Active Destination Spotlight: Portugal

Douro riverWhile sometimes overshadowed by its big neighbour Spain, Portugal punches way above its weight when it comes to appeal. This tiny country – somewhat smaller than Cuba in size – in southwestern Europe combines beautiful scenery ranging from mountainous to rolling groves of olive and cork trees; a vibrant arts culture; great sea-to-table cuisine –and that’s not even mentioning its island sisters Madeira and the Azores!

Spring and fall are ideal times to visit (summers tend to be very hot with temperatures up into the 40s, while winters can be wet and windy).

We recommend you include a visit to Lisbon, whether it’s part of your itinerary or added on at the beginning or end: this hilly and picturesque little capital is famous for its black-and-white inlaid sidewalks, fun public transit including inclined railways known as funiculars, and bars as well as clubs featuring fado music, Portugal’s uniquely sad and romantic music (just remember to never talk during the performance, it’s considered very rude!)

Lisbon, Portugal Skyline at AlfamaSelf-guided walking-themed holidays are popular in Portugal and can include everything from beach and coast walks to meanders through olive and cork tree groves and citrus orchards. Cycling holidays are also an option. Many of our favourite tour companies including World Expeditions, G Adventures, Intrepid and Exodus offer Portugal, usually in combination with other European countries.

Or have a look at the Portuguese Islands. In the mid-Atlantic Azores there are whale and dolphin watching tours; while on a walking tour in Madeira you’ll enjoy a front row seat featuring amazing ocean views – and the perfect excuse to sample the famous local dessert wine called, of course, Madeira!

Ready to go?

Walking in Madiera

Portugal & Spain

Portuguese Cycle Way, Lisbon to Santiago, Self Guided