Portugal is a country that captured my heart from the get-go. During my first visit in 2016, it put a spell on me. In 2017, I planned another visit and decided to stay there for two months to explore more, and I am still very much charmed by the country. If you are looking for a place to visit in Europe in 2018 look no further. Here’s why:
1. A Country Full of Color and Character
Portugal is colorful. From the Azulejos – ceramic tiles that you’ll find adorned in the interior and exteriors of historical buildings to quaint medieval and fairytale towns, to stunning landscapes made for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, you will not get bored traveling around Portugal.
2. The People Are Incredibly Hospitable
People are genuinely warm and eager to help in Portugal. They strive to make you feel comfortable, and most people who are under 40 will go out of the way to speak English, which may not always be the case in neighboring European countries. This makes it easier to get around.
3. Pleasant Weather All Year Round
Coming from Canada, I feel that Portugal’s weather is very mild and tolerable. It’s known for being one of the sunniest countries in Europe. I was in Northern Portugal in December, and the day-time low was about 7-8 °C (around 45°F). Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit. You not only have a better chance of avoiding super hot summer days that can be found in southern Portugal and rainy days in the winter, but you also avoid peak tourist season when it can get crowded.
4. It’s a Natural Beauty
Portugal is a country located in the most Western part of the European continent. It’s situated along the coast of the Atlantic, and it has a set of islands out in the Atlantic ocean–the Azores and Madeira. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are so many amazing hikes and outdoor activities you can do on the island and on the mainland. From surfing to canyoning to more laid back activities such as taking a dip in natural thermal hot springs to whale watching, there is something for everyone.
5. High-Quality Wine at a Great Price
A wine producing country, Portugal is famous and internationally known for its production of Port wine – a fortified wine that is only produced in the Douro Valley region. And whether you are team red or team white, Portugal also has some of the best wines in the world that are equal to its wine-producing neighbors. You can get a tasty quality bottle of wine in Portugal at a very affordable price.
As Portugal is just recently starting to become a mainstream destination, the prices are not over inflated yet. Food, drinks, and accommodations are fairly cheap by Western European standards, especially in rural towns.
7. Have fun at Summer Festivals
Summers in Portugal are filled with festivities. You will find all sorts fun festivals held across the country from music festivals to medieval festivals to the infamous São João festival in Porto that you don’t want to miss!
8. You Will Feel Safe
In 2017, the Institute for Economics and Peace ranked Portugal as the 3rd safest country in the world behind Iceland and New Zealand. I can say this rings true as I felt safer living in Portugal than living in Toronto. However, petty crimes like pickpocketing are on the rise in Lisbon, so it important to be vigilant just like you would be while traveling anywhere else when you are in high-traffic tourist zones.
9. Picturesque Towns
Portugal is one of the oldest countries in the world. As such, it has a lot of history and cute little medieval towns scattered across the country. If you like fairytales, you’ll love Sintra, Obidos, Braga and, Guimarães. They all have a romantic and medieval feel to them.
Are you planning to visit Portugal?
Have you been there already? What are your favorite spots in Portugal?
Also by Theresa: 11 Best Tips for Stress-Free Travel
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Photo: Theresa Ho