Year after year, Lisbon is undergoing an increase in European and overseas tourists arrivals and the tourism, right now, is a key driver to recover from the debt crisis. Despite this year, the country welcomed more than 7 million foreigners, it is still one of the uncrowded countries I’ve ever visited. So if you are a lover of niche like me, take advantage of this golden time to visit one of the best countries in Europe and please, do it responsibly to avoid turning this gem into a destination of mass tourism. And now let me give you 12 reasons to add this country to your bucket list.
Best European Climate.
Lisbon is the third sunniest city in Europe, following Valletta and Marseille with 2799 hours of sun. That means that even in winter you will find a mild climate and in summer you will be refreshed by the Atlantic breeze.
Have you ever dreamed one of those places full of gorgeous guys holding a surfboard or a skateboard? Yes, maybe watching O.C. California. But you won?t have to leave Europe. Peniche, Ericeira, even the small Costa da Caparica are just some of the hot spots that offer perfect waves to learn or improve your surfing skills. And then there is Nazare, the city with the biggest waves of the world.
Fluent English speakers
Compared to other southern European countries, Portuguese people speaks English fluently. It?s clear why: in the country, almost all foreign movies and TV series are just subtitled and not dubbed, so kids grow up learning English from an early age. And I can assure you that their accent is really sexy.
Hundreds of ways to visit the country.
No matter if you are traveling alone or with company, you will find a way to move around Portugal. You can buy a flight or rent a car, which is one of the cheapest services in Europe; book a ticket for a train or a bus, CP and Rede Expressos work perfectly; call a cab or Uber, which saved my life in Algarve, or you can even walk. Yes, I really said that. Rota Vicentina offers a Portuguese walking trip along the Atlantic coast. From Santiago do Cacém to Capo Saint Vicente, 200 km of pure wild nature.
Friendly and warm people
I’ve never found such nice and easy going people. Portuguese are always really friendly and willing to help even if you happened to be one of those annoying tourists. They bring positive vibes wherever they go and you will notice their kindness and politeness even more the northern you are.
History and legends
Portugal is not one of the main topics when we talk about global history, but sometimes we ignore that this country has been existing since 1143 and barely changed its borders since then, it’s responsible for important discoveries oversea and was once the most powerful country of the world. Furthermore, local people know thousands of fun facts and legends about their country. Come to listen to them!
A modern and liberal country
Although Portugal is still rooted in its traditions, it’s open-minded and modern. Just think that same-sex marriages have been legal for years and while selling drugs is illegal, drug use is admitted. Paradoxically this freedom led to a decrease on the overall number of drug users within the country. Amazing, right?
Wild Nature and an infinity of outdoor activities.
Portugal has a lot to offer. Magic volcanic caves in Madeira, green forests and waterfalls in Geres Natural Park and mountain hills for skiing at Serra da Estrela. Azores Island was awarded the title of the “Hawaii of the Atlantic” for their stunning lakes, natural pools and hiking paths. Surfing, paragliding, rafting, I could go on and on. And let’s not forget about more than 100 beaches.
Simple cuisine and fresh seafood
Forget fancy dishes. Portuguese cuisine is delicious because of its simplicity. Grilled fish or meat and a side of steamed vegetables, as it?s served in every Portuguese home. Nonetheless, you will discover new flavors and you will taste the sea like never before. Being one of the largest fishing zones in Europe, you will always find fresh fish and also at one super reasonable price. And don?t underestimate Portuguese people, they know 1000 way to cook a codfish.
Living a dream
If you are a dreamer or you want to be a child again, you can always escape for a trip in the fairytale city of Sintra (40 min far from Lisbon), where you will be welcomed with unique palaces and castles; or to Porto, which inspired JK Rowling to write Harry Potter. Don’t forget to visit Livraria Lello.
Pastel de Nata
Yes. This small custard tart deserves its individual presentation. It?s renowned worldwide and it was mentioned by “The Guardian” as the 15th most tasty delicacy in the world. Considering that only 5 people know the real recipe, beware of imitations! Come try the authentic one in Lisbon at “Pastèis de Belèm”.
You will learn what saudade is. This term was used in Portuguese poetry to describe a feeling of melancholy or a memory of something with a desire for it. The English translation is “missingness”, although it might not convey the meaning of Saudade. In any case, you will understand what Portuguese people feel when they leave home. Once you left Portugal, you will start missing the country, the weather, the people and the emotions you had there. At that point, you will realize that Portugal stole your heart too.