We love Portugal as a holiday destination and could quite happily return there year after year: we’ve spent many a happy summer relaxing on the beaches of the Algarve, enjoying the pleasure of doing nothing. But our time in this wonderful country has also taught us that there’s much more to see besides sun, sea and sand!
We’ve put together a list of the top things we think you should sample while you’re visiting Portugal. While these are by no means the only things to do, this is a selection of our favourite Portuguese experiences and should be ticked off your bucket list.
Wining and dining
Wherever we travel in the world, we make it our mission to sample as much of the local food as possible. Portugal offers up some truly spectacular meals for all those gastronomy enthusiasts out there.
Its position on the Atlantic means that Portuguese cuisine includes a lot of fresh seafood. You can expect to taste delights such as Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (clams poached in white wine, garlic and chilli) and Caldeirada (a gorgeous, rich fish stew made with potatoes).
Naturally, this will all be washed down with lashings of chilled white wine and maybe even a few small glasses of traditional Portuguese port. Round off your meal with a delicious leite-crème, a custard based dessert with thick caramel topping.
You can find wonderful restaurants wherever you travel in the country and some of our favourite meals have been in wonderful (if slightly obscure) candlelit taverns, tucked away down winding side streets. However, if you’re looking for something really special, take a look at this guide to the best restaurants in Portugal from Michelin.
If you’re a sports fan, you’d be mad not to sample the golf during your time in Portugal. The country boasts some of best courses in the world and its warm climate, clear blue skies and panoramic coastal views attract golfers from around the globe.
You can find a guide to the best courses in Portugal, by clicking here. This list has been created by golfers and ranks the courses according to how sports fans rate the course itself, the clubhouse facilities and the expertise of the staff.
While traditionally golfers have favoured older, more established resorts in the Algarve, these days Lisbon is the place to be seen teeing off. There are a wealth of championship quality courses springing up in this region, rivalling anything that the Algarve has to offer.
At the top of our list in the glorious Praia d’el Rey Golf and Beach Resort, around 100 kilometres north of Lisbon itself. It’s a little further afield than other courses, but if you ask us, this adds to the appeal. This resort has a tranquil atmosphere that locations closer to the major airports lack.
The best way of reaching Praia d’el Ray is by car, which takes around 50 minutes. You can find affordable car hire at Lisbon Airport and be teeing off overlooking the majestic Atlantic coastline in less than an hour after you land.
A spot of sightseeing
No holiday would be complete without a bit of traditional sightseeing, so be sure to have a camera with you at (nearly) all times.
Portugal is famous for its sandy beaches and clear waters, so naturally you’re going to want to spend part of your holiday soaking up the sun. However, we can’t stress enough how important it to give the beach a break for at least a few hours to take in some fascinating culture and admire the beautiful architecture.
At the top of our list is the historic city of Guimarães, in Northern Portugal. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is a testament to medieval architecture – the main attraction being the 15th century Ducal Palace. You could spend hours wandering the cobbled streets and admiring the beautiful buildings. For a really special afternoon, we heartily recommend a visit to the Alberto Sampaio Museum, which houses a collection of artefacts and artwork from as far back as the 13th century.