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Portugal Travel Guide: When To Visit, Travel Highlights & The Best Beaches

On the border of Spain sits the charming country of Portugal, filled with historical castles, golden beaches and extraordinary scenery. Escape for a relaxing break to take in the sights of the medieval monuments, immerse yourself in the action-packed activities and even experience the vibrant culture at the lively festivals! All of this whilst staying at one of the top luxury hotels in the country and indulging in the delicious national cuisine.


When to Visit

Visit Portugal in its prime months of February to May, when the flowers bloom and the sun emerges after the winter months. This is also the best time to avoid busy tourist periods as schools are still open during this period, which is also true for the Autumn months of September and October. This is perfect for those who enjoy sightseeing as this is made easier in the slightly lower temperatures, however, the ocean is still warm enough for a relaxing swim! The summer months from June to August can be extremely warm and attracts large numbers of tourists, and the country sees its lowest temperatures in the winter with spells of sunshine.


Portugal Highlights

There is an abundance of treasured attractions to explore in Portugal, from the famous beaches of the Algarve to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you will never be short of things to experience during your trip.


Historical Sights

Visit the sacred Cape St Vincent at the most southwestern point of Europe in Vila do Bispo, where you will find Europe’s most powerful lighthouse surrounded by historical monuments including the statue of Henry the Navigator.

Travel back in time to the 12th century in the university town of Coimbra, one of four of Portugal’s historic capitals with cobbled streets intertwined with fascinating architecture. Nearby you will find Silver Coast beaches, Roman ruins on the hills of the Beira Litoral and the beautiful spa town of Luso. Visit the other three historic capitals: Lisbon, Guimaraes and Porto.

Other towns which are bursting with historic culture include Gothic Batalha, Caramulo, Mecca Fatima and Aveiro.


Beaches

With over 800km of coast to discover, take a boat trip round the Algarve in the Faro District to explore some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with a choice of over 25 beaches! Make sure to visit the powder sand and crystal waters at Cabanas’ Island, Praia de Tavira and Praia do Barrill. 

The theme of stunning beaches runs through the entire country. Some of the best include Praia de Moledo is located near the Spanish border to the north of Portugal, which is known for its long stretch of sand and picturesque views. Praia de Sao Jacinto in Aveiro, offers the perfect mix of beach and nature, with a vibrant nature reserve surrounding the stretch of sand. For families, Portinho da Arrabida in the South of Lisbon is the perfect option as it has a low tide, pedalos, cafes and restaurants.


Nature

Explore Europe’s largest coastal National Park, the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. Stroll through the botanical treasures and hike up the hills, walk alongside the beautiful rivers and admire the stunning cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare fishing eagles, white storks, and sea otters.

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is the UNESCO World Heritage park located 30 minutes away from Lisbon, filled with breath-taking 19th century architecture and estates including Castelo dos Mouros, Pena National Palace, and Quinta de Regaleira. Other World Heritage sites can be found in Tomar, Belém, Alcobaça and Batalha.


Festivals

Immerse yourself in the exciting culture through drinking and dancing at a variety of festivals in Portugal throughout the year. Party all night at Lisbon’s Festa de Santo António or Porto’s Festa de São João, or get a taste of country, rock and international music at festivals along the coast. Dance in Bairro Alto and enjoy the nightlife in Porto, Coimbra and Lagos’ bars.


National Food

Taste Portugal’s exceptional cuisine through their most well-known, traditional dishes including chargrilled fish, cataplana (seafood stew) and pastel de nata (custard tart). Make sure to try their delicious freshly baked bread with olives, cheese and red wine or crisp vinho verde (young wine), before strolling through glorious vineyards, shop at the fresh produce markets or have an exquisite dining experience at the country’s top restaurants.


Top Hotels

Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, Portugal

Wake up to the view of an endless coastline of the Atlantic Ocean on one side of the resort or Vilamoura Marina on the other from the floor to ceiling windows of your pristine suite, and watch the resort come alive in the morning from the comfort of your own balcony.

Boasting incredible spa facilities, enjoy a variety of treatments to relax and rejuvenate in the saunas and hot tub. Dine at the beautifully designed restaurant on-site, offering panoramic views of the sea from your table and a range of entertainment shows within the hotel.

Savoy Palace, Funchal

Stay in the spacious, well-lit rooms of Savoy Palace which features luxurious interior and a stunning bathroom with a bathtub and shower, as well as a seating area and a private balcony. The impressive designs flood through the entire hotel with extravagant chandeliers and sleek, modern touches on every floor. Spend your stay soaking in the outdoor swimming pool beneath the scorching sun, relaxing in the shared lounge or inhale the freshness of the vibrant garden.

The Cliff Bay, Funchal

Surrounded by tropical gardens, The Cliff Bay hotel offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and a private beach, as well as two outdoor swimming pools and gorgeous views of the Bay of Funchal or the gardens from your own balcony.

Choose from three restaurants in the hotel to dining, including delicious Mediterranean and Iberian dishes at the 2-Michelin star Il Gallo d’Oro and a variety of cafes and bars to unwind in. Take your relaxation to the next level at the luxurious spa featuring top-class facilities after breaking a sweat in the gym or tennis court!


By Layla Maguire

keikeitravels
keikeitravels

KeiKei is a London-based award-winning journalist and videographer with a degree in Broadcast Media and Journalism from the University of the West of Scotland and an extensive reporting background in news, entertainment, travel, and lifestyle.

KeiKei has travelled the globe interviewing, reporting and reviewing. Her work has been published in worldwide media outlets including, The New York Post, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, National Geographic and Conde Nast publications.

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