Reasons why everyone is going to Portugal right now
Lisbon’s timeworn charm
“Set against the ever-present backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, this dainty sun-kissed city lives in a Latin fairytale of timeworn manners and traditions,” says Telegraph Travel’s Lisbon expert, Guyan Mitra. “Check out the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that still lurch and rumble their way through the city. Or witness the best of this bygone heritage by wandering through the Baixa district, where age-old herbalists, haberdashers and tailors rub shoulders in the baroque streets of the ornate city centre.”
“With its medieval heart, contemporary buzz, magnificent gold-leaf-laced churches – oh, and a rather nice signature tipple – Portugal’s second city merits a visit at any time,” writes Telegraph Travel’s Adrian Bridge. Carved in two by the Douro river, downtown Porto has a faded sophistication, while the seaside suburbs have witnessed something of a renaissance in recent years, home as they are to a burgeoning collection of bars, restaurants and cafes, which offer an authentic slice of local life.
The wine, of course
Portugal’s national drink (port or porto) is ubiquitous across the country, particularly in its eponymous home. Any bar and restaurant worth its salt will sell the fortified wine, but for larger quantities head to one of Portugal’s plentiful off-licences, which sell anything from dusty, 100-year-old bottles worth €1,000, to more affordable vintages.
Perched on the western edge of Europe, Lisbon is the continent’s sunniest capital city, boasting an average of 2,799 hours of sunshine a year, pipping Athens, which has 2,771 hours of sun a year, to the post.
The beaches are exquisite
Portugal’s exquisite coastline, reliable weather and fine seaside resorts make it one of Europe’s best destinations for a beach break.
From the thronging streets of Lisbon and Porto to the pumping seaside resorts of the Algarve, Portugal’s love for a night on the tiles is no secret. Less known, however, is the country’s growing affection for Afro-house, which is being imported from Africa like its going out of fashion. The genre has found fertile ground in Lisbon’s vivacious clubbing scene, but it’s poised to spread across the country.
At the core of Portugal’s musical tradition is the distinctive song form, fado – literally “fate” – which is predominantly slow, resigned and melancholy in character. The music is lyrical, soulful and accompanied by guitars – the Spanish-style guitar known in Portuguese as viola and the Portuguese pear-shaped guitarra. To catch a live performance drop into one of the country’s wonderful fado houses.