Portugal is a country that offers an irresistible blend of exquisite nature, sun-kissed beaches, vibrant cities, charming architecture, and delectable food. Through all of these pursuits, you can experience traditional and contemporary Portuguese culture yourself. Let me share some pointers to help you get the most out of your travels in Portugal.
Culture and gastronomy always go hand in hand and Portuguese food is rich in flavor. In a country that boasts 1,115 miles (1,794 km) of coastline, it’s no wonder that seafood features prominently on menus in Portugal. If you are a seafood fan, look for bacalhau (cod) which may be served grilled, baked, fried, or in a stew. During sardine season which runs between June and August, sardinhas asadas are served in abundance.
Besides fish, you can look forward to trying bifanas (pork sandwiches drizzled with tangy olive oil) and the African-inspired piri-piri chicken available at local churrascarias. Portugal produces velvety port wine as well as crisp vinho branco (white wine) and full-bodied vinho tinto (red wine) to accompany your chosen dish. And for dessert? You can indulge in a pastel de nata (custard tart).
When you select which cities will feature on your Portugal itinerary, seek recommendations for family-run and independent restaurants for the most authentic experience.
Fado is a historic genre of music that originated in Portugal in the early 19th century. The songs have a flair for melancholy, with lyrics drawing on the struggles of life, longing, and hardship. Vocalists are accompanied by a live band of string instruments. You can sample some fado for yourself online before you travel but this style of music is best appreciated in a cozy Portuguese tavern with a glass of local wine or port. The neighborhoods of Alfama and Graça in Lisbon and riverside Ribeira in Porto are the perfect places to sway along.
Food, wine, music, flowers, religion, street art, bullfighting, and beyond. It feels like there is a festa for everything in Portugal! Most of the small villages in the country host their own annual festival either in honor of their patron saint or to celebrate the local harvest and it is worth checking local tourist boards and asking your hotel to find out what’s on.
Offbeat towns and villages
Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve are worthy of any Portuguese itinerary and provide a wealth of opportunities to experience Portuguese traditions. However, you can get off the beaten track in Portugal too. Head to Viana do Castelo in the north where you can connect with the county’s medieval heritage and engage with the traditional attire at the Museu do Traje (Costume Museum). In Central Portugal, the ancient hilltop city of Viseu you can juxtapose a visit to the 12th-century cathedral with a wander around the gallery dedicated to the Renaissance painter Vasco Fernandes before roaming the streets to encounter modern street art. Setúbal is located in Southern Portugal and is the beating heart of the country’s sardine industry which provides a unique experience. You can also see some of the finest azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiling) in the country, at the Fort of São Filipe.
Please join us this week on Thursday, 8th July at 5:00 pm where Turismo de Portugal and myself will host an exclusive event about traveling in this beautiful country of golden beaches, historic castles, and exceptional food and wine. Contact me when you are ready to book your trip to Portugal, Madeira, or the Azores Islands.
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