Portugal is like the forgotten country in western Europe. A little too far west. In America, we spend so much time talking about the UK and France and Germany and Spain. From history books to guide books, Portugal was never a top tier European travel destination. But it should be.
I mean, what do we know about Portugal besides the “age of exploration” and pastéis de nata? Little to nothing. Well, now, thanks to Instagram bloggers, we know that they have great tiled façades too. But for such a small country, it has had incredible influence over the world. Hell, even Taiwan was labeled as Ilha Formosa on maps until relatively recently.
Portugal is beautiful. It captures some of that coastal feel, almost Mediterranean, but with a little more grunge. The two major cities, Lisbon and Porto, are very much connected to the bodies of water they are surrounded by. The Portuguese are also really in touch with their history, their heritage, in a way that small countries are. It’s not hard to soak in the rich culture, even on a short trip. And damn is it picturesque. There are endless miradouros, each offering equally breathtaking views that never seem to get old.
Of course, Portugal isn’t for the weak. Each town has more stairs than the next. So you don’t even have to feel guilty reaching for that 3rd pastel de nata, or taking a vacation from your fitness regimen. Comfortable shoes are highly recommended.