International travel is back in full swing, and American travelers flocked to Europe this summer in droves.
While Spain, Italy, and Greece have been popular, there’s one slightly off-path and trendy destination that is proving particularly popular with travelers from the U.S. right now.
This trendy country has experienced a record-breaking number of visitors this summer, 11 percent more than the previous record, according to a recent report.
Among the hordes of travelers heading to this Iberian paradise, Americans were the second largest nationality, accounting for nearly 9 percent of arrivals.
It has always been a much-loved destination among travelers, though perhaps a little lesser known than neighboring Spain, but why is it hitting such heights of popularity right now?
Why Portugal Is Having A Moment
Cheaper Than Most
While it is a popular tourist destination, Portugal is definitely cheaper to visit than some of its European counterparts such as Spain or Italy.
By being savvy and using public transport, eating where locals eat, and staying in hostels, you can survive in Portugal in the shoulder and off-season for as little as $60 a day.
In fall and winter, prices on hotels drop by as much as 50 percent in some areas, and the weather generally stays relatively warm, particularly in the south.
Easy To Get Around
Portugal is a relatively small country; in fact, it’s roughly the same size as Maine. This makes getting around to see all its sights relatively straightforward.
It helps that Portugal has a cheap and efficient train network with many great value passes available to buy for travelers.
With these trains you can take in the historic sights of the port capital city Lisbon in the morning, then sun yourself on the beaches of the Algarve in the afternoon.
Great Place For Digital Nomadism
Portugal is well-known as a great place for digital nomads to live and work thanks to extremely livable cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and Braga.
It has a relatively easy-to-obtain digital nomad visa that simply requires you to earn about $3,300 per month and prove that your work or employment is with a company based outside of Portugal.
Many of Portugal’s coastal destinations are also popular with digital nomads – who doesn’t want to finish their day at the laptop with a dip in the sea?
Direct Flights Are Plentiful
The number of direct flights to Portugal from the United States is on the up, and this means that they’re also getting cheaper.
You can fly direct to Lisbon from cities including New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco.
Airlines such as Delta and American Airlines have plenty of choice and fares from as little as $500 return at the time of writing.
You can also get good deals on Portuguese airline TAP.
Heaven For Beach Lovers
According to the Portuguese tourist board, more than 500 miles of Portugal’s coast is an almost unbroken beach – perfect for those who love sun, sea, and sand.
The Algarve region in the south is perhaps Portugal’s most popular seaside destination, with luxury resorts and warm temperatures most of the year round.
However, the west coast of Portugal is an underrated and less busy beach region, well-known for surfing and a more rugged and wild coastline, facing out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Portuguese cuisine is truly fantastic and often underrated compared to many other nations in Europe.
Of course, there are the star attractions such as custard tarts (pastel de nata) and an excellent array of wines and ports, but there is also fantastic seafood, including salted cod, and many delicious pork dishes such as porco preto.
My own personal favorite? A Francesinha. The name literally means ‘little Frenchie’ and is a take on the famous French dish croque monsieur.
It’s a stack of ham, beef, cheese, and more, topped with a fried egg, melted cheese, and tomato sauce.
It isn’t going to do much for your diet, but you won’t be disappointed if you try one.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com