Portugal is a country that you simply cannot skip. Named Europe’s leading destination for the fourth consecutive year, Portugal bagged 27 awards at the World Travel Awards this year, it is in the top 3 of the 2020 Global Peace Index, the ranking of the safest countries in the world and is also the first country to receive the ‘Safe Travels’ seal from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Portugal is also recognized as the third best tourism brand in the world and the best in Europe, according to the Country Brands Awards. The jurors’ evaluation took place in September and October and considered tourism promotion campaigns for the last three years but also the health management of COVID-19 during the first wave.
With 850 Kms of sunny beaches, an expansive coastline of soft golden sand and plenty of sunshine all year round, Portugal is the perfect holiday destination.
Here one can enjoy its lively culture, learn about the country’s fascinating history, experience endless adventures and indulge in magnificent gastronomy. 2021 beckons a celebration in the land of award-winning wines while enjoying an exceptional range of different landscapes within its 7 regions and 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
One of the oldest countries in Europe, Portugal is an immersive experience for history and culture aficionados. Sintra gained the UNESCO Cultural Landscape classification in 1995 and subsequently the town and the northern slope of the Serra de Sintra with its wonderful natural characteristics and impressive historic landmarks were accepted as worthy of world heritage status.
Dating from the 19th century are the Pena Palace, the Monserrate Palace, the estates Quinta da Regaleira and Quinta do Relógio, among others. Each represents a good example of romanticism bestowed upon an environment of mystery and magic.
Keeping the magic in mind, Alqueva is one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe, built on the River Guadiana, in Alentejo. It has a reservoir of 250 sq. kms and covers five Alentejo municipalities, with many points of interest. It’s a great place to surprise the family with an outing through the scenic roads around Alqueva or, better still, renting a houseboat and sleeping under the stars.
Don’t forget that you are in a region where the sky is considered by UNESCO “a reservation for stargazing”. At night, public lighting is minimized to afford the perfect conditions to see the sky, even for the most inexperienced astronomers.
The region has optimal conditions for outdoor activities and for water sports such as sailing, water-skiing and wakeboarding, or for invigorating trips by canoe or kayak. For lovers of hiking and biking, there are marked trails to be followed. They are a good way to discover the customs and traditions and to mix with the local population.
When in Portugal you will understand one can have great contrast and diversity within very close distances. Only two hours’ drive from Alqueva and with its mild year-round climate, it’s easy to see why the Algarve is also another perfect choice for a fun-filled holiday for the whole family. But those fun days are not limited to sunbathing and swimming in the sea and the sports you can do on the Algarve coast.
There are many other things to do with the children. For families looking for the more natural side of the Algarve, there are a huge variety of excursions to enjoy throughout the region, including a number of companies that offer boat trips to see the dolphins from Lagos, Portimão and Alvor.
You can also choose to take a short boat trip to the islands around Faro and see the flora and fauna of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Ria Formosa Park is ideal for hiking and boating. It comprises sand dunes, marshlands, lagoons and fresh water lakes and its diverse group of inhabitants includes birds, fish, mammals and amphibians. The park is famous for its bird watching, with many birds resting and feeding here during the winter months. One of the most popular species of birds that you can spot there is the Flamingo.
Portugal has also taken the responsibility of mobilizing society to promote sustainability in the coming years with their ambitious 2020-2023 Tourism + Sustainable Plan. In line with that, the destination offers a variety of adventure experiences to guard the health of its nature reserves, marine, coastal and estuarine ecosystems that can be enjoyed as a memorable holiday experience with family or friends. One thing is a given- you will always come back to Portugal because you can never get enough.