Portugal’s stunning but very different regions, their various histories, gastronomies, and of course, their wines make Portugal one of the most wondrous of places to visit, and the world is taking notice. From Condé Nast to TimeOut, publications and tourism organisations are naming it the best place to visit this year— even in light of the pandemic.
In March of 2021, Portugal was ranked the best European country to visit overall on a survey by the Brussels-based “European Best Destinations,” that promotes tourism in Europe— a site that receives over six million visitors per year, according to Publiturus and AtlasLisboa.
But what makes Portugal so great? Is it the beaches and access to world-class golf courses or is it the Portuguese people, who are typically touted as being welcoming and sincere? Suffice it to say that there isn’t a simple answer, as the true beauty of Portugal comes from a mix of all of the above, and the best news for travellers coming to enjoy the country is that it’s easy to arrange a trip that is suited to your wants and desires, and even easier to carry out your plans once on the ground, especially if you have a little help from those in the know.
Getting into and around Portugal is relatively easy as the airports are well-connected, the trains running through the country are, for the most part, on time, and the roads that connect the country are well-maintained and well-marked. The year-round fantastic weather make traveling from major cities on through to tiny, charming villages a pleasure. From Lisbon, you can easily access Porto and the fantastic Douro Valley wine region within a four-hour drive or train ride straight from the centre. You can also visit Lisbon’s coast and take a leisurely hour-long drive to the stunning seaside communities around Comporta for a round of golf or a relaxing day on the shore. Or you can visit the Alentejo region south of Lisbon, which is dotted with delightful river beaches and charming ancient castle villages waiting to be explored. Many visitors plan several days if not a full week to dedicate specifically to Portugal’s southernmost region: the Algarve. This area boasts sunny days, excellent surf, natural wonders to experience, and centres of fun for the whole family like the Lagos Zoo.
And the pot of gold at the end of each travel rainbow? The Portuguese cuisine expertly paired with an excellent glass of wine. Each of the seven regions are known for their own special dish, so the best thing you can do to truly enjoy your adventuring is to try the special of the house at a typical restaurant wherever you stop for a bite. The best part is, it’s almost impossible to make a mistake when picking a typical Portuguese restaurant. The rule of thumb: if there’s a paper tablecloth with menu suggestions hanging in the window, you’ve found a good place.
All in all, Portugal’s landscape, accessibility, and cultural offerings can easily tick the must-haves list of just about any traveller, which is why it has been named over and again “the best” destination of the times. But the thing that keeps drawing people back isn’t just the tourist destination points, food, and wine, but it’s the people!