With a history dating back to the Early Middle Ages, Portugal has transformed into a diverse, urban country that is a must-see on your bucket list. From the islands of the Azores and sprawling beaches to the tasty local cuisine, it offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world. As the westernmost country of mainland Europe, Portugal also has the longest running border of the nation. This biodiverse country keeps its culture alive through its architecture as well as its traditions. Whether you prefer to lounge in the sand or swim with the sharks, Portugal has a little something for everyone throughout their visit. Here are some of our favorite reasons to visit Portugal in 2018.
Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With more than 1,000 miles of coastline, you can find beaches of all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking to catch some surf, we recommend Praia de Odeceixe. Accessible by either road train or foot, you will find the surrounding low cliffs that shelter this beach also make this a great spot to do some swimming. Praia do Amado is another great surfing spot thanks to its sandy bay and low hills. Looking for a little more adventure? Take a trip to the Galapagos – located near the small town of Portinho da Arrabida. The region has been protected since 1976 and is home to animals such as wildcats, badgers and eagles. Its calm waters and coves make this the perfect place to escape for a day.
Food lovers rejoice! Not only does Portugal have some of the most masterfully prepared seafood, there is also flavorful vegetable dishes and delectable deserts. We recommend trying the queijadas – prepared using only cheese, milk, egg and sugar. Many of Portugal’s best dishes contain fresh local ingredients that have been used for generations. Don’t forget to make a trip to O Mirandes in Miranda do Douro to try the finest beefsteak in the country. Or travel to Cais da Estacao in Sines for their famous shark dish prepared with coriander, lemon and garlic.
Made up of nine islands in the Atlantic, the Azores are also some of the tallest mountains in the world protruding deep beneath the ocean. What was once an uninhabited volcanic archipelago is now a popular tourist destination for nature and adventure lovers alike. Full of blue lakes, forests and caverns shaped by molten rock, the Azores were also named the top destination in the world for sustainable tourism by Quality Coast. Enjoy the whale and dolphin watching while they pass through migration routes, or take advantage of one of the best diving spots in the world with visibility reaching 30 meters. You might even catch a glimpse of a shipwreck on the ocean floor or a volcano peak. The Azores are also a great year-round destination for water sports. Sail or windsurf around its many islands or see the sights from a paddle board or kayak. The activities are endless and offer a closer look at its geological wonders.
Once you step foot on the sandy shores of Portugal, you will never want to leave! With adventurous activities, delicious cuisine and the most beautiful beaches, it’s easy to find something to enjoy while visiting. According to Travel + Leisure, U.S. travel to Portugal has increased 22% in the last year alone and “shows no signs of slowing”. Take in a breathtaking sunset over the ocean’s horizon or try a new seafood dish – there’s no shortage of ways to explore Portugal. Want to see more of Europe? Check out our tips for chartering a yacht to Greece and sailing the islands!