Portugal’s stunning scenery, attractive cities, blissful beaches and quiet coastal walks have been impressing travellers for centuries; visit in the shoulder season and you’ll have it virtually all to yourself.
Active breaks offer a different way to explore
Portugal’s unspoilt coastlines, steep cliffs and rolling, verdant hills are the perfect setting for active breaks. Take to the saddle and explore on two wheels, navigating the beautiful coastal routes between Lisbon and the Algarve. In the south of the country, the Rota Vincentina includes more than 400km of walking trails, lined with beautiful wildflowers, striated cliffs and windswept sandy beaches; the ideal setting for a walking holiday.
Fuel up for your adventures with incredible cuisine
What better way to refuel than with dinner in a medieval hilltop village, or a wine tasting of regional vintages in a backstreet bodega? Even picnics offer the chance to taste fresh flavours: think hunks of freshly baked bread, fragrant herby cheese from Alentejo, sweet crumbly cakes and zingy oranges. With the sea never too far away, the seafood is fresh and plentiful.
The scenery must be seen to be believed
Some of its most stunning landscapes can be found offshore, on the autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores. Follow Madeira’s ancient network of irrigation channels known as levada
around the rugged island, and take in the stunning ocean views over tea at a former palace. Explore the Azores’ crater lakes, thermal springs, deep gorges and picturesque fishing villages with few other tourists. Alternatively, stick to the mainland and enjoy the whitewashed settlements and pillowy dunes of the serene southwest coast.
Great value – especially in shoulder season
Portugal offers exceptional value in comparison to the rest of Western Europe. Travel in the shoulder season and the value is better still – you can find five-night self-guided walking trips along the coast from £360 in April and May, when you’ll find coastal breezes, lower temperatures and quiet trails.
The towns and cities are just as beautiful as the countryside
With their whitewashed walls, warm terracotta tiles baked by the sun and colourful blue tiles known as azulejos
, the Portuguese town is instantly recognisable. The capital, Lisbon can be uncovered by tram; its second city, Porto, best enjoyed under your own steam – its tiny switchback lanes leading to quiet plazas filled with bars serving the local Port wine. In the south, Sagres offers a slice of the Algarve before the developers moved in. One of the best examples of Portugal’s extravagant architecture can be found in the hills of Sintra; buttercup and vermillion palaces set atop craggy cliffs.
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