Portugal is situated in the southwestern part of Europe, along the Atlantic Ocean. The 950 kilometre-long coastline and various landscapes are the major attractions that draw millions of tourists every year. The climate is warm and humid - even in the winter - allowing visitors to enjoy an extended season at the seaside. The two archipelagoes, Madeira and the Azores, which extend far into the Atlantic, are year-round destinations for all types of watersport holidays. Other opportunities for an active holiday include golf, hiking, mountain biking and many others. In Portugal, you have plenty of choices to relax in an active way.
Portugal is most often associated with its beautiful beaches and the warm blue waters of the ocean. Seaside holidays are by far the most common type of tourism in the country. Almost the entire coastline is lined with towns and resorts that offer everything necessary to the delight of tourists: endless sandy beaches which are perfect s for swimming and diving, a full range of watersport activities like surfing, sailing, waterskiing, modern accommodation and a bustling nightlife. The centre of the seaside tourism industry is southern region of the country called Algarve. The main resorts here are Faro,Albufeira, Lagos and Praia da Rocha. In the rest of the country the most renowned resorts are Figueira da Foz, Cascais and Estoril in the Lisbon area. Madeira and the Azores are also a favourite destination for seaside holidays. Package holidays at the Portuguese coast are organised by all international tour operators – the choices are endless.
The diverse landscape of Portugal is a perfect setting for hiking tours. Panoramic routes along the rocky coastline and gentle low hills in the interior allure both nature lovers and families with children who are looking for tranquility and closer contact with authentic nature and local traditions. In some protected nature areas there are marked walking paths; however, more experienced hikers will be happy to discover the hiker’s haven Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain in the country, which offers plenty of challenging trails. The island of Madeira also has much to offer keen hikers with its impressive mountainous terrain and breathtaking views. Whichever the destination, make sure to make frequent stops along the route to experience local culture and try the world-renowned wines and cuisine.
Portugal provides some of Europe’s best cycling throughout the whole year. The largely untouched countryside is crossed by numerous challenging but manageable cycling trails for all tastes and abilities. Numerous roads with almost no traffic can be also used for exploring the country on two wheels. The most popular spots for mountain biking are in the range Serra da Estrela and along the border of Spain. A very attractive tour is along Roman trails, which starts in the mountainous North and ends in the vast plains of the South, lasting eight days. You can either ride alone at your own pace, or join a cycling tour organised by one of the adventure travel agencies. More information about routes and itineraries is available at www.cyclingholidaysportugal.com and www.portugalbike.com.
Portugal offers excellent conditions for a riding holiday. This is a wonderful way to get closer to nature and discover the variety and charm of the Portuguese countryside. Several farms and riding centres throughout the country offer guided tours and horses for hire. Furthermore, some excellent horse riding tracks are available in the region of Lisbon and Estoril, the most developed tourism area in the country. There are several schools in the area where horses can be hired and riding lessons are available. Show jumping takes place periodically in the Municipal Arena in Cascais and in Quinta da Marinha.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Portugal has good conditions for different watersports, such as canoeing or kayaking. There are some rivers in the continental part of the country, such as Douro, that are among the favourite places for seekers of strong emotions. However, the most popular kayaking spot in the country is on the island of Madeira. Many specialised tour operators organise kayaking and canoeing holidays in Calheta on the island, and the accommodation in luxury traditional coastal villas deserves to be mentioned. Combination extreme tours, including diving, boat trips and even mountain biking, enjoy increasing popularity.
Almost all resorts and cities have a number of tennis courts accessible to the public. If we consider all of the courts, including those attached to first-class hotels, tennis courts become one of the most common sports facilities in the country. The region around Lisbon has many tennis clubs and courts, some being of a very high standard. The Estoril Open is a regular PTA fixture with some of the world's best clay court players coming to participate in the tournament. The Estoril Tennis Club has 18 courts with excellent facilities including floodlighting for night play. Another public tennis court, crowded with tourists, is in Quinta da Marinha.
Portugal is known as one of the top golfing destinations in Europe. The country is a paradise where the golfer can play almost every day of the year. Every course offers new and surprising landscapes, backed up by excellent services and facilities. Numerous golf courses are available throughout the whole country, but most of them are in and around major tourist centres like Lisbon, Estoril, Porto and Algarve. More information concerning all aspects of this sport is available from the local golf association. There are some excellent and detailed websites like www.portugalgolf.pt that allow tourists to personally arrange their desired golfing holiday.