Portugal, when you look at a map, may seem small. Situated on the western border of Spain, it’s recently experienced a surge in popularity with visitors gushing over amazingly affordable wine, Instagram-worthy beaches, and friendly people. The truth of the matter? Everyone is right. There’s a ton to see and do and enjoy in Portugal, no matter what sort of thing you’re into. From oenophiles to sun soakers and history buffs, here’s why Portugal is a jewel for almost any type of traveler.
Trip Ideas for Wine Lovers
Portugal is known for its port and visiting the Douro Valley is a must-do (it’s especially popular for girlfriends’ getaways). Here, the terraced vineyards create a stunning design down to the Douro River; take a river cruise (complete with a glass of port!) to truly appreciate views of the various port houses. To sample the goods, be sure to either go with a tour group (there are many that leave from Porto) or make appointments in advance. Then, put on your port-drinking pants and get ready to sip. It’s easy to overdo it on the sweet stuff, so touring three producers is usually enough.
However, there’s more wine in Portugal than just port (no matter what it may seem like in Porto). The Alentejo region produces a wide variety of red and white wines just waiting to be explored. There are even vineyards utilizing ancient Roman techniques for wine-making, which might be the best taste of history you’ll find.
Portugal Travel Tip : You’ll find the cheapest airfares into Lisbon, but Porto is just a quick flight north from the capital city. Be sure to compare fares to both cities to see which is a better value for flying.
Trip Ideas for Sun Soakers
Let’s face it—there are stunning beaches all over the world. However, do those stunning beaches comes with dramatic cliffs, azure water, and secluded spots for where you can let it all hang out (if that’s what you’re after)?
The beaches of the Algarve region do.
Here, you’ll find soft sand and stunning rock formations that take a typical beach experience to the next level. You can choose from popular spots with plenty of people watching, like Praia Dona Ana in Lagos, or venture to more remote spots like Praia Grande. The town of Lagos has plenty of restaurants and nightlife so you can continue the fun even after you knock the sand off of your feet. For those traveling with kids, there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants and lodging options, too.
Portugal Travel Tip : The best times to visit Portugal are in the spring and fall—that’s when the weather is best and you’ll miss some of the summer vacation crowds .
Trip Ideas for History Buffs
Portugal has a rich and loooonnnng history, stretching back to the Neolithic age (5000 BCE), continuing with the Romans, sailing through the Age of Discovery, including colonization in India and Africa, and landing in the present (and no, it was never part of Spain). For those who “live in the past,” there’s a ton to explore in Portugal and there’s no better place to start than in Evora, located in the Alentejo region. Here, you’ll find the Almendres Cromlech, a circle of Neolithic standing stones; the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos) at The Church of St. Francis, a Roman temple, and more. With its cobblestone streets and rich layers of history, Evora is a must-visit for history buffs.
Portugal Travel Tip : Precisely because of its history, luggage struggles can happen. Your bed for the night might be up five flights of stairs (with no elevator), and getting from the train station to the hotel might involve hills, minuscule sidewalks, and/or cobblestones. Make sure you’re carrying a versatile bag that’s as ready to go as you are; pack smart and prep a smaller bag for sightseeing during the day.
Of course, this is just a sampling of ideas showcasing what Portugal has to offer. Foodies should flock to Lisbon and Porto to eat their way through the myriad of cuisines (and pastries!) available; adventure travel junkies can bike their way through the country or hike the Rota Vicentina, one of the best long-distance hiking trails in Portugal; birdwatchers will coo over the vast number of species found here (and the ease of birding).
No matter your travel style, simply close your eyes and point your finger on a spot on the map—you’re guaranteed to find something amazing to help you find your unknown .
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Pack-It Specter Starter Set
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
How to Travel to Portugal with Kids
Packing Checklist: Girls’ Getaway Weekend
The Art of the Deal: Find Cheap Airfares so You Can Travel More