One of Europe's oldest countries is also one of its warmest and definitely one of its most beautiful. Portugal is a land of vibrant cities and gorgeous landscapes, with fascinating history and friendly, welcoming locals who love to party.
Like beaches? Some of Europe’s best are here. Foodie? Portugal’s grilled fish is among the freshest and tastiest. Then there's the famed Lisbon Oceanarium, the beautiful Albufeira old town or the amazing Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. Yes, Portugal has got the lot.
With its vibrant cities, world-class beaches and impressive sunshine record, Portugal offers huge vacation potential. Read on for our top five Portugal travel highlights.
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. Queima das Fitas – This ceremonial burning of ribbons originated amongst students in Coimbra as a celebration to mark the end of the academic year, but the tradition has since spread to other cities around Portugal. The festivities, shared by students and townspeople alike, continue for a full week and run long into the night. Get ready to let your hair down and party with the locals.
For more information on La Tomatina, click here.
2. Vaca das Cordas – Portugal's answer to Pamplona's running of the bulls, Vaca das Cordas takes place each year on the eve of the feast of Corpus Christi. The venue is the ancient village of Ponte de Lima, the country's oldest. Come and watch the ensuing chaos as a dozen people attempt to hang on to an angry bull using only a pair of ropes!
For more information on Vaca das Cordas, click here.
3. Super Bock Super Rock, Lisbon – Situated on the banks of the Tagus river in Lisbon's Parque das Nações area, this is one of the biggest Lisbon festivals. It offers a varied lineup of Portuguese and international artists: previous headliners include Arcade Fire, Queens Of The Stone Age and Kasabian.
For more information on Super Bock Super Rock Festival, click here.
4. NOS Alive, Lisbon – Formerly known as Optimus Alive, this relative newcomer to the Portuguese festival scene consistently offers one of the best lineups. Expect some of the biggest names in rock, indie and electronic music from around the world. Its riverside setting at Algés, a short hop from central Lisbon, offers easy access to all the delights and creature comforts of the city.
For more information on NOS Alive Festival, click here.
5. Paredes de Coura Festival – Set in Porto e Norte region in the north of the country, this festival takes place in a natural riverside amphitheatre in the town of Paredes de Coura. The lineup veers towards alternative rock - Temples, Tame Impala and Mark Lanegan have all topped the bill - so if you like guitar music you’ll love this.
For more information on Paredes de Coura Festival, click here.
1. Gulbenkian Museum Lisbon – Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is one of the most famous in Lisbon, and with good reason. Situated in gardens near Praça de Espanha and the huge Parque Eduardo VII, it includes a fascinating collection of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Persian art as well as a host of masterpieces from many of the European greats.
For more information on the Gulbenkian Museum, click here.
2. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon – Housed in a 14th century palace and known locally as MNAA, this is one of the best Lisbon museums. It houses a large collection of paintings, sculpture, metalwork, furniture and textiles dating from the 5th to 19th centuries, with highlights including the magnificent Saint Vincent Panels, painted in the 1460s by Portuguese artist Nuno Gonçalves.
For more information on the National Museum of Ancient Art, click here.
3. Serralves Museum, Porto – This museum of modern art is one of the top Porto attractions, and one of the most visited in the country. The clean, strikingly modern lines of the building house a changing collection of cutting-edge contemporary works by Portuguese and international artists.
For more information on the Serralves Museum, click here.
4. Museu Colecção Berardo, Belém – As well as a series of temporary exhibitions, the Berardo Collection Museum is home to a permanent collection of contemporary art including celebrated works by the likes of Picasso, Dali and Warhol. It's a real Lisbon must see, and best of all, admission is free! Feeling hungry after all that culture? Stop for refreshments at the nearby Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, home of the legendary Portuguese custard tart.
For more information on the Museu Colecção Berardo, click here.
5. Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon – If you visit Lisbon, be sure to check out this little gem. Often referred to as The National Tile Museum, it offers a fascinating look at the azulejo, the name given to the decorative ceramic tiles that cover the facades of many Portuguese buildings. Learn about the materials and techniques used to make azulejos, and admire the impressive collection of examples dating from the 15th century to present day.
For more information on the National Tile Museum, click here.
The Portuguese are serious about their food, and if you're a seafood lover you're in for a treat. Here is a place that prides itself on the quality of its mariscos, and where only the choicest and freshest of fish will do. The Portuguese also have a love of all things sweet, with paderias and pastelarias (bakeries and pastry shops) seemingly on every corner. Order a couple of pastels and a bica (Portuguese espresso) and prepare for the sugar rush of a lifetime.
Pastel de nata – The undisputed champion of Portuguese desserts, these glistening little tarts are gooey and slightly blackened on top. Eat them sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar for authentic Portuguese flavour. Be warned: like everybody who visits the country, you’ll be instantly addicted.
Best eaten at –Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, R. Belém 84-92, Lisboa
Bacalhau – Salt cod is one of Portugal's best-loved dishes. It's served many ways, but eat it grilled with some garlic oil and boiled potatoes and green beans on the side and you'll never look back.
Best eaten at –Tascardoso, Rua de O Século 242, Lisboa
Cataplana – This fabulous seafood stew takes its name from the clam-like copper cooking pot in which it's cooked. Expect potatoes, peppers and a mix of seafood and fish simmered gently to succulent perfection, served with some crusty bread.
Best eaten at – Restaurante Prato Cheio, Rua Francisco Sá Carneiro 23A, Lagos
Bifana – This pork sandwich is the ultimate beer snack. Add mustard and a little chili oil and wash it down with an icy cold lager - it's an essential Portugal travel 2016 experience.
Best eaten at – O Trevo, Praça Luís de Camões 48, Lisboa
Tripas à moda do Porto – You can't come to Porto without trying this, the local specialty. It's a stew of tripe cooked with dried beans and vegetables, often including other treats like sausage, offal and even pigs' trotters. Grab some crusty Portuguese bread and fill your boots!
Best eaten at –Tripeiro, Rua de Passos Manuel 195, Porto
Sunscreen - To keep the burn at bay! Portugal is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, so protect yourself before you wreck yourself.
Shades - Whether you're shopping in Lisbon's chic Chiado district or topping up your tan on an Algarve beach, you'll be glad you brought the sunnies.
A camera - Thanks to its seven hills, Lisbon is dotted with miradouros, scenic viewpoints that will take your breath away and offer plenty of Instagram-friendly photo-ops. Best pack a couple of extra SD cards.
Sensible shoes - Pretty though they may be, the black and white cobbled streets of many Portuguese towns can be slippery, and they're also the quickest way to scupper a stiletto. Comfy flat-soled shoes are a must!
A phrase book - Though Portuguese isn't the easiest of languages to learn, locals are receptive to even the feeblest of efforts to communicate in their mother tongue. Do your prep and you'll soon make some new friends!