There are definite benefits to being Europe’s westernmost country. Portugal might be one of the oldest states in Europe, but geography has ensured a slower-and-steadier growth than other countries. Portugal only got its first major motorway in the 1980s and you won’t pass through Portugal on a train to anywhere else on the continents. Tons of Portuguese towns are accessed only by pastoral roads, and rather than chain hotels and suburban housing developments, you’ll find simple whitewashed houses and rogue herds of sheep that step into traffic. It’s one of the best countries in Europe for adventure travel and if you really want to experience Portugal at your own pace, you can rent a campervan and travel the length of the country.
The pace of life is slower in Portugal, with traditions still driving the day-to-day. The Portuguese enjoy multi-course meals and wine with lunch. Laundry hangs from balconies to dry. The cities are a series of colors and shapes. Blocky houses rolling over the contours of the city like a box of pastel crayons. Each apartment building seems constructed with perfect symmetry — balconies clinging to its sides like shelves on a wall — though none match the building to its left or right. There’s an emphasis on romance and people really seem to take their time to appreciate the pleasures in life. The result is a country that looks like someone’s masterpiece, patiently painted and added to carefully.
Portugal is truly one of the prettiest countries in Europe. Home to romantic cities like Porto to beachside retreats like Cascais, you’d be hard pressed to find somewhere in Portugal that you could honestly describe as “ugly”. Here are 37 photos of Portugal to prove it.