This story was created in partnership with: Visit Portugal
Deciding where to spend your precious vacation time can be a difficult task — especially if you’re travelling to a diverse continent like Europe, where the options for an unforgettable holiday are endless.
But what if we told you there’s a country that has everything you want in a perfect European escape, from captivating cities to unspoiled beaches, natural attractions and world-class cuisine. And to top it all off, a wonderfully mild climate with year-round sunshine and excellent affordability to boot.
It may sound too good to be true, but the perfect European destination does exist — and it’s none other than Portugal! This alluring country has it all (and more!), so read on to discover why Portugal is the ideal choice for your next getaway.
1. It’s easy to venture off the tourist trail
One of the best things about travelling in Portugal? It’s remarkably easy to craft an itinerary with both must-see hotspots and lesser-known locales.
Beyond iconic cities like Lisbon and Porto, you’ll find charming villages brimming with history, gloriously sandy stretches of coastline, sweeping valleys, and breathtaking national parks, all within a relatively close distance.
If you want to uncover a side of the country that many visitors miss — and avoid tourist crowds at the same time — consider adding the following destinations to your Portugal itinerary.
The Douro Valley is a must-visit destination for vino enthusiasts, but there’s so much more to this beguiling region than centuries-old quintas (wine estates).
Not only is this area considered to be one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world (dating back to 1756), but it’s also among the most scenic. Characterised by terraced vineyards and postcard-perfect villages, the surrounding landscapes and astonishing vistas are enough to warrant a visit alone.
Drive along the region’s beautifully winding roads and you’ll find plenty of places to learn about Portugal’s winemaking traditions while savouring some of the highest quality table wines in the country.
While popular destinations like the Algarve tend to steal the spotlight, the south-central region of Alentejo is finally starting to get the attention it deserves.
Stretching from the Algarve toward central Portugal and flanking the Portuguese-Spanish border, this wildly beautiful area is peppered with natural wonders, charming historic villages, and Roman ruins.
You can spend your days here marvelling at ancient castles and opulent palaces, exploring UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the city of Évora, or relaxing on some of the most pristine beaches in the country. The region’s rolling hills are dotted with cork trees and olive groves, offering the perfect setting to slow down and get back to nature.
Situated 1,500 kilometers off the coast of mainland Portugal, this remote archipelago is a treasure trove of unspoiled nature, adventurous activities, and staggeringly beautiful volcanic landscapes.
Each of the Azores’ nine islands offers its own unique array of sights and activities — from hiking to birding, whale watching and sailing — but there’s truly something for every type of traveller here.
Start your Azores adventure in São Miguel, the largest island and gateway to the archipelago. This beguiling destination is a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wealth of walking trails, magnificent lakes, and hot springs to explore.
If you’d rather spend your time indulging in some much-needed rest and relaxation, São Miguel is a fantastic place to do just that. Stroll through the laid-back town of Ponta Delgada, hunker down at a lakeside lodge, or head off in search of the island’s best natural hot springs.
Beyond these options, there are so many underrated and little-explored destinations to choose from.
You could learn to hang ten in Ericeira (a small village with a big reputation for its stellar surf), get lost among the maze-like streets in the walled and well-preserved town of Óbidos, or visit one of the oldest universities in the world in Coimbra, a medieval city dating back to Moorish times.
2. Nature is never far away
After a year spent mostly indoors with far too much screen time, nature-filled holidays that leave us feeling recharged and revitalised will be essential in 2021 and beyond.
If you want to immerse yourself in Mother Nature, Portugal’s diverse landscapes offer plenty of opportunities to do so. Outside the confines of the country’s urban areas, it’s easy to embrace the great outdoors in a variety of natural settings.
You can find blissful solitude among the wooded valleys and granite peaks of Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês (the country’s main natural park, located in northern Portugal), marvel at Cabo da Roca’s windswept cliffs (the most westerly point of mainland Europe, 30 kilometres from Lisbon), explore the Algarve’s famous sea caves, or go kayaking along the Guadiana River — the options are virtually endless.
If a wellness holiday is what you’re after, Portugal also delivers everything you need for a mind-body-soul reboot — be it countryside hikes, beachfront yoga classes, or a weeklong surf retreat. Portugal has some of the best surfing spots on the European continent, so if you’re keen to try this sport, there’s no better place to give it a try.
3. The culinary scene is outstanding
What would a European vacation be without superbly delicious food? Drawing influences from Africa to Asia, Brazil and the Mediterranean, Portuguese cuisine is characterised by a variety of flavours and ingredients, each one reflecting a piece of the country’s rich culinary heritage.
Staples like bread, cheese, and olive oil are complemented by fantastically fresh seafood, smoked meats, and hearty soups, ensuring every meal in Portugal is an experience in itself.
Whether you’re digging into a signature dish like bacalhau (salted, dried cod) or bifanas (a traditional Portuguese pork sandwich), sitting down for a meal here is about so much more than just satiating your hunger — it serves as a way to experience the diversity and richness of Portugal’s abundant coastline and countryside.
Of course, we can’t mention Portuguese cuisine without talking about the country’s world-class wine. Be it a crisp vinho verde (green wine) or a glass of velvety port, Portugal’s spectacular wine selection only enhances the overall dining experience.
4. The weather is fantastic year-round
With a wonderfully temperate and notoriously sunny climate, Portugal makes for a fabulous getaway any time of the year.
While you might think of this country as a summer destination, Portugal is at its best during the off-peak fall and spring months. There are fewer crowds and exceptional deals to be found between October and May, so you can enjoy the country’s top sights without the queues and ensure your money goes further.
What’s more, winter is delightfully mild here, with daytime temperatures ranging anywhere from 15ºC (59ºF) to 20ºC (68ºF) (though it does get chillier in the evenings). This means you can still take advantage of outdoor attractions and activities, from beaches to walking trails and wineries, all year round — even if you visit in the middle of January or February.
If you’re in need of winter sun, you’ll certainly find that in Portugal too; head to warm, southerly regions such as the Algarve and Alentejo or Madeira Island, which boasts a subtropical climate and eternal spring-like weather.
Travel with peace of mind in Portugal
No matter what destinations you choose to visit in Portugal, you can rest assured knowing you’ll be safe, healthy, and happy for the entire duration of your stay.
Not only was Portugal the first country in Europe to receive the Safe Travels badge (a global safety stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council), but the country also has its own Clean & Safe initiative in place.
Used to ensure companies meet specific hygiene and safety standards, the Clean & Safe stamp offers added peace of mind when visiting tourist venues and public spaces throughout the country. Simply look for the Clean & Safe seal of approval at hotels and local accommodations, dining establishments, attractions, and more.
Feeling inspired to start planning your future Portugal getaway? Head over to TourRadar to browse a range of Portugal tours and find your perfect trip today.