Above: The city of Coimbra overlooking the Mondego River, Portugal

The Portuguese often compare their country to California, and in some ways that isn’t far-fetched. Both comprise long and relatively thin coastal strips that lie at the western edge of a much larger landmass; both have a cool, rainy northern region and a sunbaked southern one; and both have areas devoted to fine gastronomy and wine production. Of course, California is twice as long and has a population four times as large. But why quibble? For a small country, Portugal is an exceptionally rewarding destination: Its people are welcoming, its landscapes are varied, and it is surprisingly inexpensive.

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Above: The city of Coimbra overlooking the Mondego River, Portugal

Read More from Our Trip:

Visiting the Dão Valley Wine Estates Exploring the Serra da Estrela A Fresh Take on the Algarve Favorite Restaurants in Central Portugal