Expert travel guides and holiday advice

From the sandy stretches of the Algarve to the surprisingly superior surf swells along the coast, from capital Lisbon’s hilltop views and pastel buildings to picture-perfect second city Porto with its quaint cobbled streets and statement bridges, Portugal offers holiday experiences to suit every traveller. Winter sun-seekers are catered for too, thanks to autonomous islands Madeira and the Azores, which boast ruggedly beautiful landscapes and abundant beaches, plus unsurpassed star-gazing opportunities. Trip planning is a breeze thanks to our experts, who have reviewed and hand-picked the best hotels, as well as putting together comprehensive travel guides on the country’s top cities and holiday hotspots to highlight the unmissable things to see and do while you’re there.

<p>Marinha Beach near Carvoeiro town, Algarve, Portugal</p>

The ultimate Portugal travel guide

Sandy stretches, picture-perfect cities, rugged islands and superior surf swells: Portugal has something to suit every traveller

FAQs about Portugal


Portugal’s staggeringly attractive capital has surged in popularity as a European city break destination – and for good reason. Home to stately squares, exquisite tile-work, vibey rooftop bars with sweeping views, a romantic castle, a network of signature sunshine-yellow trams and the world’s best pastel de nata custard tarts, Lisbon punches well above its weight in terms of culture and cuisine. If you like an urban escape with a side of surf, beaches galore are just a train ride away, as is Cascais, a charming Portuguese resort town stacked with grand 19th-century villas and lively bars and restaurants.


Just an 18-mile hop from Lisbon, the historic resort town of Sintra in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains makes for an attractive day-trip from the Portuguese capital, or is entertaining enough as a destination in its own right. Alongside cute shops and cafés, it boasts the vibrantly colourful Pena National Palace, all canary-yellow and scarlet facades; the magnificent Quinta da Regaleira castle, featuring extensive gardens and a famed ceremonial well with a spiral staircase and tunnel system; and the bright white Sintra National Palace, complete with striking twin chimneys.

<p>Living the high life: the centre of Sintra</p>

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Sintra, Portugal is home to numerous palaces, villas, mansions, castles, and churches


Portugal’s second city of Porto has a photogenic setting of church-filled streets alongside the Douro River. Striking modernist buildings, medieval houses, rococo churches and attractive squares sit side by side along its steep streets, while visitors who enjoy a tipple can head to any of the numerous historic adega wine-warehouses to sample a glass of port (or three). Read our travel expert's guides on must-see sights of the city and the top-tier recommended restaurants and bars to try.

<p>Each room can be catered with a record player and musical  instruments for guest use</p>

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Faro, Albufeira and the Algarve

Portugal’s slice of the Mediterranean coast, the Algarve, remains relatively unspoilt compared to its Spanish neighbour. The country’s southernmost region, it’s peppered with beach and golf resorts along the Atlantic coast, alongside more traditional whitewashed fishing villages slung across cliffs overlooking sandy stretches. The region’s capital, Faro, boasts a 13th-century cathedral, the neoclassical Arco da Vila archway and a cobbled street-strewn old town, while Albufeira is a traditional fishing village turned major resort, complete with a modern marina, buzzing nightlife strip and plentiful drinking and dining options by its soft, sandy beaches.


Rugged ridges, rice-paddy-green terraces, honey-coloured beaches and a Caribbean-clear sea – Madeira is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. This autonomous archipelago off the coast of north-west Africa is a top spot, whether you’re in the market for winter sun, a summer beach holiday or some off-season hiking amid its verdant, hilly terrain. Madeira’s never too hot in summer, while in winter it’s warm enough to swim in the sea. And in spring the landscape is brilliant with blossoming oleander, agapanthus and lilies of the valley.

Getting to Portugal and back

The cheapest and quickest way to get to Portugal is on a budget flight into Lisbon, Faro (in the Algarve) or Porto. The only way to reach Portugal by boat is currently via Spain. Ferries leave twice weekly from both Portsmouth and Plymouth for Santander (23 hours). Santander is a four to five-hour drive from the Portuguese border near Bragança. There are also direct buses from Santander to Porto, taking around 10 hours – see flixbus.co.uk.

Getting around Portugal

Portugal is tiny – 350 miles long and around 130 wide – so there’s no need to take internal flights. While there is a good, regular train service (not high speed) between the coastal cities, inland areas can be a struggle to reach on public transport, with few rail connections and irregular buses. The best way to get around is by hire car (be aware they drive on the right-hand-side).

Best Portugal hotels

From romantic city breaks to cosy coastal B&Bs and family-friendly hotels, read our handy guides on finding the best accommodation to make your holiday to Portugal perfect.

<p>View from Quintas das Vinhas, Madeira</p>

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