Top 10 Things Portugal Is Famous For

portugal is famous for
Anne Marie
Anne Marie 
| 5 min read

Portugal is a small country with a great variety, making it the kind of place that will appeal to any visitor. Its landscape ranges from towering mountains to sandy beaches with craggy cliffs. It has large, exciting cities as well as remote medieval towns. The country’s history as a major colonial power has brought together global influences to produce some of the most stunning art - and delicious food - in the world. From its historic cities to its beautiful coastline, to its Port wine imitated around the world, read through our round-up of the top things Portugal is famous for, and bookmark the highlights to experience on your next trip.

Tip from tour guide

Tomar city

Tomar is the city where the Templares rested after all of their crusades.

Tip from tour guide

Rio Zêzere

Portugal is also home to the Zêzere River. It has an amazing landscape and great river beaches. Enjoy all that beauty just to yourself, even in August.

1. Piri piri chicken

Chicken Piripiri,26 July 2015 (6)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user View more used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of Portugal’s most famous dishes is piri piri chicken. This delicious meal can be found on the menu at almost any Portuguese restaurant, and most often is served with a side of salad and fries or rice. Piri piri chicken can be prepared in several different ways, but what unites all varieties of the dish is that the chicken is spatchcocked, or butterflied, before being cooked over a charcoal grill (or in an oven) and it is covered in a flavorful, spicy sauce made of piri piri chilies. The dish has become famous in Portugal, but the dish’s origins are actually in Portugal’s African colonies, where the Portuguese grew piri piri chilies that they brought back from South America. In the 1960s, Portuguese people returned from Africa and brought the dish back with them to Guia, a town in the Algarve where you can still find some of the best piri piri chicken in the country!

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2. Pastel de nata

MargaretCafe PasteisDeNata
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jpatokal used under CC BY-SA 3.0

To balance out the spiciness of piri piri chicken, end your meal with one of Portugal’s most famous desserts: pastel de nata. This delicious pastry is a small puff pastry tart filled with egg yolk custard. The whole thing is lightly dusted with cinnamon at the end for extra sweetness. Pastel de nata is rich enough that it can serve as its own snack in the middle of the day, and is best enjoyed at a charming sidewalk cafe along with a cup of coffee or espresso.

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3. Port wine

Port wine (5196302462)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Francisco Antunes used under CC BY 2.0

Alongside your dessert of pastel de nata, you might enjoy sampling Portugal’s most famous beverage: Port wine. Port wine is made exclusively from grapes grown in the Duoro Valley in the northern part of the country. It is typically a sweet, red wine served as a dessert wine. However, there are also dry and white varieties of Port wine, which is commonly called port. Though this style of wine has global popularity and is produced in almost every continent on earth, only wines produced in Portugal can be officially called port or Porto. That means you just have to travel to Portugal to try the best Port wines!

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4. Cork/cork-based products

Cork Handbags from Portugal
Source: Photo by Flickr user Marco Verch Profe... used under CC BY 2.0

You might be surprised to learn that another popular product in Portugal is cork, however, it’s not just the cork stoppers in Port wine that you can take home as souvenirs. As you explore Portugal, you’ll find hundreds of objects made of cork, ranging from wallets and purses to notebooks and shoes. They even make bicycles from cork! This material is made from the outer bark of cork trees, which takes 25 years to grow bark, which can then be harvested once every 9 years. The end product is worth the wait: it is as durable and versatile as leather, but is completely vegan. Portugal produces over 70% of the world’s cork, so be sure to bring home an authentic cork souvenir.

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Portugal Tour Guide

Ana-Cristina Paiva

Ana Cristina Paiva

I am an australian-born Portuguese living in Lisbon since I was 8 years old. I studied Tourism and became a Licensed Guide and I absolutely love my job! The Portuguese landscape, history, food, traditions have won me over and I hope to share all this with you! I live in an historical neighborhood and believe that the best way to get to know a city is by walking. During the tours I hope to answer your questions and curiosities, proving a memorable and fun learing experience.

Tours by Ana-cristina

5. Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal
Source: Pixabay

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is one of the country’s most famous cities. Aside from being a center of government, Lisbon is also the heart of Portugal’s culture. The city has many museums, parks and botanical gardens, and a thriving art scene. It is also home to some of the country’s best restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Aside from all the activities, Lisbon is simply a beautiful place to visit: it sits right on the Atlantic Ocean. The city has a mix of colorful, historic architecture and contemporary buildings, all of which are perched on the city’s rolling hills. Be sure to add a couple of days in Lisbon to your Portugal itinerary!

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6. Azulejos (traditional art tiles)

Azulejos Portugueses - 41
Source: Photo by Flickr user r2hox used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The most prominent kind of art in Portugal is azulejos, or painted, glazed tiles. These stunning tiles can be found nearly everywhere in the country, from grand palaces to humble homes and subway stations. Though the tradition of painted tiles originated outside of Portugal in the Moorish world, Portuguese artisans perfected the art. The tiles range from blue and white to multicolored, and they depict scenes as well as intricate patterns. If you find that you’ve fallen in love with the azulejos, be sure to visit the Tile Museum or Fronteira Palace in Lisbon to see some of the best examples of this beautiful art form.

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7. Algarve

Algarve - Marinha Beach (16822212191)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Luc.T used under CC BY 2.0

If the image of azure blue water, sandy beaches, and craggy cliffs is what comes to mind when you think of Portugal, you are thinking of the Algarve. Also known as the Faro District, the Algarve is at the southernmost point of the country. It has a dramatic coastline, with stunning cliffs and unique rock formations tumbling into the ocean. The region is also where you’ll find some of the country’s best beaches. Though the area’s natural beauty is unparalleled, the Algarve is also known for its quaint fishing towns, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality.

Tip from tour guide

Lagos beach

Lagos is one of the best beaches in Algarve. It is nearer to Sagres.

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8. Porto

Dom Luís Bridge, Porto (10247552584)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user François Philipp used under CC BY 2.0

Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city after Lisbon, and it’s worth visiting both cities if you have the time. Porto is in the northern part of the country and spans the wide Duoro River as it enters the ocean. Walking along the river is one of the best activities in Porto, and you’ll be rewarded with views of the epic Dom Luís I Bridge, a huge, double-deck metal bridge that spans the water. Be sure to venture into the heart of the city as well. It is sure to instantly charm you with the alleys of its historic district as well as the contemporary street art and architecture that makes the city feel thoroughly modern.

Tip from Content Creator

Porto Porto Porto
Photos of Porto shared by content creator from the United Kingdom, Chloe.
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9. Golf courses

Portugal Golf 2015 IMG 6892 (19262779953)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Guy Renard used under CC BY 2.0

Portugal might not jump out as a premier golf destination. However, the country’s 90 golf courses attract a whopping 1.8 million golfers per year, making it one of the most popular spots in Europe for the game. Portugal’s temperate climate, stunning landscapes, and friendly inhabitants are all attractive qualities for golfers. There are several regions in the country with the best courses: the Algarve, in the south, is the most popular and boasts over 40 courses. Golfers also love the Silver Coast, north of Lisbon; the North, near Porto and the Duoro Valley; and even the volcanic islands of the Azores and Madeira have courses!

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10. Football

Cristiano Ronaldo 2017
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Дмитрий Садовников used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Football is by far Portugal’s favorite sport. It is beloved by many fans inside and outside of the country. Portugal’s top league is Primeira Liga, which contains several clubs that have been successful in international competitions. The Portugal national team is also famous for its star player, Christiano Ronaldo. Widely regarded as the best player in the world, and one of the best of all time, Ronaldo has won many awards throughout his career. He is the record holder for the most Ballons d'Or and European Golden Shoe awards, among many other trophies.

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A small country with lots to see

Portugal may not be home to France’s Eiffel Tower or Italy’s colosseum, but it is famous for many things besides historic landmarks. The country’s history and global influences have created a rich culture unlike anywhere else. It has a stunning landscape unlike anything else on this planet. The cuisine is nearly impossible to replicate, and it is always served with the utmost hospitality. These are just a few things that Portugal is famous for, and certainly, after your visit you’ll find many more things to tell about!

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Anne-Marie, a publishing professional by day, harbors a fervent desire to explore the world whenever she can. Though she hasn't discovered the entire globe yet, her eagerness to learn and write...Read more

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