in southern Portugal, with golden sandy beaches, magnificent scenery, impressive fishing towns, and a glorious climate, all of which combine to create the perfect holiday destination.
The resort towns of the Algarve have a lot to offer to a wide selection of visitors, making the region a fantastic holiday destination for families, young couples or those who are looking for a cultural experience.
The Algarve provides good value for money, especially if compared to other holiday destinations in Europe.
Cities which attract a lot of visitors in the Algarve are:
Albufeira is one of the most favourite towns in the Algarve and one of the most popular holiday destinations in Portugal.
It is also called the ‘Gateway to the Algarve region’. The sun-drenched beaches are perfect for the whole family, and the Zoomarine theme park is both fun and educational.
We can’t but mention the taste of the outstanding cuisine and a great nightlife. Popular with foreigners, Albufeira stands out as an ideal place to visit.
Faro is the capital of the region. It has a medieval wall and a large number of monuments worth seeing.
But those who came to do more sunbathing may be disappointed by the fact that there are no beaches within walking distance of the city centre. But it is not the reason to leave the city as there are glorious beaches to be found a bit further away.
The beaches of Faro requires a bit of effort to travel to, and those who make the effort will be rewarded with beautiful scenery, warm sand and fantastic swimming, and they are the quietest in the Algarve.
Tavira is also called the ‘Venice of the Algarve’. The town is known for its fine Moorish architecture, including a beautiful 12th century bridge across the River Gilão.
It is one of the prettiest towns and the best destinations in the region.
From Tavira you can get to Tavira Island, part of the natural reserve of Ria Formosa, where you can take a boat trip along the lagoon to see the plants, animals, and birds.
The island has 11 km (7 miles) of the best beaches in the Algarve, including areas where naturism can be legally practiced.
Alvor is located in the western part of the Algarve on a magnificent natural lagoon that opens into the sea. This area attracts a lot of surfing enthusiasts because of the huge beach and waves.
Here you can enjoy museums and galleries, fine golf courses and good restaurants. Alvor is also close to the Slide and Splash – one of the best water parks in Portugal.
The Alentejo region is the coastline to the west and offers visitors magnificent Atlantic beaches, farmlands, vast wheat fields, cork oaks, and olive trees.
In the Alentejo region, you’ll find so many castles! Historically, Alentejo was the only route from Spain to Portugal and numerous medieval castles just prove that their relations were not so friendly.
Évora is the capital city of the region, also known as a city-museum. It is another lovely spot with a rich history and a mysterious nature. You’ll have a chance to see the Roman Temple often called the Temple of Diana and the Cathedral of Évora.
A walk along the quaint streets will give you a sense of its notable history. Évora and the nearby villages are ideal places to hide away, enjoy traditional tasty food, and have a glass of very good wine.
3. Central Portugal
By central Portugal, we mean the region running south of the Douro River and north of Tagus river. The region is of deep contrasts: the Atlantic coastline with white sandy beaches on the one hand and pine forests, mountains and rocks on the other one.
In the heart of this region rises the Estrela Mountain Range (“Serra da Estrela“), the highest in continental Portugal.
It is also a region of historic towns and villages, many of whom are guarded by castles built by the early kings of Portugal for the kingdom’s defence.
Coimbra is one of Europe’s oldest university towns within the central region of Portugal. It has a lot to see for those seeking cultural heritage. For example, the Romanesque-style Old Cathedral of Coimbra and the Machado de Castro Museum can be found in Coimbra.
Well, Coimbra has a lotto offer from Roman ruins to Baroque architecture. Pick up a good city map when you’re there so you don’t miss out on all the treasures of Coimbra.
Also known as the ‘Venice of Portugal’, Aveiro town is criss-crossed by canals adorned with colourfully painted boats, which were traditionally used to harvest seaweed.
Those who appreciate good food can taste the delicious eel stew and some really good fish soups. Aveiro is especially known for its sweets: the most famous is “ovos moles” (soft eggs), which are sweetened egg yolks in candied casings shaped like fish or barrels.
4. Lisbon Region
The Lisbon region is a vast region in the south-western part of Portugal, whose capital is the city of the same name. The region provides something for every taste: beaches, water sports, golf courses, and open-air music festivals in the summer.
Here the landscape changes from high, sweeping cliffs to beaches of white sand, backed by lagoons.
It may surprise you, but Cascais was a Portuguese fishing town. Today, it is a stylish summer resort and the Lisbon’s coastline most popular holiday destination. Here you can find all sorts of attractions: from numerous restaurants and bars in Lisbon, museums and the 18th century churches; the 15th century chapels and a 17th century fortress.
And in addition to all of this, Guincho beach is a great place for those who enjoy surfing and windsurfing.
5. The Douro region
The Douro region got its name from the longest river in northern Portugal – the Douro River, of course. It winds its way past mountains and cliffs until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean near the city of Porto.
It is possible to see all the beauty of the region from the river as cruise boats depart from Porto to the valleys, where the most popular wines are made.
But this region is famous for other things besides Port wine. Medieval castles and convents and Romanesque little churches dot the landscape. This will be a nice addition to your holiday time in Portugal.
6. The Azores
And, of course, the Azores islands are one of the top holiday destinations in Portugal. The Azores is an archipelago of nine islands located in the north Atlantic Ocean, about two hours flight from Europe and five hours from the US.
The Azores are divided into three groups: the eastern (São Miguel and Santa Maria islands), the central (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial islands), and the western (Flores and Corvo islands).
Every visitor will be touched by the sapphire blue and emerald-green lakes, volcanic cones and craters, colourful azaleas and 15th century churches. This legendary land of nine poetically named islands, enjoys year-round mild temperatures.
Madeira island has an exceptional climate and outstanding natural beauty.
Madeira’s international airport provides an easy connection between the main island and continental Portugal. But when approached by ship, Madeira offers an unforgettable sight: the mountains dropping straight into valleys dotted with white houses.
Madeira is home to a great variety of flowers and tropical fruits, a mild temperature of the ocean and natural pools, luxurious hotels and a wealthy cultural heritage. These are just a few of the charms to be found here.
Try one of these holiday destinations in Portugal
Finally, I’d like to add that all the words cannot adequately express the stunning sights of Portugal.
It is worth visiting and the images and the tastes of this country will be imprinted in your hearts forever.
If you want to take the hassle out of planning your trip around Portugal, there are hundreds of fantastic tours that you can book with our trusted friends at Get Your Guide. Try them out, you won’t be disappointed.
Do you agree with our list? Do you have any experiences to share? Feel free to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
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You might also like:
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My name's Valery and I'm from Belarus. I'm a coffeeholic and travel addict and I cannot imagine my day without a piece of chocolate. I love English and Russian literature. I’m keen on sport, particularly basketball and I’m also interested in politics, history and the arts. I don't use plastic bags! My big dream is to be a speaker at a TED conference.