Just over ten million people call Portugal home. This small, diverse country originally settled by Celtic people survived many waves of invaders including the Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors. Today, it’s a vibrant country that has a lot to offer visitors.
A general background and history of Portugal
Portugal’s history is similar to Spain’s due in large part to their geographical proximity. After the Roman Empire was defeated, Portugal was run by Moorish rulers for more than 500 years. By the 1250’s the territory was all under the control of Christian rulers. In the 1300’s the Black Death ravaged Portugal. Along with other European powers Portugal spearheaded the great age of exploration gaining significant territories in the new world. The 19th and 20th centuries saw Portugal losing its colonies and facing interior turmoil. It was not until the 1970’s that stability was finally restored.
After a history of colonial conquest and conflict, Portugal today is one of the world’s most globalized and peaceful nations. It is a very secular nation which decriminalized all drugs, fully recognizes same-sex relationships, and has one of the highest qualities of life in international rankings.
3 things you probably didn’t know about this country.
The country is named after its second-largest city, Porto.
Lisbon has some of the best hostels in Europe – and no, they’re not the sweaty backpacker dives you’re imagining!
One legacy of the Portuguese empire is that there are over 250 million speakers of the language today, the sixth most common language in the world!
What are some must-visit sites?
Lisbon and Porto, the two largest cities are high on the must see list. In Lisbon you’ll find museums, shops, and bakeries to fill your days. Don’t miss a trip on Tram 28 and the Castle of St. George. Porto is most well-known for its wine production but there’s more to do than just imbibe. Market spaces like Mercado Ferreira Borges have indoor-outdoor spaces selling all kinds of food products and artisan works. Porto also has a great music scene with concerts and performances all over the city. The town of Lagos on the Algarve Coast is also a great destination for anyone wanting to relax and enjoy the beach.
Where can you see some hidden highlights of this country?
The little city of Obidos is a location that the Portuguese visit so there aren’t as many tourists to compete with. It’s also known for its’ chocolate festival each spring – an entire month of celebrating chocolate! Another hidden secret is the town of Sintra – it’s literally a town of castles!
Why this country should be on YOUR bucket list
Portugal is one of the most beautiful and inexpensive places to visit in Europe. There is plenty of (very affordable) public transportation to travel within and in between cities. Stunning beaches, medieval cities, and great meals around every corner make it an amazing destination.
Is Portugal on your travel bucket list? If so, why?