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Europe’s Trendiest Destination Is Also One Of Its Most Affordable

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Portugal is not the first destination that comes to mind when you pair words like “sun” and “culture” – at least to the average American – especially when there are countries like Spain, it's much larger neighbor, Italy, or Greece to consider.

It is much smaller, it doesn’t have a Mediterranean shoreline – Portugal straddles the North Atlantic instead – and as a country, it is smaller than most U.S. states.

Woman in Lisboa, Portugal (Lisbon)

Still, it has been soaring in popularity among Americans, particularly in the post-pandemic scene, but why?

Considering Portugal’s extensive list of hidden gems yet to be overrun with tourists, beautiful beaches, and high affordability, it’s truly no surprise it’s got so trendy:

Why Are Tourists Flocking To Portugal?

One of Europe’s oldest and most traditional nations, Portugal occupies the Westernmost portion of the Iberian Peninsula, also shared by Spain, and a small part of France.

Lisbon Cityscape, Capital City Of Portugal, With The Atlantic Sea In The Distance, Western Europe

It is Europe’s Westernmost state, and though it’s always been a popular sunny getaway for Europeans, it had been largely ignored by travelers from across the pond up… until recently.

With border restrictions down and tourism reinstated, Americans are eager to travel where their fellow nationals have not yet trod, and despite Portugal’s standing as a summer hotspot, it very much remains a lesser-known destination among U.S. visitors.

When taking Transatlantic trips, a majority of Americans use London, Dublin, or German hubs as entry points, with England and Ireland in particular often ranking as the most-searched destinations. This is largely due to the strong historical ties shared between the U.S. and the British Isles.

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Colorful District Of Alfama Seen From A Miradouro In Lisbon, Portugal, Western Europe

This is quickly changing.

More Americans Are Choosing Portugal For Their International Trips

This year, a record number of Americans have taken trips to Portugal already, inspired by its gorgeous Atlantic beaches, warm weather, cultural wealth, and lower consumer prices.

The country’s capital, the charming – and hilly – Lisbon, is an ancient wonder listed as one of Western Europe’s oldest settlements and a maze of cobblestone streets lined with colorful Iberian-style buildings that lead up to a major fortification.

The quintessential European cityscape.

A Young Woman Sitting On A Miradouro In Lisbon, Portugal, Western Europe

Lisbon is also a seriously underrated foodie destination, as tourists who stroll the lively district of Belém, where the famous “pastéis de nata” were first concocted, as well as several other Portuguese delicacies, will soon learn.

Portugal Beyond Lisbon

Beyond Lisbon, whether they’re going North or South, tourists will be greeted with sweeping views of a dramatic Atlantic coastline lined by golden sands and bounded by an azure, agitated sea.

As it is not the Mediterranean, it can feel a lot colder to swimmers, but it is still undoubtedly refreshing during Portugal’s scorching late summer and early fall weather when temperatures easily soar above 80°F.

Aerial View Of Carvoeiro Beach, Algarve, Portugal

Surfers are particularly drawn to Nazaré, when towering waves that seem to rise up the skies crash against the shoreline, while bathers prefer the quieter basins in the Algarve, in Southern Portugal, home to over 100 swim-friendly beaches, or the quaint seaside city of Lagos.

Traveling North instead, you will hit the enchanting Porto (Portuguese for “Port”), the country’s number-two metropolitan area and arguably its most exciting city break, home to several colorful Iberian churches, quirky street corner bars, and picturesque cobbled streets traversed by tramways.

A Portuguese Venice And Ancient Roman Temples

The Traditional Colorful Gondolas Of Aveiro, A Venice-Style City In Northern Portugal, Iberia, Southern Europe

Other incredible Portuguese hidden gems not to be missed include Aveiro, a city traversed by canals, dubbed the Portuguese Venice, and Évora, housing the Temple of Diana, perhaps the best-preserved Roman-era Pagan temple in Portugal.

Other than its vast tourist offer, Portugal is shockingly cheap compared to its European counterparts, which is particularly intriguing considering it is Europe’s Westernmost state, and Western Europe is, in general, pricier than the East.

On average, you should budget between $43 and $81 per day on a trip to Lisbon, based on data gathered by The Savvy Backpacker, or even less if you're truly economical and you won't be dining out at pricier restaurants every night.

Young woman traveler standing back with Portuguese flag, enjoying beautiful cityscape view on Douro river and boats during the morning light in Porto, Portugal

According to crowd-sourced Numbeo, a single person's estimated monthly expenses are only $756, roughly, not including accommodation, and Lisbon is up to 31.7% less expensive than Paris, with meals at inexpensive restaurants averaging only $13.

When it comes to hotels, BudgetYourTrip states that the average nightly rate is $109 for a single room in central Lisbon, based on data gathered from over 1,691 accommodation providers.

Tourists are able to find accommodation for much cheaper than that, even when staying at youth hostels or a family-owned guesthouse, with rates for the former starting at just $23 for a dorm bed this fall.

A view of Lisbon Portugal in the summer, Western Europe

Portugal Is A Great Off-Season Destination

Portugal is so affordable it was recently named the best country in the world for digital nomads in Europe, owing to a low cost of living, without necessarily translating into a lower quality of life or limited availability of services, its excellent weather – Lisbon for instance enjoys an average of 300 sunny days per year – and a wide array of attractions.

Though it is not as popular a destination in America, Portugal is well-connected to the United States through several nonstop flight routes, linking both Lisbon and Porto, its main international hubs, to cities like New York/Newark, Miami, Boston, and others for as cheap as $533 one-way for upcoming dates.

Away from the Portuguese mainland, the autonomous archipelagos of The Azores, known as the European Hawaii, and Madeira, off the coast of West Africa, also offer nonstop flights to and from the East Coast of the U.S.

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Saturday 26th of August 2023

This may have been true 10 years ago but it is no longer the case. It is becoming increasingly difficult for natives to survive on what most make because so many have discovered and moved here. The housing market has exploded and practically doubled in the last 2 - 3 years.

Matt A

Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

My first trip out of the US was to this beautiful country. The people are wonderful with most of the younger people generation very fluent in English. The sites are incredible and the food just as good. Lunch is the main meal of the day so plan ahead with a call to the restaurant for reservations or to reserve a meal. ALDI has wonderful pastéis de nata and a round corn bread to die for. Also try the pastéis de feijão OMG I gained 10 pounds with these tarts. The Azores were incredible with wild hydrangeas, azaleas and cala lilies growing along the roads. Check out “Portugal Cool” on Facebook for videos about this incredible country.


Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

I went to Lisbon, it's nice and charming but it's not Paris. I believe it's a 3 day trip top. I wouldn't spend a whole week in Lisbon.

Matt A

Friday 25th of August 2023

@Margaret Dos Santos, any relation to Lucilia Dos Santos?

Margaret Dos Santos

Thursday 24th of August 2023

@Anthony, oh my oh need to befriend (which isn't too difficult as us Portuguese are a warm friendly bunch) a Portuguese Native to take you to the AMAZING destinations & towns by Lisbon...if you have time to travel North...Braga Cintra and the well known Algarve ..oh Porto (and yes that would he where Porto wine is lovingly made) beautiful. During the summer ask your new friend about the Festas...and outdoor concerts. I could ramble on and on as you see heheh I hope I have your adventurous travel side curious now. Happy Travels

Pat vizina

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

Interesting, I’m thinking Croatia myself.


Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

I understand the sense of your article - fair enough. However, one has to raise how sustainable will tourism to Portugal (or other European cities) become if it gets turned into another Amsterdam, Barcelona or Venice (as examples). The comments already posted comment on that. I sincerely believe that our tourism trends should be based on their sustainability for everyone and not just higher rents, more gift shops and restaurants. We should think about the life of local people and the environment too :)