Portugal, Europe - Holiday Supermarket

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Welcome to Portugal


The pleasures of Portugal

Pop the corks; we're heading to the country that started it all (cork) - Portugal! This beautiful country on the rump of Spain boasts the Algarve and Madeira amongst its many delights and the joys of wine and sherry also owe a lot to Portugal. Holidays to Portugal are surprisingly popular - did you know that Lisbon is the second most popular city to visit after Barcelona?

Let Holiday Supermarket make the booking - and paying - process as easy as possible. They will make your Portugal holidays very simple. So, where to in Portugal? Let's start with Lisbon; Portugal's capital and one of the most attractive cities in Europe.

Lisbon is a natural place to start cheap holidays to Portugal because there's so much accommodation and so much to see and do.

The capital - and largest city - of Portugal has a population of around 3 million and a history that goes back before that of Paris, London or Rome. It has been conquered and re-conquered many times and the architecture in many parts of the old city reflects the influence of the Romans, the Moors, the Germanic Goths and the Crusaders. The two World Heritage sites you must visit are the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Both are extraordinary places and something everyone who holidays in Portugal should see.

The Belém Tower stands on the banks of the Tagus River and was built in the 16th century as part of a defence system for the growing city. The distinctive Portuguese architecture style and limestone rock makes it stand out from the old fortifications present in many other European cities.

The Jerónimos Monastery is close to the Tower and was also built in the Portuguese Manueline- style of architecture. (A particular style that is a blend of the influences brought back to Portugal by Vasco de Gama and Pedro Cabral, with a maritime feel. Popular in the 16th century.) It was built around 1500 on the site of the original monastery and is a sprawling limestone series of buildings housing a large church, cloister and other buildings. The interiors are opulent, with massive stone arches and intricate sculpture work. It rivals the Blue Mosque in Istanbul for its sheer beauty. Holidays to Portugal should include this beautiful building.

The old city of Lisbon is a delightful mix of old architecture, narrow roads, intimate bars and restaurants and town squares. This is where you'll find Fado (a particularly Portuguese style of dramatic singing), as well as some of the best food in Europe.

Portugal holidays are more than just Lisbon. One of the towns you should visit is Sintra, a short day trip from Lisbon. It's in the hills and the winding roads will give you a taste of the views to come. Once there, the town will capture your heart with its beautiful white, stone summer palace. Every visitor to Portugal loved Sintra, so invader after invader left their mark. The Castle of the Moors in the hills of Sintra is a fantastic place to spend a morning, marvelling at the views and the architecture. The Arabic looking Monserrate Estate just adds to the history of this place. As Lord Byron wrote to a friend...'the village of Cintra...is the most beautiful in the world.' He was right.

Just south of Lisbon is the fishing village of Cascais. Very pretty, this older resort town is great for a two day break. Just wander the harbour front and you'll find glorious coffee shops and plenty of bars and restaurants. The beach is pretty good and the service everywhere is friendly.

The Algarve is Portugal's answer to the resort beaches of Spain. And beautiful it is, as well as less crowded and with better food. Best beaches include Meia Praia in Lagos, Praia Dona Ana and Ponta da Piedade. Wander the old city here too; it really is quite extraordinary. And when you see the Church of St Anthony we promise you a shock! (Enter via the museum and look for the Gold Room!) The historic part of the town has plenty of statues, churches and dusty old alleys to suit the most buff of history fans, and when you couple this with the great beaches and the friendly, laid back atmosphere, you'll see why Lagos and the Algarve rates so highly for holidays in Portugal.

Offshore lies Madeira, part of an archipelago and home to famous Madeira wine. It's a year-round resort destination with great weather.  This is where you'll find the cheap holidays to Portugal with an excellent range of accommodation. There's plenty of warm weather and plenty of adventure around the harbour town of Funchal, including canyoning in the nearby hills. The main canyoning area is about 25 minutes from Funchal and is in a beautiful little spot.

Because it's an island, Madeira also offers whale and dolphin watching adventures. It's generally a day trip out in a catamaran or large boat.

Porto (or Oporto in English) is the second largest city after Lisbon and has a population of some 1.3 million. Set on the Douro river estuary area in the north of Portugal, Oporto is in a beautiful setting. Its history is equally ancient and to walk the old city is to stroll through the blended architecture of various invaders over 2,000 or more years. Highlights include the Porto Cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos, the coastline through the Foz area with its unique boardwalk and the marvellous Majestic Cafe. Make sure you dine in one of the many restaurants here and make a habit of an afternoon sherry and a late night port... because this is where you'll find the best ports in the world!

Portugal has something for everyone - history, culture, beaches, hill country resorts and fabulous food and wines.

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