Portugal holidays

World-class beaches paired with more than 300 days of yearly sunshine is what makes Portugal holidays so special. From Lisbon’s charming city sights to seaside towns bursting with character in the Algarve, you’ll struggle choosing between the two. And we can’t forget its subtropical islands of Madeira and the Azores, both adored for their dramatic, volcanic scenery. 

Things to do

Beach, city and activity breaks, this European hotspot covers them all! So if you’re looking for things to do in Portugal, your options are endless. Along the Iberian Peninsula, sightseers will love Lisbon city breaks. From its pastel-colored buildings, hilltop castle and mosaic walkways - it’s got to be one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. And don’t forget pretty Porto, the gateway to Douro Valley (an ancient wine region). As the birthplace of port, you can’t come here without sipping this fortified favourite. 

Another must-visit region is Portugal’s southernmost, the Algarve! Head straight for its sun-splashed coastline, where you’ll find beaches which have been ranked among the best in the world! The surfing town of Lagos has some spectacular spots including Meia Praia Beach, whose rock-free waters are a hit with watersport fans, while its long, white sand is perfect for romantic strolls. While here, stop by Ponta da Piedade to see its amazing cliffs and rock formations. To see more of the area’s natural beauty, book a boat trip to Algar Seco and discover the Benagil Cave, one of the world’s most impressive sea grottos. And thanks to its incredible ceiling opening you can actually sunbathe inside. 

The Algarve is also a magnet for partiers, from the non-stop nightlife of Albufeira and Lagos right down to swanky Vilamoura Marina, which is packed with waterside drinking spots. This is also where you’ll find its golf courses, and they’re not just any old putting greens! In fact, holidays to Portugal are as famous for its championship courses as they are its beaches.

Want to escape to Portugal’s islands? Sitting off the coast, you’ll find Madeira which adds dramatic, volcanic scenery to the holiday equation. It’s a hiker’s paradise with cascading waterfalls hidden inside lush forests, stunning sea cliffs offering amazing coastal views and soaring mountains taking you high above the clouds. When you step away from its nature reserves, you’ve got the capital Funchal. Certainly not lacking in beauty, appreciate its Atlantic vistas with a cable car ride. Taking you to its hilltop botanical gardens, you won’t even feel like you’re in a city with the roaming swans, peacocks and chickens. And that’s just some of the wildlife you’ll spot in Madeira. Visit during April and October and do some whale watching, with three species calling its waters home.

For more scenic adventures, look no further than Portugal’s nine-island archipelago, the Azores. Swim alongside wild dolphins, explore lava tunnels and climb its biggest peaks. Then when you’ve ticked off its best activities, relax with a soak in its hot springs. 

Places to stay

If you’re looking for amazing beaches, family-friendly fishing villages and fun attractions, the Algarve is for you. Albufeira gets our vote for parents with young kids thanks to its pedestrianised Old Town and day trip musts like the nearby Zoomarine

Slightly further afield and another Algarve favourite, discover Lagos. This ancient fishing village with a modern marina and a palm-tree-lined promenade appeals to surfers, families and couples alike. Those looking to mix big city sights with beach days will prefer Lisbon. When you’re not cooling off by the Tagus River, you could be escaping the capital’s stifling summer heat in favour of its nearby shores.

Holidays to Portugal also include Madeira. Funchal is the biggest city on the island, and it’s perfect for romantic escapes with its abundance of luxurious hotels. Couples will love walking its cobbled streets, which are home to traditional restaurants, charming little shops and fascinating museums

More Travel Guides

We also have travel guides available for destinations, including: Algarve | LisbonMadeira


Map of Portugal

8 - 34℃

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: With an 850-kilometre-long coastline and 3,000 annual sunlight hours, Portugal will suit beach lovers down to the ground. Even the capital Lisbon is a suntrap with endless blue skies ideal for summer sightseeing.

Adventure seekers: Whether you’re looking for land or sea adventures, Portugal is full of them. From hiking up the green mountains of Madeira to getting stuck into the Algarve’s long list of watersports.

Foodies: Eating out in Portugal is a dream with hearty dishes made from the freshest local produce. Try succulent espetada in Madeira, or tuck into grilled sardines in the Algarve’s fishing towns. And don’t forget to try its most famous sweet treat - pasteis de nata, a creamy custard tart which is found in almost all of Lisbon’s bakeries.

Fast facts for Portugal

Language: The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, while English is the second most spoken, particularly in the main tourist areas. We suggest learning some basic phrases before your trip to help you communicate better with the locals.

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). Those flying to Madeira Airport will reach Funchal in around 30 minutes.

Flight time from the UK: The flight time to Portugal is 3 to 4 hours depending where you’re flying to.

Tourist Information:  Further Portugal tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in Portugal.

Visas / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Holiday destinations related to Portugal:

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: Want to go resort-hopping or discover Portugal’s rural areas? Then, hire a car and you’ll have the freedom to explore the country at your own pace.

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: For a real Portuguese party, visit the Loulé Carnaval in the Algarve. Every February locals fill the streets to watch the processions. Join in with the fun as costume-wearing dancers parade through the streets to samba music.

Madeira Flower Festival: One of the biggest annual events on the island, this floral spectacle takes place in spring when the island’s flowers are in bloom, a few weeks after Easter. And everyone gets involved in the fun with shops decorating their windows and locals dressed in colourful outfits. But the The Flower Allegorical Parade is the main event.

Sand City: If you’re visiting the Algarve between June and November, do not miss a chance to visit the famous Sand Sculpture Festival in Lagoa. As the world's largest site of its kind, every year over 60 artists turn 65,000 tonnes of sand into giant sculptures, from music icons to animals and even mythical creatures.

Portugal safety and security

Do I need a passport?

You will need a valid passport to enter Portugal, and it should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of your stay.

Do I need a visa?

British citizens visiting Portugal 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 up-to-date advice on entry requirements please visit the FCDO website.

Should I get travel health insurance?

Planning a holiday to Portugal? Taking out comprehensive travel and health insurance is essential. If you’re injured or fall ill abroad, your insurance could help to cover the cost of emergency medical treatment or a flight back to the UK. It’s also important to check your policy before your trip, just so you know what is and isn’t covered. You should also make sure your insurance will pay out for any planned activities. 

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Portugal, please visit the FCDO website.


Portugal weather

Temperature: 12°C - 24°C

When’s the best time to go?

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 in Portugal 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 averages of 35°C. On the coast, the sea breeze takes the edge off the heat, particularly during July and August. While those balmy days last even longer over on its islands, whose subtropical climate guarantees very mild winters.

You’ll find Portugal is less crowded outside the summer months, with some fantastic deals in  late spring and autumn.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. You may experience some rainy days, but there'll be plenty of sightseeing, shopping and restaurants to keep you busy.

What should I pack?

Portugal’s Mediterranean climate means hot, sunny summer days and cool winters, but it rarely gets too cold, unless you’re in the mountains.

For Portugal holidays in the summer, 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 for beach and pool days, as well as a cover up should you decide to stop by a restaurant for lunch.

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

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