The Youth Time Travel Guide To Portugal

Beaches, bars, beautiful scenery, what's not to love about Portugal? We pick our favourite spots in another Youth Time Travel Guide.

Setting a record with an added 10 million arrivals all in four years, Portugal, well and truly deserves its place as one of the most preferred tourist destinations. 

Some countries have it all and this country positively does. 

Historic cities, spectacular landscapes, the best of beaches and what is one to say about the food; just delicious. For a country that ruled over half of the New World the people are surprisingly hospitable and friendly. 

The best gift one can receive is friendship and you just might come back having made some real friends.

Not surprising at all but nearly 20 percent of their GDP comes from tourism. This country of a little more than 10 million people recorded nearly 30 million tourist arrivals in 2019.


Portuguese History

By the late 14th Century the country was already a great maritime nation with mariners and navigators such as Bartholomieu Diaz and Vasco da Gama and began capturing not only a good part of the western world but also dominated the spice trade from Asia. Spices, which were worth more than their weight in gold at the time. 

Not only that, once they had captured and colonised Brazil the Portuguese also overshadowed the trade in gold and precious stones.

Their economic progress largely continued and society flourished despite ups and downs until the industrial revolution began in Europe. 

This is when Portugal with its focus on agriculture began to fall back. 

Not participating in WWII and remaining neutral had its consequences on the country and just before the invasion of Normandy under threats of economic sanctions by the Allies, Portugal became a victim and more than 100,000 Portuguese were put out of work.

By the 1960s they had lost all of their colonies.

The country began to slowly rebuild and today produces textiles, clothing, footwear, wood, cork-they produce about 70% of the total production in the world, paper, chemicals and many other products. Ship building and refurbishment of ships is also a major sector. 

Tourism has acquired its own proportions.


More About Portugal

The Portuguese are extremely family-oriented. It’s quite common to see two to three generations living together.

The society is close knit. Family, friends and community matters. The people are mostly Catholic and do not like their religion made fun of.

Politeness is held in high importance. They are polite and expect the same in return.

Many compare the Portuguese to Spain and the Portuguese don’t like it. Their culture is quite different. So it’s best not to draw comparisons while you’re there.

The temperate climate attracts plenty of tourists and also has an effect on the pace of work. They do not like to be hurried.

Talking about Portugal conquering a good part of the world is best avoided.

If you’re there on business, be on time for your appointment but don’t be offended if your business associate is late.

Relationships matter in this country. Be prepared to visit several times and slowly establish trust. Once the groundwork has been done, business follows.

The Portuguese are expressive and animated when they talk. Expect facial expressions and hands to do a fair bit of the talking. They also speak louder than most Europeans.

They are fun people full of festivities and music. In fact, their music is one of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage.


Places To Visit

Lisbon: Known for its unspoilt beauty the capital city takes you back in time. It’s ancient. Enjoy the people – it’s crowded, eat the food and visit the historical sites, especially Praca do Comercio, Castelo São Jorge, the Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora and Santa Justa Elevator.

Cascais: This coastal resort town is just 30 minutes from Lisbon. Visit the beach, walk around and enjoy fresh seafood.

Sintra: Less than 30 kilometres from Lisbon is this enchanting town with its ancient castles and gardens is worth a visit.

Monsanto: A three-hour drive from Lisbon, close to the border with Spain is this village which is known as the most Portuguese village of them all. With sweeping views of the countryside the village mainly attracts hikers and those who want to experience the original way of life in Portugal.

Porto: Those who want to visit this famous region that produces the famed dessert wines are best advised to take the leisurely ferry trip which lasts all of two day and enjoy the fabulous coastal views of the country. 

The riviera area or ribeira as it is called in Portugal, of Porto is famous for its narrow cobbled streets, affordable bars, seafood, the neo-classical Palacio da Bolsa and the colourful 18th century townhouses.

Portimao: This beautiful city is one of the major attractions and is best known for its proximity to some of the best beaches, the medieval fort of Santa Catarina de Ribamar and the old quarter.

Faro: The capital of Algarve is among the most visited cities in Europe for its captivating beauty, the many beaches, the neoclassical Arco da Vila, the cobbled streets, the13th Century cathedral and the Museum which was built in a 16th Century convent.

Aveiro – Many countries in Europe have their own ‘Venice’. This is Portugal’s with its network of canals and beaches that are not far from the city centre.

Beaches – With a coastline of almost 2,000 kilometres the country has some of the best beaches. 

The most popular among these are Praia Baleal, the region of Algarve which includes Portimao and many of the other beaches and the Benagil Cave – the huge seaside enchanting natural cave which is also in the Algarve is a sight to see.

Another great travel guide here:

The Youth Time Travel Guide To Greece

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