Yes. Yes you should. The tremendous breadth of activities, sights, landscapes and experiences means Portugal truly has something for everyone. So if you fall into one of these ten categories of travelers, book your trip today!
History Buffs Portugal’s historical drama is long and varied, with roles played by the Celts, the Romans, the Christians, the Visigoths, the Moors, the Catholics, the Allies and Nazis, and the nationalists. In Lisbon alone, you can see the ruins of a Roman theatre in a bank basement, stroll the Alfama, a centuries old neighborhood stuck in time, and sit in revolutionary Largo do Carmo square all the in the same afternoon.
Art Aficionados There is no shortage of art and architecture in Portugal. Modern portaits hang in new trendy galleries such as those at MAUD, near the base of the 25 do Abril Bridge, while old masters stand stoically at the Museu Calouse Gulbenkian. In Lisbon, there are even specialized museums devoted to tile and horse drawn coaches. Architecture runs the gamut, with striking Moorish castles, Gothic cathedrals, and the homegrown late Gothic Manueline and late Baroque Pombaline styles.
Beach Bums The coastline of the Algarve is world renown for its gorgeous beaches. If you’re a resort-type traveler, you will be pleased with the many hotels and restaurants right on the sand. But rent a car and head off to the Alentejo coast to find a secluded spot you can have all to yourself. Surfers, kite boarders and wind surfers will have no trouble finding a compelling spot on the mainland either. Intrepid beach people will not be content until they have visited the storied sands of the Santa Maria in the Azores or Porto Santo near Madeira.
Party People There is no shortage of nightlife in Portugal. The Lisbon club scene is famous around The Continent. DJs spin ‘til sunup near the docks and carousers do the same in Barrio Alto. Move down to Lagos and you’ll see more epic parties – the only difference being the sand underfoot and the mix of pop and Fado music blaring. For a taste of a local party, aim to visit during one of Portugal’s many over-the-top festivals.
Peace Seekers Looking for a spa town to soak your soul? Dip into Caldas de Monchique or Caldas da Rainha, the oldest thermal hospital in the world. Want some time to reflect as you trek? Walk all the way to Spain in the path of St. James on the Camino Portugues. Seeking a place of miracles? The Virgin Mary was seen in Fatima, just north of Lisbon.
Wine Lovers You really shouldn’t call yourself a wine expert if you haven’t visited Portugal. Heard of Port? Madeira? The Douro Valley is the original Napa: The first demarcated wine region on Earth. How about wine tasting in the up-and-coming region of Alentejo? Experts from around the world make pilgrimages to Portugal to taste the history of wine.
FoodiesThe food of Portugal is both uncommon and delicious. Visit a cervejaria in Lisbon for beer and appetizers. Eat porco preto in the Alentejo. It is pork from a black Iberian pig. Try cozido on São Miguel in the Azores. It is a stew cooked underground in volcanic steam. Sample one of the 15 cheeses unique to Portugal. Or eat grilled sardines, bacalhau or any other seafood dish you can find (like French Laundry’s Thomas Keller.)
Garden Lovers Botanists brought specimens from across Portugal’s colonial empire to Lisbon’s Botanical Gardens starting in 1873. Today the grounds are just one of dozens of peaceful green oases in the capital and around the country.
Outdoor Adventurers Want to climb a volcano? Head to the Pico in the Azores. Trek a 200-mile long trail? Try the Rota Vicentina on the southern coast between Alentejo and the Algarve. Portugal is known for its hiking and walking paths that crisscross the entire country. But you can also horseback and bike ride many of these routes. If that’s not enough, there’s always kitesurfing, sailing, canyoning, whale watching and river rafting.
Budget Travelers Portugal is one of the least expensive countries in Europe to visit. That means you can spend time in a variety of Portuguese cities and towns, soaking in the atmosphere. Several major cities offer the “Lisboa Card,” which provides free local transport and admission to some museums. Air travel to the Azores was just deregulated, which translates to cheaper airfares from the mainland. And Portugal was named the 10th safest country in the world for tourists, which makes it that much easier to stick around just a while longer.