our good ideas for visits to Portugal


In summer, Portugal is often crowded. With crystal clear waters, wide beaches, natural parks and vineyards, this country has become the flagship destination for many tourists. But you can also go there to recharge your batteries, get in touch with nature, or even isolate yourself. Our columnist Jean-Bernard Carillet, author for the Lonely Planet, gives you its tips for visiting little-known corners of Portugal.

The Algarve, a region of the south to visit absolutely

“The Algarve is a region in the south of the country that you absolutely must visit. Certainly, it is particularly touristy, fairly urbanized. But the beaches are sublime, we count more than 150. And in the Algarve, there are magnificent coves at the foot of ocher cliffs to the east of a small village called Carvoeiro, a fishing village known for its whitewashed houses on a hill above the beach.

Carvoeiro is also the starting point of a seven-kilometer trail called the Sentier des Sept Vallées Suspendus. This path offers incredible panoramas of the most beautiful coves in the region: clear waters, charming coves, golden cliffs and caves, the view is magnificent.

The Algarve is also these natural landscapes. The Ria Formosa Natural Park is a very beautiful nature reserve located very close to Faro Airport. It is ultimately a miniature Camargue. It is characterized by its marshes and swamps, ideal for kayaking trips. You will thus be able to observe and approach multiple aquatic species, pink flamingos but also and especially the purple gallinule, the emblem of the park. It is a magnificent bird with a red beak and blue-green plumage.

Sao Bras de Alportel and the manufacture of cork

This southern region is not only known for its coastlines. Indeed, it is advisable to also visit the interior of the land such as Sao Bras de Alportel, accessible by taking the Cork Route, near the town of Loulé. It is in this region that the best cork in the world is produced, used to make the corks of the best wines and champagnes. In the 19th century, there were as many as ten cork manufacturing factories in this valley.

In addition, 34 kilometers from Loulé near the town of Pera, the largest sand sculpture competition in the world takes place. This competition brings together artists from all over the world who, with 45,000 tons of sand, sculpt spectacular works. And some reach 12 meters high.

Nazaré, a seaside resort with monstrous waves

Let’s leave the Algarve region for the city of Nazaré. It is a very beautiful coastal city located in front of the waves of the Atlantic. We reach the upper town by funicular. This is where the lighthouse is located, where you have an extraordinary view of one of the biggest breaking waves in the world. In the fall, the waves can reach 30 meters high, the equivalent of an eight-story building.

The Douro Valley

In downtown Porto, it is possible to get on a cruise ship that goes up the Douro Valley. This valley is characterized by its calm, its villages, its rural atmosphere and its vineyards. Besides, a steam train runs along the valley. It is the historic train of Douro.

In this valley, there is a secret corner prized by the Portuguese. This is the Peneda Gerês National Park. Located on the Spanish border, it is the only national park in Portugal. It is strictly protected and very wild. It is made up of only a few villages. This place is ideal for hiking.

Practical information

There are several ways to get to Portugal. If you choose the plane, there are many daily flights from French airports to Lisbon, Porto and Faro, a city in the south of Portugal. If you want to take your time, you can take the train. From Paris to Lisbon via Spain, the transport time is 21 hours.

Once there, you can rent a car at a very low price. In Portugal, the road networks are in very good condition and are very well equipped.

As for accommodation, you are spoiled for choice: youth hostels, camping, homestay but also Pousadas. These are accommodations in mansions, renovated monasteries or even palaces. Finally, there are the Quintas. These are rural accommodations for farm stays. The prices of all these accommodations vary. “

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