Prior to my trip, I was asked “why visit Portugal?” and my response was always “why not visit Portugal?” After visiting this wonderful country, I wanted to provide a few of my favorite reasons why I loved Portugal, and maybe convince others to visit lovely Portugal!
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Portugal became a recognized independent country in 1143 A.D. With hundreds of years of history, Portugal is a delight to visit for history lovers. Influences from the Celts, Muslims, Prehistoric inhabitants, and Romans are seen in various historical sites scattered throughout the country. Walking on cobblestone streets and visiting castles and other historical sites that are hundreds of years old, take visitors back in time. From buildings, castles, churches, monuments, museums, train stations, and even the streets you walk on, all share a long and unique history that make Portugal the oldest nation-state in Europe.
We were greeted by welcoming locals in Portugal. The very friendly Portuguese people often stopped to see if we needed help with directions, gave suggestions about local bars/restaurants, and proudly gave a small Portuguese history lesson whenever we asked questions. From the moment we stepped out of the metro station in Lisbon, looking at our map, a friendly local asked if we needed help and guided us to our hotel. On a bus ride back to Lisbon from Belem, an elderly gentleman gave me a quick 10-minute Portuguese history lesson. While Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, most people also speak English fluently. I rarely had a communication barrier in Portugal because of the fluent English language. Although having the “safety net” of English in Portugal was nice, I learned a few Portuguese words prior to my trip, and locals said they appreciated my efforts to speak in their native language. The Portuguese people are some of the friendliest locals I have encountered throughout my travels!
3. Food and Wine:
Portuguese food is fresh, simple, and delicious. Being a coastal country, much of Portuguese cuisine is seafood based. But you can also find meat dishes, fresh vegetables, soups and stews, breads, and wonderful fresh baked pastries. While trying traditional Portuguese cuisine is a must when you visit Portugal, we also tried several ethnic restaurants that combined traditional Portuguese ingredients with ethnic flavors to create unique dishes. We honestly never had a bad meal our entire time in Portugal!
Portuguese wine is simply delicious! Being a wine lover, I enjoyed trying several varieties of Portuguese wine and Port. Famous for Port wine, and the Douro Valley, Portugal has delighted wine lovers for centuries. While lesser-known, and more cost-efficient than other European wines, Portuguese wines offer a refreshing taste and numerous varieties for wine drinkers. From white, rosé, red, sparkling, Madeira, Moscatel, and Port, visitors can find the perfect Portuguese wine to satisfy their palate!
4. Scenery and Weather:
The scenery of Portugal is breathtaking. From coastlines and beaches, coves, fishing villages, islands, mountains, rivers, rolling plains, rock formations, valleys, and even volcanic scenery on the Azorean archipelago, Portugal provides beautiful and diverse scenery. With so much to see in Portugal, the amazing weather invites visitors to explore all of Portugal’s terrain. Average temperatures throughout the year are 15-28°C (59-82°F), but can vary from region to region. The southern Algarve region boasts an average of twelve-hours of sunlight per day! With almost perfect year-round weather and fantastic scenery, a visit to Portugal is picture-perfect any time of the year.
Whenever I visit a new city, I typically use public transportation. Portugal has great train systems that can take visitors to the major cities throughout the country. Of course, the smaller towns and villages are usually only accessible by car, or sometimes bus, but the major cities are connected by buses and railways. In Lisbon and Porto, several types of public transportation made it easy to get around. From buses, funiculars, taxis, trains, and trams the ease of use of the low cost made using public transportation a breeze. Public transportation is great for getting around quickly, plus it also gives you a chance to meet locals!
These are just a few of the many reasons why visiting Portugal is a must! Other reasons I haven’t mentioned are: affordability (lowest prices in Western Europe), size (compact size affords visitors to see more of this beautiful country in a shorter time), beautiful Portuguese tiles on building facades and amazing architecture, and a welcoming tourism board (Visit Portugal answered questions and provided wonderful suggestions to make my visit to Portugal fantastic!).