The stunning sights of Portugal are too numerous to all be enjoyed in one short holiday, meaning travellers often have to choose whether to focus their attentions on the north or the south for their trip. There’s much to recommend both, so the decision often comes down to what kind of traveller you are – and which side of the country you’re most keen to see when you book flights to Portugal.
Sand and sea views
With the gorgeous Algarve and Alentejo coastlines, the south is often thought of as Portugal’s best beach destination. But while the white sand, nearby lagoons and calm turquoise waters are amazing, there’s also some excellent shoreline to be found in the north. Known as the ‘green coast’, the northern Minho region is home to some wild beaches that are a paradise for surfers and windsurfers, but it has to be said that the beautiful beaches of the south are often cleaner and better taken care of than those near cities on the northern coast.
Cityscapes and culture
With towns and villages spread out across the countryside and plenty of winding roads between them, Portugal’s north may not seem to be the best place to enjoy city life at first glance. However, the colourful houses of Porto and the quaint cobbled streets of Lisbon are a pleasure to walk amongst, and these northern cities preserve their history and traditions in a variety of cultural sites. In contrast, the south is far more geared towards comfort and convenience, you’ll find it easier to find a café that will let you sit outside and serve you an early breakfast.
Food and drink
If you’re unsure about experimenting with new dishes, you’ll be better catered to in Portugal’s south, where you’ll find restaurants of all kinds and plenty of popular European menus on offer. More adventurous eaters who want to get a true taste of Portugal may prefer to venture north and experiment in the predominantly Portuguese cuisine there. Northern and central Portugal is also particularly well known for its wine, and you’ll find some specialty varieties at very low prices.
When you’re holidaying in the hope of soaking up a little of a country’s history, you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for in the north. Sadly, an earthquake hit Portugal in 1755, destroying much of the architecture of the Algarve and Lisbon. The north however, was largely untouched, meaning there are still some fascinating examples of time past to be seen, including castles from the 9th century.
Climate and shade
Whether you’re a beach bunny who loves the sun or an explorer who would prefer a cooler climate could impact on your choice. The north is typically cooler, making it an easy place to visit for those who wilt in the heat, while the south is hotter and beloved of heat seekers and sun worshippers could do well to book their flights to Faro in the Algarve.