In the past Portugal was often passed over for its bigger neighbors, Spain and France, but as more and more travelers are drawn to its beautiful beaches, incredible food and wine, and rich history, it has become well-established on travelers’ radar.

The capital city of Lisbon is the country’s cultural center with centuries of history, beautiful architecture, and a vibrant night life. Not far from Lisbon is the coastal area of Algarve with an incredible number of beaches and a laid back vibe. Cafes and open air markets are everywhere when you need a break from the surf and sand.

The pine forested hills of Sintra, one of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal and a perfect day trip from Lisbon — has beautiful scenery, interesting historic buildings and the temperature is nice — a bit cooler than near the coast.

In the north there’s Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. This city has become increasingly popular for its fine restaurants, cafes, and other attractions. What it’s best known for, however, is producing the finest port wines in the world.

World class beaches, enough history and museums to keep you busy for weeks, and the unmistakable Portuguese cuisine featuring some of the finest seafood in the world should put a trip to Portugal at the top of your list.

Wherever we go, we always have a beaten up guidebook, local phrasebook, and weatherproof map in our backpacks.