What is Portugal Famous For?

📅 21 January 2022 | Blog, Portugal | ⌛ 25 mins

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So, what is Portugal famous for? Why is Portugal famous to begin with?

Many people would tell you that it’s the pastel de Nata, others will say it’s the port wine. But, what is Portugal famous for truly?

As an ex-local, I’m sharing my most valuable insight on what makes Portugal the much-needed paradise for everyone. It’s not only the food and wine that makes Portugal a place to go, it’s also the ambiance and culture. Read on, to find out more about what Portugal is known for and how to make sure you make the most of it…

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Pastel de Nata

If there has to be one thing that Portugal is famous for that for sure will be the Pastel de Nata! These little sweet custard pies make you go round from joy the moment you take a bite! 

The Pastel de Nata is a famous Portuguese food which has been introduced some 3 centuries ago by Mosteiro dos JerĂłnimos monks. Back in the days, when there were some leftover yolks the monks were making pastries and eventually made the famous pastĂ©is de nata. Later, acknowledging this amazing pastry for what it is, they started selling it to a close by refinery. Unfortunately, the monastery got closed, the recipe got sold to the refinery and that’s how the Fábrica de PastĂ©is de BelĂ©m was opened in 1837. Fun fact is that the factory is still owned by the founding family, which is quite fascinating. 

Nowadays, the Fábrica de PastĂ©is de BelĂ©m shop is just a few steps away from the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon. The recipe for the Pastel de BelĂ©m is kept in a secret room and everyone is crazy about this shop. There’s usually a line in front of it, so make sure you go there early. 

Spoiler: You can grab Portuguese custard tart from almost any shop, but the ones served at the Fábrica de PastĂ©is de BelĂ©m are the original ones. Oh, and don’t forget to sprinkle it with a bit of cinnamon. 

Salted Cod

Salted Cod?! This should not be one of the things associated with Portugal, right? You are probably wondering if this is for real, but yeah it is and Bacalhau is a pretty tasty meal to try. There’s a legend that the Portuguese have in store more than 1000 recipes that include salted cod. We can conclude they are pretty much crazy about it. And who wouldn’t? It’s pretty good in taste.

Everything started some 500 years ago when people were not so spoilt with refrigerators and had to find ways to preserve their food. Hence, all countries of the north have been drying cod and selling it across Europe. It’s a mystery how the Portuguese became so fond of the Bacalhau, although you can’t really find cod fish in the south of Europe. However, the people of Portugal became truly fond of this salty cod. 

Christmas is the cod season in Portugal and all the stores are full of it. People touch it, measure it, check its condition and then cook it for 3 days. I’m not exaggerating here! They are really cooking it for 3 days! To eat fish that is so salty you need to soak it for 3 days in water and change the water regularly. Only this way you will be able to cook and eat it afterward. 

Piri Piri Chicken

What is Portugal known for if not for its Piri Piri chicken…although the locals don’t really call it that way. This spicy and mouthwatering chicken first originated in some of the colonies of Portugal, until it made its way to mainland Portugal. Nowadays, it is one of those meals that you have to try once you visit Portugal. 

However, make sure to ask for Frango de Churrasco in the restaurant instead of for Piri Piri Chicken. Keep in mind that the locals have their own name for it and will not grasp a word of what you are saying.

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Sardines

What is famous in Portugal as food? Well, it is sardines. If you are wondering what’s one of the things you can bring home, it’s easy – sardines. That’s no joke!

Portuguese people are known to be Sardine lovers and it’s a fact that they consume 13 sardines per second as per reports. Thus, if you want to bring something back and have it packed into a nice box, that’s a sardines box. 

In fact, the sardines shops are probably more than the chocolate shops in Portugal. And there’s a reason for that obviously, so you should give it a try.

Port Wine

One of the things Portugal is famous for is the well-known Port wine production. This amazing, rich, sweet and heavy in alcohol wine is for sure there to make every day a great one!

Carefully grown in the Alto Douro Valley it is one of the best fortified wines produced into this world. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Douro Valley is for sure setting the standards high for wine produced in Portugal. Thus, we get to experience a couple of wine styles of the Port wine, such as Tawny, Ruby (these two are my favourite), Garrafeira, White port, Late bottled vintage and Vintage port. 

It’s good to know that Port wine has a long history when it comes to production. It all started back in 1678 when two English merchants from Liverpool landed in the Douro valley to check the wine production in Portugal. They liked it so much that they bought the whole lot of the Abbot of Lamego and shipped it home. That’s how Port wine became one of the most famous wines not only across England, but also Europe. 

Ginja

What alcohol is Portugal known for, you ask? Well, usually people answer “Port wine”, but there’s also Ginja or Ginjinha, as locals call it. This cherry liquor with aguardiente is an absolute masterpiece! It’s so good in taste, that it is not to be missed.

You can find Ginja everywhere in Portugal, but if you decide to get it at the bar, they serve it as shots. Thus, be careful as it is highly alcoholic and addictive, which might lead to you having a very good time.

Lisbon

What is Portugal famous for and what is Lisbon famous for?! Well, Portugal is famous for Lisbon and Lisbon is famous for Portugal. That’s pretty much how it goes.

No, for real this time. If we have to be completely honest, you can breathe in Portugal while you are in Lisbon. Hence, there’s no lie when I say that Lisbon is famous for Portugal and vice versa.

However, there are a couple of things that Lisbon is known for and they are the Jeronimos monastery, Belem Tower, the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts, the Lisbon cathedral, the Lisbon Oceanarium, the old Santa Justa lift and the Tagus river passing by.

Ribeira and Ponte Dom Luis

Porto

Porto is one of the most famous cities in Portugal, to be more specific – it’s in Northern Portugal. It’s considered to be one of the most bizarre and culturally rich Portuguese cities where you can truly experience Portuguese culture. 

Oporto, as the locals call it serves as the center for gathering the old and new in Portugal. You will probably find Porto to be quite different from Lisbon and more rigid, but that’s its charm. Just don’t forget to visit some of the famous landmarks like the Dom LuĂ­s I Bridge, SĂŁo Bento railway station, Vila Nova de Gaia, Clerigos church, Igreja do Carmo, and the Porto cathedral. These sights are what is Porto famous for!

Braga

Braga is the religious center of Portugal and as such gathers lots of visitors. It’s a relatively big city with lots of history to explore, as well as nature.

Going to Braga is quite easy, especially from Porto, where you can catch the train from Sao Bento station and in no time be in Braga. If you decide to go there, go to Bom Jesus do Monte and Sameiro Sanctuary. This is what Braga is famous for – religious sanctuaries. You’ll also get to see the city from above and that is not to be missed.

Sintra

Sintra is one of the most famous places in Portugal. This tiny city just 40 minutes away from Lisbon by train is probably one of the most fascinating places you will ever visit. It’s like a real life Disney land, but without the princes and princesses.

The history of city goes back to the 5th millennia BC which makes her pretty old. However, this does not make her any less appealing. If you get the chance to visit Sintra, make sure to check some of the most famous monuments in Portugal: Quinta da Regaleira castle, Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace and the Castelo dos Mouros. Making this round trip will truly make you feel like you are in a different world…

Christmas in Algarve

Algarve

So, what is the Algarve famous for? Well it’s mostly famous for its astonishing beaches! Some of the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve that you need to check out are Barinnha beach, Praia do Canavial, Praia dos Alemães, Praia de Alvor.

The south region of Portugal is a must see for sure and it’s not only because of the golden sands. The sights you can see and the food you can eat is truly worth it. Here’s what you should visit: Benagil cave, the Fort of São João Baptista, the cities of Faro, Sagres, Albufeira and Lagos.

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Madeira

Madeira island is another heavenly beautiful piece of land that is part of Portugal. It’s one of the first islands that have been discovered back in the days of the Great Discoveries. Ever since, Madeira has been Portuguese, although it is well differentiated in terms of culture and cuisine than the mainland.

In case you get the chance to visit Madeira make sure to do some hiking over to Pico Ruivo, Levada das 25 Fontes, stroll around in Funchal, visit Santana and the Sao Vicente caves. That for sure will make your trip a memorable one!

Lagoa do Fogo

Azores

Nine volcanic islands set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This is what is the Azores famous for. Oh, and let’s not forget the heavenly stunning nature these islands are home to.

This beautiful archipelago offers out of this world views, tropical nature and amazing cuisine. Hence, you need to plan a trip there for sure. Whether you are planning to visit just a few of the islands or all of them you sure need to make a list. Sights like the top of Pico, Sete Cidades village, Lagoa do Fogo and the Lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos are not to be missed.

Beaches

What else is there to explore in Iconic Portugal? Well, Portugal is known as the land of beaches and there for sure is a reason for that. Have you ever seen endless beaches? Beaches that leave you so stunned you can’t even speak?

If you ever plan on visiting Portugal, you sure need to check out a couple of the beaches in Portugal. Most of the beaches are spread across the Algarve and the rest are on the western coast. 

When it comes to one of the best beaches in Portugal, you can look around the country and search for Cortiço Fountain Beach, Praia das Azenhas do Mar, Praia da Costa Nova, Praia de Fao and Praia de Moledo.

The Westernmost point of Europe

If you are still wondering what is Portugal famous for, well it’s the Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of Europe. If you plan a visit to Sintra, you should stop by to Cabo da Roca and enjoy the beautiful views of Serra de Sintra. However, be wary of the wind, as it might be pretty harsh.

Although Cabo da Roca is considered the westernmost point of Europe, we also have the westernmost point of Portugal. This westernmost point of Portugal is the Monchique Islet, which sits west of Flores island from the Azores islands. Maybe this is why some people keep asking is Portugal in Europe? as this seems to be pretty far away from Europe. And, “Yes”, Portugal is in Europe, believe it or not…

Azulejo Tiles

Back in the days, tiles were a very important part of the interior and exterior of ancient buildings. The Romans has their specific tiles that made everything pretty and the Arabs wanted the same. Hence, they created the “azulejo” tile which literally means “polished stone”.

The azulejos were introduced in Portugal around the 13th century and are one of the things Portugal is known for. These days, the tiny colourful tiles can be seen almost everywhere in the country and especially in Lisbon, Porto, Sintra and Braga. You can see them as the interior and exterior of many public buildings like chuches, metro stations, state buildings, palaces and houses. Althought, the azulejos are mostly used as a art ornament, the main purpose for adding these tiny tales is to control temperatures. It can get quite hot in Portugal; thus people have found a way to beat the heat.

Cork

Not many people know it, but Portugal is famous for its cork production as well. It’s the world’s biggest cork producer and grows its own 2 millions of acres with cork trees.

Back in the days, cork was used to seal wine bottles, but these days the Portuguese became more and more creative. You can see cork bags, wallets, shoes, hats and many more.

Bookshops

Bookshops in Portugal are something that grabs your attention and for sure leaves a mark. When I lived in Portugal, bookshops have been one of the things I loved visiting. It’s not just for the books you can buy, it’s also for the ambience they have. It’s absolutely magical!

That’s why I believe that, although it is not quite well-known, bookshops should be one of the famous things in Portugal. Some of the most beautiful bookshops are Livraria Bertrand, Livraria Simao, the world’s smallest bookshop, Ler Devagar and Livraria Lello, where J.K.Rowling got inspired for the Hogwarts library.

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Golf

Golf seems to be one of the famous things about Portugal that brings people in the country. Portugal has been a golf destination for quite some time and that’s no secret. It’s been selected by the World Golf Awards as the world’s best golf destination and no one can object that.

It offers great climate, beautiful golf destinations and lots of golf courses to try. The best place to play this sport is the Algarve region, where the sunshine is never-ending and the climate is just as pleasant.

Fado

What Portugal is famous for? Truly?! Well’ it’s for sure the Fado music. The soul of Portuguese music is something that you have to listen to. It is guaranteed to bring out tears to your eyes, whether it be from joy or sadness. It’s absolutely mesmerizing how it affects people and creates a one of a kind vibe!

This music genre can be traced back to the 19th century and it has been mainly for the entertainment of people back then. There are generally two styles of Fado music. One of them is the Coimbra style and the other is the Lisbon style. The difference is that the Coimbra style is only sung by men, whereas the Lisbon one can be sung by anybody.

These days, despite that the Fado is considered to be a sad type of music there are lots of happy styles that can be heard almost anywhere. So, make sure to book yourself a performance and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime thrilling experience.

PadrĂŁo dos Descobrimentos - 2 days in Lisbon

Vasco da Gama

When it comes to history, I believe we all know what is Portugal known for in history. And that is Vasco da Gama one of the most famous people of Portugal. This amazing explorer that has travelled far and wide until he found the route to India. He was the first one to reach the country by sea and establish good relationships with the locals.

Vasco da Gama is one of the important Portuguese people and as such he was always respected. Born in the city of Sines, where he has a statue, he is now resting in the Jeronimos monastery where visitors can see his remains.

Cristiano Ronaldo

There’s no way we can finish this post without mentioning Portugal most famous person – Cristiano Ronaldo. This genius athlete was born on Madeira island and has been playing football ever since he can remember. He’s one of the Portuguese celebrities that can brag about having their own statue and also has the Madeiran airport named after him. What else you can ask for as a recognition?

Let’s be honest here, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most charitable football player, who is making sure to give back to communities. That’s not a coincidence, the player himself has been living very poorly when he was a kid and these good deeds are definitely showing that he truly cares about his people.

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EarthOSea
EarthOSea

Hi, I'm Alex. For the past years, I have extensively travelled around Europe. In 2019 I have moved to Portugal where I spent a couple of months learning about the Portuguese culture, traditions and language. My speciality is mainly in travelling in a sustainable and less harmful to the environment way. I am focusing more on ways to travel on a budget or money-for-value.

I hope that you have found this post about what is famous in Portugal. Do you plan to visit any of the suggested places this Christmas season?

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