Portugal is one of Western Europe’s least expensive vacation destinations. Located on the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is sometimes over shadowed by its much larger neighbor Spain. But don’t let its small size fool you. Portugal was once a rich global empire with far reaching influence and remnants of this empire are still visible. This tiny country (smaller than the state of Louisiana), wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and Spain, was a leading power in trade, colonization and exploration, leaving a lasting influence on far away lands such as Brazil, Macau and Mozambique. Monuments commemorating two of Portugal’s most renowned explorers, Henry the Navigator and Vasco de Gama, can be seen in the cities of Lisbon and Porto. These monuments serve as reminders of their maritime achievements during the Age of Discovery.
Yet, not only has Portugal been an influence on other lands, other lands have made an impression upon Portugal. There are lasting effects from Portugal’s European neighbors, its early Arab rulers, its former colonies, and its global alliances. Study the faces of the people, listen to their language and their fado music, look at the painted tile work and their architecture, taste the food and drink the port wine, and you’ll experience this rich and colorful history. From the Douro River Valley in the north to the sun-baked Algarve in the south, Portugal is a land worth discovering.