17 Fun Facts About Portugal For A Fabulous Vacation

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Home to delicious port wine, stunning seafood, and world-class beaches, Portugal is a place where anyone can have a fabulous vacation.

These fun facts about Portugal are sure to surprise you and show you why you should add Portugal to your bucket list!

1. Home to the Oldest Bookstore in the World

Livraria Bertrand in Lisbon, Portugal is the world’s oldest bookstore. It was founded in 1732 and has been in operation ever since.

Outside Livraria Bertrand at night time

It is a magical place for book lovers to browse or buy, and shouldn’t be missed!

2. One of the Safest Countries in the World

Don’t be afraid to visit Portugal!

It is one of the safest countries to visit and as of 2021 came in 4th place on the Global Peace Index. Only Denmark, New Zealand, and Iceland rank higher.

3. Portuguese is a Top 10 Language

There are more than 250 million Portuguese speakers in the world, making Portuguese one of the top 10 languages used in the world.

It remains the official language in 9 countries including Brazil, Mozambique, Macau, Angola, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, São Tomé, Príncipe, and Guinea-Bissau.

4. The Biggest Cork Forest in the World

Cork is one of the biggest exports in Portugal, accounting for more than half of the world’s cork supply. It is also home to the largest cork forest on earth.

5. All Drugs are Decriminalized in Portugal

Every drug has been decriminalized in Portugal as of July 1, 2001.

It was the first country to do so, allowing personal use while prohibiting drug trafficking. This has resulted in lower drug rates than in most countries in the European Union.

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6. Largest Waves Surfed In the World

This honor doesn’t go to Hawaii or Australia, but to Nazaré, Portugal – the location of the World Surf League Big Wave Tour.

Crowd watching big wave surfers in Nazaré

A Brazilian surfer named Rodrigo Koxa holds the world record for the largest wave ever surfed – a 25M or 82-foot wave that he surfed in 2017.

7. Fatima Miracle of the Sun Pilgrimmage

Over 8 million people visit the Sanctuary of Fatima every year, hoping to catch a glimpse of the apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to see the Miracle of the Sun, which was said to have been witnessed by 70,000 people in 1917.

8. Known for Sustainable Energy

Portugal achieved 100 percent renewable energy by using a mix of hydro, solar, and wind resources to power the country in 2018.

It is still one of the greenest countries in Europe, and among the first countries to set a date of 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality.

9. Retirement Haven

Portugal has long been considered a haven for retirees. Drawn in by tax incentives and a low cost of living, retirees have been flocking to Portugal for years.

Portugal also has an excellent healthcare system, a high quality of living, and fantastic weather making it a near unbeatable location to retire.

10. Longest Bridge in the European Union

Vasco da Gama bridge has the honor of being the longest bridge in the EU and was once the longest bridge in Europe.

It measures 17 kilometers or 10.5 miles and crosses the Tagus River in Lisbon.

11. Country Known for Azulejo Tiles

Blue ceramic glazed tiles known as azulejo tiles are part of Lisbon’s cultural heritage. Since 2013, it is illegal to demolish buildings that feature these tiles.

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A woman walking on street past Azulejo Tiles in Portugal

They can be found all over Portugal, in shops, restaurants, and people’s homes. Originally they were used to protect buildings from cold temperatures but have come to be admired for their aesthetic and historical use.

12. Custard Egg Tart is the National Dessert

Pastéis de nata is an egg custard tart that is famous in many countries including Portugal, Brazil, and Japan. They were originally created by Catholic monks in the 1700s and have been a popular sweet since then. It is said the best version is the original made in Portugal!

13. Tempura is from Portugal

It’s true – that Japanese tempura you love so much actually came from Portugal.

Japan wasn’t always closed off to outsiders and Portugal made contact with Japan in the 16th century. Many Japanese treats were originally Portuguese including castella cake, certain types of sweet bread, and tempura.

14. First Country to Abolish Slavery

The first country to abolish slavery was Portugal, which outlawed slavery in 1819.

This isn’t to say that they didn’t participate in the slave trade, but they did abolish it before Britain did in 1833.

15. Romans Associated Portugal with Bacchus

Rome called Portugal ‘Lusitania’, a name that comes from the son of Bacchus named Lusus. Bacchus is considered the Roman God of Wine, and the region was well-known for winemaking, something that hasn’t changed to this day.

Fun bonus fact – Port wine wasn’t named after old shipping ports. It comes from Portugal!

16. Portugal is Home of Jogo Do Pau

Portugal has its own form of hand-to-hand combat called Jogo do pau. It means ‘game of the stick’ and was used by farmers for self-defense for hundreds of years.

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The martial art is popular today despite being based on medieval techniques!

17. Portuguese People Invented Fado

Fado means fate.

In Portugal, people believe that their lives are entwined with fate, and Fado music is a genre of music found nowhere else on earth. Most Fado music is sung by one person and accompanied by viola and Portuguese guitar.


Christina loves to travel and recently moved from America to Austria to experience everything Europe has to offer. Her passion for travel is rivaled only by her love of writing. Armed with her English degree, she funds her travels writing for several websites including MyCountryFacts!

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