PORTUGAL: The country is a gastronome's delight with its wide array of food and wine
A dozens of reasons why to travel Portugal..
A dozens of reasons why to travel Portugal..
Forgotten in the shadows of Southern European giants such as France, Italy or Spain for decades, Portugal has been the fashionable place to go in the last few years. But... for what?
This year, I've listed dozens of reasons for making you fly to Portugal. My secret target is to get you to book a flight before you even finish the list!
1) The sunsets in the sea
A little detail which makes all the difference. Luckily Portugal has most of its awe-inspiring west facing coastline and beaches, which happens to be the sunset orientation each day.
Visit the coastline and you'll find sunsets among the most fantastic memories you'll have of your stay.
2) Trams bring happiness to all
Life in the major cities of Portugal has been embellished in the last century by historic trams operating throughout the city centre. It's impossible not to smile particularly in Lisbon when you see the yellow lovely vehicles going up and down the hills.
While trams are a definite eye-candy, some lines are considered to be painful, and a paradise for pickpocketing.
3) The coffee is fuckin' sweet. Maybe this connection isn't immediate, but if I mention that back in its glorious days, Portugal colonized Brazil, Angola, and East Timor– some of the finest coffee producers– things make more sense.
In Europe, you will never find a better value-for-money coffee comparison. A good quality espresso will cost no more than EUR 1 per user.
4) In Sintra you could live a fairytale
Just a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon, this small hilltop town is an impressive display of elegant palaces, castles and fortresses all in the stunning setting of the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais.
Palácio da Pena's romantic architecture must not be missed, and is the closest real-life representation of a Disney
5) The fish is all over new. It's one that vegetarians will miss. Over 800 km of coastline, Europe's largest fishing area and ridiculous prices make Portugal one of the most fish-friendly places you've ever been.
Fish species to try in Portugal 🐟
Bacalhau (codfish) – they say there are 1001 ways of cooking bacalhau in Portugal and I wouldn't be surprised if it was true.
Try bacalhau à brás (with eggs, potatoes, and onions), bacalhau com natas (with whipped cream) or simply pastéis de bacalhau (in a deep-fried dough).
Dourada (sea bream) – normally served grilled or baked in the oven with mashed potatoes and/or vegetables.
Sardinha (sardine) – a Portuguese classic, these are normally done in the grill and served with a salad or potatoes.
Robalo (sea bass) – normally served grilled or baked in the oven with mashed potatoes and/or vegetables.
6) Cobblestone streets are everywhere.
Calçada Portuguesa is the type of mosaic floors that part of urban planning in the major cities of Portugal (and also in Portuguese-influenced places like Rio de Janeiro). Personally, I think they're crazy expensive, and I can see myself easily twisting an ankle when of the stones gets loose. And I don't wear high heels.
That said, I'll admit the patterns and designs in some of them are quite stunning and make a square or street really come alive. Walking in Portugal is literally walking on art!
7 )Santos Festivities will rock your world
Portugal has music festivals of all sorts, art shows, and parties, but that's the real authentic thing. In June, in memory of the local saints, people from both Lisbon– Santo António festivities– and Porto– São João festivities – flock to the most popular communities for the celebrations. You don't need to be religious to join the party though. Expect lots of popular Portuguese music (pimba), lots of grilled sardines and a party that lasts until dawn.
Santos festivities in Portugal 🎉
Santo António (Lisbon) – held on the night of 12th to 13th of June.
There are events and street parties during the entire month of June though – check Festas de Lisboa website.
São João (Porto) – also happening throughout June, but the big night is the 23rd. Bring a plastic hammer to the party! (I'm serious)
8) It's possibly Europe's best 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.
9) We are serious about wine
Despite the famous Port Wine, Portugal seems to be in the second-tier in the wine world, right after France, Italy, and Spain. And yet, 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. My favorites are any kind of vinho verde, the white wines from Alentejo and the red wines from the Douro region.
10) Azulejos are your next design obsession
I reckon there's no other place in the world where #tileart is so popular. Prepare to find elaborate-painted tiles on the historical buildings, modern design installments and even souvenirs shops.
There's even a tile museum which is one of the hidden gems of Lisbon!
Careful where you buy the tiles from though. In recent years, a parallel business consisting of ripping tiles off from walls and sell it in places like street fairs and markets – e.g. Feira da Ladra, in Lisbon – has arisen.