Portugal is the land of sun, sand, surfing and sardines.Pictures: Supplied.

Portugal is a southern European country that has been on the travel radar for decades. But it’s only in the past few years this formally fishing industry based county has really put itself on the millennial travel map. 

In 2016, the number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal rose 13%, breaking a record 10 million for the first time. There’s no doubt this is a destination that’s gotten as spicy as its Piri-Piri Chicken and it’s the newest destination to join Contiki’s lineup for 2018.
 
The country is crammed with culture, a dribble worthy cuisine, beautiful beaches; a busting nightlife and a charm which makes all us millennials keep coming back for more and more. Here are 7 reasons why you should visit: 
 
Beaches


With a generous 1700 kilometres of coastline, the Portuguese golden sand is in abundance, but it’s the secret beaches, cliff-backed coves and enticing seas that really make these some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. 

Of course, the Algarve is infamous for its beaches but with coastlines spanning all around the west coast, you can expect to find secluded, sandy spots all the way up. Praia da Marinha and Benagil in The Algarve, Ilha da Fuseta in Faro, Praia de Cavaleiro in Odemira and Praia do Carvalho in Benagil are just some of the most idyllic spots.
 
The adrenaline 

Kite surfing, bike rides, rock climbing, abseiling, zip wiring and endless water sports are amongst the activities to raise your pulse in Portugal. 

If you’re after something a little more unique, Coasteering – cliff jumping and climbing along the coastline between Sagres and Lagos or zip lining over the River Guadaina from Spain to Portugal has got to be up there. 

The first cross-border zip line in the world is approximately 2,362 feet long and reaches speeds up to about 40 to 50 mph.
 
The food


Fresh fish, healthy ingredients, hearty portions, seafood galore and pastries to die for, the Portuguese have got it down!  

A few damn good local delicacies include Piri-Piri Chicken, vegetable soups that are so good it somehow makes having soup in a hot country legit, the seafood Cataplanas, grilled sardines, pastel de nata (a small custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon) and of course the national dish ‘Bacalhau’ which is dried, salted cod. 

When comes to eating in Portugal, it’s hard to go wrong – their Mediterranean cuisine and traditional treats are straight up drool-worthy.
     
Porto

A pretty coastal old town in northwest Portugal, Porto is framed by the sea and split in two by the mighty River Douro which runs through the historical city. Known mainly for its production of port wine, Porto is a medieval city with a contemporary buzz offering a slice of Portuguese tradition at its finest.

The city homes architecture from all different artistic periods; including the Church of São Francisco’s gothic style architecture, the nineteenth century Neo-Classical Palácio da Bolsa’s (translated as the Stock Exchange Palace) and of course the Ribeira district, full of UNESCO stamped medieval architecture and narrow cobbled streets. 

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Belem Tower

Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard entrance to Lisbon’s harbour, the fairy tale Disneyesque tower once played as the starting point for many voyages of discovery. 

The charming watchtower now stands as a listed UNESCO World Heritage monument and one of Lisbon’s many magical wonders.Located in the Belem district of Lisbon, around 2.5m from central Lisbon, Belem Tower is a stunning and slightly surreal piece of Northern African architecture. 

Make sure you check this spot out when the tide is high (generally 11pm onwards, dependent on the time of year) to ensure you see the tower in its full enchanting glory.
 
The Surf Scene

The surf scene is also lit. Maybe one of the finest surfing spots in Europe, the waves along the west coast prove the perfect destination for surfers of every ability. 

Spring, autumn and winter tend to bring the best waves along the breathtakingly beautiful beaches and the surf spots are just endless. Sagres is the epicentre of the Algarve surfing, Paúl do Mar beach in Madeira hosted the World Surfing Championship of 2001, Peniche also known as “The European Pipeline” is famous for its powerful waves and Praia do Amado in Costa Vicentina is one of Portugal’s best surfing spots due to its strong currents and steep waves. 

So if you’re looking for laid back surf feels, Portugal is where it’s at!  
 
The Alfama District, Lisbon


The narrow cobbled streets, grocery stores, iconic number 28 yellow tram, slow living, charm and gorgeous tiles for miles make the Alfama District the epiphany of quintessentially Portuguese living.

Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood is home to Castelo de São Jorge, a towering castle which overlooks the historic centre of Lisbon and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, offering sweeping views over Alfama and the Tagus River. Plus, the narrow houses and vibrant colours make for an Instagrammer's paradise and will have you snapping away on the Spain, Morocco & Portugal trip.