Two months ago, I had the pleasure of rediscovering Portugal on a special travel industry visit organized by Visit Portugal, the country’s tourism organization. The last time I visited was 19 years ago, and though much has changed to enhance the experience for the traveler, a lot has also remained the same! Portugal is a country of friendly and welcoming people, delicious food, great weather, and a rich and vast historical and cultural heritage. It is a place that should be experienced!
The Must See Cities in Portugal
There are so many great places to visit in this small country and Lisbon and Porto should definitely be high on the list. Vibrant Lisbon offers great history and nightlife. While Porto offers authentic charm with its scenic location along the river. Oh, and in Porto, there’s also the Harry Potter bookstore, which is probably the most beautiful bookstore I’ve ever seen! Smaller towns along the coast to not be missed include Sintra, with its beautifully colored palace, the walled city of Óbidos, and the seaside town of Nazaré, famous for its huge surfing waves! There are also hidden gems going inland, including Coimbra and Évora. Don’t forget the amazing islands such as the Azores or Madeira, which are easily accessible by short flight from the mainland. I recommend a minimum of a week to get a full flavor and to visit at least a handful of these great places. The island of Madeira, which I also got to visit, was an amazing surprise with its sub-tropical climate and jaw-dropping sea views (while sipping on Madeira wine of course)!
Why is visiting Portugal in the Spring such a great idea?
Visiting Portugal makes for a perfect spring vacation for a number of reasons (though other seasons are pretty amazing, too). Most importantly, the weather is quite mild with over 300 sunny days per year. Average temperatures in the spring tend to be in the high 50’s to high 60’s. The light jacket you wear on cool summer evenings will do just fine in this weather! Portugal has roughly 750 miles of coastline and a majority of it faces west! So let’s not forget about the amazing sunsets that you can experience almost anywhere you go!
Portugal is an affordable destination compared to other European cities. It often makes the list of best value or budget destination. You can often find lower rates in the spring as it is not yet their busy season! Nice hotels, food, transportation, and attractions cost less than they would elsewhere. Several major U.S. cities offer direct flights to Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal. The fares are usually nicely priced, especially between late fall and spring! There are also good deals on connecting flights. I recently booked a flight from Miami to Lisbon for under $500, roundtrip!
What to Eat and Drink
Portugeuse food is “muito bom” or really good! The fish and shellfish are the freshest you can get; the cheeses and charcuterie are super flavorful; and the pastries (such as the delicious custard-filled mini pies called pasteis de nata) are absolutely delicious! Enjoying these fine foods is also quite reasonable in Portugal. A nice meal with wine may cost around $10 to $20 per person, depending on what you order! There are great waterside restaurants, lovely cafes, and tempting bakeries around every corner! Portugeuse wines are also quite popular these days! While in Porto, it is also a must to visit the Port Wine Cellars in the city and head out on a cruise on the Douro River to visit the wineries producing the famous and delicious Vinho Verde, or green wine (it’s white, really!).
Traveling in Portugal is also really easy, as everywhere you go you’ll find lots of people that speak English, and they speak it very well! The Portuguese are extremely welcoming and friendly and love to share their country with travelers! Though I recommend you learn a few words like obrigada/o (thank you), por favor (please), and bom dia (good morning or good day), mostly to be polite. Plus you will get additional smiles from the locals for your efforts.
Portugal is a hot destination! It has been seeing increasing numbers of visitors year after year (12.7 million in 2017). It was named a top destination of the year in 2018. I highly recommend adding this destination to your bucket let. It’s your time to discover Portugal!
We can help you get to Portugal on our new DISCOVER PORTUGAL program! Or we can also customize a program that’s just right for you!