Portugal holidays

There's an idyllic Portuguese holiday paradise to suit everyone. As you unwind on a beautiful beach or pause for a lunch of grilled sardines in a tranquil village, you might wonder why the great Portuguese explorers ever wanted to leave this enchanting and diverse country in search of faraway lands.

Things to do

With some of Europe's finest golf courses, historical sites and a culture of colourful local festivals, the list of Portugal’s attractions is vast; and it doesn't end here. Madeira sits off the coast, adding dramatic scenery, watersports, plus gardens and valleys filled with colourful flowers, to the holiday equation. The Algarve has been a popular holiday destination for years, but there’s a still lot to discover in its charming little villages and Moorish ruins. Bask in the radiant sunshine on one of the Algarve’s golden beaches before stopping in a" "marisqueira" for a plate of freshly grilled prawns and a glass of ice-cold beer.

Places to stay

With its vast, sandy beaches and kid-friendly attractions, it’s no wonder that Albufeira is the most popular resort in the Algarve. Almost 15km west of Albufeira is Armacao de Pera, a lively area with a wealth of shops, bars and restaurants and a quaint little old town. Slightly further afield is Lagos, an ancient fishing village with a modern marina and a palm-tree-lined promenade. Funchal is the biggest city on the island of Madeira. Picture cobbled streets lined with traditional restaurants and charming little shops and galleries. Just 6km east of Funchal is Caniço de Baixo, a tranquil hillside village overlooking the ocean.

What should I pack?

Portugal’s Mediterranean climate means hot, sunny summer days and cool winters, but the weather rarely gets too cold, unless you’re visiting the mountains where there can be snow.

For summer trips to Portugal, make sure you pack plenty of sun cream, a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun’s rays. You’ll also need your swimwear if you’re planning on spending time at the beach or by the pool, as well as something to cover up with if you decide to go sightseeing or visit a restaurant for lunch.

Pack plenty of light, cool clothes for summer breaks, but don’t forget a light jacket or extra layer for cooler evenings or rainy days. With cooler temperatures in autumn and winter, trousers or jeans are ideal for sightseeing and shopping. Comfortable shoes are also a must for exploring, with a pair of sandals or flip-flops for the beach.

More Travel Guides

We also have travel guides available for destinations including Algarve | Madeira

Map of Portugal

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25-28 ℃

Portugal is pleasant throughout the year, with mild winters and comfortable summers.

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3-4 hours

If you’re going to the Algarve, you’ll arrive at Faro Airport (FAO) which is 4km west of Faro. If you’re staying in Madeira, you’ll fly to Madeira Airport (FNC), 16km northeast of Funchal.

Portugal is best for...

Sun-worshippers: Soak up the sunshine on one of the Algarve’s glorious beaches.

Walkers: Venture through the lush, green mountains of Madeira.

Foodies: Try succulent espetada and freshly caught sardines in one of Funchal’s quaint little restaurants.

Fast facts for Portugal

Language: The language spoken in Portugal is Portuguese.

Currency: The currency used in Portugal is the Euro (€).

Local time: Portugal is the same as GMT/UK time.

Fly to: Faro Airport. Transfers to the Algarve resorts take between 30 minutes (Vilamoura) to 1 hour (Albufeira) and 1.5 hours (Lagos).

Flight time from the UK: The flight time to Portugal is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Tourist Information: Further Portugal tourist information can be found at www.visitportugal.com/en.

Visas / Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Portugal

Holiday destinations related to Portugal:

The Algarve

Madeira

Funchal

Getting around Portugal

By taxi: Resort areas have plenty of taxi ranks. Be aware that it is standard for taxi drivers to charge extra for luggage.

By hire car: A hire car is a good idea if you want to explore the more rural areas of the Algarve or Madeira.

By train: Portugal has a vast railway network that covers most of the country. The state-of-the-art Alfa Pendular trains are a great option if you want to travel directly from the Algarve to Lisbon.

Events in Portugal

Carnival time For a real Portuguese party, visit the Loulé Carnaval in February. The locals dress up in neon colours, feathers and lots of glitter as they parade through the streets to samba music.

Floral floats Two weeks after Easter is the Madeira Flower Festival, one of the biggest annual events on the island. Floats travel through the city of Funchal, each decorated with the island’s native blooms.

World music The Loulé Med Festival is a popular world music celebration that attracts thousands of festival-goers every June.

For golfers If you’re a golf fanatic, you won’t want to miss the Portugal Masters which takes place in October.

Portugal safety and security

Do I need a passport?

You will need a valid passport to enter Portugal, but your passport does not need to have a specific period of validity, as long as it covers your stay in the country.

For more information on Portugal passports and details of the country’s entry requirements, head to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal/entry-requirements.

Do I need a visa?

British citizens visiting Portugal on holiday do not need a visa. If you’re unsure whether you will need a visa, it’s best to check with the Portuguese Embassy.

For more Portugal visa information as well as details of entry requirements to the country, head to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal/entry-requirements
 

Should I get travel health insurance?

Having comprehensive travel and health insurance is a must if you’re planning a holiday to Portugal. If you’re injured or fall ill abroad, your insurance could help to cover the cost of emergency medical treatment or even flying you back to the UK. It’s recommended to check your policy before your trip, just so you know what is and what isn’t covered. You should also ensure that your insurance will cover you for any activities you have planned.

Any other tips?

  • The currency here is the Euro. While you’ll find cash machines in most larger towns, cities and resorts, you may find you’re unable to pay with your credit card in more rural areas and smaller towns.
  • The police can stop you to ask for your ID at any time, so it’s a good idea to carry your original passport or a photocopy of your passport’s data page with you at all times.
  • For more information and travel advice for your trip to Portugal, head to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal.

 

Portugal weather

Temperatures: Summers are generally hot and dry with temperatures averaging between the mid and late 20s (°C).

When’s the best time to go?

Rich history, medieval castles, delicious food and stunning scenery all come together to make Portugal a must-visit holiday destination for families and couples. But when is the best time of year to plan your trip? Our Portugal travel advice will help you decide.

Regardless of which part of the country you visit, summers here are generally hot, while winters are a little cooler, with snow in the mountains. Generally speaking, the weather is always a few degrees warmer in the south, with a yearly average temperature of 18°C. In the middle of the country, summer temperatures can really start to climb, with an average of 35-40°C. On the coast, the sea breeze takes the edge off the heat and you’re more likely to see a maximum of 35°C in July and August, which makes for fantastic beach weather.

You’ll find Portugal is less busy and flights and accommodation are more affordable outside the summer months, with late spring and late autumn both popular times of year to visit. The sea here is at its warmest from July to September, something to bear in mind if you’re planning on snorkelling, swimming or trying your hand at some watersports.

Even in the winter months, temperatures rarely fall below 5°C and the average temperature is around 10°C. There can be rainy days, so pack some warmer clothes as well as a waterproof jacket. This is still an ideal time of year for a winter break to enjoy some sightseeing, shopping and dining out, especially if you prefer things a little quieter and less crowded.

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