Blessed with 850km of golden beaches and 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, the best Portugal holiday destinations are so plentiful it can be hard to choose where to stake your beach umbrella.
But, don’t worry, we’ve done the ‘hard work’ for you and rounded up a selection of top spots to add to your travel hotlist…
For a cultural buzz on sun-soaked streets, head to Lisbon. The Portuguese capital offers historic architecture, authentic fare, traditional museums and contemporary hotels; don’t forget to take in the sites on the city’s famous yellow trams.
Meanwhile, wine-lovers and foodies should plan a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Porto and the Douro Valley, where terraced vineyards and mountainscapes meet traditional architecture and food markets.
Sun-seekers will love the vast stretches of beaches in the Algarve, which also makes a fantastic getaway for golfing fans, as well as cycling and walking enthusiasts.
And anyone looking for a rustic, authentic experience should head to Alentejo, home to medieval villages and farm-to-fork food. Insider tip? The chic, boho crowd head to the low-key yet luxe coastal retreat of Comporta for top-notch seafood and vast swathes of powdery sand.
We’ve rounded up the top Portugal holiday destinations below so you can start planning your next adventure – and where to stay when you get there. Suitcases at the ready…
Covid-19: Read the latest guidance for visiting Portugal before travelling.
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Just a short flight of 2.45 hours will land you in Portugal’s famed capital city of Lisbon. An urban paradise, brimming with culture, history and even more fascinating scenery, this is a city break destination that should be right at the top of your bucket list.
Be sure to stop off at Lisbon’s main square, where you can view some beautiful Portuguese architecture and head through the ‘Door to Lisbon’, which leads to the true heart of the city; here you’ll find authentic restaurants, boutique shops and traditional museums to visit.
Jump on Lisbon’s famous yellow trams to take an adventure up and over the rolling hills – it’s a great way to see the city in all its glory. Be sure to stop off at the area of Alfama, famed as one of the best neighbourhoods in the city for architecture and sunsets.
What also makes Lisbon such a perfect getaway is its proximity to some of the beautiful, quaint coastal towns and villages just a short half an hour train journey out of the city centre, such as Cascais and Tavira.
Where to stay: The Palácio Ludovice Wine Hotel is Lisbon’s exclusive wine experience hotel, which is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a location in the heart of Lisbon to explore the true spirit of the city.
The island of Madeira boasts beautiful natural surroundings, from staggering mountains to idyllic coastlines. On the same latitude as Morocco, the island has a sub-tropical climate and rich volcanic soil. Its unique ecosystem means that it is one of the only places in the world where banana trees grow next to vineyards.
The lifestyle on the island centres around nature, adventure and outdoor activities, which suits Madeira’s warm and mild climate. You can expect sun and clear skies all year round. Well-known as a popular summer destination, Madeira is equally enticing in the winter months with something to offer every traveller.
Looking for an active Portugal holiday destination? You won’t be disappointed, with rugged mountains lending themselves to biking routes, golf courses with stunning panoramic views and walking trails, such as a hike through the beautiful Laurissilva forest.
You can also discover the region’s many ‘Levadas’, small irrigation canals which weave in and around the mountains of Madeira. Plus, a visit to this island would not be complete without a trip to the warm waters, dive sites and long sandy beaches of Porto Santo.
Where to stay: Madeira is famed for its wellness attributes due to its mineral-rich volcanic soil, clean, clear waters and a unique ecosystem – so there is no better place to enjoy a well-deserved break at one of the islands many spa resorts, such as The Cliff Bay.
Historically a refuge for Portuguese nobility during WWII, and now an elegant blend of 19th-century architecture and traditional Portuguese charm, Cascais is a paradise for those seeking endless culture, sun and sand.
The historic wealth of Cascais’ royal past is still visible on every winding cobbled street, with grand palaces and extravagant villas dotted in between boutiques and classic eateries.
An as-yet undiscovered region of Portugal that is just 20 minutes by train from the capital of Lisbon, the charming cultural town of Cascais and neighbouring palatial Sintra offers a welcome escape for a more refined, relaxed escape.
Not-to-be-missed experiences include: the casino that inspired Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale; the world-famous gelato shop Santini; and sailing, golfing, water sports, museums, and countless seaside walks showcasing the beauty of Portugal. It’s easy to take a day trip into Lisbon, or venture out to the fairytale palaces of nearby Sintra – just be sure to take the coastal route.
Where to stay: Check into Martinhal Cascais, a family-friendly hotel ideally located close to the area’s attractions and sites. Families can make the most of the onsite bike station and join a cycling tour with experienced guides taking them through the fantastic scenery and major points of interest in the Cascais region.
If you’re looking to get away from it all in an off-the-beaten-track location, Sagres, on the westernmost tip of the Algarve, is just the ticket. It’s a haven for surfers and walkers, and is rugged, wild and windswept.
Take in the local sights, including Baleeira Harbour, Mareta beach view, Praça da República, Sagres Fortress monument and St. Vincent Cape. Cycle on the Ecovia trail to discover the natural marvels of the region, including the lush greenery of the Costa Vicentina Nature Park, the birdwatching haven of the Alvor Estuary and the majestic cliffs of Sagres Point.
And walkers can explore the Via Algarviana trails. The route crosses 11 of the 16 municipalities of the region, offering the chance to discover the diverse natural landscapes and culture by foot.
Where to stay: Located on the western tip of Portugal’s Algarve coast, Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts’ flagship hotel has something for everyone, with kids clubs and a huge variety of activities ranging from cycling to surfing. It’s spread out over 220,000 square metres and boasts its own access to a 700m beach. If you have an eye on the budget, Memmo Baleeira is perfect for couples and solo travellers.
Alentejo is an intriguing mountainous region steeped in culture and ‘off the beaten track’ gems to explore. Boasting both mountains and a rugged coastline, adorned with coves, Alentejo really is the adventurer’s and surfer’s dream. It’s also home to many historic, medieval towns and villages such as Evora and Elvas, now recognised World Heritage Sites, with unique museums, architecture and restaurants.
Take a day trip to the laid-back locale of Comporta, a protected nature reserve and fisherman’s village that offers oyster farms, local markets, river sunsets and horse riding. Enjoy the walking trails of Rota Vicentina spreading across the fields and mountain ranges of the region and the Vicentine coast, including highlights such as The Historical Way and The Fishermen’s Trail. Alternatively, for bike lovers, the Rota Vicentina offers a network of dedicated cycle routes.
Where to stay: While in the region, stay at Malhadinha Nova, located in Albernoa, Beja, in the heart of the Baixo Alentejo region. This hotel and winery seamlessly combines contemporary style with unique traditions, offering activities such as a romantic picnic in the vineyards, chocolate tasting and bread baking.
The Comporta region, with its hippy-chic atmosphere, is located just one hour south of Lisbon at the base of the Troia Peninsula.
This picturesque Portugal holiday destination is made up of seven sleepy villages offering a beautiful, laidback and low-key beach escape with 12km of pristine sand.
A long-time favourite holiday destination for locals, Comporta is now slowly becoming known and loved by the international set, including a number of designers, such as Christian Louboutin. This is due mainly to its simple charm and magical landscapes of rice fields and pine forests, thatched cottages and long unspoilt golden sandy beaches.
You can soak up sunsets and views over stretches of fine sand watching dolphins playing in the surf while enjoying locally-caught seafood at rustic beach shacks. Bliss.
Where to stay: Don’t miss Sublime Comporta, a luxury eco-lodge where the natural environment meets contemporary design. Sandwiched between miles of empty white sandy beaches and the Sado River estuary, it’s hard to believe this is Europe. Describing itself as a country house retreat, Sublime sits in its own 17 hectare estate, with the suites and villas scattered among pine and cork trees and drifting swathes of wild flowers.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, Porto is a city not to be missed off your bucket list for a whirlwind trip of culture, adventure, relaxation and food. If you’re short on time, Porto has it all in one place. With sprawling food markets, laid back Douro River cruises and stunning architecture, there’s never a shortage of places to explore and things to do.
Sitting in the Mediterranean weather belt, the city boasts plenty of dry and pleasant days. Famed worldwide for its port, wine and culinary delights, a visit to WOW, World of Wine, in Porto is a must. WOW pays homage to the region, and shines a light on the most important Portuguese industries and traditions. It’s an entire district full of new and exciting things to do, explore, and learn with nine restaurants, shops, exhibitions and events.
Plus, a great way to see the region is by taking the luxurious Presidential Train. Built in 1870, the Presidential Train carried presidents, Heads of State, Kings and Popes for over a century. Today, you can enjoy an unforgettable journey from the city of Porto, through the stunning countryside stopping off at vineyards and staying in boutique hotels along the way.
Where to stay: Look down over the historic city from your terrace at The Yeatman, a five-star spa hotel offering upscale gastronomy and local wines. NEYA Porto is also an excellent pick if you’re looking for an affordable, modern and comfortable sport in the centre of town.
Porto is the gateway to the Douro Valley, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a lovely idea to combine a break to Porto with a longer stay in the Douro Valley. An epicurean paradise, the sun-dappled mountainscape is the oldest wine-making region in the world, and makes for a stunning Portugal holiday destination.
Take a cruise along the river, which winds lazily through verdant vine-enhanced terraces. Or take to the water in a canoe or by water skiing. You can also enjoy cycling through the countryside, forest hikes and picnics in the woods. There’s culture to be soaked up, too.
Start at Vila Nova de Gaia with a visit to the lodges where Port wine is aged. Or head to the Peso da Régua to visit the Douro Museum to learn more about the region. And don’t miss Lamego, considered one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Portugal, located at the base of an immense blue and white tiled flight of steps leading to the Shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédi.
Where to stay: Drop your bags off at Douro41 Hotel & Spa, a contemporary, design-led hotel that blends into its surroundings and offers sweeping views across the Douro River. Embedded within spectacular scenery from every angle, the spa hotel is flooded with natural light and offers a menu of treatments, meditation sessions, guided walks and immersive dining experiences. Boasting a Michelin starred chef, the hotel is a must-visit for food and wine lovers, too.
Rugged red cliffs, stretches of golden beaches, delicious local cuisine and beautiful traditional villages: this is what the Algarve is famous for.
The southernmost region of Portugal, it enjoys around 300 days of sunshine each year, making it one of the most popular Portuguese spots for UK travellers. The region’s capital, Faro, is a diverse and intriguing city. Steeped in history, the charming old town is surrounded by ancient city walls, while the pretty city centre is filled with pedestrianised shopping streets and peaceful plazas.
The city is also the gateway to the Ria Formosa nature park, a series of saltwater lagoons and mudflats that are a haven for migratory birds and wildlife.
Beyond the Ria Formosa are three sandbar islands, which are the location of Faro’s pristine beaches, along with traditional fishing communities. Explore nearby towns of Olhão and Loulé, both famous for their markets to experience a truly cultural stay in the Algarve.
Where to stay: Surrounded by citrus trees, pink bougainvillaea and olive groves sits Vila Monte Farm House in an unspoilt corner of the Algarve, around a 20-minute drive from Faro. It’s the epitome of boho chic with an array of beautifully designed luxury suites and rooms. The design takes its cues from traditional Algarve architecture with whitewashed walls, wooden trusses and rustic roof terraces. Just a stone’s throw away from Faro, and the quieter fishing village of Olhão, it’s a destination for all generations.
Quinta da Lago
Golf fanatics are well catered for in Portugal, and you can play a round on one of the stunning courses in the exclusive ‘Golden Triangle’ of the Algarve: Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lago.
Set among 2,000 acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park and just a 15-minute drive from Faro airport, Quinta do Lago has been at the forefront of Europe’s elite golf, sports and family destinations for nearly five decades and features a combination of world-class golf and lifestyle facilities.
As well as three 18-hole championship golf courses and outstanding practice facilities, you can enjoy an array of sports at the state-of-the-art performance centre The Campus, a world-class sports hub designed for professionals and amateurs alike to train and live well.
Complementing the facilities is a choice of 13 first-class bars and restaurants that deliver a range of delicious world cuisines, including the acclaimed Bovino Steakhouse and UMAMI, the resort’s first Asian restaurant. What’s more, you might even spot some celebrities, with everyone from Wayne Rooney to Madonna having visited the resort.
Where to stay: Paying homage to the iconic vintage motel, The Magnolia brings a taste of Palm Springs to the Algarve. It’s ideal for families, couples and solo travellers of all ages, it’s set in the heart of the resort and is a perfect base for enjoying everything from water sports at the lake to cycle rides through the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
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