Portugal is a land of plenty, graced with the glittering Atlantic Ocean, stunning beaches, nearly year-round sunny days, and towering mountains. It’s no surprise this European paradise attracts millions of visitors.
In July 2022, foreign tourists visiting Portugal surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time since many governments lifted most of their COVID-19 restrictions. According to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), more than 1.8 million foreigners lodged in Portuguese hotels in July 2022.
Luis Horta e Costa, a Portuguese real estate expert, says, “Portugal is attractive because of the people, cost of living, safety, and weather.”
Horta e Costa co-founded Square View, a real estate property developer that builds and refurbishes properties in Portugal’s cities and beaches. As a native of Portugal, he can recommend the five best places to visit in the country in 2023.
Among Europe’s most captivating capital cities, Lisbon bustles with activity among its open plazas, Renaissance cathedrals, Moorish palaces, and Roman ruins. “By day, Lisbon has a naïve theatrical quality that enchants and captivates,” Erich Maria Remarque wrote in his 1962 novel The Night in Lisbon. How could it not enchant and captivate with the architectural treasures populating its cobblestone streets?
“I love Lisbon because there are a lot of beautiful places to visit,” Horta e Costa says.
Lisbon’s modern allure, he says, can be found in its elegant hotels. He recommends the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. It is beautiful.”
“In Lisbon, we’re starting to see more hotels that can be nice to stay in and have fun,” Horta e Costa says. “I think Lisbon needs the kind of hotel like the one I visited in Cap Ferret, La Corniche, designed by Philippe Starck.”
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Beyond its culture and beauty, Lisbon accommodates foreign visitors who can’t speak Portuguese; Portugal’s English proficiency is higher than in Spain, France, or Italy.
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Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city, named for its prize-winning red wines. The birthplace of port wine encourages visitors to sip port as they enjoy meals of fresh shrimp, fish soup, and sponge cake. Adventurous cuisine lovers should eschew drinking traditional white wine with seafood in favor of port while visiting Porto.
Porto sits on a hilltop alongside the Douro River, a picturesque town steeped in history. It’s small but swoon-worthy. From the Six Bridges to its ornate buildings, tourists love this gem.
On the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve region is famous for its gorgeous beaches and dramatic cliffs. Luxurious accommodations and award-winning golf courses await the tourist.
Visitors come for the beaches, whose topography includes stone archways, coves, and caves. It’s also a haven for surfers.
The Algarve offers some of the best hiking trails in Portugal. Nearby lies a sleepy fishing village worth the excursion for its traditional charm. Dolphin watching and sailing are must-do activities.
Nazaré is a small town that boasts huge tides and perhaps the largest waves in the world. The waters here test any surfer, no matter how gifted. It’s a significant draw for professional surfboarders who love a challenge; it’s the Mount Everest of surfing. The waves in Nazaré often surpass 65 feet and, occasionally, can reach 100 feet.
Luis Horta e Costa says, “The surfing is amazing.”
This little seaside town isn’t populated with many tourist attractions like those in the more famous cities. The scenery, cultural heritage, and waves more than make up for it. For history buffs, a trip to the Igreja de Nossa Senhora was built in the 17th century, and the original Ermida da Memoria was constructed in the 14th century.
Peneda-Geres National Park
While it’s not a city, the Peneda-Geres is not to be missed. It lies on the border between Spain and Portugal and spans 72290 hectares. The park is filled with abundant fauna and animals, including wild horses, wolves, badgers and boars.
Peneda-Geres is the location for whimsical granite villages, like the Castro Laboreiro, which is 1,000 meters above sea level. Hikers love the rolling foothills, and hiking trails and campers are keen on the campgrounds dotted all over the park.
When working on real estate projects in Portugal, Luis Horta e Costa appreciates the landscape that creates the magic of the country.
“We always try to have good views,” he says. “Light is essential for us. We avoid concrete and always try to include wood.”
Horta e Costa’s approach makes sense. It’s a one-of-a-kind sort of luminosity and rusticity that can only be found in Portugal, no matter the city.