Put your finger anywhere on the map without overthinking it. Now move it over to Portugal. Congratulations, you’ve done yourself an immense favor and have set in motion what is bound to be an adventure of a lifetime! You see, Portugal is one of those enchanting places so rich, so diverse, and so mesmerizing that it never fails to steal the heart and satisfy every traveler’s longing and desire. So here to give you a glimpse of the wonderful experiences that await in the westernmost country of Europe are the five delicious reasons why Portugal should be a prominent bucket list destination.
1. A heaven for foodie travelers
A perfect vacation abroad can constitute many things, and the quality and diversity of the local cuisine is definitely among the most important requirements. Even if you’ve never considered yourself a foodie traveler up until now, there is simply no way to elude the enchanting charms of the sweet and savory aromas at every corner.
The Portuguese food palate is rich and diverse, with fresh fish dishes crowning the local menus, accompanied by a vast array of wines to perfectly complement every meal. Be sure to try the traditional Bacalhau – salt cod prepared in more than a thousand ways – and don’t leave without a sip of true Port and Madeira wine. The local culture takes pride in their sweet delicacies as well, and tasting the numerous iterations of a Portuguese pastry is truly a religious experience.
2. that breathtaking landscape
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the Portuguese countryside is, in that case, a novel. Now imagine actually visiting these places – truly an unforgettable experience. So are there any particular locations you shouldn’t miss? Oh yes.
One of the most scenic spots in the country, Peneda-Geres National Park is an expansive mountainous region in the country’s far north. Unencumbered by the dread of mass tourism, the region offers plenty of outdoor opportunities from hiking and trekking, to cycling and even canyoning for the adventurers among you.
Be sure to visit Madeira as well, the hiking central of the country off the western coast of Africa. Take a trip to the Azores for some good old whale watching, and don’t forget to bring a picnic basket to Lake Alqueva where you can spend the day soaking in the beautiful scenery.
3. Lisbon - where history and innovation live harmoniously
By now you’ve gotten to know that truly unforgettable Portugal holidays must include a comprehensive visit to the historic capital of Lisbon. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience it for all its worth than to walk the picturesque streets of downtown Lisbon. Soak in the architecture, the aromas from the cafes, and the positive vibes that permeate the setting.
Although a cultural sanctity in its own right, Portugal has also become Europe’s major tech and startup hub. It attracts digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and millennials from all around the world. This harmony between tradition and innovation creates a thriving urban setting that preserves the local culture while making Lisbon a great place to have a good time. Speaking of, here’s what you shouldn’t miss.
4. The sights, sounds, & tastes of Lisbon
First off, you want to take a ride on the iconic Tram 28 that will take you through the heart of the city. It passes a plethora of breathtaking landmarks from cobblestone streets all the way to the architectural wonder that is the Estrella Basilica.
Next, visit the old town of Alfama, preferably losing yourself in the tiny streets and exploring the historic neighborhood on foot. Make a pit stop at one of the quaint cafes and order a cup of freshly-brewed coffee with a side of Madeira Honey Cake – you’re welcome.
Needless to say, revel in the masterpieces of Portuguese painters and sculptors at the National Museum of Ancient Art, and it is also a must to make a visit to every art gallery along the way. Before the day is over, be sure to visit the Lisbon Oceanarium and watch in awe as the rich marine life unique to the region frolics before you.
5. Travel the small towns & quaint villages
Finally, every town and village in Portugal is a unique depiction of the country’s long history and cultural heritage. As such, it would be a shame to skip this valuable part of the Portuguese escapade. Among the most prominent locations, the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro, is a must-see.
The town of Coimbra should be in your itinerary as well, as it’s has been one of the most prestigious arts and culture centers in the country for over half a millennium. Don’t forget to visit the scenic town of Evora as well, a meticulously preserved historic setting with medieval walls and palaces dating back to the 14th century.
Amazingly, even though a relatively small country, Portugal has more to offer that can be experienced in a single trip. And another good thing about this enchanting region of the Iberian Peninsula is that it always seems to offer something that’s worth taking a trip back. With these five delicious tips in mind, go ahead and live out your Portuguese adventure of a lifetime.
Marie Nieves is a travel blogger who loves unusual trips, active holidays, gadgets and creative ideas. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag.
Most of her free time at home she spends walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences.