10 Reasons why Portugal needs to be your next destination
A lush landscape bursting with bougainvillea, coast-side cliffs and golden beaches, Portugal is one of Europe’s most picturesque countries – but it’s more than just a pretty face. From its bustling capital that oozes with creative energy to its laid-back beaches in the Algarve, Portugal offers everything you crave in a European getaway.Here are the top 10 reasons why you should visit now:
IT’S MORE AFFORDABLE
Prices in Portugal are the lowest of all Western European countries, and that of course includes Spain. Even 5-star hotels in major tourist areas can be anywhere from 25% to 50% lower than in the neighbour country, and even more affordable are the restaurants which even in Lisbon can be quite inexpensive. You can spend much less money on a vacation in Portugal with cheaper accommodation, shopping and daily expenses. Something that we all look for.
THE BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
Portugal’s southern hemisphere, known as the Algarve, is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The quintessential Algarve beach is a mural of turquoise water surrounded by towering cliffs and sea caves, also known as grottos, which are big rocks found in the middle of the ocean. The Algarve is filled with many small cities, but the two most popular tourist destinations are Tavira, a former fishing village with a relaxing and romantic vibe, and Lagos, a vibrant beach town packed with great night life and energy. Take your pick!
Portuguese food is more than Churrasco chicken with piri-piri (butter and chili) sauce – although they do make one helluva good bird. Blessed with the ocean as their neighbour, seafood wins for Portugal’s most prized fare. From perfectly cooked cod to garlic and wine prawns, the seafood will be some of the freshest, most delicious and cheap you’ve ever had. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find a restaurant that’s only menu items are the fresh catch of the day, like hole-in-the-wall Escondidinho in Lagos.
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Starting with dinner in a traditional Fado house (Fado is traditional Portuguese music), moving on to bar hopping throughout the night and watching the sunrise over the city at one of the clubs with a terrace setting. Lisbon has a lot to offer throughout the night. Apart from its sleepy fishing villages and towns seeped in tradition, Portugal offers some of the best night life around. In Lisbon’s famed Bairro Alto district, a series of steep narrow streets filled with bars and clubs, parties have been known to trickle onto the streamer-lined streets. Lagos also has plenty of fun bars to choose from that would satisfy any young backpacker’s thirst to party.
THE HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE
Portugal will take you back to the “Age of Discovery”, the time when grand navy voyages were made to discover the rest of the world. Famous explorers such as Vasco Gama have set sail from the shoreline of Belem in the capital Lisbon, exploring the world and coming back with legendary stories. When you visit Belem today you will find the striking white washed Belem Tower (Torre De Belem) and the incredibly designed telling details of this era. One of the most memorable spots I found is the outdoor garden of the monastery with intricate archways reflecting sun rays everywhere. Simply beautiful.
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LAVA POOLS IN MADEIRA
Madeira is a volcanic Portuguese island with several natural pools that were created when lava flow met the Atlantic ocean many years ago. Today, these natural wonders make the small town of Porto Moniz a popular tourist destination where thousands flock to take a dip in the scenic surroundings.
PORTO AND THE DOURO VALLEY
Portugal produces some of the world’s most delicious wines. Not yet mainstream, get acquainted with this new group of grapes with the gorgeous city of Porto and the equally as stunning Douro Valley as your backdrop. Located in Portugal’s northern region, these neighbouring spots produce famous Port wine and recently gaining momentum Douros. Whether you visit this region in Portugal or not, make sure to sample vino verde on your travels – a young, light greenwine that’s dangerously easy to drink.
THE OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
If you have a taste for adventure and a desire to travel for experiences, not sight-seeing, Portugal is for you. With its unique geography, it offers some of the most memorable outdoor experiences in Europe. Kayak through the Lagos sea caves, mountain bike along the Algarve coast, and hike along the Rota Vicentina trail, all while taking in the stunning landscape.
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THE CASTLES OF SINTRA
Just 30 minutes outside of Lisbon lays Sintra, a fairytale-like land of castles that Portuguese royalty used to call home. Step inside the ancient fortresses to discover magnificent Spanish-style antiques amidst vibrant pattern and colour. Set on a steep hill, hop on the bus and make your way to the top for the most breathtaking view of Lisbon and beyond. Take it all in, because this is the closest you’ll come to fulfilling your childhood dream of being a princess.
It’s evident that Portugal is a country that appreciates design the moment you land. Colourful tiles cover the city’s facades, hot-hued doors welcome you into historical buildings and white stucco houses with terracotta roofs punctuate the country’s green hills. Make sure to snatch up some design-savvy souvenirs while you’re there, like hand-painted ceramics and maybe even an intricately woven Arraiolos carpet.
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