Portugal is a popular destination for summer holidays and is a great choice any time of year. With its gorgeous beaches, bustling nightlife and its fantastic scenery, Portugal holidays are an incredible experience with great value for your money.
Portugal has something for everybody. Uncover beautiful beaches, ancient history and breathtaking countryside while enjoying delicious food and locally produced wines that taste world-class. Portugal has a long and complex history involving Celts, Romans, Moors and Christians. Every new wave of settlers left a distinctive mark on the country from the mysterious megaliths of Évora to the monasteries and cathedrals of Lisbon and Porto.
Flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and bordered by Spain, Portugal has a relatively small population meaning vast areas of the country offer isolated landscapes and unspoilt scenery to explore. Hike among the peaks of the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês or simply laze on the dune-backed beaches of the Costa Vicente. The Sado Estuary south of Lisbon is perfect for dolphin watching boat trips while other outdoor activities include cycling, golf, horse-riding, paragliding and surfing.
Portugal's beaches are generally clean and safe but those of the Algarve are particularly family-friendly. Along this coastline, you'll find activities for the whole family such as horse-riding, pirate-ship cruises and waterparks. Waterparks include the Aquashow Park at Quarteira or the Slide & Splash - Water Slide Park at Lagoa. All children love a fort to explore so visit the atmospheric Cabo de São Vicente Fort lying on a barren headland near Sagres.
While excellent restaurants and local bars can be found in every Portuguese town or village, the real nightlife takes place in Lisbon and Porto. Both have an abundance of cocktail bars, lounges, dance clubs, concert halls and theatres. Lisbon is the cultural home of Fado, Portugal's mournful music. Take in nightly live performances in the Alfama district. Both Lisbon and Porto play host to outdoor music festivals such as Rock in Rio and NOS Alive.
Cobbled streets meandering lazily up from the River Tagus, historic yellow trams, the mournful sound of Fado and historic sights are just part of what makes Lisbon a unique destination. One of the city's most flamboyant buildings is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos at Belém, built with the spoils of South American conquests. Towering over the city centre itself is the Castelo de São Jorge. Walk its ramparts and stroll through its shady courtyards to peel away Lisbon's history.
Edgier than Lisbon, Porto rises above the banks of the River Douro. Famous for its ruby-red ports, every visit should include a tour of a port wine cellar. Visit the opulent architecture of the Palácio da Bolsa where port merchants invested their wealth or for something a little quirkier search out the Livraria Lello. The bookshop's wood-panelled neo-Gothic interior provided inspiration for JK Rowling's Harry Potter books.
Find your own perfect beach along The Algarve in southern Portugal. All-inclusive resorts and family-friendly hotels dot the coastline while quieter villas and bed and breakfasts can be found a little further inland. Salt-pans, bird-filled lagoons and protected islands mix in with seafood restaurants, waterparks and a lively nightlife. Albufeira and historic Faro are The Algarve's main city destinations while Sagres is a surfer's paradise. Walkers can cross the region on the Via Algarviana hiking trail.
Most visitors fly into Portugal, landing at one of the country's three main airports, Lisbon, Porto or Faro. Flight time from the United Kingdom is between two and three hours depending on departure and arrival airports. There is no time difference between Portugal and the UK, but if you cross the Spanish border during your visit you'll need to put your watches forward by one hour. Browse our selection of Portugal flights for the best deals.
With so much coastline, Portugal has everything from family-friendly stretches of beach to isolated bays that can only be reached by boat while water and beach-based activities can be found everywhere. Laze away a day with sunbathing and swimming or take part in surfing, kite-surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, banana boating and sailing or games of beach volleyball and football.
Portugal is a European mecca for surfers with a busy season running from November to March when an Atlantic swell, high tides and underwater gorges produce epic waves. Nazare, a short drive north of Lisbon is legendary for its surfing centres and competitions while Sagres at the western tip of the Sagres is another place where expert surfers are guaranteed big rollers.
History lovers can always find something to explore in Portugal. The Palácio Nacional de Sintra is a whimsical yet lavish building that provided the royal family with a summer palace away from Lisbon's city heat. Its beautiful hand-painted tiles or 'azulejos' are some of the oldest in Portugal. Évora, a day-trip away from Lisbon, delivers a window into Portugal's Roman past with some of the best-preserved monuments on the Iberian Peninsula.
The gastronomy of Portugal reflects the riches of sea, countryside and vineyard. Fresh bread, a variety of cheeses, olives, grilled fish, smoked meats, rich red wines and crisp vinho verdes are just some of the country's culinary basics. Typical of The Algarve and southern Portugal is the cataplana or seafood stew cooked in a special lidded metal dish. All you need to accompany a cataplana is some fresh bread to soak up the juices of this stew that's rich with the flavours of the day's catch. Other seafood specialities of the country include razor clams, mussels, oysters, cockles and whelks.
If you have a sweet tooth, visit the 19th-century patisserie in Belém to see pasteis de nata or custard tarts being made for city bakeries. Take time out from your sightseeing itinerary to enjoy one or two in the tile-lined cafe of this historic cake shop. Or, have a few boxed up to take home as a tasty gift.
Portugal has a packed calendar of annual events with every town and village celebrating Christmas, Easter and its own saints' days in extravagant style. June's Festa de Santo António celebrates Lisbon's sardine catch with all-night drinking and dancing. Alternatively, Porto's Festa de São João, also held in June, celebrates midsummer. Sample the best of Portugal's cuisine at Lisbon Restaurant Week in February or March when many of the city's top restaurants offer discounted menus. In contrast, the medieval town of Óbidos has become famous for its International Festival of Chocolate held every March.
Portugal is one of Europe's warmest countries where, particularly in the south, you can enjoy lunching al fresco nearly every day of the year. July and August are the hottest and driest months when temperatures can reach up to 40°C. These are also the busiest months when flights and hotels are at their most expensive. April to June are perfect for hiking and outdoor activities and when spring flowers are at their most beautiful. Spring and autumn are the best seasons for city breaks to Lisbon and Porto.