and why you should plan a visit
This is an ever-growing list about why we love Portugal, a reminder to ourselves and an invitation for you to come and visit to see what we mean and why we love our adoptive country so much.
1. Its truly cosmopolitan population stemming from a rich (if relatively unknown) history mixing cultures in a very open-minded way. Quite the contrast from their neighbors coughcough-spanishinquisitionanyone
2. Vinho Verde, a type of white wine made with very young grapes, often slightly fizzy and oh so drinkable — especially if the bottle is cold and it’s a hot summer day
3. The locals, who as a gross overgeneralization are incredibly welcoming, always ready to help, infinitely patient with our still very basic Portuguese, and have exemplary work ethic
4. Castles are everywhere, and some — like the one in Obidos — even have “Escape Room” activities
5. Linked to the above, there are numerous Medieval Festivals all around the country throughout the summer
6. Village life, with the café being the hub of information pre internet style
7. Communal olive oil presses where you pay in a percentage of liters of olive oil
8. Pasteis de Nata, one of the best kept secrets as far as small delicious creamy sweet delicacies are concerned
9. Jacaranda trees, with their stunning purple flowers and the broad shade they cast (mostly in Lisbon but also found here and there throughout the country)
11. Praias fluvial, aka river beaches — often with water so clear you can see the fish swimming around in it (including the little ones that nibble on your feet, which in a big city costs money as it’s a type of pedicure fancy spas offer)
12. Prato do Dia, usually a 6–8 Euro deal with a soup or salad, hearty main course (grilled meat, stews, and fresh fish are all common and often accompanied by rice and fries), and a home-made dessert. If you luck out, a drink and coffee will be included too
13. The music scene and the 3432892 music festivals that happen every year in this incredible country
14. Recycling is the norm with color-coded bins in every village, and a note on every bottle, can, plastic packaging, etc that says which colored bin it belongs in once ready to get recycled. Genius!
16. The country runs more and more on renewable energy, investing in a smarter, more efficient, and greener future
17. Fireflies, because they are magical
18. Glowworms! Not just an exotic New Zealand thing after all, and a bit like fireflies except they are static and glow non-stop… pretty cool too
19. The land, because everything grows here, including sumptuous cherries, oranges, strawberries, avocado, pomegranate, passion fruit, watermelon, and so much more
20. Water, mountains, and plains are all here, gorgeous, untouched, and within a few hours’ drive of each other
22. The Azores islands, a series of nine islands comparable to Hawai but in the Atlantic and without the American culture
23. Home-made everything including wine and aguardente
24. The people we meet, whether they are friends of friends or Workaway hosts or people we cross paths with in any other way — there seems to be an unusually high number of amazing people here, doing wonderful and inspiring things
25. Porto wine
26. Inexpensive yet delicious wine (think 1–3 Euros for a bottle)
27. Incredible bookstores, like the world’s oldest one in Lisbon and one in Porto that is said to have inspired bits of Harry Potter
28. Low cost flights from here to anywhere in Europe
29. Eco-tourism is booming, because who doesn’t want to spend vacation somewhere sunny, gorgeous, cheap, and full of happy preserved nature (see top image from Vinha da Manta glamping site)?
30. Village parties, which happen on a flurry of occasions and used to be an opportunity for young men and women from nearby villages to meet and court each other, and are now an irresistible time to dance, drink, meet the neighbors, and reconnect to what it’s all about
Anything to add? This list is a work in progress so feel free to share your reasons to love Portugal and we’ll investigate (out of curiosity more than a background check) before integrating them into the list!