Having played a vital role in world history, Portugal also has much to offer by way of art, architecture and culture. From the rolling plains of the south, to the mountainous north and the 800 kilometres of beautiful coastline, Portugal has much to offer by way of self-catering holidays. Portugal boasts a predominantly Mediterranean climate with long, hot, dry summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is spring and autumn when the weather is fine and the country is at its loveliest. Here are some of Portugal's most popular holiday destinations.
Considered to be the Gateway to the Algarve, Albufeira caters both for those looking for a lively holiday and those who are after a more sedate break. The cobble-stoned streets of the Old Town still retain the essence of the fishing village Albufeira once was, and is ideal for relaxation, whereas the bustling and lively Sao Joao is for tourists seeking a party atmosphere. The wonderful beaches are perfect for the whole family, and the Zoomarine theme park is both fun and educational.
Olhos de Agua Beach, Albufeira, Algarve
Loule, in the central Algarve, can trace its history back to the Romans. Famous for its gipsy market that takes place each Saturday morning, Loule also has a medieval castle with a municipal museum, offering superb views from the ancient ramparts. The town has delightful old churches, great restaurants, bars and shops. A charming place for your holiday home.
Traditional Portuguese Market, Loule, Algarve
Known as the Venice of the Algarve, Tavira is renowned for its fine Moorish architecture, including a beautiful 12th century bridge across the River Gilao. One of the prettiest towns and best destinations in the region, Tavira is adjacent 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 that thrive here.
Historic Bridge, Tavira Town
Located in the western Algarve on a picturesque natural lagoon that opens into the sea, Alvor boasts a huge beach and waves that attract surfing enthusiasts. From here you can enjoy museums and galleries reflecting the town's 1,000-year history, some fine golf courses, and harbourfront restaurants serving the specialities of lobster and monkfish. Alvor is also close to the Slide and Splash, Portugal's largest water park.
Praia da Luz
Praia da Luz means Beach of Light, and when you see the gently shelving sand and clear, warm waters of its Blue Flag beaches you will understand why. One of the most popular destinations for holidaymakers in Portugal, your holiday here will set you close to the watersports action for which the resort is famed. Windsurfing, scuba diving, canoeing, skiing, and more besides will be available to you from the base of your comfortable, self-catering holiday home in Praia da Luz.
Praia da Luz, Lagos Region
Lagos is a popular holiday location which boasts the long, sandy beach of Meia Praia. Dating back some 2,000 years, Lagos is steeped in history. The oldest part of the town still has its city walls. There is plenty to do here; you can visit the Lagos Zoo, go mountain biking amidst the wonderful scenery of the hills, go dolphin watching, or take a boat trip to the Ponta da Piedade Caves. Or why not enjoy a wine tasting tour and sample the fine produce of the region's viticulture?
Lagos Town, Portugal
Portugal's capital and largest city is Lisbon, which also holds the distinction of being the oldest city in western Europe, and is one of the continent's great tourist destinations. Set upon steep hillsides overlooking the Rio Tejo, Lisbon has a plethora of wonderful museums, monasteries, and Gothic cathedrals. Charming funicular railways ascend the heights, but the best view is that commanded by St. George's Castle, which overlooks the city centre. Also well worth seeing is the Belem Tower, built in 1515 to guard the harbour entrance and now a World Heritage site. The Maritime Museum tells the story of Portugal's illustrious seafaring heritage.
Historic Trams, Lisbon
Praia del Rey
Portugal is often said to be the best golfing destination in the world, and the resort of Praia del Rey upholds that tradition. This beach and golf resort gives you the chance to thoroughly unwind in one of its many comfortable villas and enjoy the gorgeous sandy beach, protected natural landscape and, of course, the championship links golf course. From Praia del Rey's ideal location on the Silver Coast you can gaze out at the magnificent Atlantic and the Berlenga Islands and then enjoy a touch of pampering at the Atlantic Coast Spa.
Golf course resort, Praia del Ray