Anyone who reads or hears about Portugal probably immediately thinks of beautiful beaches underneath breathtaking cliffs, spectacular surfing and delicious Pastéis de Nata.
Portugal is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination. The country is experiencing a tourism boom, in fact – and there are good reasons, as this land on the western edge of Europe has so much to offer. Here we look at three of the reasons why a holiday in Portugal is definitely worthwhile.
Summer, Sun & Beaches
Despite its relatively small area (92,212 square kilometres), Portugal has one of the longest coastlines in the world. Overall, the Portuguese can dig their feet in the sand over 3,000 kilometres. The popular holiday islands of Madeira and the Azores are part of this, of course – but even on the mainland, coastline is everywhere. A drive from Faro in the south to Viana do Castelo in the north is particularly recommended, and it provides a comprehensive insight into the culture and beauty of Portugal. You can experience this adventure even during a short break – by car, for example, you can complete this trip in less than seven hours.
Last summer I went on a two week holiday to the famous Algarve Coast in Portugal. We went to new beaches on the Algarve daily and explored the beautiful Algarve area that has so much to offer. (Read more in my travel guide articles about that trip!)
Many Possibilities to Explore & Adventure
Holidays are very important, giving us the opportunity to relax and escape from everyday life. At the same time, however, we also want to develop ourselves. We don’t want to spend all of our time just lying on the beach and drinking cocktails – we also want to experience the country that we visit. Portugal offers many opportunities for this, catering for a range of interests. After all, the country combines beautiful landscapes and beautiful beaches with a rich and distinctive culture. Whether it’s the big cities like Porto or small places on the edge of the streets – visitors will always find new corners and new opportunities to develop themselves.
That’s why Portugal is also the country of road trips. To appreciate it fully, the western side of the Iberian peninsula should really be explored by road. The good news is that the roads of Europe are now safer than they have ever been before – in 2013, the EU even set itself the target of reducing road deaths by 50%. True freedom and opportunities do not appear at the hotel pool, but out there on the road.
If you want to experience the real Portugal, you have to do this in contact with the Portuguese themselves. It’s highly recommended to visit one of the many local wineries, for example. You can buy fine wines for little money directly from the producer, and they often have special offers too.
As well as testing the local foods, that are not as known as Italy’s pizza and pasta but just as mouthwatering. The sweet little pastry cakes ‚Pastéis de Nata‚ can be found at every corner and taste like heaven to me.
No list of Portugal’s highlights is complete without a mention of its capital. This beautiful city is spread over several hills overlooking the Rio Tejo, rewarding the explorer with breathtaking panoramic views at every turn. Whatever you’re looking for – whether it’s history, culture, or an exciting range of bars and cafes – you’ll find it in Lisbon. If you want to escape the tourist crowds, the cobblestoned streets of Alfama is the area of Lisbon for you. Chat with the locals here and relax, watching the world go by. This is the real Portugal.
I visited Lisbon for two days myself last summer and got a general overview of the beauty it has to offer, but I am already keen to go back and explore more! The city is also very famous for great vegan cafés and restaurants, that I want to try myself as well as wandering through the beautiful and colourful streets.
Besides Lisbon, I am also super keen to visit Porto! Another beautiful city in the northern part of the country that I’ve heard many great things from.
Have you been to Portugal yourself? Where have you been & what do you recommend? Is it on your bucket list?