15 Reasons Portugal Is the Country to Visit
What comes to mind when you think of Portugal? Native son soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo? Or maybe you remember Magellan the Explorer and the Age of Discovery from your history classes. The country on the edge of the European continent has a lot more than that going for it, both in its past and present. And if you pay a visit, I guarantee you'll fall in love.
Yet for some reason, Portugal hasn't been a top destination for either backpackers or honeymooners. As longtime travel guidebook writer Rick Steves points out, Portugal is Western Europe's least visited country. That may soon change. Recent stats from the government show foreign tourism to Portugal rose 10 percent in one year. And the travel experts I spoke to agree the trend will continue.
"Perched right on the edge of Europe, stunning-but-understated Portugal has been overlooked in favor of higher-profile Mediterranean destinations like France, Spain, and Italy," explains Lonely Planet destination editor Tom Stainer. Stainer says travelers should give Portugal consideration, thanks to its vibrant cities, golden beaches, historic villages, and medieval castles. "Portugal has everything," he says, maintaining that 2017 is Portugal's time to shine. "Not only is it one of the safest countries in the world," according to Stainer, "but it also offers great value for money." He notes that many of the top attractions are free, and local food and wine are cheap — and delicious.
Robin Brooks, from adventure tour company Exodus Travels, believes that as more Americans travel overseas, they'll be looking for new places to visit, beyond the standard London, Paris, Rome whirlwind. "Many have already ticked off the classic European Tour," she notes. Portugal, on the other hand, "is packed with history, culture, outdoor adventures, beaches, and other highlights that remain to be discovered."
It's not surprising then that people are catching on. Travel + Leisure named Portugal its top destination last year. Throw in the fact that the dollar is historically strong against the euro, and 2017 is the year to book your trip to Portugal while it's still affordable. If you're not fully convinced yet, here are 15 reasons you should visit Portugal ASAP — along with a healthy dose of travel eye candy.