Those who visit us will discover a lively people who enjoy the climate and the pleasure of being with each other, often in the open air, experiencing various activities surrounded by nature.
From kite surfing to bike rides over hill and dale, or rock climbing, abseiling and zip wiring for the more adventurous, the options are endless for those who like to keep active.
For those wanting to pump the adrenaline, Portugal has some great challenges in its perfect waves for surfing. Or windsurfing, sailing or paragliding with winds that are guaranteed to get the thrills soaring. Skiing and parasailing, too, provide some amazing experiences.
Try rafting, canyoning and canoeing on Portugal’s rivers. And discover their sources deep within the earth, going potholing to delve into unexplored caves.
To enjoy nature in all its charm, we recommend some calmer activities, such as hiking or horse riding, taking in the fragrance of the wild flowers on a beautiful sunny day. Or mountaineering, where apart from the stunning views, you can reach the highest peaks to be rewarded with a view of the nests and flight of birds of prey. There are also boat trips to see dolphins and whales, images that you will never forget.
There’s no shortage of ideas and suggestions, the landscapes offer a wealth of diversity and the fine climate will surely be on your side... We might even say that in Portugal, the best companion for adventures is Nature!
Surfing is a 365 days a year activity in Portugal. Or 366 if it’s a leap year. This is not an exaggeration, since the extensive Portuguese coast offers great waves every day. And there are many ways to tackle them, it all depends on your skill and enthusiasm.
The diversity of natural conditions and an exceptional climate provide memorable experiences within everyone’s reach, from beginners to pros. It’s even said that there’s no other coastline in the world with so many spots so close to each other.
We have waves for every taste and discipline: from perfect tubes for surfing and bodyboarding, which are the setting for major international events, to giant waves, posing a challenge for the boldest surfers striving to ride their crests, and long waves that are among Europe’s longest. But there are still a few secrets waiting to be unveiled.
The wind is a great ally and offers unique conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing, but there are many other sports for making the adrenaline run. And after a day at sea, the good vibes continue on shore, where there’s always a party, a festival, a bar or a nightclub to provide unending fun every night.
Stretching for more than 850km, the Portuguese coast is a gigantic surfing beach. No other coastal strip in the world can offer such a great number of spots in such a short distance, so in Portugal you can always rely on the waves.
Tempered by tailwinds and a lot of sun all year round, these perfect waves, even magical at times, provide a unique experience for practitioners of various sports. Surfing, bodyboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddlesurfing are just some of the sports for enjoying the Atlantic waves which take the adrenalin levels beyond anything imaginable.
From the giant waves of Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, sought after by the most daring, to the steady, perfect waves of Carcavelos, Ericeira and Peniche, there are many choice spots for surfers. And they’re not only around Lisbon. The variety is huge, both in the north, at Figueira da Foz, Espinho and Viana do Castelo, and in the south, on the Alentejo coast and the Sagres area, and even in the Azores and Madeira.
As for bodyboarders, they have in Praia Grande, Sintra, a benchmark not to be missed. This spot is part of every itinerary and hosts an annual event in the world bodyboarding tournament; however, the northern coast and the western Algarve coast have also become popular with bodyboarders.
Guincho is the Portuguese Mecca for windsurfing and has already welcomed the world’s best windsurfers. The wind and the waves guarantee a good show for those on the beach and the pleasure of those in the water. But kitesurfing has also been gathering a growing following, not only here but on other beaches as well, such as Carcavelos, Costa da Caparica and further north in the Aveiro and Viana do Castelo areas.
But there are many other activities to enable you to make the most of the conditions offered by the sea, the rivers and the lakes. From paddlesurfing in the open sea or in the calmer waters of sheltered coves and lagoons, to water skiing and parasailing, there’s a wide range of options for having a good time. You’ll be really spoilt for choice…
With its mild climate, bright sunshine and favourable winds, sailing along the Portuguese coast is a great pleasure. As always in the Atlantic Ocean, it is sometimes calm for a relaxed spot of sailing, and sometimes more temperamental, offering challenges that require a lot of energy.
Whereas in the 15th century, the Portuguese set sail in caravels and ships to venture into "uncharted waters", as Camões so well narrated, these days the sea offers exceptional conditions for this sport. Sailing in various classes of boat is practised from the north to the south, as well as in the Azores and Madeira.
There are, however, a few places that stand out. Cascais bay, near Lisbon, and Lagos bay in the Algarve are considered amongst the best regatta locations in the world, which is why they regularly host some of sailing’s most prestigious events and trophies. Many international races, including competitions and stages, take place in Portuguese waters, such as the Tall Ships Races and the Volvo Ocean Race in Lisbon, the Clipper around the world Regatta in Madeira, TP/52 Audi Med Cup in Portimão and the Centenary of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), which was held in Cascais.
Companies, schools and yacht clubs promoting sailing and teaching those who want to learn are spread throughout the country, but some of the areas with the greatest potential for the sport are worth mentioning. For example in Northern Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Póvoa de Varzim and Leixões; and in the central region the Ria de Aveiro from Ovar to Costa Nova, Figueira da Foz and the Óbidos Lagoon. Near Lisbon, it’s common to sight many white sails on the horizon along the Estoril coastline, such as in Sesimbra and further south in Troia. And besides Lagos, the entire Algarve coastline is enjoyed by yachtsmen, especially Vilamoura, which has the oldest established marina, and Portimão, where top competition teams go to train. In the mid-Atlantic, there are the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, as well as the Azores, particularly Faial, whose marina in Horta is legendary among yachtsmen worldwide.
You can rent a boat in any of these areas and enjoy the freedom of plying the waters and enjoying the landscapes from other perspectives. And not only at sea, because there are vast expanses of water to explore on the Douro River, or the Alqueva reservoir, for example. For those who would like to have the experience of sailing a route they’ve mapped out but who haven’t yet learnt to operate the rudder, you can also rent a boat with a skipper, and let yourself be piloted across the water. Another option for sailing, with every convenience to hand, is to join an organised excursion on an old sailing vessel and sit back to enjoy the views over the coastal areas.
Across the country there are docks, marinas and yacht clubs that provide all kinds of services and facilities for those making long journeys, and many proposals for those who just want to experience the sport. They provide the support you can rely on ashore, a safe haven for any “old sea dog".
The Portuguese coast is stunningly beautiful on the surface, but the depths of the Atlantic offer a wealth of biodiversity that is well worth discovering.
Portugal’s seas can offer a fantastic surprise for those who don’t know them, due to the diversity of fish, the beauty of the sea bed and the wrecks of ships which have crossed the ocean over the centuries. There are many attractions to explore both near the surface and deeper down, in caves and rocky recesses with diverse habitats.
There are safe diving programmes and excursions in place all over the country. Even for complete beginners, there are “baptisms” and courses for all levels, covering techniques and the rules to be respected. For more experienced divers, operators organise outings to places with the most potential and also hire all the necessary equipment.
The Azores are particularly attractive as a scuba diving destination due to their clear, deep and unpolluted waters. Several islands provide facilities and have companies geared towards this activity, suggesting the best ways to enjoy these exceptionally beautiful seabeds. The same is true of the Madeira archipelago, where the sea has a pleasant temperature all year round, and the underwater world teems with a widely diverse and rich life.
On mainland Portugal, Peniche, despite the cold seawaters, is a popular diving destination to discover the flora and fauna which populate the Berlengas Islands. Close to the Arrábida Natural Park, Sesimbra is another place much sought after by divers. Further south, the Alentejo coast and the entire Algarve coast offer diving locations teeming with diverse, colourful sea life. There is much to explore underwater in Portugal.
Anyone playing golf in Portugal will have the experience imprinted on their memory, and they’ll be sure to want to return. Why? Excellent courses in dazzling scenery, a mild climate all year round and the hospitality and friendliness of qualified pros.
There are around eighty golf courses, with different layouts and levels of difficulty. But the greatest challenge is to resist the beauty and light of the surrounding landscape and remain focused. There are ocean-facing greens, flanked by cliffs and white sand dunes; and others framed by lakes and mountains, where the fragrances of flowers and herbs blend in a blur of sensations.
Many have been designed by famous architects, such as Henry Cotton, Rocky Roquemore and Arnold Palmer, and they all share environmental quality and harmoniously blend into the landscape.
The Algarve and Lisbon coasts are well-known destinations amongst more experienced players and have been awarded a number of international prizes. They host some of the major events on the professional circuits, a case in point being Madeira with its mountain courses. There’s also golf to be played in the countryside in the Azores, but it was in Porto and the North that it all started, since the oldest golf course in mainland Europe is in Espinho.
Whether matches are relaxed or hard-fought, they always end up in the Club House or the restaurant… for a “sport” in which the Portuguese excel: socialising.
Portugal is internationally renowned as a golf destination and many of its courses, designed by famous architects, offer a great challenge for golfers.
Designed to blend harmoniously into the landscape, the layout of most courses is suitable for various levels of difficulty. From amongst all of them, certain greens are notable for their difficulty or for their surroundings and are a true test of skill and technique.
Praia d'El Rey
A nine-hole course at the edge of the ocean, the vagaries of the sea winds turn Praia d'el Rey into a course that can be different every day, which in itself is already a great challenge. However, the big test designed by Cabell Robinson is the 570 metre-long 17th hole. The Berlengas islands can be seen in the distance from the 2nd hole, and the view of the Atlantic Ocean from the fairway of the 12th hole is greatly appreciated. It was considered the seventh best course in Europe by Golf World Magazine.
Quinta da Marinha Golf Club
On the links designed by Robert Trent Jones, the 13th hole is a spectacular par 4 of 339 metres, which descends towards the sea, ending in a green with the ocean as a backdrop. With five par 5s and six par 3s set amongst a pine wood, the course has stunning views over the sea and the Sintra Mountain.
Belas Clube de Campo Golf Course
Belas is a complete and varied championship course designed by Rocky Roquemore, which requires a carefully defined golfing strategy, which appeals to golfers of various handicaps. The great challenge here is the 18th green on the "Big Hole", which is protected by a fearsome lake. Hole 2 is also noteworthy, named Augusta in homage to the 13th hole on the course that is home to the U.S. Masters.
Troia Golf Championship Course
The Troia links were designed by Robert Trent Jones as his ideal course. Hole 3 is a famous par 4 on the dunes where Sam Torrence won the Portugal Open on two below par.
Montado Golf Course
This course designed by architect Jorge Santana da Silva, which is set amongst cork oak woods, sets the challenge to reach the 18th hole, which is located on an island.
Vale de Lobo Royal Golf Course
In the layout defined by Sir Henry Cotton, set on top of the Algarve coastal cliff, combining fairways with areas of pine woods, the star is the green of hole 16, with a breath-taking view over the sea. This par 3 requires a shot of 218 metres to soar over three cliffs to the green! It is one of the most photographed holes in Europe and is widely used to promote golf in the region.
Pine Cliffs Golf & Country Club
Pine Cliffs has a unique location on top of an extraordinary cliff on the Algarve coast, 60 metres from the golden sandy beach. The jewel of the course is the 6th hole, the famous "Devil's Parlour", at the edge of a ravine, where you have to play over the beach to get to a narrow green, with a stroke of 198 metres.
Sir Henry Cotton Championship Golf Course
This course was scrupulously designed by Sir Henry Cotton so that each hole would set a real challenge to golfing strategy. Even so, there are two highlights. Hole 5 shows the importance of water, as it doglegs left for 451 metres, with bunkers and water to the right. Hole 13, a par 3, requires a long stroke over water. It has been considered one of the best 500 holes in the world.
Quinta do Lago South
William Mitchel designed this course with greens that can be played in many different ways, and this makes it one of the most versatile golf courses, which has hosted the Portugal Open for many years. In addition to the well placed bunkers, the highlight here is the 15th hole, a par 3 that requires a shot of 200 metres over a lake to a green flanked by pine trees.
Pestana Alto Golf
The highlight of this course designed by Sir Henry Cotton overlooking Lagos Bay is the 16th hole, one of the longest in Europe, requiring a par 5 of 604 metres known as "The Giant". Any golfer who makes a birdie is entitled to receive a certificate and his name will be entered on the Club’s roll of honour.
Portugal Golf Membership
One of the best golf destinations in the world has become even better.
All golfers coming to Portugal can join Portugal Golf Membership, an on-line platform, with the characteristics of a golf club, that collects information together about what's on offer nationally with exceptional conditions for international players.
Club membership is completely free and the members can enjoy quality courses at the best prices, with special discounts in hotels and golf courses, among other benefits.
Anyone wanting to play golf in Portugal can book through www.portugalgolfbooking.com, an online platform allowing you to book various golf courses in different areas of the country, benefit from promotions and find out immediately about the availability of the course.