Are you ready to skip across the Atlantic Ocean to explore a whole new world? As far west as you can go on Mainland Europe brings you to Portugal - now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The glorious stretch of Atlantic coastline in the Algarve Region has long been known to European sun seekers - and now it is being discovered by more North American vacationers in search of winter sunshine combined with a wonderful ambience.
It’s a year round destination, it’s affordable, it’s safe – and it is fascinating! At the moment Canadian Snowbirds in particular find longer stay vacations in the Algarve Region in the south of the country, to be excellent value-for-money and a real alternative to the resorts of Florida for instance.
It was from the Algarve that, in the 15th century, the Portuguese set off on epic journeys that led them to discover new peoples and cultures… and it is in the Algarve that they now cheerfully welcome many of Portugal’s tourist visitors. Spring, from March till May, is a great time to visit as the sun returns and temperatures rise. The average daily high climbs to 18ºC in March, 20ºC in April and 22ºC in May, while sunshine levels jump to nine hours per day in April and ten hours in May.
There’s no shortage of high quality beaches in the Algarve - sand stretches as far as the eye can see, framed by golden cliffs, virtually deserted islands, and small coves sheltered by the rocks. The ocean has every shade of blue and is mostly calm and warm, inviting you to take long swims and to indulge in water sports.
Beyond the beach there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. To relax you can have various treatments in the spas and in the Monchique Thermal Baths. You can use footpaths and cycle trails to get to know the region, such as the Algarve Way inland or the Vicentine Route along one of the best preserved coastal stretches.
With an ideal climate that lets you play throughout the year, and a wide variety of almost four dozen courses, the Algarve is also a golfers’ paradise. Most courses are located in protected areas, with stunning views. They are internationally recognised for the quality of their facilities, and they have been designed by prestigious players and legendary champions such as Sir Henry Cotton, Rocky Roquemore, Arnold Palmer and Ronald Fream. The Algarve golf courses also offer excellent golf pros and teaching facilities.
For a dose of adventure, explore the Algarve’s intriguing grottoes by boat and ride the challenging waves of the Atlantic. Southern Portugal abounds with quaint fishing villages, walled historic centres, beaches dotted with spectacular rock formations, and winding streets lined with colourful tiled buildings. All the while the Sierra de Monchique mountains tower behind the coastline.
Immerse yourself in the region’s authentic culture: lose yourself in Portugal’s haunting fado music, taste local specialties like bacalhau (cod) and piri-piri chicken, and watch the locals go about their daily lives. There are plenty of historic towns and cities to explore and there are cultural and traditional events almost every week in the different towns and villages around the Algarve.
If you dine out at one of the many local restaurants you must try the fresh fish and seafood, either grilled or in a casserole. Enjoy dining on a simple beach terrace or in the most refined Michelin-starred restaurants, where chefs turn out new versions of traditional cuisine.
The city of Faro, the gateway to the region, deserves a longer stay to discover its beautiful historic centre. Tavira is a showcase for traditional architecture and preserves traces of its Arab past whilst Lagos is where the Portuguese explorers departed for their famous voyages. The spectacular castle of Castelo de Silves sits high above the town of Silves. Visitors love the spectacular views offered from the castle’s 11 towers. More cosmopolitan cities like Portimão and Albufeira are bustling towns day and night with shops, restaurants and night clubs to keep you entertained.
In the Fifteenth century Portugal was on the edge of the known world …but these days you don’t have to fall off the edge of the earth to travel to Portugal. It’s an easy seven hour flight from Toronto or Montreal with Air Transat. They fly to three cities; to Lisbon, the capital; to Porto in Portugal’s north; or to Faro, gateway to the beaches of the Algarve.
Transat are the Europe experts, with experience built up over many years. Transat really do make it affordable - because of the huge buying power and expertise on the ground that Transat bring to the table. Nobody in Canada can come close to the years of experience, relationships and infrastructure that Transat can offer in Europe.
It all starts with great coverage and direct flights to three airports across Portugal. Transat flights are available from Toronto and Montreal to Porto for access to Northern Portugal, Lisbon for the Capital and the Central regions and to Faro for the beaches of the Algarve. You also need frequent flights to be able to schedule your vacation at a time to suit you – and Air Transat flies two or three times a week to Lisbon year round.
Europe can seem daunting to plan a vacation - but Transat has done all the work to make it incredibly easy for you. Their extensive offering includes a la carte hotel and car rental, packages and preplanned itineraries and guided tours. The Transat Portugal program offers Long Stay packages to the Algarve and Central Portugal, hotels in the Algarve, Lisbon, Cascais, Porto and the Douro Valley, plus touring packages and excursions in all parts of Portugal. Click here for more information.
Long Stay vacations have been popular here for many years with Northern Europeans escaping the winter chill – now they are becoming more popular with Canadians for the same reason. You can stay for 3 weeks almost as cheaply as a 1 week vacation! 6 weeks, 10 week durations and more are available at self-catering apartments and villas
Here are some examples of 3 weeks packages at several aparthotels and locations in the Algarve:
Transat also has a large selection of more tradition resort hotels in the Algarve. Many have special offers to make your loonie go further such as breakfasts included, Free night included and early booking promotions.
Here are some examples:
Transat provide a range of pre-planned tours that include prebooked hotels, excursions and tours plus include either car rental or train tickets for you to get from location to location.
This example probably provides best overview of the country:
Porto, Algarve & Lisbon Tour
Transat also makes it easy for you to explore with tours and excursions that you can buy on specific days during your stay in Portugal.
If you are based in the Algarve here are some examples: