Is Portugal the Hottest Destination in 2017?

Portugal didn’t sit at the top of many bucket lists 10 years ago. Unless you were a diehard football fan, it was more likely to be a detour from sightseeing in Spain rather than the key destination of your holiday. Overshadowed by neighbouring tourism heavyweights like France and Italy, Portugal was the largely unloved little brother of the Western Europe family.

Porto, Portugal

Today? Not so much.

In the past decade, the number of international visitors has soared. Portugal used to be Europe’s best-kept secret, but more people have caught on each year. And 2016 was the year that the Portuguese cat was well and truly let out of the bag.

Travel + Leisure named Portugal their 2016 Destination of the Year. The Portugal News had already predicted in August that 2016 would end up being the country’s best year ever for tourism. And they were right.

But 2017 looks like it will raise the bar yet again.

News.com.au has nominated Portugal as the hottest destination for the year, citing the pleasant weather, beautiful beaches and reasonable prices. Travelers Today has made the same prediction, giving special mention to the country’s stunning shorelines and the gorgeous town of Sintra.

Portugal’s tourist attractions can expect lots of admissions this year. Hotels can look forward to more ‘no vacancy’ nights. And anyone planning a holiday here should be excited – because it’s sure to be an unforgettable European experience. Here’s why.

Portugal’s Tourist Attractions Are Irresistible

Pena Palace, Porto

If Portugal was a movie, its tourist attractions would make up the star-studded cast. From monasteries and palaces to medieval villages, there are sites here to capture any traveller’s imagination.

Highlights include:
• The Roman temple and Christian monasteries in Évora
• The Belem Tower and Discoveries Monument in Lisbon
• Jeronimos Monastery
• The Palace de Pena, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Portugal’
• The old town of Sintra
• The whitewashed churches and colourful houses of medieval Obidos
• The Dom Luis Bridge and Avenida dos Aliados in Porto
• Bom Jesus Sanctuary in Braga
• Historic monuments in Guimarães (the birthplace of Portugal).

Between stopping at these breathtaking manmade sites, you’ll be enchanted by seaside scenes and striking natural landscapes.

The Weather Is Wonderful

Lisbon, Portugal

With a similar climate to Spain, Portugal’s weather is fabulous in May, June, late August, and September. Prepare for:

• Warm but moderate temperatures during the daytime
• Pleasant evenings
• Rare rainfall
• Plenty of Mediterranean sunshine.

Travelling in these ‘shoulder periods’ also means you won’t have to contend with the busiest crowds. Portugal’s tourist attractions are still popular in these months, but they’re not uncomfortably packed like they often are in July and early August.  

The Culture Is Contagious

Aveleda Winery, Portugal

Portugal is bursting at the seams with passion and liveliness. The people here love food and having fun. Every town and city is shimmering with history – you can see it in the architecture, in the streets, and in the humble homes that have the same quaint facades they had decades ago.

To fully appreciate this marvellous nation’s culture, make sure you:

• Take guided walking tours of historic sites whenever you can
• Explore town squares and their surrounding cobblestone streets on foot
• Dine and drink at neighbourhood cafés and bars
• Try local dishes (e.g. Pastel de Nata, a hot custard pie)
• Enjoy some local wine samples (e.g. some Vinho Verde from the Avelada Wine Estate)
• Seek out vantage points to get great panoramic views of each city (e.g. take photos of Lisbon from the hilltop Palace de Pena).

Street festivals occur frequently in Portugal, with the country’s passion for music and dance on constant display. Then there are the more subtle expressions of culture: the quiet fishing villages and the understated green farms that roll into the horizon.

River Duoro, Portugal

Portugal has long been one of our favourite countries to visit. We’re thrilled that its recent recognition means more people will get to experience this magical destination now. If you’re convinced too, join us in 2017 for one of our ‘Magnifico’ Spain and Portugal Tours.

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Julia Higginbotham

Julia Higginbotham is the Marketing Coordinator at Albatross Tours