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Portugal: The Ideal Destination for African American Travelers and Expats

From Culture Travels Magazine
While Ghana may be a popular destination for African Americans seeking to reconnect with their roots and escape the turmoil of the United States, another country should be on our radar: Portugal.

But before we journey to Portugal, a 2021 international survey reported Black travelers – particularly those in the U.S., Canada, and U.K./Ireland – are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising. Another highly influential factor is whether the destination is perceived as safe for Black travelers. Seventy-one percent of U.S. and Canadian respondents felt safety was extremely or very influential to their decision.

So, for those destinations that have that one stereotypical picture representing Black travel, it’s time to step it up like our friend Portugal.

In southwestern Europe, Portugal is a hidden gem, increasingly becoming a top destination for Black travelers and expats (people who live outside their native country). Portugal has a complex and rich history intertwined with Africa. From the 15th to the 19th century, Portugal was a major player in the transatlantic slave trade, and the cultural influence of African countries can be seen throughout the country.

When visiting Portugal, be sure to explore the cities of Lisbon and Porto, both known for their lively energy and rich cultural scene. Lisbon, the country’s capital, is a hub of cultural events, from music festivals like NOS Alive and Super Bock Super Rock to art exhibitions like the Lisbon Art Weekend. Portugal also has a vibrant food scene, with local markets like Time Out Market offering a variety of delicious Portuguese cuisine. Also, the Festival of Afro-Portuguese Culture is an annual festival in Lisbon that celebrates Portugal’s cultural diversity and African heritage.

The city of Porto is known for its historic charm and thriving art scene. Visit the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, one of the most important museums in the country, and don’t miss the city’s famous São João Festival, which takes place every June and is a celebration of traditional Portuguese culture.

For those looking to connect with the local African expat community, check out events like AfroLis, an annual festival celebrating African culture in Lisbon, or the AfroPort festival in Porto.

Check out the National Museum of African Art if visiting Lisbon. You can learn about the continent’s art, music, and traditions and discover how the transatlantic slave trade impacted African societies.
Lisbon is home to a vibrant Cape Verdean community with African and Portuguese heritage, in which visitors can explore the community’s neighborhoods, enjoy live music performances, and sample traditional Cape Verdean cuisine.

Lisbon’s street art scene is well-known, and the cultural exchange between Portugal and African countries has inspired many artists. Porto also has a vibrant street art culture.

Portuguese cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures over the centuries, including African cuisines. Visitors can sample traditional dishes such as caldo verde (a soup made with potatoes and kale), feijoada (a stew made with beans and pork), and arroz doce (a sweet rice pudding).

The Island of Sao Tome and Principe is a former Portuguese colony off the coast of West Africa. It has a rich history which reflects its African and Portuguese heritage. Visitors can explore the island’s natural beauty, including its beaches, rainforests, and volcanic peaks, as well as its historic plantations and colonial-era architecture.

The Moorish Castle in Sintra was built by the Moors in the 9th century and later captured by the Portuguese during the Reconquista. The castle’s architecture and design reflect African and Portuguese influences, offering a unique glimpse into the cultural exchange between the two regions.

Why has Portugal been a popular place for Black Americans to relocate?
Portugal boasts a mild climate with an average temperature of 60°F in the winter and 80°F in the summer. This makes it an ideal destination for those seeking to escape the harsh winters of the United States. The country is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, including the Algarve region, which features stunning cliffs and crystal-clear waters.

Portugal has a relatively low cost of living compared to other European countries. This makes it an attractive destination for travelers or expats looking to stretch their dollars. The country also offers excellent healthcare and education systems, making it an ideal place to settle down long-term. For example, in Lisbon, the capital city, renting a studio apartment for around 500 euros USD 550D) per month is possible. A three-bedroom apartment in a desirable neighborhood can be rented for around 1,500 euros USD 1650) per month.

Food prices are also relatively low, with a typical meal in a restaurant costing around 10-15 euros ($11-USD 16) per person. The country is known for its delicious seafood and wine, which can be enjoyed at a fraction of the cost of other European destinations.

Transportation is also affordable, with a monthly pass for public transit costing around 40 euros in Lisbon. In addition, gas prices in Portugal are lower than in many other European countries, making it cheaper to own and maintain a car.

Entertainment options are also reasonably priced, with many cultural events, museums, and historical sites offering free admission or discounted rates for seniors and students. For example, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon provides free admission on Sundays and the first Sunday of every month.

Portugal is one of the safest countries in Europe, with low crime levels and a welcoming attitude towards foreigners. Many Portuguese speak English, making it easy to navigate the country.

For African American expats, the country has a significant population of people with African heritage, particularly those from former Portuguese colonies such as Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. These communities have established themselves in Portugal and have created their own cultural and social spaces, such as restaurants, shops, and cultural events.

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