Being in social isolation doesn’t stop us dreaming of all the places we’d like to visit; in fact now we’ve got even more time to daydream. Escape on a virtual vacation to bring a little piece of Portugal to your living room.
Portugal is a special place not just because of its rich history, but because of the people. The Portuguese way of life can be summed up in one word: Saudade. It’s a state of nostalgia and melancholy, longing for something we love that is gone and might never return, tinged with optimism. The idea of saudade hits home in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, so let yourself feel it with this virtual tour of Portugal, the home of saudade.
Dark and Scary:
The Eyes of My Mother (2016): Set in the Midwestern United States, this arthouse horror focuses on a woman who was once a surgeon in Portugal, and the consequences of teaching her daughter to be unafraid of death.
The Ornithologist (2017): An ornithologist sets out to find a rare species of stork, is swept down a river, and finds himself in the company of two Chinese pilgrims.
The Forest of Lost Souls (2018): Two strangers meet in a forest notorious as a site for suicides and as they get to know one another, it becomes clear that one is there for nefarious reasons.
Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless One (2015): The first installment in a three-part, docu-fantasy adaptation of One Thousand and One Nights, set in present-day Portugal.
Night Train to Lisbon (2013): A mysterious woman disappears after a suicide attempt, leaving behind her coat with a Swiss professor who saved her life; the coat and a book in its pocket take the professor on a journey that reunites them.
Mysteries of Lisbon (2010): A sweeping epic set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, centered on an orphan boy and the people around him.
Lines of Wellington (2014): Another Napoleonic War epic, this one told through a series of vignettes focusing on different characters in the autumn of 1810.
Diamantino (2018): A loveable but ditzy soccer superstar blows it in the World Cup finals, becomes a laughingstock, and finds new purpose on a journey to end various world crises and find the source of genius.
Bullets & Cookies (Balas & Bolinhos: O Último Capítulo) (2012): When Tone's father needs a new liver, he enlists the help of his misfit friends, who will do literally anything to get one.
The Gilded Cage (2013): When a couple living in an upscale Paris apartment building plans to return home to Portugal, the other residents go to great lengths to convince them to stay.
Blindness – Jose Saramago: A novel about a city taken over by an epidemic of “white blindness.”
The Piano Cemetery – José Luís Peixoto: A book loosely based on the life of a Portuguese Olympic marathon runner and his family, who are carpenters obsessed with fixing pianos.
The Painter of Birds – Lidia Jorge: A woman reminisces on growing up in a loveless family, which includes her absent father and his brother, who married her mother and raised her.
The Maias – José Maria de Eça de Queirós: A young aristocrat named Carlos de Maia and his friend spend their time commenting on society and having affairs in 1870s Portugal; their fun comes to an end when Carlos uncovers a shocking family secret.
The Book of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa: These collected works from the famed philosopher and poet were assembled to create a “factless autobiography” of his life that was published decades after his death.
The Mystery of the Sintra Road – José Duarte Ramalho Ortigão and José Maria de Eça de Queirós: Portugal’s first detective story, in which a doctor and his friend are kidnapped on their way from Sintra to Lisbon and asked to investigate a mysterious death.
Barrel to Bottle: A primer on Port wine
Music Planet Road Trip: Portugal
In Our Time: Napoleon and Wellington
Learn the Local Language
Portuguese words and phrases
Com licença: Excuse me
Por favor: Please
Obrigado/Obrigada: Thank you
Perdão: Forgive me/pardon me
BBC Languages – Portuguese: Video clips, listen and repeat activities, quizzes, key language lists, and cultural notes that help immerse you in the language.
Memrise: An engaging language-learning app that features native Portuguese speakers to get you used to authentic voices and accents.
One of Portugal’s most popular dishes is its simplest: caldo verde, or green soup. It’s a delicious, hearty mix of sausage (usually chorizo), potato, garlic, onion, and greens (like kale or collards). Caldo verde is often served alongside broa, a Portuguese cornbread.
Portugal is perhaps most famous for its port wine. White ports are less well-known than red ports, but are equally delicious and can be mixed into cocktails like a Porto Tonico (a port and tonic). It’s perfectly refreshing and incredibly easy!
National Coach Museum
Serra da Estrela
Do some online browsing with these Portuguese shops who ship internationally (please note there may be some delays or restrictions due to COVID-19).
Mar d'Estórias: Home goods, ceramics, stationery, soaps, and snack items
Under the Cover: Modern indie bookshop that curates contemporary literature and unique magazines