Overshadowed by its more popular neighbour to the east, Portugal is Spain’s quieter, countrified cousin – and all the lovelier for being so. Strewn with traditional villages, Portugal’s countryside glitters with historical treasures and World Heritage sites, as well as converted medieval monasteries, and elegant manor houses now hosting some of the finest hotels in Europe. Though Portugal’s spirit is undoubtedly rural, its big towns Porto and Lisbon are lively, magical places making full use of their waterside setting, offering rich picking for those that like to wander, with colourful waterside cafes and boutiques, leafy boulevards and old-fashioned trams still rattling through the streets. Smaller towns offer their own enchantment, with well-preserved medieval quarters that invite exploring in towns like Évora, Coimbra, Guimarães and Braga. Outside the cities, travellers can enjoy Portugal's warm sunny weather, exploring centuries-old vineyards, visiting stone villages in the mountains or soaking up rays on the magnificent southern shoreline. Dramatic scenery lies all along the coast from windswept cliffs with edge-of-the-world views to wild dune-covered beaches. More than just a static backdrop, the scenery sets the stage for outdoor adventure. Hiking, surfing, windsurfing, horse-riding, big game fishing, kayaking, diving, golfing, and mountain biking are a few ways to spend a sun-drenched afternoon. 600 miles southwest of Portugal lies the island of Madeira, home to Reid's Palace Hotel, an elegant and glamorous five star hotel in a superb location; and Choupana Hills Resort, a relaxing hotel offering a relaxing environment in a spectacular position.
Every one of our holidays to Portugal is tailor-made from the point of enquiry, so can be as simple or complex as your needs require. Encompassing the exotic shores of Madeira, the rocky outcrops of the Algarve, and the bustling towns and quaint villages of inland Portugal, our selection of Portuguese holidays covers every aspect of this beautiful and dynamic country. Those seeking long coastal holidays, short city breaks, and longer touring holidays are all catered for.We offer the following options for your holiday to Portugal:Single-centre holidays. Choose from idyllic private resorts on Madeira, grand ocean-facing palaces, and majestic properties high in the mountains. This style of holiday enables in-depth and leisurely exploration of one particular region, be it the rolling countryside, the jagged mountains, or the sweeping coast.Two-centre holidays. Combine two contrasting regions, and spend a few nights in each; moving from a beach-side resort to a hotel hidden behind undulating hills. This style of holiday means you do not have to choose your favourite of Portugal's breath-taking landscapes.Multi-centre touring holiday. This is the style of holiday we most highly recommend at Expressions Holidays. Longer tours with multiple stops really allow you to explore and develop your knowledge of Portugal. Why not combine three or four of our hotels to make sure you see each of Portugal's main natural attractions in turn?Our hotelsWe personally select each of the hotels that feature in our programme with high standards of luxury and interesting locations in mind. As a result, the hotels and resorts are mostly four or five star, so you can rest assured that your holiday with Expressions will be of the highest quality.Our travel optionsMost of our clients travels to Portugal by air, so most of our sample prices incorporate this, unless otherwise stated. Other travel options are available, but air remains the most convenient. Once in Portugal, we would recommend travelling by hire car, as some of our hotels are not easily accessible by rail.Holidays by airAs a general rule, flight prices quoted are with British Airways, though we often use low-cost airlines such as Easyjet as a means of opening up possibilities to fly into other airports. Flights from London to Lisbon take an average of 2 hours 45 minutes, and flights from London to Faro take an average of 2 hours 50 minutes. If travelling to one of our Madeira hotels, flights can take up to 3 hours 55 minutes.Holidays by railThough rail is not our preferred method of travelling to Portugal, we are happy to arrange this if it is something you would like to try. Travelling by train will also take considerably longer than by plane, and may limit your car hire options.Holidays with a hire carWe would always recommend hiring a car when in Portugal, particularly to those embarking on a two- or multi-centre touring holiday. Exceptions are often made with single-centre holidays to larger resorts, as transfers can prove more cost effective.Two centre recommendationsWhy not combine a hotel on the Algarve with a hotel close to Lisbon? Or a hotel in the Douro Valley with Lisbon or Faro? Or perhaps even a hotel in Portugal with a resort in Madeira?
FactsCapital: Lisbon Airport: There are international airports at Lisbon, Porto and Faro, served by a variety of airlines from the UK, including British Airways, Easyjet, bmibaby, TAP, Jet2, Monarch. Currency: Euros (£1=1.24 Euros) Size: 35,000 sq miles, Population: 10.6 million Average temperature: The climate in Portugal is temperate and warm from April to October, although the north is generally colder. The Algarve is the hottest region and is therefore a very popular destination for tourists, while in the winter the Serra da Estrela mountain range in the north often experiences snowfall. The average temperature for July is 28 degrees Centigrade and for January is 16 degrees Centigrade.Local highlightsBelow, we have selected some of the key points of interest in the areas around our hotels. Around LisbonThe area close to the city of Lisbon is known for its variety of attractions. Moorish architecture left over from Arabic rule can be seen in the Castelo de Sao Jorge in the Alfama. Collections of Portuguese art are on display in the Museu Gulbenkian, the Museu de Arte Antiga, and the Berardo Collection. For a taste of Portugal's maritime history, visit the Monasteiro dos Jeronimos. Sintra, the favourite haunt of Lord Byron, is home to twin-peak-top castles and royal palaces. Beautiful, golden sandy beaches can be found in Cascais to the west of Lisbon, or on the Costa da Caparica to the south; particularly idyllic are the coves between Setubal and Sesimbra. Peniche is a picturesque seaside town renowned for being one of Europe's best surfing spots.The AlgarveKnown for having some of Portugal's most scenic beaches, the Algarve is a popular destination for those looking for a beach or water sports holiday enjoying the Portuguese sunshine. Sagres and Tavira are recognised as the best places for this. In Albufeira, Armacao de Pera, and Lagos you will find an abundance of the light-catching rocky outcrops and peaceful coves that the Algarve is so well known for. Salema, Burgau, and Sagres were once busy little fishing villages, and now still stand as testament to this important aspect of Portuguese culture. The Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa lies just off the southern coastline, the islands of which can be accessed from many towns, including Faro, Olhao, Fuseta, Cabanas, and Tavira; most of which are also ideal starting points from which to try a little surfing. White-washed and serene Alcoutim is an example of the less-developed Portuguese towns, with a hint of Andalucia in its appearance, and Loule is the perfect place to wander around a bustling market. You may also wish to visit the Roman ruins at Milreu, the Moorish town of Silves, or the Spa town of Caldas de Monchique. For outdoor pursuits, hed into the Serra de Monchique Mountain Range.Porto and the Douro ValleyAt the mouth of the Rio Douro lies Porto, an atmospheric town with a dramatic aspect and almost Parisien lifestyle. Its streets are lined with historic buildings and wine lodges serving the best of Portuguese wines. The nearby wine towns of Penafiel, Peso da Regua, Pinhao, and Amarante are also recommended for wine-tasting, but have a much more rural location. Amarante, in particular, is believed to be the most attractive wine town in the area, with a central triple-arched bridge, tall stone red-roofed houses interspersed with verdant trees, and a gently flowing river. To witness a sample of Portuguese Baroque architecture, visit the pilgrimage town of Lamego. The main attraction of this town, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedios, lies at the top of an elaborate and intricately decorated set of zig-zagged stairways that pass through archways and across viewing balconies. In Porto, some of the greatest artistic triumphs of 17th century Portugal reside, the Se Cathedral in particular, in which every inch of the columns, archways, and altar have been adorned in golden floral and religious motifs, in true Baroque style. For something even more historic, visit the Paleolithic rock formations of Vila Nova de Foz Coa, the largest outdoor gallery of stone age remains in the world, which have since been neighboured by flourishing vineyards. Along the rocky gorges of the river, you will find a number of castle-towns, including the Medieval walled town of Trancoso and the fortress town of Almeida. MadeiraA green and fertile island in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira is situated off the coast of Morocco. Its coastline combines beautiful sandy beaches with rocky cliffs, the latter of which can be best appreciated at Cabo Girao. The island's capital, Funchal, is packed full with historic buildings, including 15th century churches and convents and a Se Cathedral as ornate as the one in Porto. Enjoy the relentless joviality of the street markets, or visit more peaceful attractions, such as the basalt cave of Capela de Sao Vicente or the island's protected nature reserves. Rare Laurissilva forests can be walked, trekked, or hiked through, affording guests sensational views; and the crystal clear waters off the coast can be swam through, perhaps below the water's surface so the ecosystems that live in the reefs can be appreciated. One of the greatest pleasures of Madeira, however, is wandering over the beaches, surveying the rock pools, and taking in the sights from the clifftops. Aside from the key regions that our Portuguese programme focuses on, there is much to find and see in Portugal. Those willing to drive a little further during the day will enjoy a much more diverse touring holiday.In the Estremadura region, you will find historic properties such as the Monastery at Alcobaca and the Headquarters of the Knights Templar in Tomar. The Medieval town of Obidos is waiting to be discovered, as is the Leiria Castle and the palace-monastery of Mafra. The vineyards of Ribatejo, in the Rio Tejo Valley, offer another flavour of Portuguese wines. The city of Coimbra sits northeast of Lisbon, close to the Roman ruins of Conimbriga, the Montemor-o-Velho Castle, the Spa town of Luso, the ancient forest of Bucaco, the canals of Aveiro, one of Portugal's least spoilt coastlines, the convent at Arouca, the mountain village of Caramulo, and the Rio Mondago vineyards.The Beira Alta and the Beira Baixa are regions defined by harsh, towering peaks, and green plains interrupted by fallen boulders. Viseu is the largest town in the region, which sits just south of the Rio Douro. The Beria Baixa abounds with parched slopes and olive groves. Castelo Branco is the provincial capital, and climbs a lush green peak, with landscaped gardens, ponds, and crumbling historic towers at every turn. For more off-the-beaten track days out, these regions have much in the way of hidden gems, from the hilltop villages of Monsanto and Belmonte, to the Roman ruins at Idana-a-Velha, and the reservoirs nestled in the Serra da Malcata.To see the wealth of variety that Portuguese landscapes have to offer, but in half the time, take a trip to the Minho region. Named thus because of the Rio Minho, this region has some of the Portugal's most picturesque landscapes, dominated by a blend of twisting rivers, rolling vineyards, jagged mountains, quaint historic towns with rising spires, pristine beaches, mysterious archaeological sites, and revered religious properties. The maritime town of Viana do Castelo holds an annual carnival, while the town of Barcelos is famed for its street market. Two of the main towns, however, are Medieval Guimaraes and the university town of Braga, which sit in the north of the region. The Costa Verde, is perhaps Portugal's longest stretch of unbroken sand, which establishes the most phenomenal panoramas. Riverside villages line the Rio Lima, and Portugal's only National Park, the Parque Nacional da Pereda-Geres has many sublime views to offer. Along the Portuguese-Spanish border, fortified towns still remain from the battles for territory; Valenca do Minho is possibly the most impressive.In the centre of Portugal, Alentejo is often known as Portugal's 'garden.' Flat land stretches out across wheat fields, vineyards, and cork plantations, with small plumes of forest that make for excellent bird-watching. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Elvas and Evora are perhaps the most well-known of the towns in the region, the latter boasting a Roman temple, original Medieval walls, and a beautiful cathedral. The hilltop villages of Monsaraz and Marvao punctuate the horizon, as do the many marble towns that sit beside their quarries, including Estremoz and Vila Vicosa.The most unusual region in Portugal, however, has to be the Tas-os-Montes. Literally translating as 'Behind the Mountains,' this region is still believed by the rest of the country to be, in part, cut off from the modern world. Villages crafted out of dark granite in the far north are plagued by long, cold winters, but the warmer plains of the south enjoy the prosperity of their vineyards, orchards, and olive groves. Those looking to explore the history of the area should head to Vila Real, Chaves, or Braganca. The small village of Mirandela sits beside a Roman bridge, and Mirando do Douro is located above a dam.Getting out and aboutThere is an extensive bus service in Portugal, with the country’s modest network of estradas (motorways) slowly extending its reach. Main roads are sealed and generally in good condition and lesser routes are generally fairly empty, making car-hire the best option. There are also good rail links around the country: though slower, these are generally cheaper, and a newly completed section of main-line track has opened the links from Lisbon to the south. Three panoramic narrow-gauge tracks climb out of the Douro valley: the Linha da Tâmega from Livração to Amarante; the Linha da Corgo from Peso da Régua to Vila Real; and the beautiful Linha da Tua from Tua to Mirandela.
Once the summer palace of Portuguese Kings, and with origins traceable to the 14th century, Penha Longa Hot
This boutique hotel offers a real taste of traditional Portuguese style and luxury.
Reid’s Palace Hotel in Funchal, Madeira is an elegant and historic five star hotel in a superb location, of
The Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel near Sagres is a luxury five star resort perched on gently sloping
A fantastic new family resort on the southern coast of Portugal in greater Lisbon.
Opening March 2016.
this is a well-designed complex set amongst beautiful subtropical gardens. Palm trees and bougainvillaea co
We are open Mon-Fri 9-17.30 Sat 9.30-16.00.
Let us know a convenient time to call you back to discuss your holiday.
E-mail us with an outline of your holiday requirements.
Jade Mountain Club at Anse Chastanet is an exclusive and private retreat that ha
Le Mas Candille in Mougins is a luxurious five star hotel combining a beautiful
The five star Anassa in Polis is of world-class standards, and continues to be o
The Pine Cliffs Hotel and Resort, near Albufeira in the Algarve is an immensely
Finca Cortesin is an elegant hotel with plenty of special touches to guarantee a
Il Pellicano in Tuscany is one of our personal all-time favourites. Elegant and
Amirandes is conveniently situated a short distance from the airport and occupie
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