The best books about Portugal

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Portugal and why they recommend each book.

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Rick Steves Portugal

By Rick Steves,

Book cover of Rick Steves Portugal

I am often asked for recommendations on where to go and what to see for visitors to Portugal, and I always recommend Rick Steve’s book. He doesn’t just cover the major attractions, he takes you into the small towns and villages, the remote beaches, and the local restaurants and cafés that will introduce you to the ‘real’ Portugal. Top tips, must-see destinations and clever itineraries will help you to pick out the best spots and the most memorable locations of this beautiful place I am proud to call home.


Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.


I wrote...

Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

What is my book about?

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun? Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog, and learn to adapt to a slower pace of life. Laugh with them as Alyson propositions a builder, they try to master the Portuguese language, and successfully navigate the ‘expat’ world. Part guidebook, mostly memoir; this is a refreshingly honest and often hilarious account of life abroad, and is the first of Alyson’s three books in her ‘Algarve Dream’ series.

First Thousand Words in Portuguese

By Heather Amery,

Book cover of First Thousand Words in Portuguese

This is a great book to help you learn some basic Portuguese words quickly. It is also in European Portuguese, unlike many other books that cover the Brazilian language (always something to watch out for when you are looking to learn Portuguese). This is a nicely illustrated book with labelled pictures and scenes that help you start to construct basic sentences – and you have the fun of trying to spot the hidden duck on every page too! I have struggled with learning and recalling Portuguese words, but the basics in this book are easy to remember and cover most everyday situations.


Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.


I wrote...

Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

What is my book about?

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun? Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog, and learn to adapt to a slower pace of life. Laugh with them as Alyson propositions a builder, they try to master the Portuguese language, and successfully navigate the ‘expat’ world. Part guidebook, mostly memoir; this is a refreshingly honest and often hilarious account of life abroad, and is the first of Alyson’s three books in her ‘Algarve Dream’ series.

Practical Portuguese

By Sheila Watts,

Book cover of Practical Portuguese: Language for Living in Portugal

This is a hard book to get hold of, but worth hunting down if you want to begin to speak the Portuguese language with some fluency. Sheila moved to live in Portugal in 1987 and found most of the language guidebooks were of little use to her as she tried to navigate her way around the day-to-day reality of living in the Algarve. This is a book for people who live and work here, rather than a phrasebook that would help you book a taxi or order food at a restaurant while you are on holiday. I have found Portuguese to be a difficult language, but it is worth persevering with, and the locals are friendly and will always help you.


Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.


I wrote...

Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

What is my book about?

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun? Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog, and learn to adapt to a slower pace of life. Laugh with them as Alyson propositions a builder, they try to master the Portuguese language, and successfully navigate the ‘expat’ world. Part guidebook, mostly memoir; this is a refreshingly honest and often hilarious account of life abroad, and is the first of Alyson’s three books in her ‘Algarve Dream’ series.

Living in Portugal

By Anne de Stoop,

Book cover of Living in Portugal

This is a real treat of a book, with sumptuous photography and detailed descriptions. A book to treasure and rest on your coffee table with pride. Portugal is such a beautiful and picturesque place to photograph – I know, I am married to a professional photographer! This book is a treasure-trove of images and information that will make you want to visit – or even pack your bags and move here to live – which is exactly what we did ten years ago. It was the best move we ever made.


Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.


I wrote...

Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

What is my book about?

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun? Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog, and learn to adapt to a slower pace of life. Laugh with them as Alyson propositions a builder, they try to master the Portuguese language, and successfully navigate the ‘expat’ world. Part guidebook, mostly memoir; this is a refreshingly honest and often hilarious account of life abroad, and is the first of Alyson’s three books in her ‘Algarve Dream’ series.

The First Global Village

By Martin Page,

Book cover of The First Global Village

I read this book with great curiosity, as it was my first foray into Portuguese history after moving here. Page takes the reader back in time, when Portugal was ‘Rome on the Atlantic,’ and brings us full circle to Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of 1974. In between, there are ample fascinating examples of the cultural cross pollination that occurred as a result of the Portuguese setting sail in the 15th century on their ‘discoveries.’ For instance, we generally associate battered and deep-fried vegetables with Japanese cuisine, and yet it was the Portuguese, the first westerners to enter Japan, who introduced their traditional dish of green beans, fried in a light batter, that ultimately became Japanese tempura. 


Who am I?

Louise Ross is a non-fiction and fiction writer, speaker, and podcaster. Originally from Australia, she moved abroad in the mid-'80s, living in the UK, France, the US, and since 2014, Portugal. Her book, Women Who Walk: How 20 women from 16 countries came to live in Portugal, (2019), is a collection of mini-memoirs. In 2020, she released the sequel and comparative read, The Winding Road to Portugal: 20 Men from 11 Countries Share Their Stories. Louise lives on the Estoril coastline where she continues to interview women living in Portugal, and around the world, for her podcast, Women Who Walk


I wrote...

Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

By Louise Ross,

Book cover of Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

What is my book about?

What compels someone to leave their country of origin, which is the story before their departure? What happens to them on their journey to the new place, which is the story of getting from one place to another? And what causes them to finally land somewhere and decide to stay, if not for the rest of their lives, then for an extended period?

Women Who Walk: How 20 Women from 16 Countries Came to Live in Portugal is a collection of interviews with a diverse group of international women whose stories tell tales of world travel and cultural immersion as a form of higher education, a vehicle for personal growth and expanded awareness of self and others, and an instrument for greater understanding and appreciation of the differences that today too often separate us.

The Portuguese

By Barry Hatton,

Book cover of The Portuguese: A Modern History

On the back cover, Hatton says that his purpose in writing The Portuguese – and this quote made me smile knowingly, and it’s why I bought the book – “is to describe the idiosyncrasies that make this lovely, and sometimes exasperating country unique and to search for explanations, surveying the historical path that drove the Portuguese to where they now stand.” Hatton succeeds beautifully in his endeavour, offering up 280 pages of an enlightening and scintillating read.


Who am I?

Louise Ross is a non-fiction and fiction writer, speaker, and podcaster. Originally from Australia, she moved abroad in the mid-'80s, living in the UK, France, the US, and since 2014, Portugal. Her book, Women Who Walk: How 20 women from 16 countries came to live in Portugal, (2019), is a collection of mini-memoirs. In 2020, she released the sequel and comparative read, The Winding Road to Portugal: 20 Men from 11 Countries Share Their Stories. Louise lives on the Estoril coastline where she continues to interview women living in Portugal, and around the world, for her podcast, Women Who Walk


I wrote...

Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

By Louise Ross,

Book cover of Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

What is my book about?

What compels someone to leave their country of origin, which is the story before their departure? What happens to them on their journey to the new place, which is the story of getting from one place to another? And what causes them to finally land somewhere and decide to stay, if not for the rest of their lives, then for an extended period?

Women Who Walk: How 20 Women from 16 Countries Came to Live in Portugal is a collection of interviews with a diverse group of international women whose stories tell tales of world travel and cultural immersion as a form of higher education, a vehicle for personal growth and expanded awareness of self and others, and an instrument for greater understanding and appreciation of the differences that today too often separate us.

The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon

By Richard Zimler,

Book cover of The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon

Zimler is an award-winning American writer who has lived in Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, since 1990. I admire Zimler’s historical fiction for its fact-based accuracy, and The Last Kabbalist is a beauty for that reason. His acclaimed novel details the Portuguese inquisition and the massacre of its Jews in 1506. Via his incisive research and great storytelling, Zimler sheds light on this period of history unknown to many Portuguese; as a result, there is now a Jewish Memorial Plaque in Rossio Square in Lisbon’s city center, honouring the two to five thousand Jews who were massacred. 


Who am I?

Louise Ross is a non-fiction and fiction writer, speaker, and podcaster. Originally from Australia, she moved abroad in the mid-'80s, living in the UK, France, the US, and since 2014, Portugal. Her book, Women Who Walk: How 20 women from 16 countries came to live in Portugal, (2019), is a collection of mini-memoirs. In 2020, she released the sequel and comparative read, The Winding Road to Portugal: 20 Men from 11 Countries Share Their Stories. Louise lives on the Estoril coastline where she continues to interview women living in Portugal, and around the world, for her podcast, Women Who Walk


I wrote...

Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

By Louise Ross,

Book cover of Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

What is my book about?

What compels someone to leave their country of origin, which is the story before their departure? What happens to them on their journey to the new place, which is the story of getting from one place to another? And what causes them to finally land somewhere and decide to stay, if not for the rest of their lives, then for an extended period?

Women Who Walk: How 20 Women from 16 Countries Came to Live in Portugal is a collection of interviews with a diverse group of international women whose stories tell tales of world travel and cultural immersion as a form of higher education, a vehicle for personal growth and expanded awareness of self and others, and an instrument for greater understanding and appreciation of the differences that today too often separate us.

Living the Dream

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

The author and her husband decide to leave successful careers in the UK and settle in the Algarve. Determined to assimilate with the local culture, they buy a house on the outskirts of a village, adopt a rescue dog (who I instantly fall in love with), and begin a new life. I know the Algarve well and loved the author’s vivid descriptions of the places they visit, the scenes, sights, and customs. I could easily imagine having that daily coffee and delicious pastel de nata in the village café. It’s a delightfully Portuguese tradition.

Throughout the book, Alyson provides advice on different areas and the sometimes tortuous processes involved in becoming a resident in a country hyper-keen on bureaucracy. They manage, though, and often with refreshing ease. The book is a fun travel memoir with bags of appeal for anyone who enjoys an informative read, especially those interested in moving…


Who am I?

Beth Haslam grew up on a farm in Wales and was mostly seen messing around with her beloved animals. When she and her husband, Jack, bought a second home in France, their lives changed forever. Computers and mobile phones swapped places with understanding French customs and wrestling with the local dialect. These days, Beth is occupied as never before raising and saving animals, writing, and embracing everything their corner of rural France has to offer. And she loves it!


I wrote...

Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

By Beth Haslam,

Book cover of Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

What is my book about?

Buying a country estate in France seemed such a simple thing to accomplish. When Beth, her irascible husband Jack, and their two fat dogs set off, little do they know that it will become such an extraordinary adventure. Surviving near-death experiences, they drive thousands of kilometres around French estates steeped in history and crazy aristocrats. Will they find their dream home, or return to Britain defeated?

Conquerors

By Roger Crowley,

Book cover of Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire

Crowley employs all of his storytelling skill to recreate the saga of the Portuguese eruption into the Indian Ocean to form the first East-West seaborne empire. British exploits in Asia are better known among English-language readers, but it was tiny Portugal that launched the era of European imperialism in Asia, and this book packs in the imperious characters and their intrepid (and violent) deeds that reshaped the world.


Who am I?

Michael Schuman is the author of three history books on Asia, most recently Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World, released in 2020. He has spent the past quarter-century as a journalist in the region. Formerly a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, he is currently a contributor to The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.


I wrote...

Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World

By Michael Schuman,

Book cover of Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World

What is my book about?

We in the West routinely ask: "What does China want?" The answer is quite simple: the superpower status it always had but briefly lost. In this colorful, informative story filled with fascinating characters, epic battles, influential thinkers, and decisive moments, we come to understand how the Chinese view their own history and how its narrative is distinctly different from that of Western civilization. More importantly, we come to see how this unique Chinese history of the world shapes China's economic policy, attitude toward the United States and the rest of the world, relations with its neighbors, positions on democracy and human rights, and notions of good government.

My Portugal

By George Mendes, Genevieve Ko,

Book cover of My Portugal: Recipes and Stories

One of the things I love most about living here in Portugal is the wonderful local food. You can enjoy hearty meals sat around the table with family, or spend time at a local restaurant sat outside in the sun, enjoying freshly cooked and delicious fish or meat dishes. The Portuguese are proud of their food, and their historic love of travel and exploration has imbibed their food with exotic spices and flavours that can often surprise you. This book, by renowned chef George Mendes, is full of recipes and stories to inspire you or remind you of your favourite holiday in the sun.


Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.


I wrote...

Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

What is my book about?

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun? Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog, and learn to adapt to a slower pace of life. Laugh with them as Alyson propositions a builder, they try to master the Portuguese language, and successfully navigate the ‘expat’ world. Part guidebook, mostly memoir; this is a refreshingly honest and often hilarious account of life abroad, and is the first of Alyson’s three books in her ‘Algarve Dream’ series.

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