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Why Portugal is one of our favorite countries

Published By - Stephen Scott via Truevail

Portugal is having a moment. If you haven't already heard a friend or colleague rave about this coastal European country that shares a border with Spain, you soon will.

The food, people, weather, vineyards, and football all make Portugal a fantastic and surprisingly affordable getaway. The country is small - even a five-day trip will give you time to see the highlights, or tack on a few extra days at the end of one of the popular \*\*Douro River\*\* cruises for city stops in gorgeous \*\*Porto\*\* in the north or chic \*\*Lisbon\*\* in the south. \*\*\*\*Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Douro River Valley, Porto\*\*\*\* Visitors will be delighted by the quality of the cuisine. Cooks all over the country create simple, succulent meals that make great use of the season's best offerings or the day's catch. The seafood is excellent \- just about every dish includes seafood, but even a meal as uncomplicated as charcoal-grilled sardines served on fresh cornbread is full of authentic flavor.

\*\*Bairro Alto Hotel | Right: Portuguese tapas \*\*\*\* You already know about the \*\*pastel de nata\*\* custard tart, but make sure you head to a \*\*churrascaria\*\* for the country's sublime take on barbecued chicken. Another favorite: the \*\*bifana\*\*, traditional sandwiches of pork that has been marinated in white wine, garlic and paprika. Load on the piri-piri (hot sauce).

The tiered vineyards along the \*\*Douro River\*\*, growing almost vertically up the sides of the valley, have to be seen to be properly appreciated. Book a 4x4 tasting tour.

There is a good amount of sun and warmth around 300 days a year. And the cities make great spots for winter visits, with temperatures which rarely fall below 50˚F/10˚C

\*\*.\*\* If you're in Portugal for its many beaches, summer is your best bet. You'll be sharing with the locals, but there are 600 miles of coastline, much of it sandy.

We can help you find a lesser-visited spot, such as the \*\*Alentijo\*\*region that most visitors skip or the beaches on the southern \*\*Algarve\*\* coast, too - just ask.

Portuguese are welcoming. Many comment on the warmth and generosity encountered in the country. Visitors must spend at least one evening listening to fado singers in a bar - the mournful, evocative music will captivate you, especially after a few well-priced glasses of Madeira or vinho verde.

When in \*\*Lisbon\*\*, drop by what's known as the oldest and most beautiful bookstore in the world, Livraria Bertrand, which was founded in 1732. Its breathtaking interior is such a hit on social media that the store charges five euros to enter - and it's worth it! Sports fans should take in a \*\*futebol\*\* match, too. There are 18 soccer/football clubs, so there's always a game on somewhere. Get yourself into the stands for a glimpse of the country's soul.

\*\*Will you head to the beach, survey the vineyards or wander the cobblestone streets of the cities?\*\*