You can have Italy, France, and Spain, as long as I can have Portugal. Anyone who has been knows this tiny country gets lost in the shadow of its popular neighbors. It’s one of the few places I can easily return time and again. Here’s why, after one visit, you’re certain to be hooked.
1. Lisbon is Europe’s version of San Francisco (just a lot more affordable). The streets are super hilly and trafficked by cable cars. There’s a dynamic food scene. And the city’s 25th of April suspension bridgecould easily be mistaken for San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate.
2. People Are Saving Villages. In the Algarve, Portugal’s southern most region, people are breathing new life into abandoned villages by transforming them into super cool hotels.
3. The Coast Offers Some of the World’s Best Surf Spots. Hardcore surfers have long known that Portugal’s coast delivers some legit waves. Garrett McNamara let the secret out when he surfed the world’s largest wave in the beach town of Nazaré. You can spend a month on a surf safari or live out your surfer fantasies at one of the country’s many cool surf lodges or surf-centric hotels.
4. The Museums are Legitimately Cool. You’ll find museums entirely dedicated to beer and housed in 18th-century castles.
5. Porto will make you Rethink Port (and Portuguese wines). Seriously, when was the last time you ordered a glass of port, or even a Portuguese wine? We just don’t drink it in America. Visit Porto and the Douro Valley and you may be a convert. First, Porto is a hip city. It hosts awesome music festivals, has insane restaurants (sorry, Argentina, but the Portuguese may even top you when it comes to grilling), and is home to fabulous hotels. The many port houses and wine bars will convince you to ship cases of the stuff back home. Porto is the jumping off point for the Douro Valley. One visit and you’ll see why it rivals Bordeaux, Napa and Tuscany when it comes to scenery, food, and wine.