Just when you thought the football season was wrapped up for another year, the World Cup is just around the corner. While many of you will be checking the best place for exchange rates on roubles, looking at the best attractions in Kalingrad and perfecting how to say “where is the nearest bar” in Russian, others will be planning a holiday of a very different type.
As the biggest football showpiece approaches, why not treat yourself to a World Cup inspired break? In the build-up to the tournament, we’re showcasing some of our favourite countries competing in Russia and revealing what kind of holiday you can have there.
We’re kicking off with the wonderfully diverse and exciting destination of Portugal, home of piri-piri chicken, incredible beaches and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Why we love it
It is easy to see why holidaymakers have been enamoured with Portugal for generations. From the unique culture of the cosmopolitan cities of Porto and Lisbon, the unspoilt landscape of the Algarve coastline to the quiet tranquillity of Madeira – it is everything you could want from a holiday destination bathed in sunshine.
It is a country beloved by everyone from families to couples to golfers. The coastline is pristine with the beauty of the Ria Formosa Natural Park contrasted with the boisterous atmosphere of Albufeira’s famous strip. You can spend a week topping up your tan on the beach or sightseeing in Portugal’s capital.
And with the World Cup in mind, take a hop to the island of Madeira and visit the home of the nation’s most famous footballer – CR7, himself, Cristiano Ronaldo – and his infamous statue.
What you cannot miss
When Portugal is suggested as a holiday destination the word ‘Algarve’ instinctively follows.
The country’s southern coast has been tempting us back year after year thanks to its miles of white-sand beaches, wealth of resorts, quaint towns and villages and welcoming atmosphere. While Albufeira is the focal point of the region, the Algarve has a wealth of charm waiting to be explored.
Vilamoura offers chilled out evenings by the marina, you can go dolphin spotting at Sagres and visit the fish markets of Olhao – and did we mention the Algarve has some of the best golf courses in Europe?
However, if you like your holiday to be packed with a sense of adventure and intrigue then opt for a break in the capital of Lisbon. Visit Torre de Belem, one of Portugal’s most famous monuments and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates back to the 1500s and explore Castelo de Sao Jorge. Ride the vintage tramcars through the city’s winding streets and then experience Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife. Read more about Lisbon’s best bars here.
The Algarve doesn’t have the monopoly on Portugal’s beach scene. Take a drive from the capital and meet the charming towns of the Lisbon Coast. Visit the towns that can often go overlooked by holidaymakers. Say hello the unassuming seaside town of Estoril which became the playground of spies and international dignitaries during World War II and, thanks to the lavish lifestyle they led, inspired author Ian Fleming to pen Casino Royale and create James Bond.
Eat like the locals
No matter where you land in Portugal you are going to find some delicious local cuisine. In the north (Porto, especially), it is all about the intensely decadent francesinha – a layered sandwich of pork, smoked sausage, bacon and beefsteak topped with a fried, smothered in melted cheese, coated with a thick beer sauce and served with chips.
However, if you want something a little lighter then head south for the veritable smorgasbord of seafood dishes. A staple of the Portuguese diet is bacalhau, a dried and salted codish, while sardines and tuna are plentiful in the Algarve.
You simply can’t leave Portugal without sampling traditional piri piri chicken. Move over Nando’s as this is the real McCoy; just be careful as this delicious delicacy packs a punch. And to wash it all down? A glass of Madeira wine, of course.
Make Portugal your 2018 World Cup destination with a package holiday from Sunmaster. Whether you’re looking for a city break, All Inclusive retreat or fancy splashing out on some 5-star luxury – we have a package for you. Visit www.sunmaster.co.uk for our latest offers.