The start of Euro 2016 is only a matter of days away with the continent’s best football nations battling it out to see who will be crowned the victor.
Will Spain be able to reclaim the trophy to be winners for an unprecedented third time in a row? Will world champions Germany “do the double” after claiming the World Cup in 2014? Or could this finally be the time Roy’s boys end 50 years of hurt and bring the title to England? All of this will be decided over the next six week as all eyes focus on France and Euro 2016.
To get you in the mood we’re putting together some of our favourite holiday destinations from countries that will be appearing in this year’s tournament. First up is Portugal, home to Cristiano Ronaldo, world class golf courses and even better beaches.
Why we love it
It is hard not to fall in love with Portugal; it’s probably the reason so many of us flock here year after year. This slice of Mediterranean paradise can boast almost year-round sunshine, especially in the southern coast of the Algarve, beautiful architecture, pristine beaches and some of the best golf courses the world has to offer.
The diversity is what makes this part of Iberia so special. Just take a look at the Algarve for example, at one end you have the lively town Albufeira with its famous strip lined with boisterous bars and restaurants while just a short drive away is the tranquil Ria Formosa Natural Park. You can sample a spot of culture in the capital of Lisbon before driving out to the northern coast to be at one with nature.
Then there is the island of Madeira. The home of Portugal’s, and arguably the world’s, most famous footballer – Cristiano Ronaldo – this is a totally relaxed place to holiday offering some magnificent sights not seen anywhere else in the country.
Where to go
Here comes the hard part, where to choose with a break in Portugal.
When it comes to holidaying here, not many parts of the country are more popular than the Algarve. It boasts miles upon miles of shoreline and a range of towns that cater for every market. There is the lively town of Albufeira with its infamous strip which has become a magnet for the package holiday crowd while a little further up the road is the quieter Vilamoura with its quaint marina and villas tucked away in the hills.
Relaxation is the name of the game in the Algarve. Take a short drive from Faro airport, passing the wildlife of the national park, and hit the beach with a cocktail in hand. However, if adventure is more your thing then the Lisbon Coast could be for you. Hire a car and drive around the towns that line the shoreline.
Feel like a movie star in the famous Casino Estoril which is said to be the inspiration for author Ian Fleming to write Casino Royale and create 007 James Bond. Travel through Portugal’s Riviera to discover the pine forest of Pinhal de Leiria and the charming town of Obidos. Read more about the Lisbon Coast in our blog.
A short hop from the mainland you’ll find the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’ that is Madeira. You won’t find much better scenery on this collection of islands. Hike through the landscape of Levada, dive into the ocean at the Garajau National Reserve and visit the markets of Funchal, it is a slice of paradise just a couple of hours away. Find out more about Madeira here.
What to eat and drink
When it comes to food, Portugal loves fish. Try authentic bacalhau, a dried and salted cod dish, or classic sardines and tuna which are plentiful in the Algarve. You’re no doubt accustomed to piri piri chicken; well have the real thing in Portugal.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, you won’t be able to resist some delightful custard pastries known as pasties de nata and don’t forget to wash it down with a few glasses of Madeira wine, it would be rude not to.
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