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Portugal holidays

Picture of Lisbon, Portugal

The Algarve coast, in the south of Portugal, is its best-known region for beaches, warm seas and all the ingredients for a good family holiday but other areas of this very friendly country are having increasing appeal. Two hours and 30 minutes flying from the UK opens up a country of mountains, plains and picturesque coastline.

Its collection of geographical features also means a host of activities for sporty types or those who do not want two solid weeks of sunbathing sailing, windsurfing, horse riding, rock climbing, tennis and hiking. The really big sporting attraction is golf. Dozens of sun-soaked courses, some of the best maintained in the world, await golfers of all abilities. Portugal’s golf popularity was established on the Algarve’s Quinta do Lago, Vale de Lobo, Vilamoura and Penina courses and more are constantly being added. There are also 11 courses in the Lisbon area, Estoril, Troia, and Penha Longa among them and, as the north of the country gains British exposure, more choice in the Oporto area.

Holiday accommodation in Portugal

The Algarve remains the top pick for British family holidays, mainly down to its consistently good beach resorts along a coast stretching from the Spanish border to Cape St Vincent. Families know that places such as Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Praia de Rocha and Lagos not only have sandy beaches but also safe bathing, good child-friendly restaurants and quality accommodation. In recent years more accommodation has been developed in the hinterland in the coastal mountains and offering cool higher altitudes and excellent views. It is here that holidaymakers can take a break from sunbathing with arts and crafts’ shopping at Loule or exploring the spa town of Monchique.

Ripe for discovery by holidaymakers with a rented car are Portugal’s western Green and Silver Coasts. Here away from the main tourist trails, quaint fishing villages and quiet and uncrowded beaches are found among them Povoa de Varzim, Ofir and Vila do Conde. Those who press on north will find history and ancient architecture in Oporto and the mediaeval capital of Guimaraes, both are close to the mountain pursuits in the Peneda-Geres National Park.

Lisbon, packed with statuary and historic sights such as the Tower of Belem, the Castle of Sao Jorge and the Hieronymite Monastery, is one of Europe’s most picturesque capital cities. Away from the busy city centre and its excellent shopping, there are beaches at Cascais and Estoril. Short trips inland can take in the mountain town of Sintra and Queluz, with its pink royal palace.

While summer temperatures can reach 30C plus, the Atlantic breezes on the western and southern coasts make Portugal’s climate comfortable, especially for children. Like most tourist-orientated countries Portugal’s restaurants have adopted visitor tastes and many dishes on menus will be familiar, local cuisine makes much of sardines, tuna, anchovies and seafood.

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