Founded in 1139, a country with a little bit over than 10 million inhabitants living on roughly 92 km2 land, Portugal has been setting itself as a go-to place for a great number of tourists, expats and digital nomads for the last couple of years. While everyone has their own reasons why to visit or stay, there are several that we’d name as common ones, especially for those planning on getting some work done while travelling the oldest country in Europe.
People - Get to know them
A country is just a land without its people. Falling in love with its people would leave you without a chance of falling in love with the country itself. Portuguese with no doubt are extremely friendly, welcoming and warm nation. Anyone passing by would feel it in a matter of hours spent in a local restaurant. While younger generation speaks English, the elder one will start speaking louder and slower in Portuguese (hoping you would understand better) and then use non-verbal communication to make sure you feel welcomed.
While being a digital nomad in Portugal, you might want to stick to like-minded individuals and find the neighborhood with more foreigners, but make no mistake and meet locals, get to know them, ask for a coffee (that’s your main ice-breaker), be curious and they will be extremely happy to show you their real country in return.
Culture & History - Experience it
The only thing that matters is to feel the fado. The fado is not meant to be sung; it simply happens. You feel it, you don’t understand it and you don’t explain it. – fado singer Amália Rodrigues
One can only get the real taste of the country when experiencing its culture. Portuguese one is so rich due to its history: pre-Romans, Romans, Vikings, Moors etc. - they all had been here, so imagine what an intense mixture of things this country got along the way: traditions, architecture, art, music, dances and much more. When visiting you’d be told to listen to fado, visit churches, walk in the old part of town, come during June for local festivities of Saints, and take pictures of famous bridges Vasco da Gama, 25 de Abril or Ponte Luís I.
With all the culture has to offer, the one thing that describes it in the best way is the language. Imagine your experience in the country when you’d understand at least a little bit what Portuguese people are talking about and more importantly how would they be talking about it. Some surprising facts: as the result of Portuguese discoveries, with approximately 215 to 220 million native speakers and 260 million total speakers, Portuguese is usually listed as the sixth most natively spoken language in the world, the third-most spoken European language in the world in terms of native speakers, and it’s the most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere. Isn’t that impressive?
Nature - Feel it
But Portugal has a peaceful feel about it. I sit on the terrace overlooking the vineyard there and I feel cut off from the world. You need that sort of thing. – Cliff Richard
From wide wild beaches, natural mountain reserves, to vast plains and rivers surrounded by vineyards, Portugal, though a small country, has so much to offer to its people. Algarve in the South would surprise you with stunning warm beaches, cliffs and caves, while Gerês National park in the North would charm you with it’s hiking trails, waterfalls, mountains and Stone Age dolmens. Whatever you prefer, jump in a car and take the road trip of your life. Oh, and don’t forget to visit Azores islands and Madeira – these islands offer a whole new level of beauty.
Sports & Leisure - Enjoy it
As many religions as Portugal may have, there is only one that unites everyone. It’s called football. – unknown author. >
If you know about Portugal, you’ve definitely also heard its surf - from nicely rolling waves to the biggest ever surfed waves in the world, it’s a heaven for any surfer coming to visit! To add, the Ericeira area is among eight protected surf reserves globally.
Though there are plenty of water sport lovers, Portugal can offer much more. Hiking in the mountains, jogging by the beach during sunset, training for your next triathlon - the beauty of nature will be there to support your adventures every step of the way.
That’s not to say, however, that you should forget about this thing called football – which is, without fail, the hottest topic, 365 days out of the year. You can’t get around avoiding the blues, reds and greens strewn across most on the streets, balconies, and cafés as they represent the three main national football teams. Don’t miss a chance and watch a game in a local café and join in on all the shouting and hoopla.
Food & Wine - Taste it
Ó mar salgado, quanto do teu sal
São lágrimas de Portugal!
(Oh salty sea, how much of your salt / Is tears from Portugal?) – Fernando Pessoa
Curious about Portuguese food? In order to understand the culture of food, you’d need to know some key historical facts. Fishermen have always been a great part of Portuguese culture. They are among the proudest and take their job seriously: day-in and da-out you’ll find fishermen on open waters, delivering the freshest fish to their families. Many of them have faced the real force of Mother Nature and have gotten lost at the sea forever. For this reason, fish and seafood has always been treated with a lot of respect, love and appreciation by locals. You’ll find it across the country and it is especially fresh on its coastline.
When trying meat dishes, you’ll discover a wide variety from one region to another. And guess what? The origins of many of them go as far back as we can recall; dating back to times of Portuguese discoveries, for example. As many men were sent for long journeys at sea, the city would give them the best meat they had, while the people on land were left with the odd pieces of remains from the animals. That’s how, for example, “tripas à moda do Porto” (pig intestines) started its existence in Portugal.
While there is a huge gastronomic variety across the country, be sure that all the food will be cooked with 3 main ingredients: love, care and lots of olive oil.
And the wine… from local “vinho verde” (green wine) to the one and only Port wine, Portugal is perceived as a hidden wine gem in the world. You’d be surprised by the number of regions, rich flavors and colors, the variety of vineyards and the traditions of production in this country. Make sure to take the time and to fully appreciate the entire pallet during your stay.
Quality of Life - Live it
As for any digital nomad, it’s always important to keep a balance between lifestyle and cost. That’s basically one of the main reason Portugal has been THE destination for all those travelling and working across the globe. In comparison to most of Europe, you can still get away with paying less for great accommodation in a nice neighborhood, with amazing choices of restaurants (and you might laugh at the prices in many of them), while being only a couple minutes away from the beach to enjoy the sunset, all while working from a 24/7 coworking space. Essentially, your money can go a lot further than in many cities across Europe. Though some may say that this this lifestyle should be saved for retirement, we can all agree that you only live once, so why not enjoy it with the best life has to offer.