Portugal tailor-made holidays

Portugal remains as popular as ever, especially on the Algarve coastline. Long sandy beaches and a string of golf courses make up the Algarve, where mass development has ensured an influx of package holidaymakers. Nonetheless it is easy to escape the busy resorts and find a tranquil spot in the surrounding countryside, where you'll stumble across medieval towns, olive groves, vineyards and heritage sites.

The likeable capital Lisbon is a relaxed port, overlooked by a ruined castle. Whitewashed, cobbled streets form a labyrinth concealing fantastic architecture and Art Nouveau shops and cafés. Visit the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos to see the tomb of Vasco de Gama, the Gulbenkian Museum for a superb art fix and the statue of Christ above the city for spectacular views before searching out tiny fado clubs and joining the jumping nightlife in Bairro Alto.

Elsewhere, Porto, at the mouth of the Douro River is more than just the sum of its port-producing suburb Vila Nova de Gaia and also boasts Roman ramparts and French style squares.

Braga is the country's most important religious centre, home to a number of colourful festivals including Semana Santa in the run up to Easter. Those interested in religion ought to also take in Alcobaca's twelfth century monastery and famous shrine.

North of Lisbon, surfers should seek out the Atlantic rollers at Enceira and Lagos, whilst walkers ought to explore the peaks of Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela and amateur geologists should descend into the extraordinary cave system at Grutas de Mira de Aire. Those looking for ruins ought to travel to Evora, a medieval town with Roman, Moorish and Renaissance remains.

Top itineraries in Portugal

Practical information

Capital City Lisbon

Size 92,391 sq km

Population 10,676,000

Time Zone GMT +1

Flying time from UK 2½ hours

Currency Euro (€) = 100 cents

Language Portuguese

Visa Not required

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