After a year of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and phases of isolation, countless travel enthusiasts across the world are desperately awaiting their next escape.
And while that could be some time away, it’s never too soon to start window-shopping for your next adventure.
Whether you have a bucket list of dream destinations to work your way through or are seeking inspiration for your next adventure, one holiday hotspot that might have escaped your interest is Portugal. Overshadowed by its neighbours on the continent, this incredible country on the same Iberian peninsula as Spain is home to stunning views, vibrant culture, and an extraordinary history.
Without further ado, check out these five fabulous reasons to make Portugal your next holiday – whenever that may be.
1. The Scenery
Most people picture Portugal as a sun-soaked destination consisting of breath-taking beaches and a warm, sunny climate.
To tell the truth, this romantic image is not far wrong. The country’s spectacular coastline looks like something straight from a postcard, with golden sand and clear blue water. But its most distinguishing feature is its limestone cliffs, which add a rugged edge to the otherwise serene seascapes of the shore.
Visitors looking to take in these idyllic views should consider a trip to the Algarve, a popular spot for tourists seeking an authentic experience, or the Silver Coast, which attracts a lot of hobbyists, including anglers and golfers.
If you’re seeking something other than the traditional combos of sun, sea and sand, Portugal has a rich and diverse landscape which includes places like Monsaraz and Marvao, whose countryside landscapes are perfect for those looking to spend some time in nature. These areas are full of great spots for hiking and camping.
Alternatively, for those seeking a city break, Lisbon and Porto are ideal locations to soak up some of the local culture, discover incredible architecture, and get to grips with the country’s fascinating history (more on that later).
2. The Food
For the travelling gastronome, food is the highlight of any holiday. And for the connoisseur, Portugal certainly does not disappoint!
The locality of the coastline means that Portugal has a bustling aquaculture industry, so fresh fish tends to feature heavily on most menus, with the most common being sardines, tuna, and bacalhau (cod). This is served with helpings of bread and oil, fresh veg, and of course, plenty of wine. (The latter is something of a local specialty, with Port and Madeira being the most common varieties, both originating in the cities of the same name.)
And for the sweet-toothed visitor, Portuguese desserts are not to be missed – menu highlights include cavacas, caramel flan and pasteis de nata.
3. The History
Portugal’s rich history is reflected in every corner, from its cities, whose landmarks have survived fires and earthquakes, to the coastline carved curvaceously by time and tide.
The capital city of Lisbon is home to a number of significant buildings, including the Lisbon cathedral, which has stood since 1147. By the Tagus river also sits the Belem Tower, officially known as the Tower of St Vincent. Along with Jeronimos Monastery, this structure dates back to the early 1500s, and in the 1980s both were awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Visitors to the Algarve, meanwhile, should pay a visit to Sagres Point. This rocky promontory is a breath-taking natural wonder that was once believed by the Romans to be ‘the end of the world’. Visitors today can enjoy stunning views of this incredible spot, especially at sunset.
4. The Architecture
Aside from the remarkable architecture of the country’s impressive landmarks, Portugal is also home to some incredible accommodations. Amongst these are a number of fantastic hotels, where service is second-to-none.
But in recent years, ventures like Airbnb have become increasingly popular. This means that many of Portugal’s residential properties have become a common choice for accommodation amongst tourists.
These beautiful homes range from cosy, compact apartments to spacious villas and luxurious houses – check out a few examples via Property Lisbon. In fact, many tourists who fall in love with Portugal never want to leave, and with incredible properties like these on the market, it’s easy to see why they’re so tempted to stay.
5. The Shopping
Portugal has a number of incredible shopping opportunities, not least of all in Lisbon, where premium districts such as the Marques de Pombal and Avenida de Liberdade have become hotspots for high-end shopping. These areas are ideal for the travelling shopaholic, and particularly those with a penchant for designer brands and luxury indulgences.
Both in and out of the capital, those with less expensive tastes will find plenty to explore, including countless souvenir shops. In here you’ll find everything ranging from traditional tourist mementos such as magnets, tea towels and bottle openers, to handmade items like jewellery, pottery and other unique trinkets.
There are also a number of quaint and curious shops owned by local entrepreneurs that are well worth visiting – amongst them, the Livraria Bertrand in Chiado, Lisbon. Open since 1732, it is the oldest bookshop in the world and a must for visiting bibliophiles, selling titles in English, French and Spanish as well as Portuguese. Meanwhile, Livraria Lello in Porto (pictured below) is also one of the grandest, most stunning bookshops on the planet.
These are just five fabulous reasons to make Portugal your next holiday. Of course, for active vacationers and adventure sports lovers, other attractions will include the range of fantastic adrenaline activities on offer in the country. The appeal of surfing some of Europe’s best waves from the wild beaches of the Algarve or the seaside resorts of Nazaré and Peniche, or of skiing in the Serra da Estrela, could clinch the deal and have you packing for Portugal! The country also has attractive cycling routes, from the beginner-friendly trails of the Alentejo wine country to the expert ones of the Douro Valley.
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What’s the next stop on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.