For as long as I can remember getting to spend my summers in Portugal was the highlight of my year. Seeing as it is where my parents hail from we got to visit often and it soon became my second home. Going to Portugal every summer you’d think I would run out of things to do or see, yet no. Portugal has so much to see and do like; shopping, museums, beaches, hiking and cultural festivals are just some of them. So compiling a list of the top reasons to visit Portugal is difficult.
Love architecture? Portugal has some of the most distinctive and ornament buildings and churches I have seen. Which is not surprising seeing as Lisbon is one of the oldest European cities. Predating even Rome. Love shopping? Portugal has some of the coolest and most affordable shopping in all of Europe. Eating and drinking? Portugal’s food scene has exploded in the last few years. Lisbon is a huge foodie city even on a budget. It’s wine region is world renowned. Unlike most major European countries, Portugal has a low threat of terrorism and a low rate of violent crime. In fact the World Economic Forum has named Portugal the world’s tenth safest country to visit. In case you needed some more reasons as to why you NEED to go to Portugal look no further.
Top Reasons to Visit Portugal.
Are you a wine fanatic? Portugal’s wine regions are diverse and worth a visit for this reason alone. The Douro Valley was the first ever wine region. Its’ wines have won several awards including spots on the prestigious, Wine Spectators Top 100 List. In 2001 it was added as a UNESCO world heritage site.
This isn’t the only esteemed wine region in Portugal. There are over 25 distinct regions that together offer over 250 unique grape varieties to choose from. Wine tasting, vineyard, and distillery tours are in abundance here.
It’s the perfect place to learn more about wines or just sit back and sip your way to bliss.
The Best Beaches
In Portugal, summer days are filled with sunshine. Ever heard of Praia da Marinha, Praia de Cacela Velha or Praia da Nazare? No, didn’t think so. These are just a few of the out of this world beautiful beaches in Portugal.
Nazare hosts some of the best waves for surfing. The largest wave that has ever been surfed was here in fact. Praia da Marinha has crystal clear blue waters, hidden caves and seaside cliffs of your dreams. In fact the whole southern tip of Portugal from Sagres to Vila Real has some of the best beaches in all of Europe, while still maintaining their charm.
Tip: the sun is strong here so don’t forget to pack your sunblock whether you are chilling at the beach or hiking the valleys.
Calling all Nature Lovers
Portugal’s regions vary from the north to the south. There are several photo opportunities for that perfect insta. From the Azores Islands, to the Serra da Arrabida mountain ranges, to Rota Vicentino’s 200-mile long trail on the southern coast, Portugal has it all.
Portugal was formed by volcanic activity so it has tons of caves, cliffs, mountains and hot springs that aren’t over crowded with tourists. The western most point of mainland Europe and the most impressive cliffs in the EU can be found at Cabo da Roca.
Tip: the train and bus between Porto and Lisbon costs around 20-40 EUR. A cross-country bus from Lisbon to Lagos will cost between 20-42 EUR. So traveling from place to place is easy on a budget.
The locals are eager to share stories and give suggestions to anyone willing to listen. They love to see tourists soaking in their culture that is often forgotten in history. When I was in Lisbon for my birthday, I walked into random little shops and asked for directions too many times to count. The owners left their stores and took us to our destination or walked out to the street to point us in the correct direction.
From waiters, to shop owners to strangers, we were never meet with anything but smiles and kindness. This kind of hospitality is something that makes you fall in love with the Portuguese people and makes it easy to immerse yourself in the culture.
Never once did we experience anything less than stellar customer service.
One of the main reason I recommend Portugal to young people or families is because it is so affordable. For foreigners the cost of living in Portugal is low. Freshly crafted meals at great restaurants won’t cost half of what they would in Paris or Rome. Taxis are a couple of dollars and an Uber from the airport to the city center will run you about $7. In comparison a Uber the same amount of time and distance in NY cost me $55, in Barcelona $36.
Portugal has plenty of budget accommodations from boutique hotels to hostels to Airbnb. Flights have dropped in price over the last few years so it has never been this affordable to take a trip to Portugal.
Tip: For even more savings head to Portugal before or after the summer.