Let me guess, you’ve been pretty much everywhere in Europe, but never really thought of visiting Portugal.

France, Italy, Spain and the UK are on your bucket list, but you tend to forget this little country facing the Atlantic.

How dare you do this to my home country?!

Well I’m about to change your mind and give you enough reasons to make you travel to Portugal.

My goal is to make you book a flight before you even finish the list. Let’s get started!

1The sun sets in the sea.

This may sound a bit lame, but luckily Portugal has the majority of its awe-inspiring coastline and beaches facing west, which happens to be the orientation the sun sets every day.

No wonder sunsets are amongst the most lingering memories you’ll have from your stay.

visiting Portugal worth it - Sunset Portugal
The everyday sunset in Portugal.

2Trams make everyone happy.

Life in Portugal’s major cities has been beautified by historical trams running all over the downtown in the past century. Particularly in Lisbon it’s impossible to leave the city without a ride in the popular tram 28 which connects areas of the city still inaccessible by metro.

3The coffee is damn good.

This association might not be immediate, but if I say that back in its glorious days, Portugal colonized Brazil, Angola and East Timor – producers of some of the finest coffee – things make more sense. You’ll never find better value-for-money relation for coffee in Europe. A good quality espresso will cost you no more than 0,70EUR.

4You can live a fairytale in Sintra.

Only a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon, this little hilltop town is an impressive display of elegant palaces, castles and fortresses all in the spectacular setting of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The romantic architecture of Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) is not to be missed and should be closest you’ll ever have to your dream of being a princess.

worth visiting Portugal - Castle in Sintra
Century-old walls of Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra.

5The fish is uber fresh.

Vegetarians can skip this one. More than 800km of coast, the biggest fishing zone in Europe and laughable prices make of Portugal one of the most fish-friendly places you’ve ever been. Dourada, Sardinhas and Robalo are always delicious options.

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6Cobblestone streets are everywhere.

I’m really not a fan of mosaic floors as part of urban planning that can be found in the major cities of Portugal (and also in portuguese-influenced places like Rio de Janeiro). I think they’re crazy expensive, and I can see myself easily twisting an ankle when of the stones gets loose. Glad I’m not a woman and I don’t wear high heels!

But I’ll admit the patterns and designs in some of them are quite stunning. Walking in Portugal is literally walking on art!

worth visiting portugal - Pavement Lisbon
I chose an hypnotising pavement sample on purpose.
Photo by Tim Cowlishaw @ Flickr.

7Santos Festivities will rock your world.

You can have music festivals, all kind of art events, but this is the real thing. In June, residents from both Lisboa – Santo António festivities – and PortoSão João festivities – flock to the most traditional neighbourhoods for the festivities in honour of the local saints. You don’t need to be religious though. But expect popular music, lots of dancing and party until dawn!

8It possibly has Europe’s greatest climate.

Mild winters with temperatures rarely drop below 5ºC along the coast, hot summers refreshed by the Atlantic breeze and the highest number of hours of sunshine in Europe. Hard to beat this.

Visiting Portugal - Ribeira das Naus
Quite a good choice of a place to read a book. @ Lisboa, Portugal.

9Azulejos are your next design obsession.

I reckon there’s no other place in the world where tile art is so popular. Prepare to find elaborate-painted tiles on the historical buildings, modern design instalments and even souvenirs shops. There’s even a museum dedicated to it!

10We are serious about wine.

Portugal seems to be in the second-tier in the wine world, right after France, Italy and Spain despite of the famous Port Wine and even though portuguese wines win the most prestigious awards every year. Chances are there is a great quality wine at a very reasonable price waiting for you. From my experience, wines from Alentejo tend to be specially good.

11You’ll fall in love with Porto.

Speaking of wine, the second-largest city in Portugal has renewed itself in recent years and is becoming a serious european city break destination. People are uber friendly, food is great, prices are even better and the city is settled in a serious romantic setting. What’s there not to like?

Check out my Porto travel guide for dummies to get you inspired.

visiting Portugal visit portugal- Ribeira Porto
Ribeira @ Porto, Portugal.

12Pastéis de Nata are a feast to your taste buds.

A lot has been said about pastéis de nata (custard tarts). I’ll just say if you leave Portugal without trying this wonder of the world of pastry, something is profoundly wrong with you.

13It’s the ideal place to learn or master the art of surfing.

If you are into surf, the wild uncrowded Atlantic waves, mild climate and the huge community of surfers and surf camps should easily seduce you. Nazaré, Peniche, Ericeira and all the coast of Alentejo are amongst the hot spots of surfing in Portugal.

Visiting Portugal - Waves are great for surfing in Portugal
Atlantic waves are great for surfing . Photo by wrphotos.org @ Flickr.




14We actually can communicate with you.

Portugal has more fluent English speakers than any other southern European country. Due to subtitled (and not dubbed) movies and TV series, younger generations in general are all able to speak good English and with quite a spot-on accent. Older people tend to have English and French as their second language. Anyway the point is: we get what you’re saying.

15Fado music will make you emotional.

Fado is probably the most melancholic music you’ll ever hear and still somehow makes the ideal soundtrack for every trip to Portugal. Even if you don’t understand a word, it has the power to make you introspective. The new generation of singers like Ana Moura and Mariza is making fado sexy and modern.

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16We are professionals on the activity of going to the beach.

You’ll probably know Portugal’s beaches are among the country’s highlights, it’s in every postcard and travel brochure. What I particularly enjoy is their diversity. Whether you go for the wild beaches of Costa Vicentinafor a roadtrip in the beautiful Portugal’s coastline -, the volcanic dark sands of the Azores or the balmy beaches surrounded by towering cliffs in the Algarve, you can be sure to be laying your towel in a top-notch beach.

17Days are brighter.

Apart from being one of the places with more hours of sunshine per year, Portugal is also where the light is particularly impressive. With that amount of light available naturally, no wonder why the movie industry loves shooting in Lisbon. Just make sure you bring your sunglasses!

http://www.instagram.com/p/BGjqcaAM-FC/

18You can back in touch with nature in the Azores Islands.

Hard to remain unbiased, because São Miguel island is the place where I was born. Located 1500km off the coast of Portugal, exploring the stunning lakes, mountains and cliffs in these volcanic islands is a truly unique experience.

I’ve put together a compilation of all the things you need to know before going to Azores – just go while they are still an hidden gem!

Visiting Portugal - Miradouro da Lagoa do Canário
São Miguel island, Azores, Portugal.

19Music festivals pop out like mushrooms.

Music festivals have become a huge part in the summer event calendar. There are festivals for all kinds of musical tastes all across the country. Meo Sudoeste for electronic and pop music in Alentejo and NOS Alive in Lisbon for rock and indie are amongst the most popular.

20People will welcome you like true friends.

As a general rule, portuguese are very nice and easy-going people. They will try hard to make you feel at home and this is more evident the further North you go in the country. You’ll learn that all we really care about is sun, a drink and a good chat with friends.

21Lisboa will keep you busy… and happy!

The second oldest city in Europe (after Athens!) is a trendy, cool and alternative hotspot right now. With inspiring architecture, a bustling nightlife and stunning beach day-trips around, Lisbon is the new european obsession. Find out the 7 experiences not to miss there.

My top hotel recommendations in Lisbon

 

Hotel HF Fenix Music
 
Charmingly music-themed hotel, super close to the center. Oh it comes with this stunning rooftop swimming pool.
Book now


 
 

We Love F Tourists
 
Located in busy Rossio – the heart of Lisbon – it’s just one of those amazing value places that will make you feel at home. Perfect to make friends. Book now

Or… find your own!

Use this list of quality hotels and guesthouses I’ve put together to get you started. ALL of these are located in downtown Lisbon, with WiFi and with a rating of 8 or higher. Just pick your favourite!

22The shellfish is to die for.

While you are in Portugal, prepare to taste the sea like never before. Like the seafood itself, the portuguese cuisine is fresh and displays delicious and original combinations. Salada de polvo (octopus salad) and Carne de Porco à Alentejana (pork with clams) are a must-try.

23It’s a golf-friendly destination.

Okay, so my knowledge of golf is close to what I know about artichokes plantations: zero. I don’t even particularly like this sport. All I know is there are close to 70 golf courses in the country – half of them classified as high standard – specially in the Algarve area. If golfing is your thing, all the conditions are met for you to have a great time in Portugal.

24You’ll learn to crave Francesinha.

Does the idea of a steak, ham, cheese sandwich with an egg on top and a gravy-based sauce seduces you? It should, even though you may want to eat a salad in the next meal for the sake of your arteries.

25You can still find authenticity.

Despite 2014 was the year of all records for portuguese tourism, you can still expect many calm and peaceful places. Many authentic restaurants, shops and experiences undiscovered my tourists remain authentic, unlike other mainstream destinations like Venice and my home-city right now, Barcelona.

Visiting Portugal - Alfama
Laid-back way of living.
Photo by Allie_Caulfield @ Flickr.

26We don’t kill the bull.

I personally don’t enjoy bullfights and it amazes me how it’s still a thing in the 21st century. But at least we don’t kill the bull…in public. Also, we have forcados: a group of men who challenge the bull directly, without weapon or protection of any kind. Because if you are going to mess with an animal, that’s the way it should be, right?

27Óbidos is a journey in time.

This little town is encircled by a ring of medieval walls and shows off a rebuilt Moorish castle, now a rural hotel (Pousada). Wandering around the streets of Óbidos is quite an experience and if you pair with the International Chocolate Festival in March, it’s a double win. Don’t forget to try a Ginjinha, a cherry liquor!

28The world’s best aquarium is there.

Seriously, I’m not bragging. Recently, travellers from Trip Advisor elected Oceanário as the best aquarium in the world. If you don’t go for the couple of otters, the penguins or the huge main tank, the architecture of the building is a reason to visit by itself.

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29The nightlife is unique.

Like many other things, alcohol is also cheap in Portugal which makes it the ideal place to go both to celebrate something going on in your life or to forget your ex. If you are in Lisbon, there’s no way you’ll miss the trendy Bairro Alto neighborhood. Here you can drink, chat and dance literally on the street.

30There is a bakery in every corner.

There’s life beyond custard tarts in the bakery department too. Portugal produces incredible pastries and loaves of bread which I deeply miss here in Barcelona. I challenge you to enter one of the many bakeries and try to choose only ONE thing to eat. ONLY ONE.




31We have big waves. I mean REALLY big waves.

Nazaré was all over the news recently when Garret MacNamara clamed to surfed the largest wave in the world there (30 meters). Apart from an attraction for surfers and photographers, Nazaré is also the most traditional fishing village in Portugal, showing colourful traditions and of course, great fresh fish.

32It has got almost one millennium of history.

Technically a country since 1143, Portugal has kept its borders untouched since then. It may nowadays be considered one of Europe’s scum (together with Spain and Greece), but what most people don’t know is that it once was one of the most powerful countries in the world. During the Discoveries era, its empire spread out over South America, Africa, India and even Asia. This alone is a reason to visit!

http://instagram.com/p/o_9JV1M-IX/

33Neighborhood markets are fun.

Markets are the essence and beating heart of any town or city and Portugal is not an exception. Whether you go to the renewed Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon, to the more classic Mercado do Bolhão in Porto or any other, you’ll have a great time in the middle of fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious restaurants and the yells of the vendors trying to catch your attention.

34There are 1001 ways to cook codfish and they’re all amazing.

Don’t care about Bacalhau (codfish)? No worries, you’ll start loving it anyway. Codfish is Portugal’s national protein and we prepare it in the most diverse ways. Try Bacalhau com Natas (with cream), Bacalhau à Brás (with scrambled egg and olives) and Bacalhau à Lagareiro (with olive oil and mashed potatoes) to start rediscovering this versatile fish in a delicious way.

visiting Portugal - Bacalhau Bras
Bacalhau à Brás (codfish with scrambled eggs and potatoes). OM NOM NOM.
Photo by Iguaria.com

35Overall, food is ridiculously cheap.

Once I start writing about food I can’t stop, but I seriously can’t stress how big this is in Portugal. A traditional meal like one of the codfish dishes in the previous point or Arroz de Pato (Duck baked with rice) in a decent average-priced restaurant will never cost you more than 9 euros. In the northern part of the country, this drops to 6 or 7 euros (!). And I’m talking about the main portuguese cities here. Check out my post about food in Azores too.

36Alentejo’s coastline is a delight to the soul.

Man, I don’t know if it’s the Atlantic breeze or the easy going lifestyle, but there’s something about the coast of Alentejo. While the interior can get too hot in summer time, the coastline has a refreshing set of wild beaches and impressive cliffs that make a hell of a road trip. One of the best-kept secrets in Europe, if you ask me. Check out my selection of the best guest and rural houses in Alentejo.

why visiting portugal is worth it - hiking in costa vicentina

37The outdoors activities are just endless.

Join a good climate with the most diverse landscapes and you’ll never want to be inside four walls. Hiking in the islands of Azores and Madeira, paragliding in Serra da Arrábida or zip-lining in Gerês natural park are just a small sample of what you can do in this country. Don’t even get me started on water sports!

38We are in the verge of three worlds.

Due to its strategic location as the western most country of mainland Europe in the confluence of the European, American and African continents, Portugal is directly connected by air to half of the world. Low-cost airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet fly from Lisbon and Porto to all the major european cities for less than 100EUR.

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39It’s eye-catchy.

You’ll learn to appreciate the little details in Portugal. Clothes hanging on the windows of colorful buildings, intricate elements on Manueline style buildings, gorgeous sunsets in the sea, neighbourhoods with narrow streets, you name it! For photography lovers, it’s hard to stop pushing the shutter button.

visiting Portugal - Arco Rua Augusta Lisbon
A different angle to Arco de Rua Augusta in Lisbon.

40We are way more liberal than you think.

Despite holding off to our deepest traditions, we are very forward-thinking in some other aspects. Same sex marriages have been legal for years. Transgenders can easily change their gender. And while selling huge amounts of drugs is still illegal, drug use is admitted – and this has actually led to a decrease on the overall number of drug users in the country.

41Algarve is perfect for sun-seekers.

Probably this is the Portugal you know better, because this is where millions of tourists – including almost all portuguese families – flock every yea seeking the three Ss: sun, sea and sand. Despite the crowds, the weather is great and the beaches are renowned worldwide, specially around Lagos, Tavira and Portimão. Try this guide by Lonely Planet to get you started and check out my selection of the hotels with best reviews in the area.

Visiting Portugal - Prainha Algarve
Prainha beach in Algarve. TAKE ME THERE. Photo by Rodrigo Goméz Sanz @ Flickr

42Portuguese know how to keep themselves going.

I’ve already mentioned wine, but the full Portuguese alcohol experience requires for you to try the alluring diversity of spirits and liquors. The most popular is probably Ginjinha (cherry liquor) from Óbidos, but there many other flavours up to taste like Moscatel (made from a special kind of wine) and my favorite, Licor de Amêndoa Amarga (liquor made from bitter almonds).

43You’ll learn what saudade is.

After you’ve been to Portugal, something will grow on you. You’ll start missing the country and its people, weather and culture. Congrats, now you know what every Portuguese person feels when they’re away from home: saudade!

 

PORTUGAL MINI TRAVEL GUIDE

How to get to Portugal

The best way is by air. Lisbon and Porto are very well served by airline connections from all over Europe and also from the U.S., South America and Africa.

Top places to visit

Personally, I always recommend Porto, Lisbon and Alentejo‘s coast. If you are able to go to these three places, you’ll get a pretty great idea of what Portugal really is. They’re all memorable in different ways. Ideally, with a bit more time and money, hop on a flight to Azores for a few days for a true nature therapy.

Where to stay in Portugal

To make your life easier, start your search with my pre-selection of the best hostels/hotels/guesthouses/villas for each of these amazing spots:

These include only accommodations with great-to-excellent rating and a good free WiFi . You can’t go wrong with these!

Best time to go to Portugal

While summers are long in Portugal and you can expect good weather anywhere between May and October, make sure you avoid August. Unless you have a thing for packed beaches!

What you MUST do

Eat a pastel de nata. Drink wine. Get some vitamin D in your skin. It does not sound like a hard life, does it? Relax, you’re in Portugal!

Useful Portugal Resources




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So, did I convince you visiting Portugal is a reeeaaaally good idea?

If not, here’s this Portuguese water dog to make up your mind.

Visiting Portugal - Portuguese Water Dog
I know you are smiling now.

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103 comments

  1. I am writing to recommend several sites North of Porto, far from the sun-worshiping golf life of southern Portugal. Porto, Braga, Vila de Conde, Ponte de Lima, Barcelos….all are wonderful, far from the tourist crowds, and are relatively close to each other.

  2. A group of us are planning to visit Portugal next year. We’ve done bus tours and river cruises but would like to try renting a couple of places and going on day trips. Any advice? There could be as many as 7 couples so we’d need a few houses/apartments. Is this even possible to do? I loved your article and took notes. My son-in-law has already introduced us to the addictive custard tarts!!

    1. That’s a lot of people, so I’d probably start by looking at large apartments in Airbnb. Where are you heading? Maybe I can give you more specific advice.

  3. We leave for Portugal in 2 weeks! We will be in Porto for 4 days, Lisbon 5 days…I already feel it won’t be enough time. I have searched and searched for great articles on Portugal, this beats them all!! Thank you:) I will be taking many notes from this.

  4. Oi Bruno, Td bem? Adorei os textos sobre Portugal e compramos nossas passagens. Sou brasileira e irei com meu filho de 3 anos e marido em
    novembro. Temos 15 dias e 16 noites em
    Portugal. Já conhecemos Lisboa, Sintra e Cascais. Pensei em fazer um roteiro de 7 noites pela costa sudoeste , de Lisboa a Faro (usarei as sugestões que vc passou no outro texto) e pensei em incluir 4 dias em Porto (c visitas de um dia a Douro e um dia em Guimarães). Que outras cidades do interior vc recomenda? Muito, muito obrigada, Carolina.

    1. Parece-me um roteiro muito bom! 🙂
      A única coisa que posso acrescentar é se tiverem tempo, recomendo incluir Nazaré, Óbidos e Braga.

      Uma excelente viagem em família! 🙂

  5. hi, me and my husband are planning to travel to Portugal now at the end of august. We are definitely going to travel to Lisbon and Porto but we are going back and forth if we should stay for a couple of nights in the cascais beach area. We know its pretty close to Lisbon so we were wondering if its just easier to rent a car and travel back and forth or just stay over night. If you have any ideas I would love to hear it thanks.
    irene

    1. Just for reference, there are better beaches near Lisbon. Arrabida, Costa da Caparica, Meco, etc are all wider beaches with clearer waters.

      Having that said, you can take a 40-min train to Cascais from the Cais do Sodre station, so you can do a couple of day trips if you want!

  6. Bruno, you’ve convinced me. I’ll be visiting in May and can’t wait. Thanks for all the great information!

  7. This makes it imperative I visit there. My great grandparents migrated to Hawaii for the Azores and Madeira. I am having a hard time deciding whichI want to visit. Don’t have the finances to do all of it. I would like to find cruise ship that visits both and Lisbon but what I find is either the Azores or Madeira and maybe Lisbon. I really want to go soon.

    1. Azores are more suited if you like true nature, hiking and the outdoors. It’s much less crowded than Madeira and you rarely find busy spots to eat or take a photo.

      Apart from some great hiking trails and scenic views, infrastructure in Madeira is more developed, there are more hotels and tourists.

      Up to you!

  8. Obrigada! De uma Portuguesa em Inglaterra, ja faz mais que 10 anos que não vou a Portugal.
    Realmente ha muitas tradições que ninguém nunca ira entender, como as padeiras, a culinária, a historia, muitas pessoas não entendem.
    Tenho muitas SAUDADES. <3

  9. Thanks – I have 9 days in Portugal. Is it best to split my time between Lisbon & Porto and take day trips from each? Travel by car or train? I would imagine parking could be difficult…

    1. Well depends on what you want to see, you’re the best person to decide that! I’m afraid you can’t visit all the places in this article by doing day trips from Lisbon, some are just too far away.

      Having that said, yes I recommend getting your own wheels for more flexibility.

  10. Great article. I am an Aussie in Valencia visiting friends and will have 4 days to visit Portugal. Where should I go to maximise the experience (single middle aged female on a budget – love sun, water, food, history, walking, meeting people). Fly from Valencia to?

  11. Hello I have just read your blog which was very interesting, we are going to cascais in June and staying at the grand villa real hotel while there we plan to eat well and hope to find some good restaurants ,what do you recommend for all price ranges high end dining to local cuisine.

    1. Indulge in seafood whenever you can, Lisboa and Cascais are great places for that.

      For good steak, try Dom Prego (very local).

  12. I am thinking of traveling to Portugal this fall,and maybe buying a small home. Is it safe for a widow to travel or live by herself?

    1. Yes! We have great weather and the people are nice and really friendly. Im not saying this for being Portuguese, but we’re a safe country overall. I’ve lived in Spain and France for 2 years and Portugal is better for living a peaceful and happy life!

  13. Hi Bruno, that was an excellent read. I am planning 20 days trip over Protugal, so you’ve helped me a lot.
    Could you recommend me some places on the eastern and central part of Portugal that are worth visit?

    Best regards.

    1. If you haven’t visited it yet, I suggest Castelo Branco ( beautiful town with amazing view from the Castle, with low population, ideal to relieve the stress and chill ) , Evora ( historical buildings, culture ) and Coimbra ( my favourite town to visit on Central part, beautiful streets, buildings, college, and great parks near the river).
      These are on the central part of Portugal, you can always visit Lisbon,Porto and Algarve(Faro) for the beaches and amazing views aswell.

  14. This was a very interesting article. I’m planning a trip in October, and your article got me even more excited to go!
    I was wondering if you could help me with the itinerary…
    My boyfriend and I (both in our 30s) are planning a trip to Portugal beginning of October (Oct. 1 early morning to Oct. 9 or 10) and we desperately need help with the planning! We will fly into Ponte Delgada where I know a tour guide, so we don’t need suggestions for there, and stay a few days, then fly to Lisbon. We want to stay in Lisbon for a few days then take the train to Porto for a few days too, and then come back to Lisbon to fly out. We’re not sure how many days to spend at each of those places. We are interested in wineries, food, culture, beaches, river cruises, city tours, half/day or day trips, etc… What other cities should we visit and how to get to those places. I’ve been recommended to see Matosinhos, so I’m thinking surf class. Any suggestions are welcome.

    Thank you so much for any advice you could give us.

    1. Looks like you have everything well planned out.

      Lisbon
      I recommend maybe going to Sintra. Check out my other article about experiences Lisbon in this same blog!

      Porto
      If you are into wineries, don’t miss the wine lodges of Gaia (opposite margin of the river of Porto). A river cruise through Douro might be a good idea for a daytrip!

  15. What a fabulous article! At first I was hesitant about going but now I am 100% convinced! I like the originality , sincerity and sense of humour about this article!

  16. We visited Portugal this summer – and loved it. One of my favorite towns was Evora. The span of history was fascinating…19th century buildings, gothic cathedral and bone chapel, Roman temple, and megalithic standing stones. All with a wonderful square with restaraunts and good wine.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Laura. Évora is indeed such a charming city with its medieval walls in the middle of those huge fields around. I found the bone chapel a bit too creepy – maybe because I was there all by myself!

  17. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and amusing, and let
    me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.

    The issue is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something concerning this.

  18. I went to Lisbon for my Honeymoon. We wanted a European country that had great history, wasn’t one of the typical locations for people to go honeymooning, had amazing food, and was relatively inexpensive. Portugal fit the bill and it could not have been better. The food was ridiculously good (I really love food, lucky I got a good metabolism) and the fish was amazingly fresh. I had fish for every meal and I never got bored because they can cook it in so many different ways. And you really can’t beat $9 Salmon fillets bigger then my face.

    The sunsets were gorgeous, the people were friendly and they did all speak English. I learned some Portuguese but wasn’t very confident with it and everyone speaking English didn’t force me to flex those muscles (so I guess that’s a down side)

    The history is great and everything there is old and beautiful. We went in May and had an amazing time. The Lisbon Zoo is the best I have ever visited. We originally weren’t going to go but had such a great time at the Aquarium that we decided to check it out. It was huge and amazing. Like everything else there.

    All together, including our plane tickets from the US, I think the whole trip cost us $4500, maybe, it was more likely less. But it was worth twice that for the experience we got.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! Portugal is not often chosen as a honeymoon destination, but it’s such a diverse country it really has something for everyone.

      I’m still to find a better place to eat fish than Portugal. It’s cheap and it’s delicious. Just reading you talk about it made me hungry!!

      Did you do any daytrips? Let me know if one day you are willing to come back, can help you with some tips and planning for other places in the country!

      Obrigado! 🙂

  19. Great review and now I have great ideas of where to go on our trip in June with my inlaws(60ish,brother and wife) and my teenage kids..Looking forward to the Azores and southern Portugal for the beaches..I have always wanted to go whale watching so that is now on my list of things to do in Portugal. Can you suggest a great beach with waves in Sao Miguel? Also how many days would you suggest for the Azores and the mainland? We are coming from the U.S. And staying 12 days trying to see as much as possible with some relaxation too..

    1. Well, almost all beaches in the Azores have waves. If you’re looking for particularly big waves, the best are in the Northern coast of Sao Miguel – Santa Barbara for instance.

      As for the overall timings of the trip, it depends on how many islands you want to visit. For only Sao Miguel, I recommend at least 4-5 days to fully take it in. Check my article on the 4-day itinerary of Sao Miguel to have a better understanding.

  20. DON”T POST this… it’s just a note to you.

    1) Great post… I’m sold. Coming in April.
    2) Just because they caught my eye… Editing: #18 You can (get) back in touch… add ‘get’
    3) Editing: #41 flock every yea (add the ‘r’ to year)

  21. I just came home from 2 months in Portugal! We stayed up north about 2 hours away from Porto. I felt a pang of nostalgia reading this (especially the bacalau). The Sporting & Benfica stadiums in Lisboa are pretty cool for all the soccer-lovers (which is almost everyone in Portugal haha).

    1. Soccer is pretty much the favorite topic of conversation of every portuguese (except me). Where did you stay? 2 months is a long time, you must have wandered a lot!

  22. A childhood dream to visit and experience my birth father’s Portuguese bloodline (Santos) of where they originated from. I have yet to do the genealogy to know exactly where my grandparents (Andrade and Santos) and great grandparents originated from by ship to Hawaii. That in itself would be so meaningful to me. It is a goal to make my dream a reality! I am thankful and love all that is shared of my heritage.

    1. It’s really impressive to see how much you appreciate your own heritage. I’m sure a visit to Portugal would be a trip to discover more about yourself, you should definitely put it on your plans.

    1. I got back 10 days ago:) I went to Tanzania. Kilimanjaro was amazing and the safari great! Dreaming of my next trip I looked up the Azores and saw the weather in December isn’t great. I’ll have to find another vacation time to make it work!

  23. Loved this article! I’m moving to PortugalPortugal from the US in January for work and any info on day to day living as well as things to do is always appreciated. I’m so excited to experience this country!

  24. Love your write up for Portugal. I run a holiday business renting out villas and apts in the Algarve and have been doing this for over 20 years. There are many beautiful areas – I did a driving tour once through the Douro valley down to Porto which was beautiful and then continued down through the Alentejo (great wine as you say!) down alone the wild and stunning west coast to the Algarve. I do love the Algarve but there are many other areas worth a visit as you say. People are very friendly and yes do speak great English. I will tag your blog on my fb page. Kind rgds Nichola

    1. Thanks for your words Nichola. Looks like you’ve been everywhere, you just need to go to Azores now!
      I wish all the success to your business, although I’m sure you won’t have much problem finding clients 😀

  25. hi

    wonderful write up and pictures! and yes Portugal is amazing! we visited last may and are coming out again in October as we have decided to retire there from the uk. I have working line german shepherds and so we have in common the dogs and a love of Portugal lol…..It would be nice if you would drop me an email – I would love to talk with you

    best wishes
    elaine

    1. I can’t stay for sure it’s true, but that’s a common saying in Portugal and actually my mom had a “1001 ways to cook codfish” at home :p

  26. I just got back from my first time in Portugal last night and I cannot stop laughing at the accuracy of this list!!!! Very well written

  27. My husband is from Portugal and my mother in law lives there now. I visited a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with the country. I long to back! We fully plan on living there one day.

  28. 4 motivos para visitar Portugal:
    a) Populacão amigável, b) bastante coisas para ver e fazer, c) comidas e bebidas da primeira, e d) a idioma näo é super-complicada! Atenciosamente K.K.

  29. We love Portugal so much we moved our business here, we are in the middle of the Alentejo near the beautiful city of Portalegre. Our business is based around the touristic motorcyclist a group who love to explore.
    We found you on a facebook link so we will spread your blog there and hopefully you can spread ours.
    We are definitely high up on any touristic motorcyclists agenda…
    You can even book us direct through Booking.com and airbnb so get on it.
    Thank you for a very interesting re evaluation of Portugal.

    1. I will definitely take a look and congrats for your business, definitely hit a nice niche there!
      And thanks for choosing Portugal!

      Cheers!

  30. I ve been in Portugal twice – my first time was in 2008 and the second one this year. I trully love this country, especially Lisboa (I am sure I will move there someday) and Algarve coast (around Portimao…). I dont want to wait another 7 years for next visit 😉 Btw, its not true that food in restaurants is “deadly” cheap – 6-7 euro is rather an average price of francesinha , not – bacalhau a braz, but I agree with you in all other points. Great article!

    1. Thanks mate.
      From my experience when I lived in Lisboa I could eat Bacalhau a Bras (and similar) for 6-7 euros as a “dish of the day” in many restaurants out of the most touristy areas. In Porto, next to the place I worked, there was a restaurant with codfish dishes for 4 euros (!). I’m assuming prices at dinner are a bit higher, but it’s possible to eat for 6-7 euros.

      Anyway, you shouldn’t definitely wait 7 years for the next visit Tom!

      Cheers!

  31. Great article with beautiful pictures. I am living in the Algarve since 2007 and started a website with info and rentals. I just wanted to add that even in the middle of August there are lots of places to visit or to stay, where you are away from the crowds and find peace and quiet.

    1. Thanks for your insight Marianne.
      I was mostly referring to the most touristic places and major cities, I’m sure there are beautiful places where you find some peace, even in August!

  32. All great points! Now I’m craving Portuguese food and wine. Do you know where I can find good Portuguese recipes?

    I may be the only person who didn’t fall in love with Porto. I liked it and I won’t deny it’s a very lovely city, but I didn’t -love- it. Maybe because I’m faithful to Lisbon? 😉

    I’d love to go to NOS Alive again, been there four years ago when it was still called Optimus Alive and had a great time 😀

    1. All the recipes I know are in my head 😀
      But I’m sure there’s a Pinterest board about it!

      Maybe I loved Porto so much because I lived there and got to know the true essence of the people, the city became even more beautiful on my eyes.