Having produced the first global empire – something still evidenced by its far-flung island retreats – Portugal's cities still proudly showcase its maritime wealth, its idyllic coast is watched over by hilltop castles and its wines are lauded the world over. Our tailor-made holidays explore it all, whether it's a stay in a historic pousada hotel, an ultra-scenic self-drive through the Douro Valley or a relaxing break in Madeira or on the beaches of the Algarve. Speak to our specialists today to start planning your perfect Portugal holiday.
Portugal's rich history
As a country that’s been settled since prehistory, it’s not just the Portuguese that have left their mark on the Iberian Peninsula’s western coast. Archaeological sites remember Celtic settlements, whole ruined Roman towns crouch in valley verdure and great Moorish castles cap cragged hilltops. But, in its medieval walled towns, Portugal emerged from its occupation at the hands of the Moors, eventually into a golden Age of Discovery. The riches that its world-first spice routes brought in still line the cathedrals, monasteries and Baroque halls of its two great cities – Lisbon and Porto. In each, UNESCO-listed grandeur is framed by a tumble of terracotta rooftops – a fitting emblem for the country’s homespun charm.
Golden sands, green mountains and award-winning wines
You’ll know the Algarve for its white-sand beaches, but it’s often the green of its interior and the drama of its sea-beaten cliffs that leave the biggest impression. And, ever the rivals, Lisbon and Porto’s surrounds also vie for your attention. While the former features Estoril’s beaches and the storybook castles of the Sintra Mountains, it’s Porto’s Douro Valley neighbour that wins out. Here, river cruises and a spectacular railway route bring you among a world of fabled vineyards and forgotten hamlets. That said, for the best in Portuguese relaxation, make the short flight to Madeira. It’s ever-sunny disposition has long made it a favourite of exiled monarchs, European aristocracy and, yes, award-winning winemakers.
Ponta da Piedade, Algarve