Portugal - Need to know
Paul Whitington went to Portugal with Topflight (1890 240 170; topflight.ie). Aer Lingus (0818 365 000; aerlingus.com) runs direct flights from Dublin and Cork to Lisbon and Faro.
A four-night package in September, staying in the Palacio Estoril, costs Â¤563pps. This price includes flights, private transfers, B&B and taxes. If you want to travel in August, this package will cost Â¤834.
A seven-night stay at the Dom Pedro hotel in Vilamoura costs Â¤749pps, including flights, transfers and taxes in September. Add Â¤200 for August.
The train journey from Faro to Lisbon is Â¤25 each way, journey time just under four hours. Topflight can organise the tickets in advance or visit cp.pt.
when to go
The Algarve's exceptional beaches and clement climate make it a hugely popular destination between April and October.
Temperatures can hit 30Â°C-plus in August, but if you're beside the sea it never gets unbearable. September is a lovely month: crowds thin out and temperatures hover at 26Â°C.
Lisbon is great to visit any time, though August heat can be oppressive.
FIVE GREAT THINGS TO DO
•If you're going out in Lisbon, the Barrio Alto is the quarter to head for. Take a funicular tram up from the Praça dos Restauradores at nightfall and sample the Barrio's narrow, bustling streets, traditional restaurants and late bars and clubs.
•To get a sense of Portugal's illustrious past, pay a visit to the FundaçÃ£o Gulbenkian, Lisbon's finest museum and a treasure trove of Portuguese art and applied art.
•A short train journey from the capital, the old royal summer retreat of Sintra never fails to impress. With elaborate palaces, opulent 19th-century estates and breathtaking views over Lisbon, Sintra is not to be missed.
•If you want a sense of what the Algarve used to be like before it was developed for tourism, pay a visit to the atmospheric fishing town of OlhÃ£o, which has a great food market and offers boat trips to idyllic offshore island beaches.
•For a change of scene, travel inland from the Algarve's coast to the beautiful Serra de Monchique, the highest mountain range in southern Portugal, which has cork and chestnut woods and a scattering of remote little villages.