Portugal doesn’t get the heavy tourism of France, Italy, or even Germany. It’s tucked away at the edge of Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula, largely minding its own business — an agriculture and aquaculture dependent nation, where life feels pretty laid back (all drugs have been decriminalized, which helps). If you know a few things about Portugal, you’re probably thinking olive oil, wine, salt cod, and trams humping up one of Lisbon’s seven hills. And all of which is reason enough to plan a visit. But we like to go deeper, to dig a little, so here are a few lesser-know reasons why Portugal is on every backpacker’s hot list:
Bookshops feel a bit like a dying breed. We went from mom and pops in every town, to the big and largely soulless Barnes & Nobles era, and now, with the rise of Amazon, we’re left with few brick and mortar options. So when a bookshop like Livraria Lello still exists, it becomes a must-see destination for any visitor to Porto. You can spend a whole day in the stacks, just absorbing culture. The grand facade of the building, its sweeping staircases, and the overflowing shelves transport you to places that are otherworldly but retain a cozy and welcoming feel.