Travel and Leisure's 2016 Top Destination
Out of the 17 destinations nominated this small European country captured the attention of T & L readers this year - economic growth and diversity of landscape were just a few reasons it was at the top of every traveller’s list.
Portugal is hotter than ever.
A party shift in 2011 has led to calm political waters, and today tourism is on the rise, helped along by Portugal’s affordability and year-round warm weather. Thanks to added flights and great new hotels (40 openings this year), visitor numbers are up on last year.
Just a few years ago, Portugal’s future was looking dim. At the peak of Europe’s debt crisis, the country teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, its economy more crippled than it had been in almost 40 years. State funding for the arts was slashed; the Portuguese ministry of culture was so hard-hit by budget cuts it all but disappeared. In one painfully symptomatic moment, the government was inches away from auctioning off a collection of works by the Catalan artist Joan Miró to pay off state debts.
But in the wake of the crash, Portugal has managed to flourish anew. Austerity measures dried up government funding for cultural initiatives, so artists and entrepreneurs turned to their communities to drum up support. As buildings and factories closed, art collectives and locally run businesses opened up in their place, and the world slowly started to take note. In some small way, the crash may even have helped the nation’s tourism industry: The country remained markedly less expensive for travellers than most of its European neighbors, a contrast that’s particularly evident in Portugal’s resort towns and cultural capitals, which have seen a growing number of visitors in recent years.
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