Americans visit Portugal in record numbers

You’ll find even smaller crowds in old coastal fishing villages like Azenhas do Mar.
Published: Jun. 11, 2023 at 10:50 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Portugal is becoming an even more popular destination for American tourists than it was before the pandemic. Visitor numbers are up 40% in 2023, despite a new tax on foreigners designed to control over-tourism.

It’s estimated that a million Americans will visit Portugal each month this summer. Unfortunately, the influx is leading to big crowds and expensive flights. If Portugal’s historic cities, medieval castles, old fishing villages, and stunning beaches are on your list, there are ways to “travel smart.” While flight prices spiked through the summer, they drop for the fall months, when the weather is still mild in Portugal. You’ll find better deals on hotels after the peak summer season, as well. Lisbon is home to several quirky boutique hotels, like the truly-unique WC by the Beautique Hotels.

Transportation is efficient and inexpensive within the country. Uber rides cost far less than they do in the United States. Plus, Lisbon’s famous street cars, or trams, are a cost-effective way to take a tour of the city. The train system between cities in Portugal is easy to use, too. Each ride is only a few dollars. The most popular day trip is from Lisbon to Sintra, a nearby city that is home to several famous castles and palaces. They range from medieval fortresses to fairytale-like castles, surrounded by gardens and forests.

For more of an escape from the crowds in the cities, visitors can take a day trip from Lisbon to Obidos, a hilltop town surrounded by ancient castle walls. Farther north along Portugal’s western coast, you’ll find some of the biggest surfing waves in the world in the town of Nazare. It hosts a famous surfing competition each winter. A fort initially built to defend against pirates in the 1500s is now a surfing museum and viewpoint to watch the surfers ride the monster waves.

You’ll find even smaller crowds in old coastal fishing villages like Azenhas do Mar, which is home to cliffside trails, its own natural oceanside swimming pool, and winding cobblestone streets. These options barely scratch the surface of what Portugal has to offer visitors. Many tourists end up liking the city of Porto even more than Lisbon. Portugal is also home to stunning tropical beaches in the south, and several wine regions as well.

Plus, it’s just an inexpensive flight from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada’s airport in the Azores island chain. Public transportation is lacking on the islands, but renting a car in the Azores is an efficient way to explore its volcanic beaches, wine-tasting options, hot springs, and much more! Portugal may be a geographically small country, but it’ll likely take a few trips to experience everything it offers!

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