Why Portugal is the Must-Visit Destination in Europe

Europe is a treasure trove of travel delights, with destinations gaining popularity as trends shift and consumer preferences evolve. So, what’s currently the hot spot on the continent? All signs point to Portugal. This burgeoning tourist destination is drawing increasing attention from travelers and suppliers alike, presenting a plethora of new travel products and routes.

The Rise of Portugal

Portugal’s growing appeal is evident from tourism statistics. According to Eurostat, nearly all EU members saw an increase in travelers in 2023 compared to 2022, with Portugal among the eight countries experiencing more than a 10% rise. Post-pandemic travel has surged, and Portugal has seen a remarkable 37% increase in overnight stays and an 18.5% boost in revenue in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Factors Driving Popularity

Several factors contribute to Portugal’s rising status as a must-visit destination. According to Condé Nast Traveler, Portugal was the fourth most Googled travel destination globally in 2023, driven by the appeal of Porto’s burgeoning food scene, the natural beauty of the Azores, and the enduring popularity of Lisbon and Porto.

Small in Size, Big in Appeal

Portugal, roughly the size of Indiana, offers diverse landscapes and a rich history. Often likened to California for its climate and topography, Portugal is one of Europe’s oldest countries, with a storied past as a maritime and economic power. Today, it remains one of the top value destinations in Europe, offering travelers more for their money.

Vibrant Cities and Attractions

Portugal’s rich culture and history are showcased in its vibrant cities and numerous attractions, including:

  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Lively entertainment and nightlife
  • Unique gastronomy and wines
  • Fado music
  • Colorful shopping districts
  • 23 golf courses
  • A world surfing reserve
  • Natural attractions such as rivers, oceans, mountains, and beaches

Lisbon, the capital, offers historic neighborhoods, fascinating architecture, and a variety of museums. Porto, known for its historic center and world-renowned Port wine, has gained a reputation as a top culinary destination.

Accessibility and Investment

Portugal’s appeal is bolstered by increased accessibility and investment. Airlines are expanding routes to meet growing demand. United Airlines, for example, now offers direct flights from New York/Newark to southern Portugal’s Algarve region and serves more destinations in Portugal than any other U.S. carrier.

Booming River Market

River cruising in Portugal is thriving, particularly on the Douro River. Avalon Waterways is launching the Avalon Alegria in 2024, featuring signature Panorama Suites that offer stunning views of the Douro’s landscapes. With high demand, travel advisors are encouraged to book early.

Expanding Hotel Industry

Hotels in Portugal are also expanding to accommodate the influx of tourists. Hyatt’s Inclusive Collection is set to open the Dreams Madeira Resort, Spa & Marina in late summer 2024, reflecting the country’s growing tourism market.

Travel Advisors’ New Favorite

Travel advisors are increasingly turning to Portugal for its blend of affordability, diverse attractions, and growing infrastructure. Envoyage, part of Flight Centre Travel Group, offers a comprehensive suite of services, tools, and products to help advisors plan exceptional trips to Portugal and other destinations.

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