Much has changed since we introduced Portugal to our holiday portfolio in 1984, but in the same breath much remains the same. This nation is one that sparkles in the sunshine - many say it has an artistic light, is blessed with a diverse and beautiful, natural landscape and is home to a passionate, creative and proud people. It is also one of the first countries in Europe to open discussions with the UK to create an air bridge, post-lockdown.

Portugal is so much more than its famed southern region, The Algarve. It is a land of history, frontier towns and fortifications, meandering river valleys, mountain peaks and let's not forget its award-winning wines and mouth-watering gastronomy. It was therefore encouraging to see the Daily Telegraph dedicate space in praise of the country and its highlights. 

Perhaps we can add some more!

Culture and heritage

I have been travelling to Portugal for over 25 years and never tire of visiting this culturally rich society with its spectacular bucolic landscapes. With each visit comes a new experience and a warm welcome from the locals. Portugal is only a short (c.2 hour) flight away, has the same time as the UK and is an all year-round destination. The best time to visit the historical cities of Porto, Lisbon and Faro is between January and May or from September to November, as the weather is milder, hotel rates are cheaper and there is less congestion.

Very economical to dine out

Hotels and flights are at their most expensive in the height of summer (Jul-Sep) but in general Portugal is cheaper than other Eurozone countries like Italy, Spain and Greece and about half the price of England. Food and drink in the tourist centres can be the same price as the UK so it’s best to shop around and look for restaurants off the main squares. I find that the staff at the local hotels are very good in recommending the best places to dine out.

Gastronomic delights

Portugal will delight any food & wine enthusiast which include fresh fish, local cheeses and the region’s famous ham, my all-time favourite, from acorn fed black pigs – simply delicious. I find that the region of the Alentejo, known as the bread basket of Portugal, is a haven for foodies. If you get the chance, try the ‘Golden Soup’, a traditional dessert made from egg yolks, cinnamon, bread and almonds. For wine connoisseurs and coffee addicts, drive towards Campo Maior (30km / c.35 minutes), just north of Elvas to the Adega Mayor - a modern winery, and the Centro de Ciencia do Café (Coffee Science Museum).

Multi-centre holidays

Distances in Portugal are relatively short and the majority of roads are good which is great for fly-drive holidays. We at Sunvil often pick up a car and drive when visiting the country and have put together some suggested itineraries that highlight the best of each region with its many hidden treasures. Train travel is also possible as we can pre-book tickets on the Portuguese Alfa Pendular and Intercity trains that connect all of the major cities in Portugal. Travel from the capital city of Lisbon to Coimbra, Aveiro, Porto, Viana do Castelo and Braga in the north or to Faro in the south.

Please see our suggested routes: Northern Portugal; Cultural Portugal in central Portugal; A luxury break on the Lisbon Coast; Pousadas of the Alentejo; The real Algarve; Explore Northern Portugal by Train and Cultural Portugal by Train.

Douro valley – River cruise

Porto is well known for its Porto wine and great to include as a city break but, for those wishing to see more of the country, then a visit to this region must include a tour of the Douro Valley whether by car, train or boat. This area has been a long-time favourite of the Sunvil team with its fabulous meandering valley filled with terraces of vineyards, mostly given over to port wine and vinho verde grape varieties. The latest addition to our programme includes a week holiday sailing along the Douro River aboard the eco-friendly AmaDouro ship for a voyage of discovery. What could be better?

Rosanna and Cristiana in Evora Rosanna and Cristiana in Evora
Douro river valley Douro river valley
Historic centre of Coimbra, Central Portugal Historic centre of Coimbra, Central Portugal
Alqueva lake, The Alentejo, Portugal Alqueva lake, The Alentejo, Portugal
Rosanna Melaragni

By Rosanna Melaragni

3rd June 2020



Talk to our Portugal expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774
  • Marketing: 020 8758 4731

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