Beach House © Osvaldo Gago
A sun-soaked land on the Iberian peninsula with plenty to offer to both short- and long-term visitors, Portugal's greatest attraction is its gorgeous coastline, and in particular, the southern region of the Algarve, where an array of top-class beach resorts (once sleepy fishing villages) provide luxurious ocean-side accommodation. The region's year-round fine climate, and its easy accessibility (several low-cost European carriers provide direct cheap flights to the Algarve), mean that it is a hugely popular winter sun vacation destination, as well as the perfect place for a weekend getaway when the daily grind of city-life becomes too much. Seaside towns like Albufeira and Lagos are home to some of the best beach resorts in the Algarve, providing a heady mixture of sheltered beaches, outstanding natural scenery and high-quality lodgings. There is far more to Portugal than its beaches, however. As anyone who has ever set foot in Lisbon's historic Alfama district, or travelled to the medieval town of Evora will tell you, the country is home to some breathtaking architecture, and some true cultural treasures. Notable tourist sights in Lisbon include the Jeronimos Monastery, a prime example of Manueline architecture; the iconic Monument to the Discoveries; and the most-photographed building in all of Portugal, the Tower of Belem. This geographically varied country also offers skiing opportunities at the Vodafone Ski Resort in the Serra Estrela Mountains. This craggy, forested mountain range is also a great area for walking and hiking trails, and is the place to go for those craving the pampering of a spa resort holiday in Portugal.