From sun soaked beaches to balmy evenings to delicious food and wine; a gap year in Portugal will leave you feeling more relaxed than you ever imagined. With 1,794 kilometres of coastline, not to mention several national parks, historic sites and architecture, as well as a lively inner city life, Portugal has a lot to offer. Whether you choose the city, the beach, the countryside or even a combination of all three, a gap year in Portugal will give you good weather, a relaxed temperament, and plenty of inspiration for what to do next.
During your gap year you’re bound to visit (or live in!) Lisbon. This coastal capital is host to a whole selection of architecture and culture alike, the best of which can be soaked up in the traditional Alfama neighbourhood. Further north and inland lies Coimbra, Portugal’s former medieval capital, full of colourful buildings, a lively riverfront and a 12th century Romanesque cathedral. Evora is also home to medieval sights and architecture, while the Convento de Cristo was home to the Knights Templar from the 12th to 16th centuries.
If you fancy spending your gap year in Portugal somewhere a bit more rural, why not head to Alto Douro with its vineyards, or Sintra for its UNESCO World Heritage mountains, forests and hills? Or for a taste of paradise, head to Ilha de Tavira, a gorgeous sandy island off the Algarve coast. The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, which runs along the Algarve, is peppered with stunning lagoons and islands. If all that isn’t enough to tempt you, Portugal has a delicious and rich cuisine; to name a few the ‘nata’ (custard tart) is just one of several delicious pastries, and a prego is a minute steak in a roll. Needless to say, coastal as it is, you can eat fantastic fish and seafood in Portugal.
Working in Portugal
The best jobs to be had will be teaching English during your gap year in Portugal, but there are other options. Bar or hospitality work is more than possible in the Algarve, and you could even set up a job before you head out to Portugal by working for a holiday resort operator. Alternatively, seasonal work harvesting grapes for wine may be available, or it may be possible to work in exchange for accommodation in city based hostels or countryside farms.
Spain is just over the border, so you could make your way back north east to Andorra and France, then on to Switzerland and Italy, or further north to Germany and western Europe. Portugal’s airports are well served internationally, so there are plenty of onwards travel options by air. Alternatively, as Portugal is home to Europe’s southernmost point, Cabo de Sao Vicente, why not leave via the sea and head south to Morocco, or sail down the west coast of Africa?