Portugal & Madeira Travel Information

Portugal is a country of beauty combining the long sandy beaches of the Algarve to the Floral island of Madeira.

Whenever Portugal is mentioned, it's usually the Algarve that first springs to mind.  And understandably so.  For decades this sun drenched coast has been drawing British & European holidaymakers to its sublime shores.

Over the years its combination of golden beaches, superb golf courses and all year round sunshine has really struck a chord in peoples hearts.

Likewise the island of Madeira, another long standing holiday favourite.  While this Portuguese island may not have any beaches to shout about, what it lacks in sand it more than makes up for in natural beauty with Jagged volcanic peaks, flower filled meadows and dramatic cliff tops that drop sheer into the sea.
Portugal Travel Guide

The capital of Portugal is a monument to the history of Portugal.  Enter Lisbon across the 25th April Bridge, a suspension bridge and sister to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but bigger!

As you enter Lisbon you are watched over by Christ the Redeemer, a statue rivaling that in Rio de Janeiro.  Experience the ride in the 'Elevador', which is a lift that joins the two level of the city and includes marvelous views over the surrounding district.

You will need to have a guided tour of Lisbon and also Alfama district, the oldest in the city is well worth a visit.

The Algarve

Looking out towards North Africa, Portugal's Algarve is one of Europe's most popular tourist playgrounds.  Bathed in glorious sunshine for most of the year it is home to pristine beaches backed by dramatic cliffs and rock formations.

Many of the regions shores have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flags for their cleanliness.  If you are looking to sink your feet into silky soft sands and top up your tan you have certainly come to the right place.

Nightlife in many resorts is fairly low-key but if you head towards the lights of Albuferia new town you will find the place buzzing with bars and clubs.

Away from the bright and breezy holiday resorts, the Algarve also boasts cultural gems, such as Faro and Silves, as well as countless inland villages like Alte and Alcoutim.

The Algarve is also a golfers dream with 25 or so superb courses including the 19 hole Penina course which was dreamt up by British Open winner Sir Henry Cotton.  Dont forget to take your handicap with you as many of the top courses it is needed.

Algarve Top Resorts


Transfer time from Faro Airport - 40-50 mins

Vilamoura is centered around a huge marina and is the largest, purpose built holiday resort in the Algarve.  There is plenty of activities on hand from sailing, bowling, shopping and having a flutter at the casino.  The golf is superb with six 18 hole championship courses and over 50 tennis courts.  At the beautiful marina you can have a look at the huge yachts or try your hand at water-skiing or speed boating.

If all this seems a bit too exhausting, there's plenty of the more traditional holiday pleasures.  The two sandy beaches stretch away from the marina and you will find plenty of snack bars, sunbeds and umbrellas.  You can really hammer your plastic cards here with fashionable boutiques, plenty of souvenir and handcraft shops dotted around the town.

As you would expect there's an abundance of restaurants to choose from and if you have any energy left at the end of the day, you'll find the nightlife cosmopolitan and varied, with lots of clubs, bars and late night cafes to choose from.


Transfer time from Faro Airport - 1 hour approx

Albufeira is undoubtedly the Algarve's most famous holiday playground and encompasses the old town, the hilltop Montechoro area, Praia da Oura and Areias de Sao Joao.

The old town, perched on a cliff top, commands fabulous views of Fisherman's Beach below, and has a maze of steep cobbled alleyways crammed with restaurants, bars and shops.  The lovely Oura Praia and nearby Santa Eulalia provide perfect wide sandy beaches for all the family to enjoy.


Transfer time from Faro Airport - 2 hours approx

Alvor is a quieter resort with a more traditional Portuguese feel to it.  It combines the old world charm of a typical Portuguese fishing village with the appeal of its fabulous stretch of sandy beach and modern hotel facilities.

The centre of the old village is a maze of narrow, cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, leading down towards the working fishermen's quay.

The low key village nightlife centres around traditional cafes and restaurants.  Alvor is a relaxing retreat with a local flavour.  Couples and families seeking to 'get away from it all' will find this an ideal holiday.

Praia Da Rocha / Praia Do Vau

Transfer time from Faro Airport - 1 hour 30 mins approx

Praia de Rocha boasts one of the most photographed beaches in the Algarve.  The beach is extremely impressive with its fantastically shaped cliffs and rock formations.  The resort itself is set on a cliff top overlooking the beach and attracts holidaymakers looking for a wide range of facilities.

Shops, cafes, bars and restaurants line the mile long promenade and there's no shortage of cocktail bars and discos for late night entertainment.

Just 1km from Praia da Rocha is Praia do Vau which is a charming beach resort flanked by cliffs.  Its relaxed and calm atmosphere makes it popular for families.


Transfer time from Faro Airport - 2 hours 30 mins approx

Overflowing with character and charm the historical town of Lagos enjoys a relaxed atmosphere and is one of the most interesting towns in the Algarve.  Much of the 16th century wall build to guard the city still stands, protecting the maze of cobbled streets that twist through the town.  

More recently, a new Marina has been built in the sheltered end of the harbour.  The town boasts many good restaurants, bars and open air cafes.  There are a number of excellent beaches close by, including the sandy Meia Praia, the biggest beach in the area with excellent water sports, and Dona Ana, a delightful cove with towering colourful cliffs.  A ride on the little train from the Marina around the resort is a must.


Known to the Romans as one of the Purple Islands.  Today it is more widely called the 'Floating Garden' on account of its magnificent sup-tropical flowers and plantation.  There is though a lot more to Madeira than just a dream location for people with green fingers.

Madeira has some amazing scenery - soaring mountains and lush forests.  There are some of the world's finest hotels to cater to your every need, plenty of opportunity for souvenir hunting amongst the art and craft emporia, or a session of more sophisticated retail therapy in chic designer stores.

When it comes to showing you a good time, Madeira is 1st class.  Don't expect Caribbean style beaches as for swimming and sunbathing you will need to be happy with your hotel pool.  What this island lacks in sand it easiliy makes up for in charm and charisma.  Madeira has a certain magic that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.


Funchal is Madeira's main destination.  A unique city like a portion of Portugal mixed with a dash of Garden of Eden and Edwardian Britain.  In a sparkling natural harbour, with its cobbled streets winding up the mountainside, its smothered in vivid bougainvillea, jasmine and other exotic blooms.

In the town there is fascinating historic sights around every corner with its cobblestones, craft shops and pavement cafes.

Funchal is named after the herb, fennel, which grows wild here.

Useful Information for Portugal and Madeira

Currency: Euro

Language: Portuguese

Time Difference: as GMT

Flight time from London: Portugal - 3 hours Madeira - 3 hours 30 mins

What to buy?

Port, Madeira cake, Madeira wine, pottery & hand painted tiles.

Food & Drink

The Algarve: Catapalana fish or meat stew, seafood, chicken Piri Piri, grilled sardines
Lisbon: Port and smoked ham, 'pasteis de Belem' custard tarts
Madeira: Grilled fish, soups, cakes and pastries

Places to visit

Algarve: Waterpark, Silves Castle, Zoomarine
Lisbon: Castelo Sao Jorge, Jeronimos Monastery, Oceanarium, Belem Tower, Casino, Santo Antonio Church
Madeira: Se Cathedral in Funchal, Madeira Theme Park in Santana, Bable Car from the lower area of the city to the town of Monte, toboggan ride from Monte down to Funchal.

Top Tips

Many highways in Portugal require a toll

If you are planning to play golf on your holiday then ensure you have your handicap certificate with you as many courses will require it.

Get a quote or book your holiday to Portugal with Hessle Travel.


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