5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Portugal

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Portugal is a favourite holiday destination for many families. With a host of child-friendly beaches, some spectacular hotels and villas, and a fantastic variety of outdoor activities available, there is no wonder thousands of travellers head to the country each year to spend their annual leave. 

There are, however, some rarely known facts about Portugal that are both intriguing and impressive. If you are planning a visit this year, then why not discuss the below facts with your family before you go to spark up some pre-holiday conversation and excitement.   

It is one of the oldest countries in Europe 

With its borders pretty much unchanged for over 800 years, Portugal is considered one of the oldest countries to exist in Europe. The name Portugal first appeared in 868 during the Reconquista and the country also had one of the longest running colonial empires, spanning almost 6 centuries.  

Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is also the oldest city in Western Europe and predates other capitals such as London and Rome by centuries. Its cobbled streets, tram rides and amazing coastal views make it the ideal place to explore on an extended weekend break. 

It is home to the largest artificial underwater reef in the world 

Somewhere in the ocean, just off the Algarve coast between Portimao and Alvor, you will discover The Ocean Revival Underwater Park. The park is a community project that has four decommissioned Portuguese navy ships nestling on its seabed, which were purposefully sunk to become the star attractions of the project. 

Aside from hosting the largest artificial reef structure in the world, the park is home to an ever-evolving eco-system and is a major attraction for divers all around the world. 

It founded Piri-Piri chicken

Did you know that the delicious Piri-Piri sauce that you might have sampled many times in Nando’s, originated from Portugal? Variations of the sauce have been around since the 15th century when it was introduced to Portuguese settlers by African-Mozambicans. 


Literally translated as ‘pepper pepper’ the sauce is traditionally hot and spicy and is a favourite in many Portuguese restaurants and tavernas, especially in the coastal parish of Guia. 

It is home to the oldest bookshop in the world

Trading since 1732, Bertrand in Lisbon is the oldest and one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. 

A must-visit spot on any booklover’s bucket list, the store was once destroyed due to a massive earthquake, but was rebuilt in 1755 on Rua Garrett, where it has remained ever since.  

It is always sunny! 

Unlike the unpredictable UK climate, you are almost always guaranteed a hearty dose of sunshine when you visit Portugal. According to the weather experts, Portugal is lucky enough to be home to the most sunshine hours in Europe – enjoying over 3000 sunshine hours every year!  

Spring, summer, autumn or winter – whenever you choose to visit, you are sure to get a well-needed Vitamin D fix. If you are tempted to plan a sunshine-filled family trip, then why not consider a Portuguese villa from Villa Plus. They have a wide range of properties available in the Algarve area – which is a perfect base to explore everything that the country has to offer.   

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