Top 10 holiday destinations in Portugal

If you've decided that Portugal is your next destination then you need to choose where to go. Whether you want a pure beach holiday, a cultural experience, a tasting tour or all of these things then there are plenty of choices available for families, couples and singles. We’ve picked out our top ten destinations of where to stay in Portugal, each of which offers something unique whilst delivering the same high level of sunshine, fun and beautiful views.

Albufeira

Take a 40 minute drive from Faro airport to find Albufeira, the best place on the Algarve to enjoy a sensational nightlife whilst being able to relax on glorious beaches during the day. What was once a peaceful fishing village is now home to an extensive strip featuring themed bars, clubs and everything else a night owl could want from a holiday.

For those looking for something more gentle, the old town itself is completely charming and offers a mix of restaurants and history that will make every day and night a pleasure. Albufeira is as much a family holiday destination as a place for all night revelry. Both worlds coexist happily next to each other and in both you'll enjoy a big warm welcome, easy charm and a Cosmopolitan attitude. Golfers can also use the town as a base for access to some of the best golfing courses in the Algarve. And don't forget the beaches. Olhos de Agua and Falesia are a short walk away but travel further afield for a bit of solitude and to come across fascinating rock formations and charming villages where lunch is served fresh and delicious.

Lagos

Anyone looking for a resort that offers more than just a stunning beach should consider Lagos on the Algarve. The city is one of the largest in the region and used to be the capital of Portugal. It is steeped in history, being the place where Henry the Navigator set off on his travels around the world. Follow the route as the crowds waved the ships goodbye, not expecting to see the sailors again.

A modern marina sits alongside a delightful promenade and the old town is full of charm and a brilliant choice of places to eat and drink. Whilst the backpacking crowds hit the city in the summer, everyone from families to party goers will find something to enjoy across the area. Lagos is also a hub for rapid access to some of the best beaches in Europe such as Praia Da Dona Ana. Perhaps most spectacular is the Ponta da Piedade cliff tops that can be hiked easily or explored from below through the regular boat trips that set off from the middle of town for a reasonable price. There’s even a zoo close by as well as a waterpark, a wax museum and lots of other things for families to enjoy together.

Lisbon

It’s impossible to sum up the wonderful city of Lisbon in a few paragraphs. One of the great capitals of Europe, it has survived earthquakes and centuries of history to provide visitors with a unique experience under sunny skies. Foodies will be drawn to the cuisine and the thousands of restaurants serving up a mix of classic and modern Portugese cooking and, of course, addictive Portugese custard tarts.

Music fans will love the street musicians and the thriving Fado scene where an evening can be spent listening to sad songs in an intimate club with a glass of something local and delicious in hand. Culture seekers have many galleries and museums to visit as well as a city that is covered in the most amazing street art.

Stunning architecture, views, culture and a tram system that makes it easy to get around, add even more to this must-do, colourful, vibrant city that is also fairly inexpensive for the tourist. More than a holiday destination, you’ll be making plans to live in Lisbon before you leave.

Praia da Luz

If you’re looking for a more laid back Algarve holiday then the sandy bay of Praia da Luz should be near the top of your list. It’s the best of the Algarve wrapped up in one memorable little town featuring family friendly beaches where you’ll spend most of your days. Praia da Luz translates as 'beach of light’ and as you relax on the fine white sands you’ll understand why.

But don’t think it’s dull. There’s history to be explored in the area including a 17th Century Roman bath and the yellow Igreja da Luz Lagos church is also a must-visit. Along the palm-tree lined promenade are market stalls and local artists selling their wares where you can while away a very pleasant morning. If you’re with the family and want a great base to explore the amazing sights of the Algarve then you can’t do much better than this. Lagos is only a short trip away if you want a bit more noise before returning to your small but perfectly formed idyll just along the road.

Tavira

The fishing town of Tavira is called ‘the Venice of the Algarve’ thanks to its beautiful Moorish architecture, medieval bridge and lagoon. And, as expected, you also have a wonderful beach to enjoy. The town itself is a whirl of exquisite plazas and cobbled streets and has everything you need for a great holiday.

Ilha de Tavira is a 3km stretch of glorious sand whilst Praia do Barril has a remarkable and Instagrammable 100 anchors planted in front of the beach like a metal cemetery. Tavira stretches across the Gilão River and the most famous bridge is Ponte Romana built in the 12th century. Seek out Jardim do Coreto for pleasant walks and street music and head to the Misericórdia church which dates from 1540. Inside, you’ll love the blue painted tiles and gold plated altar. Castle of Tavira is of Moorish origin and has a well maintained garden. Head up to the bell tower for great views. At Formosa estuary you’ll view white salt pans, and take delight in meeting the wild birds

Alvor

Alvor is another charming town in the Algarve and ticks all the boxes when it comes to stunning beaches, a beautiful riverfront and endless sunshine. One benefit is that it isn't overrun by tourists but still offers everything you need when it comes to eating, drinking and things to do. It’s also a great place for watersports lovers who can hire a kayak and explore the many fascinating cave formations along the coast. The main beach is Praia do Alvor which is vast and flat, ideal for a game of volleyball, tennis or simply tossing a frisbee around.

Daytrippers can journey out to local places such as Lagos and Portimao. lvor’s Castle is well worth a visit and is one of the few survivors of the 1755 earthquake that destroyed much of the country’s architecture. Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve is a day of exploration on bike or foot and a place to spot exotic wildlife such as flamingoes. Don't miss the Farmer’s market on Sunday mornings for your fresh breakfast.

Faro

Why spend an hour in a taxi when Faro, right next to the airport, is such a beautiful place to enjoy your holiday surrounded by its distinct medieval walls? The capital of the Algarve is said to have a greater concentration of culture and historic monuments than any other town or city in the region. Whether it’s the metal fish market designed by Gustave Eiffel or the beautiful beaches, there really is something for everyone in this city.

A gothic cathedral looks over pretty cobbled streets making your urban explorations always a charming experience. Don't miss The Capela dos Ossos (or Chapel of Bones) which is built of the skeletons of more than 1000 Carmelite friars. Get out and about and visit the natural wonders of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and its stunning lagoons. Above all, just enjoy the restaurants, cafe and nightlife in a city ideal for families, couples and those who want it all in this convenient, underrated resort town.

Porto

Lisbon may get all the column inches but the city of Porto in the North should not be ignored when urban adventurers are looking for a holiday destination in Portugal. Spend hours touring the fascinating cobblestone alleys, going up and down steep inclines to experience the authentic charm of the Ribeira, Baixa And Bolhao districts.

The food, wine and eating scene almost rivals Lisbon. Pick out your lunch at the historic and thriving Mercado de Bolhao. The city surpasses itself when it comes to street art and avant garde design that will have your camera clicking away constantly. The Old Town next to the beautiful Douro River (don't miss the sightseeing cruise) and its six bridges has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and may be one of the most picturesque places in Europe. Even better, there are some beautiful beaches just a short tram ride away if you really did want to leave the centre of the city.

Sintra

Beaches not your thing? Stay away from the coast in the Northern town of Sintra, the Moon Hill, with its fairytale architecture and historic past. A slightly cooler climate means you can enjoy the sun without the burn and it’s one of the reasons why the town was a popular choice for Portugal’s royalty. This is a place where you can put on your hiking boots and enjoy the beautiful countryside every day. There are many gardens to walk around such as the Parque de Pena packed with exotic specimens from across the world. Lisbon is close by if you want a day out before returning to your oasis.

The mystical palaces are the stand out of this destination. Monserrate Palace and Pena Palace are truly breathtaking where a variety of architecture can be seen colliding to create something unique. The gardens are lush and the experience will never leave your mind. Don’t miss the Queluz National Palace, a sumptuous 18th century building and try to catch a music show in the summer at the Olga de Cadaval Cultural Centre.

Club Med Da Balaia

Picture yourself high up on the striking red cliffs of the Algarve near Albufeira, looking out over a coastline that immediately sweeps away your cares and worries with its magnificence. Club Med Da Balaia is the holiday of your dreams in a beautiful location. Whether it’s golf in the sun, playing in the pool with the kids or exploring cobbled streets in search of the ideal souvenir, every moment feels magical.

The perfect family holiday from tots to teens, this all-inclusive family resort is a dream for golf fans. Tee off at the neighbouring golf courses or relax in the adults-only eco pool, your kids will be finding adventure at our mini-golf course, flying trapeze, kids pool and amazing kids clubs. Come together for seaside exploration on one of the best beaches in Portugal, then return home for delicious seafood cuisine at one of the oceanside restaurants.

Club Med Sun - The best all-inclusive sun holiday experience