Portugal: Holidays

Backpacking

Backpacking in Portugal

Backpacking is a fun and great way to see the most of Portugal. There are around 50 youth hostels in Portugal as well as many camp sites and cheap rooms (quartos). There are many bus links providing transport between different towns and you are very likely to bump into many other backpackers along the way. The beaches and coastal resorts of the Algarve are the most popular destinations for backpackers in Portugal and although the prices are fairly cheap be prepared to pay a little more during peak season. When backpacking in Portugal, it's always a good thing to book or phone ahead of arrival especially in August as it gets rather busy and can be difficult to find accommodation.

Beach

Beach in Portugal

If you like nothing more than lying on the beach and taking in the sun with a jug of sangria, then Portugal is the place for a beach holiday. The Algarve in particular offers the best selection, the longest of which the 4km (2mil) Meia Praia at Lagos. The towns of Lagos, Albufeira and Faro all have local beaches though they can at times get busy in the summer. If you want your beach holiday on quiet, deserted beaches it's best to rent a car and drive to one of the many west coast beaches, where you can find quite coves and beaches, many lined and hidden by high cliffs. To the east between Faro and the border with Spain, you'll find sandy beaches washed by calmer and warmer waters.

Camping

Camping in Portugal

Camping in Portugal is a great and cheap way to see this beautiful country. There are over 100 official camp sites in Portugal, most of which are situated in coastal or attractive locations. Albufeira in the Algarve has the largest camp site in Portugal, but there are many smaller and quieter locations to choose from.

Charges for camping in Portugal and very reasonable and the rate is based on a per tent per person basis but there are usually extra charges for parking and showers.

Many camp sites require an international camping carnet, however it is possible to camp in Portugal outside of the official sites as long as you show due care and consideration for the environment. However, this rule does not apply in the Algarve where you must stick to official sites. Also, it is forbidden to camp on beaches anywhere in Portugal.
 

City Breaks

City Breaks in Portugal

Lisbon and Oporto are the most popular destinations for city breaks in Portugal and both offer a wide itinerary of things to do, see and experience. Lisbon, the capital, is full of the culture of Portugal. Historical monuments and museums, fantastic palaces, churches and castles, beautiful parks and beaches, and stylish bars and restaurants. Oporto on the other hand offers a different take on the Portuguese city break and the chance to see where Portugal's most famous export is produced. City breaks in Oporto ordinarily come with a wine tasting trip to one of the regions producers of port wine.

Corporate Weekend

Corporate Weekend in Portugal

Portugal has a lot to offer in terms of corporate weekends. Whether it be team building activities such as rock-climbing, mountain biking or sky-diving, to more relaxing activities such as hiking, golf, or exploring Portugal's long history in one of the many museums, galleries, and architectural wonders. Corporate holidays to Portugal can be a cost effective way of improving moral and team building as well as impressing your clients.

Culture and Arts

Culture and Arts in Portugal

If you are looking for an arts and culture holiday, Portugal has a literally hundreds of museums and galleries to choose from. From classic works to contemporary exhibitions, Arts and Culture in Portugal is well represented. Throughout the year there are fairs, exhibitions and festivals incorporating mainstream and alternative arts.

The largest festivals include the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, one of the premier such events in Europe; the Art Lisbon Festival, a festival of contemporary art drawing art lovers and critics from around the world; and the IndieLisboa festival of independent cinema.
 

Cycling Activity Holiday

Cycling Activity Holiday in Portugal

Throughout Portugal you'll find opportunities for cycling. The best places being around the Algarve, where you'll find quiet mountain roads through country villages and hillsides towns with spectacular views. The south of Portugal is the best for cycling, though it can get a little too hot in the summer. There are plenty of cycle hire places throughout Portugal, as well as several companies offering guided cycling tours. Many of these companies also offer complete holiday packages, including airport and luggage transfers and accommodation, and cycle hire.

Disabled Needs

Disabled Needs in Portugal

Disabled facilities in Portugal have in the past being lacking behind the rest of Europe, however, Portugal is one of several European countries signed up to “The City and People with Disabilities” project, with many towns committed to providing improved access for those with restricted mobility.

Among the towns listed are Alcacer do Sal, Alcobaca, Amadora, Beja, Evora, Fafe, Faro, Leiria, Lisbon, Maia, Moita, Seixal and Vila Nova de Gaia. Most airports and train stations have lift access for people with disabilities in Portugal, and there are more and more disabled parking places cropping up in towns and city centres. Many hotels around the Algarve, Madeira and Lisbon have facilities for disabled holidaymakers, but it is worth contacting them before booking to make sure the facilities are suitable and meet any requirements you have have.
 

Family Holiday

Family Holiday in Portugal

If you're looking for a family holidays, Portugal has much to offer. From beautiful sandy beaches, to cycling in the mountains, to historic castles and ancient ruins, there's plenty for all the family to enjoy. The warm climate and laid back, friendly attitude of the Portuguese make Portugal a great place for a family holiday in Europe.

Gay and Lesbian

Gay and Lesbian in Portugal

Although a rather conservative and traditional country, Portugal, is still trying has something to offer for gay visitors, especially in the larger cities of Lisbon and Oporto, and around the southern Algarve region. Places like Albufeira in the Algarve offer a more party style atmosphere, with some of the best nightclubs in the region, further down the coast, towns like Lagos, have a quiet yet, queer-friendly scene. Couple this with the fantastic beaches and relaxed attitude of the locals, the Algarve is a great destination for gay holidays.

In Lisbon there are two gay and lesbian festivals held annually. The Lisbon Pride Festival in July is the height of the gay and lesbian calender in Portugal, with more than 10,000 people taking to the streets to celebrate. In September, the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is one of Europe's premier such exhibitions with over 100 screenings, this festival has helped break taboos and promote discussion of gay rights and issues since its inception.
 

Hiking Activity Holiday

Hiking Activity Holiday in Portugal

The southern regions of Alentejo and the Algarve offer the best opportunities for hiking in Portugal, at least on the mainland. A combination of rolling countryside, mountain views and rugged coastal areas, the southern region of Portugal offers excellent opportunities for peaceful walks in tranquil settings of the national park, Vale do Guardiana, and the river Guardiana itself. This area has a very low population density, and is ideal landscape for easy to moderate walking. Off the mainland, both the Azores and Madeira, offer stunning scenery and spectacular walks through the island's volcanic mountains.

Honeymoon

Honeymoon in Portugal

With its beautiful scenery, golden beaches, superb wine and laid back atmosphere, Portugal offers a lovely setting for a romantic honeymoon. Off the beaten track you'll find tranquil villages and quiet beaches away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist centres. Without a doubt the most romantic part of Portugal are the islands of the Azores. With fine weather and warm waters all year round and plenty to do, from romantic walks through stunning mountain scenery to whale watching and scuba diving with dolphins. Although flights and hotels may be more expensive than mainland Portugal, food, drink and travel on the island are relatively inexpensive. A cheaper alternative for a honeymoon in Portugal would be the Algarve, Lisbon or Douro Valley areas.

Golf Activity Holiday

Golf Activity Holiday in Portugal

The fine all year round weather and beautiful open spaces, make Portugal, perfect for golf holidays. Most of Portugal's golf courses are located around the Algarve and Lisbon areas. The Algarve has the majority of them, and has become a bit of a mecca for European golfers, with its excellent range and quality of courses all with spectacular views and stunning scenery. Portugal's main golf season runs from mid-autumn to late-spring, but the summer months can also be just busy. The Lisbon area is also home to some world class courses including the 2009 Portugal Open course at Estoril, and not forgetting that both the Azores and Madeira also cater for golfing holidays in Portugal, wherever you are in Portugal, you'll find a golf course.

Scuba Diving Activity Holiday

Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in Portugal

Portugal offers scuba diving experiences for every level. From basic training in first class centres to exploring ship wrecks in the warm waters around the Azores, there's something for everyone. Around the Algarve there are indoor scuba diving centres that provide training at all levels whilst around the islands of Madeira and the Azores, the warm, crystal clear water are teeming with wildlife.

There are plenty of opportunities for scba divers to see dolphins, monk seals as well as night diving with bioluminescent plankton. For the more adventurous diver the cave systems around the south western corner of Sagres. Be warned though, the waters around here can be quite rough, only brave and experienced scuba divers are advised to try it.

Wine Tasting Holiday

Wine Tasting Holiday in Portugal

You can't go wrong with a wine tasting holiday in Portugal. Portugal has two wine making centres, each famous in its own right. In the north of mainline Portugal, wine tasting centres around the famous Port wine which is produced in and around Oporto and the Douro Valley. You don’t have to be an avid wine buff to know that Portugal's other main spot is Madeira which also produces fortified wines. Portugal has a great more to offer than just fortified wines however, there are many varieties you’ll want to get your taste buds around.

Like most wine growing countries, Portugal has different wine regions. Each region produces its characteristic grape varieties. What makes Portuguese wine tasting so interesting is that all the grape varieties are distinct to each particular area and they only use native grapes. This of course is highly different from South African, New Zealand and Californian wines which can be a blend of grapes from all over the world. The Portuguese government make sure that the wine produced is the best you can possibly buy and there are strict quality controls.

If you are keen to taste wines from Portugal you will find that it’s not all that easy to buy as they aren’t well known outside of Portugal.

Alentejo Wine is produced in the southern part of the country and is made form the alentejo grape. The grape produces a fruity and soft white with an edge of acidity. You’ll find that this wine is one of the most popular in Portugal.

Bairrada Wine – 80% of wines from this region are red and 95% of these come from the baga grape. Baga grapes are thick skinned and produce wines which are acidic and high in tannins. A local tradition is to add in the stems during the fermentation process which makes this wine variety very tough and challenging to drink. However the better wine producers can actually produce a very palatable wine.

Colares Sand Wine – This wine is actually grown in very sandy soil just outside Lisbon. These are one of the most expensive wines simply due to supply and demand. There isn’t that much wine growing land around Lisbon because of urban sprawl so there supply cannot meet demand. You will find both wine and red wines from this region.

Dão Wine – The region of Dao is in the north of the country and enjoys a more temperate climate. It is a mountainous region and as a resul the hills protect the grapes from wind off the sea. They produce both red and white wines which are very fuity and the minimum alcohol content is 11%. Those who are in the wine industry claim that these wines are amongst the best in Portugal. Grão Vasco and Aliança are just two which are recommended to anyone looking to taste Portuguese wines.

If you are keen to start tasting wines from Portugal, or better still, taste wines in Portugal, there are some Portuguese wine terms you might like to learn.

* Adega - Winery
* Branco - White
* Casta - Grape variety
* Colheita Vintage year
* Garrafeira - A reserve red wine which has been aged for at least 2 years in the barrel plus one year in the bottle. A white wine must be aged for at least 6 months in a barrel and only 6 months in the bottle.
* Maduro - These are mature wines which are produced in all regions of Portugal except for ones which are produced in the Vinho Verde region. You are very unlikely to see this term on any bottle.
* Quinta - Vineyard
* Reserva - A superior quality wine made from a single vintage.
* Seco - Dry
* Tinto - Red
* Verde - Green and opposite of Maduro. Vinho Verde wines are produced in a distinct way.
* Vinho - Wine
 

Winter Sun

Winter Sun in Portugal

For winter sun holidays, Portugal is one of the best places in Europe. Portugal has fine weather throughout the year, and even in winter the temperature is still warm enough to enjoy the beaches. The hottest spots for winter sun are the the Algarve resorts of Faro, Albufeira and Lagos, where the average winter temperature remains a comfortable 15ºC even in January. If you really want to get some Portuguese winter sun, the best place to be is on the islands of the Azores, where sea temperatures are generally warmer than those off the mainland coastline.