For many years Portugal has been one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, and it’s not at all surprising. Awe-inspiring landscapes, gorgeous beaches with spectacular cliffs, flowery fields of the countryside – Portugal’s nature are a gem. The lovely towns and countless historical monuments are fantastic as well. Whether you prefer relaxing holidays in an all-inclusive resort, partying night after night, exploring wilderness or adventurous backpacking, a vacation in Portugal can make it happen. If that’s not convincing enough, here’s a list of 6 reasons why you should pack your bag and go there as soon as possible.
For beach enthusiasts, Portugal is like heaven. Even more, it’s a variety of different heavens: some of them are sandy, others rocky, sometimes crowded, sometimes secluded, with bars or without, dominated by surfers or families. Much of Portugal is surrounded by sea, so the coastline is long and diverse. The most famous beach paradise is the southern region Algarve. With over 150 beaches, Algarve’s one of Europe’s top summer destinations. The water there is warmer than along the west coast and views are just fantastic.
Even though many places across the region are very touristy, it’s possible to find remote, wild spots. Photographers can take some of their best shots on the picturesque Praia da Marinha in Lagoa. Dreamers and philosophers will enjoy the romantic vibe of hidden Praia de Cacela Velha, situated not far from Manta Rota. For party-animals, Meia Praia in Lagos with its beach bars offers the best night-life. Imagine a perfect beach, then go to Portugal and find it, it’s there for sure.
Because of the country’s rich history, Portuguese cities are a fascinating mixture of influences. You can see it in the architecture that includes Moorish castles, mosques, pre-Romanesque churches, Gothic monasteries, striking cathedrals and baroque palaces. The history’s not everything though. Portuguese towns, even though still enchanted by the spirits of old times, are also vibrant and full of life. Street cafés temp passersby’s with the smell of wonderful coffee and delicious desserts. Tourist towns have countless clubs where all the young and wild visitors dance their nights away. Locals, students, and travelers walk the busy streets of bigger cities. The towns of Portugal are bustling, not in an overwhelming way though. If you want to spend more of a cultural vacation in Portugal, you can go to one of the towns without worrying being in the city will make you stressed and tired.
As soon as you leave the resort towns and cities, you’ll enter a whole new Portugal. The rural areas, even in the most touristy regions such as the Algarve, is still traditional. In the northern part of Portugal, you may visit the lovely municipality Viana do Castelo with a rich history and numerous sites. Miranda do Douro is a wondrous town in north-eastern Portugal, where traditions dating back to the medieval ages and Renaissance are still well-preserved. In Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find lots of astonishing monuments from various historical periods.
The best way to reach these and other charming places are renting a car and driving through Portuguese countryside. The advantages of traveling outside of the cities and popular tourist spots are numerous, from the more romantic ones such as the unspoiled nature and stunning landscapes you’ll come across, to the very practical like the fact that prices are significantly lower in the villages and small towns.
All year long, Portugal is a party. Traditional festivities are a significant part of the country’s culture. Christian holidays are being widely celebrated in very creative ways. In May, for example, the Lisbon’s Festa de Santo António is being held. In June most of the cities (especially Porto and Braga) organize festivities dedicated to Saint John. Besides of traditional all-night revelries, there are also all sorts of music festivals. Whatever genre you prefer, be it jazz, rock or classical music, it’s being played somewhere, probably on the coast. One of Portugal’s most famous and unique events is the Boom Festival, a celebration of creativity and insanity reminding of the world-known Burning Man annually held in Nevada. The festival features visual art exhibits and music shows with psychedelic trance, house, ambient and other mesmerizing sounds.
Delicious foods and even more delicious wines
Foodies will be glad to know that their vacation in Portugal can be truly fascinating. Both the sea and the fertile lands consistently supply Portugal with a variety of fresh, yummy foods. Portuguese cuisine is influenced by former colonial possessions. This impact can be seen especially in the choice of spices most of the Portuguese kitchens are equipped with: vanilla, cinnamon, chili, black pepper, and saffron. Olive oil is a primary ingredient in many dishes. Portuguese people eat a lot of meat and fish, so vegetarians might feel puzzled when visiting traditional restaurants. Smoked meats, fish soups, chargrilled fish, seafood and rice-based specialties are very popular. Try not to get full during the dinner and keep some space for the heavenly desserts. Last but not least, Portuguese wines are excellent, be sure to try the famous port wine brewed in Porto.
The melodic language
Have you ever heard Portuguese people speaking? The sound of their language is amazing. It’s a part of the Ibero-Romance group and has many commons with other languages belonging to this group, including Spanish. Miguel de Cervantes, a famous Spanish writer, once said it’s “the sweet and gracious language” and he couldn’t have described it more accurately. When you’re on vacation in Portugal, make sure to find some time for the simple act of listening. Take a seat in a street café, order a coffee, pay attention to the locals surrounding you and the way they speak. It’s a real pleasure to the ears. You should also listen to Fado, the dramatic genre of Portuguese music. Never the language sounds as passionate as it does when used by a Fado singer.