Portugal & Madeira holiday highlights

Lisbon Coast

Old-world charm unites with a designer ambience in historic Lisbon, Portugal's hilly capital. The coast is home to beautiful beaches and a Moorish castle offering spectacular views over the city and its bay. The Cascais-Estoril coastline is directly west of Lisbon and its golden beaches are very popular.

Cascais

Pronounced Kush- Kaish and once a sleepy fishing village, this coastal town has grown into a cosmopolitan resort that's popular with locals and tourists alike. Take time away from the bustling beaches and wander along winding lanes to find a small, car-free old town lined with boutique shops, museums and charming restaurants, luring you in with the aroma of chorizo.

The Algarve

This stunning region is renowned for its incredible beaches – The Algarve was voted Europe’s Leading Beach Destination at the 2019 World Travel Awards for the sixth time, more than any other destination. It also has unrivalled golf courses, fantastic seafood and hand-painted pottery, while its emerald hills are dotted with white-washed villas and mountains offer beautiful scenery and traditional villages. Witness thunderous waves crash against spectacular caves at the ‘Mouth of Hell’, enjoy watersports or fun waterparks and spot whales and dolphins on  boat trips along the coast.

Quinta do Lago & Vilamoura

One of the Algarve’s newer resorts, Quinta do Lago is popular for its string of championship golf courses. Away from the green, head to the beach to feel the warm sand between your toes or spend some time in the resort centre, where boutique shops, world-class restaurants and vibrant bars await.

A trendy harbourfront resort, Vilamoura has two sandy beaches that lie either side of the marina. The quieter side is ideal for couples who are looking for peace in the sun, whilst the other, Falesia beach is lined with bars, restaurants and buzzes with energy. In the centre, you’ll find a selection of boutique shops, trendy bars, casinos and nightclubs. Local activities include cycling, horse riding and snorkelling.

Albufeira

This lively resort has a modern seafront that's ideal for families, groups and couples alike as the Blue Flag beaches are long and golden, dotted with an array of bars and restaurants. Its traditional town centre is the perfect place to spend lazy afternoons. However, it’s in the evening that the centre comes alive, where clubs entertain until the early hours.

Lagos & Sagres

Succumb to the ultramarine world sparkling under your board in Lagos and Sagres, where the waves get bigger and better. Situated on the southwest coast of the Algarve, Sagres is a surfer’s paradise and breezy beaches and warm temperatures create ideal conditions. Enjoy a variety of watersports in this laid back resort.

Madeira

Funchal

Madeira’s capital sits high on a hillside on the island’s south coast and offers a picturesque bay and cultural heritage. Discover a blend of old and new, from the boutiques, chic cafés and stylish  restaurants in the modern marina area, to the cobbled streets and colonial buildings of the old town.

The Madeira Botanical Gardens are renowned for their collection of 2500 exotic plant species. Take the cable car from Funchal to the small village of Monte for incredible views of the Atlantic.

Canico

This charming village lies east of Funchal and offers glorious sea views from its elevated setting. Stroll along cobblestone streets to the 18th-Century church, discover beautiful scenery by hiking through the surrounding hills and valleys, play golf or dive in crystal-clear waters at nearby Canico de Baxio.

Portugal & Madeira key facts

Time difference

GMT

Capital

Lisbon

Currency

Euro

Flying time to destination

2¾-3¾ hours depending on destination

Language

Portuguese

Passport & visas

Visa not required for UK passport holders

Portugal & Madeira good to know

Etiquette

Savouring life slowly is a Portuguese passion, and much of the best of Portugal is  traditional folk festivals, simple, honest food drowning in olive oil, music that pulls at the heart strings, recalling past love and glories and markets overflowing with fish, fruit and flowers.

Lisbon
Lisbon, the dazzling city that stretches along the banks of the River Tagus, is an enchanting capital. The impressive fortress around which the city originally sprang up, is now circled by neighbourhoods drenched with medieval charm. As the dusk turns to night, the yellow electric tramcars continue to slowly wind their way up and down the hills of the old capital, while the sound of traditional Fado songs enliven many a candlelit dinner table in restaurant or home.

Algarve
Gorgeous beaches, warm water and glorious year-round sunshine make a stay on the Algarve the dream holiday. Situated on the extreme South of Portugal, this area of the territory was the last to be conquered from the Moors and traces of the Moorish presence are still seen in its unique terraces, chimneys and whitewashed houses. The southern coastline consists of a long stretch of fabulous sandy beaches, punctuated by extraordinary rugged red cliffs and fantastic grottoes.

Madeira
Between the verdant hills and the blue ocean, Madeira lies 621 miles southwest of Lisbon and 497 miles from the coast of Africa, offering the delights of a subtropical climate. An archipelago of volcanic origin, Madeira is the largest and more populated of the islands. The beautiful assortment of flowers and tropical fruits, mild temperature of the ocean water and natural pools, a wealthy cultural heritage, luxurious hotels and Funchal’s cosmopolitan life are but a few of the available charms found here.

History

An independent kingdom since 1143, Portugal established its continental frontiers in 1297 and is one of the oldest nations in Europe. Situated on the west side of the Iberian Peninsula, its geographic location along the Atlantic coast soon determined its vocation to the sea.

In 1415, the Portuguese set sail on an epic voyage that would make them the first to discover the ocean routes to India, Brazil, China and Japan, and at the same time founded settlements on the east and west coasts of Africa.