Top Ten Reasons to Visit Portugal
Every year, the beautiful landscapes, amazing food, friendly and welcoming people, and fantastic cities of Portugal draw in more than 16 million inbound tourists.
Emerging from a cultural and economic revival, Portugal has gone from Spain’s lesser-known and lesser developed cousin to a thriving and metropolitan country with its own distinct culture.
So, if you’re planning a trip abroad and want to visit a European destination that combines history, culture, exciting nightlife and expansive beautiful panoramic vistas into one compact melting pot, then here are ten excellent reasons to make Portugal that destination.
#1 - The Amazing Countryside and Beautiful Views
Despite being a relatively compact country, Portugal has some amazing biodiversity. There are huge rugged national parks, dramatic coastlines, the lush wine country of the north and the seemingly endless olive groves of the south.
Thanks to its long history, Portugal also has some truly beautiful architecture, with mixed European and Arab influences.
What this all means is that, wherever you are in Portugal, there is always something beautiful to look at.
#2 - The Fantastic Sunny Weather
Going hand in hand with the fantastic views is the consistently fantastic weather you can expect in Portugal.
Given that it’s perched right on the southwestern tip of Europe, you can expect the temperatures to only rarely drop below the 15 mark, which pairs very nicely with a good sea breeze on the coast.
#3 - The Size of the Country
Positively diminutive compared to its larger neighbours like Spain and France, Portugal is remarkably easy to drive around.
Most of the major tourist destinations are no more than a half a day’s drive from each other.
However, taking a meandering trip through the Roman roads that crisscross the country gives you the chance to visit some of the quaint little towns where Portugal’s culture is most consistently expressed.
#4 - The Pace of Life
While cities like Lisbon and Porto are bustling metropolitan centres that can rival any other modern European city for their bustle, the pace of life in the rest of Portugal is noticeably slower.
The combination of the consistent heat, long evenings and a more laid back atmosphere lends itself nicely to peaceful and sedate days broken up by the traditional sesta afternoon nap.
#5 - The History and Culture
Lisbon is Europe’s second-oldest city and the country around it is rich with a distinct culture and a long and interesting history.
The Celts, Romans, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Moors have all contributed to Portugal’s culture and architecture and the country is dotted with the remains of their occupation.
Despite its size, Portugal also presided over the longest-lived colonial empires in history, which only ended with the return of Macau to China in 1999.
Because of the number of cultures involved in its evolution, modern Portugal is a melting pot of culture, architecture, music, food and linguistic diversity.
#6 - The Lack of Tourism
This might seem counterintuitive, but Portugal has only recently obtained a reputation as a premier tourist destination, despite all it has to offer.
This means that its cities, compared to other famous destinations like Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam, are not heavily geared towards providing for tourists.
There are plenty of amazing restaurants and great hotels, but a pronounced lack of cheap attractions, fast food joints, and people hassling you to buy cheap souvenirs.
#7 - The Budget-Friendly Price
Perhaps because of its nascent tourism industry, prices in Portugal remain very reasonable. Accommodation is fairly inexpensive, although hotels with five-star amenities are correspondingly hard to find.
The food and drink, however, is both consistently fantastic and very reasonably priced in all but the most famous areas of Lisbon or Porto.
#8 - The Food
Speaking of restaurants, the food culture in Portugal is both diverse and thriving. As you might expect from a former maritime empire with a long coastline, seafood is a firm favourite in Portugal.
Bacalhau, or dried and salted cod, is one of the more popular ingredients and there are more Bacalhau recipes than there are days in the year to cook them on.
Other culinary standouts include the range of grilled pork and beef sandwiches known as bifanas, peri-peri chicken, and leitão, an entire roast suckling pig.
For dessert, the famous pastel de nata, or Portuguese egg tarts, are always a favourite.
#9 - The Wine
Portugal has always been a country associated with wine. In fact, the Romans claimed the territory that would become modern Portugal was a favourite of Bacchus, the god of wine.
While most people are aware of Port and Madeira as Portugal’s famous fortified wines, the country boasts a huge range of award-winning wines, from the Vinho Verde made from young green grapes to the rich Syrahs from Alentejo.
If you love wine, you have to visit Portugal.
#10 -The People
The Portuguese people have developed a well-deserved reputation for being friendly, open, and welcoming. From the smallest local village to downtown Lisbon, they are generous and warm hosts to visitors to their country.
Portugal is also an excellent place to visit with children. The Portuguese love children and it’s not uncommon to see even the highest class of establishments catering to families with children.
The Portuguese fado music tradition has also left its cities littered with small bohemian music bars.
These bars are an ideal place to stop, sip on a glass of fantastic wine, sample small platters of local food and listen to some slightly melancholic folk music, accompanied by the plaintive sound of the guitarra portuguesa, or Portuguese guitar.