The Algarve is atypical sun and sand holiday destination attracting tens of thousands of Europeans every summer. Although the region has much to offer both the package holiday maker, independent traveller and, of course, golfer, many visitors to Portugal fail to get beyond the trappings of the holiday resorts and sample the real Portugal.
Outside of the Algarve, Portugal has a long and illustrious history. An independent nation since 1143, Portugal is one of the oldest nations in Europe and it’s location on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula dictates a long history of sea faring and discovery. A vast monumental and cultural legacy has been left for modern visitors to enjoy. The tourist information site gives an interesting and informative overview of the cultural and historic attractions of the country as well as useful guides to the regions and cities of Portugal .
The capital city, Lisbon, is an ideal location for a short break and is rapidly gaining a reputation as such. A thriving and bustling mix of the old and new, Lisbon retains a respect for its historic past whilst offering the visitor the attractions and amenities that could be expected of a main European city. The city is dominated by the old port area – the departure point for explorers such as Magellan – and recent regeneration of the area is sympathetic and impressive. Lisbon comes to life at night as the locals descend on the pavement restaurants and bars creating a relaxed, sociable and informal atmosphere.
Further North and the impressive, World Heritage status city of Porto can be found. The city, of course, lends its’ name to the world famous variety of wine but the city’s baroque and Romanesque architecture leave a lasting and perhaps not as regrettable impression. Although the Algarve signs to mind when you mention beaches and Portugal, the coastal region of Minho, to the north of Porto have perhaps the most stunning beaches in the country. The area has some resorts, but these are quieter and smaller in scale to their southern counterparts and offer a quieter, perhaps more relaxed beach holiday than the Algarve.
Travelling to Portugal via, Lisbon, Porto or Faro is relatively easy from the UK with most operators offering direct flights from a range of UK airports. Internal flights are relatively inexpensive and the rail system is cheap and efficient. Portugal is a relatively small country and is negotiable by road for those looking to traverse wide areas. Car rental in Portugal is abundant – especially in Lisbon and Porto and most of the major car hire firms offer one way or return car hire in Portugal.
The Algarve is an ideal family holiday destination and has many charms but Portugal as a country has much more to offer for those willing to explore a little further.