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Things You Didn’t Know Portugal Did Best

Time was when people outside of the country used to think of Portugal as a less interesting Spain, but that time is long gone and today Portugal ranks as one of Europe’s top destinations. With a fantastic climate and a rich cultural heritage, Portugal is a diverse and fascinating country and if it’s a country that you don’t know, then it’s high time that you did.

The Algarve is the best beach destination in the world.

When you consider the contenders for this title you begin to understand what an extraordinary accolade it is, but this was the finding of the World Travel Awards 2020 when they polled tourism industry professionals and consumers. Perhaps what is so very impressive about the Algarve is that there are so many great beaches, each with their own character. Set in the Parque Natural Arribida, Praia dos Galapinhos, has often been called ‘the most beautiful beach in Europe’. This crescent of white sand sits within a dramatic backdrop of the densely forested hills of the Serra da Arrabida, its crystal-clear azure waters accessible only by a steep goat path. Or if you prefer a naturist beach, the Praia da Ursa is a wild, unspoilt beach which gets its name from the huge stacks which resemble a bear and its cub.  Or there are the golden sands of the vast, lively Praia de Carcavelos, popular with families and surfers. And the list just goes on, stunning beach after stunning beach and all easily accessible from the international airport at Faro.

Braga is voted the best place to visit in Europe in 2021.

Portugal’s third largest city and its oldest religious centre, has been voted the best European destination in a poll of 109,902 respondents, conducted by ‘Europe Best Destinations’, a Brussels based organisation which promotes tourism and culture in Europe. Beating Rome into second place by 31,000 votes, Braga is no longer Portugal’s best kept secret.  With its historic centre of plazas, formal gardens and narrow streets, its cathedral, churches and ornate baroque buildings, Braga is an ambler’s delight that also offers great shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

Affordability

Portugal has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe and its temperate climate means that you’ll spend very little on keeping warm during the winter. The really big savings are in the cost of accommodation. The average rental cost, per month, in London, is 1775 euros, in Lisbon it is just 1252 euros and of course, once you move beyond the capital, things get much cheaper.

Innovation

Since 2016 Lisbon has been host to ‘Websummit’, considered the largest tech event in the world, and increasingly Portugal has become a magnet for tech nomads. Portugal’s excellent education system has created a pool of skilled young people who can be hired at economically attractive rates and as a result both Google and Amazon have opened research centres in the country. The government has pioneered strategies to encourage start-ups and Lisbon has a range of start-up hubs and co-working spaces.