Portugal offers centuries-old cities and medieval castles, beautiful golden beaches, soaring mountains, superb wine and myriad outdoor activities. So, it’s no wonder that this little country in Europe has become very sought-after for an idyllic holiday. Portugal is lively, beautiful, charming – and there are still places to visit where you can escape the crowds in high season. Even its busiest Algarve resorts still boast havens of tranquility.
With its picture-perfect villages, meandering coastlines and flower-covered hills, this stunning country is a holiday paradise. Its capital, Lisbon, is one of the greatest ports in the world. It’s steeped in history, with numerous historic and modern attractions. Just 30km away is the tiny village of Sintra, with its quaint alleyways, glamorous palaces and gardens. And further afield you’ll find mountains to ski, seas to surf and the incredible Azores volcanic islands, full of dramatic cliffs, crystalline lakes and natural pools.
Why we love Portugal
- The Portuguese know how to party – their nightlife is vibrant.
- It’s one of the most picturesque countries in the world.
- It’s also one of Europe’s oldest countries, with many centuries-old castles and historical sites to visit.
- Traditional culture is evident in this authentic little country.
- There are more than 100 beaches to sunbathe on – and no, not just on the Algarve.
- Portuguese wine is internationally recognised for its quality and flavour.
- Golfers love it here, and there are many excellent golf courses around the country.
- There’s a bakery on every corner with delicious tarts and pastries to enjoy.
- The weather is glorious, with perfect summers and mild winters.
Fabulous food and wine, a festival atmosphere and glorious weather are all reasons why people enjoy unmatched holidays in Portugal. Let Thompsons Holidays arrange a tailor-made Portugal travel package for you, your family, with friends or travelling with your partner.
Things to do in Portugal
Historic cities, ancient castles, famous food, spectacular sights and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches all await you on holiday in Portugal. With its complex history, dramatic landscapes, turquoise sea, golden beaches, narrow cobbled streets, excellent wine and friendly people, this little European country is a delightful place to visit.
Enjoy a beach break on the famous Algarve, go golfing (Portugal is Europe’s best golf destination), surfing or exploring fascinating museums and ancient sites. Portugal has an enigmatic charm, and its traditions are charming. Its Fado music is as famous as its delectable custard tarts, the Port wine as delicious as the seafood, the lace as beautiful as the scenery.
Things to do in Portugal
- Discover charming Porto, home of Port and gold-leaf medieval churches.
- Savour a freshly-baked pastel de nata (custard tart).
- Spend time on the island of Madeira, famous for its wine, fauna and flora.
- Catch a live performance of traditional Portuguese music at a Fado bar.
- Go surfing on the coast just north of Sagres.
- Explore one of Europe’s best contemporary art museums, Serralves, in Porto.
- Visit the UNESCO-listed medieval centre of Guimarães.
- Soak up the sun on a golden beach in Albufeira.
- Visit Mata Nacional do Buçaco, once a monastic retreat, with its own royal palace.
- Attend a rock music festival in Porto or Lisbon.
- Visit the famous pilgrimage site, the Shrine of Fátima.
- Go ziplining, paragliding, hiking, surfing, skiing… adventure activities are as numerous as the reasons to visit this gorgeous country.
Lesser-known pursuits include whale watching, visiting a village built out of rocks and seeing a church made out of human bones. Thompsons Holidays can make your dreams come true with a fabulous holiday package to this charming country, so call us right away about your Portugal holiday.
Know before you go...
- Portugal is a popular year-round destination with long hot summers and cool winters.
- The best time to visit Portugal is in Spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October).
- High season (summer) is June to August; winter is November to March.
- Fly into Portugal via any major city in Europe or the Middle East.
- There are regular flights to and from Lisbon. The flight duration from Johannesburg to Lisbon is 10 hours, 39 minutes.
- Travel around Portugal by car, train or plane.
- South African passport holders require a Schengen visa to enter Portugal.
- Passports should be valid for at least 3 months after travel and have blank pages.
- Portugal is on Western European standard time, the same as Greenwich Mean Time, 2 hours ahead of South Africa during the winter (November to March) and 1 hour behind South Africa in the summer months (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
- The official currency is the Euro (€ or EUR).
- Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are prevalent.
- Tipping is an accepted custom.
- Food is relatively inexpensive in Portugal, generally cheaper than Spain or Greece in the high season.
- Portuguese is the official language.
- English is widely spoken.
- Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Portugal.
- It is safe to drink tap water in Portugal. Bottled water is readily available.
- Vaccinations – check with your travel clinic before you go.
- Many public restrooms will charge a small fee to use them, so keep change on hand for this.
What must I pack?
- Portugal enjoys warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters.
- Dress modestly when visiting religious attractions.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses for summer holidays.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor. The Europlug is a flat, two-pole, round-pin domestic AC power plug, rated for voltages up to 250 V and currents up to 2.5 A.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Respect each other's cultures and customs.
- Always have a map (or app) on hand, especially when travelling at night.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!