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Why Portugal's a must visit for 2018

Portugal’s stunning scenery, attractive cities, blissful beaches and quiet coastal walks have been impressing travellers for centuries, so why should you visit now? It’s one of our top destinations for an active break in 2018 – so here are six reasons why you should book before everyone else.

Active breaks offer a different way to explore

The south of the country may be most associated with summer beach holidays, but Portugal’s unspoilt coastlines, steep cliffs and rolling, verdant hills are the perfect setting for active breaks. You can of course explore Portugal on a discovery trip of the country’s highlights, but the ‘real’ Portugal is best seen from its quiet roads and often empty walking trails. 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 sandy beaches; the ideal setting for a walking holiday.

Fuel up for your adventures with incredible cuisine

What better way to refuel after a long, leisurely walk or scenic bike ride than with dinner in a medieval hilltop village, or a wine tasting of regional vintages in a backstreet bodega? Lunches are a laid-back affair, dinners relaxed and informal. Even picnic lunches to graze on during your walks offer the chance to taste fresh flavours: think hunks of freshly baked bread, fragrant herby cheese from Alentejo, sweet crumbly cakes and zingy oranges. A twin-centre trip featuring Portugal and Spain offers the chance to sample the different tastes and customs of each country.

The scenery must be seen to be believed

There’s no doubt about it, Portugal is stunning, from the verdant valleys around the Douro River to the windswept Atlantic Beaches. Perhaps some of its most stunning landscapes can be found offshore, on the autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores. In the former, follow the 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. In the latter, explore 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

Brexit is an ever-present reminder of the fluctuating euro-pound relationship, but Portugal offers exceptional value in comparison to the rest of Western Europe; in fact, the last Post Office Travel Money survey of Holiday Costs found that Portugal was the cheapest holiday destination for the last two years running. The cost of living in Portugal is famously low compared to neighbours like Spain and France, with food, hotels and entry to attractions offering fantastic value for money. Travel in the shoulder season and the value is better still – you can find seven-night self-guided walking trips along the coast from £399 in November, when coastal breezes, lower temperatures and quiet trails make for a relaxing break before winter sets in back home.

The towns and cities are just as beautiful as the countryside

Perfect for exploring on foot, Portuguese towns are the best place to explore local customs – and they’re glorious to look at too. With their whitewashed walls (or in Lisbon, sunny primrose yellow), 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.

In association with



Our top 10 Portugal and Algarve trips


Highlights of Portugal

This fast-paced trip crams in so much in just eight days. We do most of our exploration on foot, including walking up through the gardens in Sintra and exploring the backstreets of Coimbra.

Remote Coastal Trails of Portugal

Based in the small coastal town of Sagres, this walking holiday explores a remote corner of Portugal. Following beautiful coastal paths to discover impressive cliffs and remote inland villages.

Walking in the Eastern Algarve

Based in Tavira, this walking trip in the eastern Algarve offers scenic coastal and inland walking. The relaxed walks take you through picturesque villages into the rolling Barrocal Hills 

Walks and Wine Tasting in Spain & Portugal

This unique two-country tour provides a fascinating journey from Madrid to Porto. Sample regional vintages at local bodegas, explore national parks and discover beautiful historic cities.

Family Lite Iberian Adventure 

Based in an undiscovered corner of Western Europe, bathed under sunny skies, this great value multi-activity week includes mountain biking, kayaking and walking.

Self-Guided Coastal Trails of Portugal​

Follow the Rota Vicentina along the coast to Cabo Sao Vicente.  Hike between villages through the natural park of 'Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina'.

Self-Guided Walking in Sintra

A diverse walking holiday exploring UNESCO heritage landmarks in the Sintra Hills and time on coastal trails. Enjoy peaceful walks on woodland tracks and trails with coastal views.

Self-Guided Cycle South Portugal

On this self-guided cycle journey you follow Portugal's beautiful coastline. Cycle off-road through the natural park of 'Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina' and enjoy the local food.

Cycle Portugal - Lisbon to Algarve

Journey south from Lisbon, through wild coastal landscapes to the remote south-westerly corner of Europe. Cycle through white-washed fishing villages, pristine coves and superb beaches. 

Cycle Seville to Porto

Based in the small coastal town of Sagres, this walking holiday explores a remote corner of Portugal. Following beautiful coastal paths to discover impressive cliffs and remote inland villages.

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