Algarve, Madeira or Azores: where should you go?

Planning a holiday to Portugal and unsure where to go? We look at the appeal of each of Portugal’s most popular holiday destinations – Madeira, the Algarve and the Azores.

By Saga team

Published 7 May 2024

The Portuguese are renowned for being friendly and helpful - perhaps that's why their shores are popular with holidaymakers all over the world looking for a home away from home with Mediterranean temperatures. Three regions of Portugal are particularly popular with tourists, and each offers something special.

Madeira is home to the largest laurel forest in the world, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The forest covers a mountainous area of the island and the vegetation is reminiscent of the fabled jungles of the Jungle Book.

Like its western counterpart, the Azores archipelago, the weather is mild and warm, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of the Natural Park. Those looking to soak up a little Portuguese culture can wander the streets of Funchal – a colourful and vibrant town.

Sample the traditional fare (or find some familiar eats) and take a ride on the cable car, which will give you a vista of the entire town. The south of the island is sheltered by the mountains, meaning it tends to be drier than the north.

Best for: gardens, excellent resorts

The Algarve is a long stretch of Portuguese coastline on the southern edge of the country.

The climate resembles that of other countries facing the Mediterranean, meaning summers on the Algarve are hot (averaging around 25-28°C), and the winters are mild (10-17°C).

The Algarve is a huge stretch of Portugal, with a rugged west coast and sunsets that look out from the southern-most point of Europe. Head down to Cape St. Vincent for spectacular vistas from what used to be considered the ‘end of the world’.

For the livelier spots, central Algarve is the most developed part, where most of the towns boast white-washed houses, cobbled streets, stone churches and Moorish influences.

The east coast is quieter and a haven for nature lovers due to the famed Ria Formona Natural Park. This reserve is a stunning landscape of wetlands, where you will come across lagoons, stretches of sandy beaches and wonderful wildlife.

The Portuguese weather, and the wonderful hosts, make this a perfect opportunity for boat trips or guided walks to visit the natural wonder.

Best for: wildlife watching, big sandy beaches,

The weather in the Azores is surprisingly temperate in comparison to the dry heat of the mainland. In summer, highs tend to hover around the mid-20s, a comfortable and warm temperature that drops to a reasonably cool 10-12°C in winter.

This consistent climate makes the Azores one of the best places in the world to see the whales and dolphins that pass through its azure waters.

The mild weather is also favourable for those who want to spend their holiday outdoors, whether you fancy exploring the island interiors of this archipelago, such as the Azore's forests and subterranean caves, or swimming in the warm waters before lying back on a sandy beach.

Best for: dolphin and whale watching, black sand beaches, temperate weather, quieter atmosphere, lots of greenery

If you’re looking for a warm and temperate climate, then Portugal won’t disappoint. Have a look at Saga’s Portugal holidays, and let us take care of the details while you enjoy the sunshine.

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