My Preferred Destination: Portugal

Portugal has seven regions, which in itself indicates that there is a lot to visit and get to know, but we have at a lot of reasons why it is a good choice and on the list of trips you should do in your lifetime. The country’s history and culture, gastronomy and wines, are among the main attractions, not to mention the beaches, surfing, music festivals, golf, the varied landscapes and, above all, the Portuguese people, who are seen as affable, open and sincere.

For the third consecutive year, Portugal once again won the Best Tourist Destination in the World award in 2019. At the World Travel Awards (WTA) ceremony, which took place this Thursday in Oman, the Portuguese also brought home more than a dozen other awards, such as best hotel, best resort, best airline and best cruise port.

The recent award from the World Travel Awards, which considered Portugal the World’s Best Destination has just  confirmed the current trend, also acknowledged by many guides, travel writers, bloggers and the media from around the world specialising in travel and tourism. And do you know why Portugal has been on everyone’s lips? We’ll give you a clue here.

 

Ghosts of the Past

The 25 World Heritage classifications in Portugal portray the history and culture of the country, its people and the peoples that have inhabited the land since time immemorial. Monasteries and convents of historic and artistic importance, outstanding monuments, historic centres, cultural landscapes, which offer some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Portugal, were considered by UNESCO as being a part of World Heritage.

The list is completed with icons that express a way of being and how to be a people in their times of celebration, Fado, the Cante Alentejano [Alentejo singing] and the Mediterranean diet. And yet, with arts and crafts that unite Intangible Cultural Heritage, such as the manufacture of rattles, the manufacture of the black pottery of Bisalhães, the art of the Royal Falconry, the manufacture of clay dolls in Estremoz and the Carnival of Podence.

A visit to these Portuguese contributions to world history are a must and a good excuse to get to know the country from north to south.

 

Gastronomy and Wines

Portuguese gastronomy is greatly appreciated and usually leaves good memories. The country’s location and the proximity of the Atlantic explain the prominence which is given to fish and seafood. These taste even better when enjoyed on the seafront in the pleasant Portuguese sun, with the addition of a huge variety of top quality table wines. The Mediterranean diet is one of its most remarkable characteristics, with olive oil, vegetables and herbs much in evidence.

Port wine has been a great ambassador of Portugal for centuries, and nowadays it is accompanied by other genuinely Portuguese products, like the pastel de nata [custard tart] and conventual confectionery.

The mastery of talented chefs has also raised our cooking to the heights of the best cuisines in the world.

 

Cinematic Scenery

Outside the cities, Portugal’s beauty unfolds in all its startling variety. You can go hiking amid the granite peaks of Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês or take in the pristine scenery and historic villages of the little-explored Beiras. The presence of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate, with very sunny summers and mild winters make Portugal a holiday destination renowned for sun and sea and walks on the beach throughout the year. In fact, the Portuguese coast is almost a single beach extending more than 850 km and offering a diversity of landscapes that allows you to choose between the rougher and cooler sea in the north and the warm, placid waters of the south. There are large stretches of golden sand for those who love an expansive horizon, and also little coves with orange tinted rocks and cliffs. Of the wide variety of beaches, more than 300 have first rate conditions and earn the accolade of Blue Flag beaches. Nearly 200 are accessible beaches.

The Natural Parks and Reserves, Geoparks and Biosphere Reserves recognised by UNESCO have ensured that Portugal is also a destination very appreciated for enjoying outdoor activities, whether they are more contemplative, such as bird watching, or more extreme, like canyoning. In the last few years, following nature trails on foot or by bike has been a good choice for those who like to combine physical exercise and contact with the local culture.

 

Rhythms of Portugal

Festivals pack Portugal’s calendar. Drink, dance and feast your way through all-night revelries such as Lisbon’s Festa de Santo António or Porto’s Festa de São João. There are kick-up-your-heels country fairs in the hinterlands, and rock and world-music fests all along the coast. Any time of year is right to hear the mournful music of fado in the Alfama, join the dance party in Bairro Alto or hit the bars in Porto, Coimbra and Lagos. Rural Portugal has its own age-old musical traditions, from Fado (Fado is the haunting music that wafts out from the small bars of the Bairro Alto and Alfama districts of Lisbon. Fado comprises of a mournful sounding solo singer accompanied by a classical Portuguese guitar) polyphonic cante Alentejano in the Alentejo to the Pauliteiros (stick dancers) of Miranda do Douro.

Furthermore Music festivals can be a good excuse to come to Portugal and have a different kind of holiday, taking the chance to learn about the sites in a fun way, in a relaxed setting. The choice is yours, depending on what music you like, there are international festivals near to cities, in Lisbon and Porto, in a rural environment, next to the river, or in combination with some nice days at the beach.

 

The People…

One of the things that tourists notice most when they visit us, is the hospitality and friendliness of the Portuguese, who are always ready to help if they are stopped on the street and asked for information. Perhaps it is the sun which gives us a good disposition, to welcome anyone, wherever they’re from…

 

The Best Portugal Premium Wines and moments

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