A European favourite
Portugal’s winning combination of sandy beaches, dramatic scenery and world-class golf courses has kept it firmly on the holiday map for decades. And if all that wasn’t enough, the country also has a good weather credentials, basking in around 300 days of sunshine a year.
Curving round the south coast is the Algarve region, which has a dramatic coastline scalloped with sandy bays and secluded coves. Resort-wise, you can choose between large, lively towns and sleepy fishing villages. This pocket of Portugal is also one of the best places in Europe for golfers – and some of the courses are spectacular.
The Portuguese island of Madeira is set in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 kilometres away from the mainland. It’s been nicknamed the Floating Garden thanks to its flower-filled botanical gardens. The capital, Funchal, is a real mix of old and new, with cosy tavernas and traditional markets sitting next to swanky wine bars and chic boutiques.
North of Madeira is tiny Porto Santo. It’s a bit of a newcomer to the travel scene, so tourists are few and far between. Vila Baleira, the only town, is a typically Portuguese affair, with cobbled lanes and whitewashed houses. It’s your gateway to the island’s 10-kilometre-long sandy beach, too.
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The Algarve is a regular winner at the World Travel Awards – the travel industry’s answer to the Oscars. In fact, over the years, it’s taken home accolades for everything from its fabulous diving and great golf resorts to its thrilling attractions and sweeping beaches.
Porto Santo Island
Measuring up at just 6 by 11 kilometres, Porto Santo is tiny. In fact, this Portuguese island is so small you might struggle to find it on a map. But once you’ve located Madeira, it’s easy – just trace your finger 40 kilometres north and there it is.