“Wet or fine, the air of Portugal has a natural happiness in it, and the people of the country should be as happy and prosperous as any people in the world.”  

HG Wells

There are a lot of people from North America who don’t ever seem to even think of Portugal when planning a European vacation. To be honest, we are fine with that as it leaves more of this incredible country blissfully empty and ready for us to explore. Really though, for us Portugal strikes the perfect balance of history, culture, and beauty. We’ve spent a lot of time in Portugal, (and hope to spend way more there in the future). and what always strikes us is the warmth and friendliness of the Portuguese people.

Just after the COVID lockdown eased up, we jetted out of Spain for a 2+ week roadtrip through Portugal. It was one of at least 5 trips we’ve made into the country, and every single time we came away wanting to spend more time there. One of my favorite memories of our time in Portugal is striking up a conversation with two guys from Lisbon celebrating a birthday during sunset on a mirador that provided a fantastic overlook of the colorful city (see above). They were nothing but charming and engaging (albeit a little drunk), and they were as happy to hear our perspective on things as we were to hear theirs. To us, that is the essence of travel, and Portugal has it in spades.

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Tips on Portugal/

  • The tolls on highways can get expensive and are a bit confusing. Some tollways have stations where you can pull over and register a credit card with your license plate to pay automatically, some have ticket booths, and others are electronic only, making you log onto a website afterwards to pay.
  • Gasoleó simple = diesel. Galolina sem chumbo = unleaded gasoline. Look at the octane rating to be absolutely sure.
  • Don’t leave without trying grilled sardines and Pastels de Nata, there is a reason why the Portuguese are known for these specialties.
  • Wear good footwear, as the hilly cities and cobbled streets and be a challenge if your are only sporting flip flops.
  • As in most of Europe, ordering a café is going to get you a shot of espresso. If a latte is what your looking for, you want to ask for a galão or a meta de meta de leite (half coffee half milk)

Portugese City Guides