Where to Go in Portugal & Top 5 Reasons to Visit

I love travelling and I am always up for an adventure and a new stamp in my passport.

But since I first went to Portugal in 2015, I can’t seem to find anywhere on the globe that tugs on my heart strings quite as much as the little coastal country.

Depending on the mood I am in, I like different kinds of travel.

Big cities in developing countries are fantastic.

Rural villages in Eastern Europe? Yep.

I’ve spent a couple weeks on remote islands off the coast of some tropical paradises. Each destination offers something unique and interesting.

No matter what kind of traveling I am doing, I generally find that most of my favorite places have the same common denominators:

  • Great weather
  • Excellent Food
  • Friendly Locals
  • Interesting History
  • Vibrant Culture
  • Beautiful Landscapes

Portugal Has them all.

colorful houses in lisbon portugal , with the sea in the background

It turns out that Portugal checks all of those boxes and then some.

This small country in the westernmost part of Europe boasts sunshine over 300 days a year.

Warm summers and mild winters make for great beach days and easy exploring.

With over 1,114 miles of beautiful coastline, Portugal’s Mediterranean climate offers some of the best year-round weather in all of Europe.

Since I love beaches and warm weather, this is right up my alley.

Lovely Locals

A warm welcome and a positive attitude from locals are important to any traveler, and me especially.

If I don’t feel welcomed, chances are I won’t stay very long.

Portuguese people are some of the friendliest in Europe, and it is easy to feel the good vibes.

The older generations hang out their windows and wave to neighbors, friends, and even strangers on the streets.

I can’t tell you how many Grandmas it feels like I have there.

The younger Portuguese are happy to give directions or invite you to join them for a drink at their table at the local café.

Any time I have needed directions or help, there is always a local (or two) right there, lending a hand.

Like the time my German friend accidentally put diesel in the rental car instead of gas (whoops!)- we had 4 Portuguese helping us for almost an hour.

Locals in this sunny, sociable place are generally open, easy going, and good-natured.

The palace of estoi in portugal, a pink red building with a lush garden in front

Cost & Prices

When compared to some destinations such as South America or Asia, traveling in Europe can be expensive.

However when you look at the cities of Lisbon and Porto vs. Paris, Venice, or London, there is tremendous value in comparison.

I love getting a good value when I travel, or pretty much with everything. Once you have traveled a few places, it’s hard to pay three times as much for something you just had in another country for a fraction of the cost.

Portugal is clutch with cost and value

Mid-range hotels start at about 40–50€ per night, and a budget lunch is about 7€ and sometimes includes a drink, dessert and coffee.

A glass of house wine or beer can cost as low as 1–3€ at local places.

Public transportation options are quick, clean and cheap. There is Uber and taxis are properly regulated with most fares starting at a few euros.

Trains are fantastic through the country, and the cost is nominal. For example, in less than an hour train ride from Lisbon’s city center, you can get to the beach town of Cascais or to the castle town of Sintra for about 3€.

a beach with rocky formations next to it with archways carved out by teh water

Where to go in Portugal to check out the history

I disliked history in school but have uncovered a sincere love for it through my travels. I mean, it’s hard to go somewhere and learn about a place or civilization that predates the entire country of the United States and not be in awe.

Portugal’s history is extensive and intriguing. Prehistoric humans roamed the earth some 400,000 years ago in what is now modern-day Portugal.

Romans, Visigoths, and Moors invaded and ruled the country before the Monarchs were in power for over 700 years.

The architectural influences from all of these eras are often evident in the stunning structures around the country. You can’t help but stare at some of the magnificent statues and castles dotting the country. The historic value is incredible.

The history can be seen and felt everywhere in the architecture and cobblestone streets, but 3 places with the deepest historic value are:

  • Lisbon (Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, São Jorge Castle, and the Alfama district.)
  • Porto (Dom Luís I Bridge, Ribeira district, and the Porto Cathedral.)
  • Evora Roman Temple of Évora, the Cathedral of Évora, and the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos).

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal built a powerful empire during the Age of Discovery. It was during these Middle Ages that this small country boasted the world’s best explorers.

I am Portuguese by heritage, and I always wondered if this is why I like traveling and adventuring so much.

The first man to sail around the world is thought to be the Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan.

Now scientists are trying to determine via DNA if Christopher Columbus was actually Portuguese, and not Italian.

Culture, Vibe & Where to go in Portugal to Find it

Food, wine, music, and community is at the center of modern-day Portuguese culture. At any given time you can walk the streets of small towns and big cities and see people out and about.

Coffee & pastry shops are constantly buzzing with laughter and conversation.

Art and literature play a large part in the culture as well. Portugal was home to many famous writers and poets, and you will find art installations and street art throughout the country.

I feel like Portugal welcomes and encourages creativity, which is something I connect with. There is a ton of handicrafts, street art, beautiful pottery and azulejos (painted tiles) all over the country.

Oh and did I mention the wine?!? It's everywhere, everyone drinks it, and it's GOOD.

There are 14 wine regions in Portugal. Basically the entire country is a wine region.

White houses on a cliff overlooking a beach and the sea in portugak

Sporting Events, Live Music & Festivals

If you follow sports, I am sure you have heard of Christian Ronaldo. Ronaldo has been Portugal’s star footballer and helped take home their first Euro Championship in 2016.

The faith and loyalty the Portuguese have to their team means lots of energy and excitement, even if you are just watching the game from a local pub or cafe. It’s a really fun part of the culture.

The Music Scene in Portugal is Vast.

Fado music is the country’s national music, and it has a very interesting history dating back centuries. In addition to live Fado performances, there are bars and music venues that offer many types of live music as well as DJ sets.

There are music festival throughout the year in many regions, check out this list for this year’s lineup.

There is a taste of everything here, which I love.

The country also celebrates an incredible amount of national and international holidays. I often come across random festival that are specific to one village or one cause. Last time I was there I stumbled upon some kind of a Renaissance Fair that has apparently been going on for 430 years.

Portugal makes the most of its warm summers when the universities are out and music is often at the center stage.

The summer music festivals are especially popular and draw people from all over the globe and can range from reggae, pop, and electronic music.

There is ALWAYS a show to see or a festival to check out.

Head Over Heels for Portugal

Portugal fulfills all of my wants and needs, whether I want mountains, lakes, a big city or the sea. It truly has something to offer everyone, and keeps me occupied no matter what mood I am in.

Outdoor activities are abundant here, and I love all of them- hiking, biking, parks, beaches, and exploring by boat.

When I am in the mood for a night out, I can easily find lively energy and drinks flowing well into the night. The plethora of beaches are beautiful and a relaxing way to spend a day, or nap off the night before.

Oh, and did I mention that there are islands, too?!

That’s a whole ‘nother story.

Everytime I'm planning a trip to this perfect little paradise and am asking myself where to go in Portugal, I'm always torn between revisiting places I have loved and checking out somewhere new.

I'm never disappointed.

Every corner of this sunny, vibrant nation offers its own slice of magic, and I am still happily under its spell.

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Beachy Brunette

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