What makes Portugal so perfect for luxury holidays?

These days, it seems possible to have a luxury holiday virtually anywhere in the world but some countries stand out when it comes to this kind of luxury break. If you've got your eye on somewhere with great weather, amazing scenery and heaps of cultural attractions, Portugal is pretty much guaranteed to suit you. One of the ultimate reasons why Portugal is so great for really lavish getaways is the sheer variety it offers. If you want a beach holiday, for example, there are countless destinations along its extensive coastline that are perfect for spending days lounging on the sand. Fancy something a bit more cultural? No problem, just head to Lisbon instead. Portugal's capital, the city is famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere and amazing architecture (look out for the Monastery of Jeronimos in particular).

Lisbon

Want to escape to a scenic paradise? Travel to Sintra, a destination historically beloved by everyone from writers to royals. Alternatively, make your way to the island of Madeira, which is famous for its flowers, wine and wonderful walking routes.

Madeira
And let's not forget the Algarve, the fantastic region in southern Portugal that has a little bit of everything. There's loads to do and see here, but the two top attractions are its impressive selection of world-class golf courses and its inviting beaches.

Algarve
The potential for gastronomic adventures As you can see, there really is scope for having pretty much any kind of luxury break you can think of and the local cuisine plays just as great a part in making the country irresistible to us holidaymakers. In fact, no luxury holiday is complete without sampling some of the best local fare. Among the top things to try in Portugal are its wine and fish, both of which are staples in the nation's diet. When it comes to cuisine, there are some dishes and destinations that really stand out from the crowd. Here are a few quick tips:

Bacalhau
Try bacalhau, which is dried and salted cod. This is probably Portugal's most famous dish, so it's an absolute must.

Bacalhau
Sardines
Don't miss the sardines - the bones are a bit fiddly to remove, but it's more than worth the effort.

Sardines
Pasteis de nata
Seek out pasteis de nata. These are delicious traditional egg custards tarts; if you can, head to Lisbon's riverside precinct of Belem, where you can try the treats where they originated at Pasteis de Belem.

Pasteis de nata
Madeira wine
If you travel to Madeira, trying some authentic Madeira wine is a must. And if you're a real fan of it already, it's worth travelling in August/September, since this is when the annual Madeira Wine Festival takes place. This lasts for around a week, so check dates before you travel. Minho is a region famous for its vinho verde wines, and you can see the grapes growing here. It's also got a great reputation for cuisine in general, especially caldo verde soup, which is now a favourite national dish.

Luxurious accommodation options Ok, you could argue that pretty much every holiday destination has luxury accommodation to some extent. That said, you can't really talk about a country being perfect for luxury breaks without at least giving the hotel options a brief look.

For example, if your idea of the perfect Portugal holidays 2013 is a luxurious golf break in the Algarve, you could stay at Monte da Quinta Suites.

Monte da Quinta Suites
As well as being close to some top championship golf courses, you will be able to soothe your muscles in the spa and treat yourself to both Portuguese and international cuisine.


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