When most people in the US and Canada think of Europe, they envision the castles of Germany, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and perhaps the Roman Coliseum. They usually don’t think of Portugal at all. And that’s okay with most Portuguese.
That’s because Portugal doesn’t necessarily want to be the tourist magnet that Berlin, Rome, Paris, and Barcelona are. Instead, the country’s residents enjoy the quiet anonymity that allows them to enjoy the country’s vast natural resources, rich history, and celebratory culture all on their own.
Europe’s Best Kept Secret
Part of that has to do with Portugal’s history. The country was once a leading world power, on par with the British and Roman empires. Portuguese explorers led the world in discovery and expanding civilization long before Columbus launched his first ship or the rise of the British Navy.
But by the mid-18th Century, Spain, France, and England had eclipsed Portugal as a global political force. Over the next 300 years, Portugal settled into its role as the quiet observer of world events as its citizens enjoyed comfort and prosperity with minimal disruption by geopolitical changes.
Today Portugal is a favorite destination for people who aren’t interested in navigating the hordes of tourists in Trafalgar Square, on the Unter den Linden, or Disneyland Paris. The country attracts visitors who are looking for a luxurious yet affordable place to spend their leisure time in a safe and politically stable environment. And that is exactly what makes it the ideal place for retirement, relocation, or a second vacation home.
You may not think of Portugal as your top tourist destination. And that’s exactly the point. The country actually offers more than you will find in the most well-known places in terms of beauty, history, and cultural experiences. Just without all the tourists.