We at Portugal Trails are so thrilled as the month of October started with the best possible news for Portugal and the Portuguese! The winners of the European edition of the World Travel Awards 2022 have been announced this week and Portugal collected the incredible amount of three dozen awards!
The World Travel Awards are on their 29th edition this year and they are considered the "Oscars" of tourism. They are the result of online voting by the general public and thousands of tourism and travel professionals from around the world. We were deeply proud when back in 2021, Portugal won more than twenty awards in the same competition but we were still so baffled this year by the unanimous classification of Best European Destination 2022. This a joy that is hard to conceal! That is why we bring you a little taste of what Portugal is really about in a list that we had to narrow down to a few places so that we leave some surprises for you to discover. When even the National Airline TAP has won awards in several categories, one thing is for sure: 30 prizes are just one of the reasons to come to Portugal! We are sure that you will find your own millions of reasons to come back!
AND THE OSCARS GO TO...
As in previous years, the Algarve was voted Leading Beach Destination in Europe in 2022. That falls short of a surprise to us Portuguese, but it is definitely an achievement that we love to see recognized by others. Despite the fact that the beaches are indeed the most popular attraction in this part of the country, the Algarve has such a diverse offer around the year, that it is possible to go through many contrasting landscapes while finding a variety of heritage and cultural traits all within the same region. Alvor, Carvoeiro, Albufeira and Almancil are in the spotlight this year due to the awards attributed to their beautiful long stretches of sandy beaches where some of the best hotels are located, but be adventurous and make sure you enjoy fully all that the Algarve has in store for you! Get to know the true local life in the Algarvian Barrocal (farming area) or Serra (Mountain Range) and you will definitely be surprised by the many incredible landscapes, the richness of centuries-old traditions and the sheer delights of the local food and liquors.
This region of Portugal is many times referred to as the Portuguese Tuscany or the Portuguese Provence. Well, we say that the Alentejo has a podium of its own! It is the widest region of Portugal, occupying a total of 30% of the country’s surface with a landscape consisting of widespread vineyards producing some of the best wines in the country or vast Montados: mostly dry fields sprinkled with cork oak and olive trees, Iberian black pigs foraging through wild acorns and olives and the odd whitewashed village here and there. There is a constant concern with the preservation of the local ecosystems as balance is fundamental for the activities in the region, such as exquisite wine production and sustainable tourism. The Alentejo is known as the perfect place in Portugal for star gazing with clear views of the night sky for miles and miles in a row. Unsurprisingly, the Responsible Tourism Award and the Europe’s Leading Wine Region Hotel award were won by the region again this year. Take our word for it, from any angle you look, the Alentejo will seem like a classical painting depicting a bucolic country scene inspiring you with calm and relaxing thoughts!
So much has been written about Lisbon yet the fact of the matter is that you absolutely need to come and visit to actually understand what a fantastic feeling being a Lisboner is! Even if just for a few days! The mere act of arriving in Lisbon is quite an incredible experience: we are greeted by the intense light and multiple colors of the city’s buildings reflecting on the large banks of water of the River Tagus (Tejo in Portuguese), facing the capital. Most visitors will choose to travel by plane or train but many others choose the convenience of a cruise ship to enter Lisbon as all the piers, much like the airport and the main train stations, are only a few miles from the ocean and located within easy reach of the historical areas. Of course, it is hard to keep a secret like this so in this year’s edition of the World Travel Awards, Lisbon won prizes in the categories of Europe's Leading Cruise Destination, Europe's Leading Cruise Port, Europe's Leading City Break Destination and Europe's Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination among others. History is all around Lisbon and can be the sole reason to motivate a trip to the country’s capital. However, once you are here we are sure that its food and wine culture, its people and its quaint little streets or majestic boulevards crossed by street cars running on tracks will be the ones making you fall in love with it!
What a great place to come to if you are a nature lover! This unbelievably beautiful UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the North of Portugal, between Aveiro and Porto. It has the longest suspended walking bridge in the world with a total of 516m along with 8km more of wooden walkways overlooking the dramatic scenery of the mountains cut through by the River Paiva. The 10th century monastery in Arouca and the region’s famous liquors are included also amongst the best reasons to visit the region. Hence the award of Best Adventure Tourism Attraction and of Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction for the second year in a row.
Porto is considered the country’s second city nowadays yet it was one of the first to be part of a new nation called Portugal in the 12th century. Porto is a charming city with a lot to discover. The dark granite stones of its streets and buildings perched on the hillsides like crows or magpies, calmly watching the banks of the river Douro, tell the History of many battles fought with as many glories achieved. The people of Porto have a special way of turning bad events into good things and this has happened several times throughout the course of the Portuguese History. They are also kind, generous and honest as is their food and wine. Walking along the Ribeira, the old neighborhood by the river at sunrise or at sunset, seeing passers-by while with a drink of your choice you contemplate the traditional Rabelo boats docking, will possibly be one of the best experiences on your tour of Portugal! To be honest, when the World Travel “Oscar” for Europe's Leading City Destination 2022 was awarded to Porto this past week, we were only mildly surprised!
Braga is a city in the North West of Portugal less than 1 hour from Porto and it was part of the founding cities of Portugal almost 1000 years ago. History is everywhere you look though and the city boasts some of the best-preserved heritage sites in the country dating to different times, across the millennia. For this reason, the city was quite justly awarded with the prize for Europe’s Leading Landmark Hotel 2022! An important religious capital throughout the centuries, Braga has an array of incredibly beautiful churches and cathedrals, it has two beautiful catholic shrines on hill tops surrounded by stunning green scenarios and is home to some of the most dramatic religious processions in Portugal.
The Azores were considered the Leading Adventure Tourism Destination 2022. To the Portuguese it is a great honor to see the region being recognized with this distinction especially considering that it has been able to stay away from mass tourism and world trends betting instead in sustainability and balance. This archipelago of 9 volcanic islands off the coast of Portugal is a true haven for the adventurous and the nature lovers. The set of islands is considered one of the most sustainable destinations in the world and some of the activities include hiking, whale watching and sailing. All this use of energy requires good food at the table and the Azoreans are experts in that field! They are said to have more cows than people so naturally the archipelago’s islands all produce a variety of delicious cheeses that soon will gain worldwide recognition surely. The table wine from the Pico Island is gaining a name for itself as one of the best wines in Portugal and the sweets especially the ones served during the Espírito Santo (or Holy Spirit) Festivities, between April and May, are well worth the trip across the Atlantic!
Portugal has built a long but steady path in the tourism industry along the decades. If the country was once overlooked in favor of other trendier destinations, it is nowadays among the most visited in Europe and even in the World.
More than the 30 prizes, the Tourism industry is awarding Portugal with recognition for a work well done, for years of experience and for being able to maintain a warm, welcoming country that is absolutely ready for the future while keeping a tremendous respect for its past and for its present.