I really have yet to travel anywhere better than Portugal. While I’ve travled a lot (but not nearly enough), I always come back to my time in Lisbon. For this reason I decided to put together a list of all the reasons to fall head over heels for Portugal. Summer is upon us, and Lisbon is the perfect destination to have your very own summer city fairytale.
1. The Portuguese Pavement (calçada portuguesa)
Some might just refer to this as cobblestone, but whatever you call it it’s sure to keep you up all night wondering how they did this all by hand. It’s quite remarkable and the patterns will keep you intrigued while aimlessly walking for hours. You’ll see bits and pieces of the stones popping up everywhere, and even some rather large piles of stones on the sidewalk. After all, it dates back to around the 15th century. These stones create the perfect picturesque scene, and a photo of a random street will never go unwanted.
2. Love is Always In the Air
Forget Paris, seriously. You’ll find love all around you in Portugal. Everywhere I walked I spotted people holding hands and kissing, and people immersed in good conversation over a bica or glass of wine. This is one of those things I don’t really know how to explain. But picture your most fondest conversations and the humans that you love most, and those feelings are what awaits you in Portugal. Life is a little slower and much more happier because love is everywhere.
3. The Most Amazing Beach Scenes
For a short car ride down south, you can experience some of the most picturesque and uninhabited beaches around. These beaches are the European ‘Cliff’s of Moher’, with their golden cliffs looking out to sea and rocky formations like small islands in the water. The waters are especially blue in the Algarve, and the summers make for perfect beach weather at an average of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Since Portugal is not as popular of a destination as Spain for summer vacationers, take advantage of the less crowded beaches that are, in my opinion, the prettiest in Europe.
4. The Food is Fresh and Healthy
Portuguese food is very simple. Often times you’ll get a protein like a fish or chicken, with a carb like rice or potatoes. You’ll find these two dishes everywhere you go, and yet they are so incredibly flavorful and fresh. Of course you’ll also find their not so healthy dishes, as with every country. But for the most part I’d give them a 7/10 on the health index. You can easily stick to a diet while you’re here. But don’t forget to live a little also!
5. The Portuguese Welcome You
Let’s be honest, there are some countries known to be a little un-welcoming of foreigners, but you won’t find that in Portugal. Never have I ever met a friendlier country (yet) where I’ve felt so welcomed by its people. No one judges you here and everyone is eager to help you speak the language and teach you about the Portuguese way of life. A good percentage of people speak English and Spanish which is a nice bonus. The hospitality of the Portuguese makes for a great vacation. Plus, they have a good sense of humour about them.
6. The Sweets
Three words: pastel de nata. Otherwise known as a Portuguese egg tart pastry. These are the most delicious egg tarts and you can find them everywhere! There are tons of pastry shops in Portugal, usually serving up espresso and coffee to its locals. There are cakes, cookies, tarts, pies, donuts, you name it! There are so many it may be impossible to try them all.
7. The Vibrant Coffee Scene
In Lisbon you’ll see a cafe on every street. It’s customary for people to take a midday break over a bica, which is what the Portuguese call a shot of espresso. In almost all cafes you’ll find a lively scene of people conversing while standing at the bar. Lots of volume and laughter, and most importantly some amazing espresso. Do drink it with sugar! It’s a potent one. The Portuguese love their coffee, and my black double shot no sugar no cream soul loves them even more for it.
8. It’s Not a Popular Destination (yet)
While Portugal has seen a boom in the last year or so thanks to popular sites naming it as an up and coming country for tourism, it still has not quite exploded yet. That makes it even easier to fall in love with this wonderful country that isn’t crowded with tourists. One of my favorite things is that you don’t really have any expectations while exploring. It’s not like Paris and the Eiffel Tower or Barcelona and the Sagrada Basilica. There are no expectations for sightseeing. Rather Portugal is the city of long strolls, lovely weather, and late night life conversations over a bottle of wine.
9. The Charming Architecture
On that note, another thing that will instantly make you fall in love with Lisbon is the stunning architecture. Reminiscent of its past wealth, you’ll find one of the largest squares in Europe that sits nestled along the waterfront. This square sports the most vibrant yellow! You’ll also fall in love with its cute flats and cafes that are too quaint for words. Bold patterns in stone and tile are everywhere and bring just enough old world charm to your vacation.
10. The Pena National Palace
If you are in to castles and breathtaking views, behold the best castle and view you might ever see. The Pena Palace in Sinta, Portugal is a small train ride away and sits situated wayyy up in the mountains. This is the coolest castle I have ever visited. What I love about this castle is nothing is off limits. You can virtually explore everywhere in and around the castle. There are no signs that say ‘don’t touch’ and there are no barricades. It’s so rare to find these days as preservation is always a top priority. When you walk the outer edges of the castle you are greeted with the most stunning view of Portugal. It really does make you fall in love.
I can’t say enough good things about Portugal, but these are my top ten reasons to fall in love with the country. I wish I could put in to words how I feel, but this is one of those places I just can’t. For some people it’s their Paris or their Rome. For me Lisbon is every city I wished was something more, and every city’s small disappointments, all rolled in to one grand redemption.
Do you ever get those feelings about somewhere that you just can’t explain? Let me know below!