The best books about Portugal 📚

Browse the best books on Portugal as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of First Thousand Words in Portuguese

First Thousand Words in Portuguese

By Heather Amery

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books on moving to Portugal

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Book cover of The Portuguese: A Modern History

The Portuguese: A Modern History

By Barry Hatton

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best historically accurate books about Portugal

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

Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire

By Roger Crowley

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best Asian history books for a Sunday afternoon

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Book cover of Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939-1945

Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939-1945

By Neill Lochery

Why this book?

I grew up with lots of stories and books about WWII because my father was a veteran. What is different about this book’s narrative is Portugal’s position of neutrality during the Second World War and the resulting web of political intrigue. Salazar, Portugal’s dictator at the time, played both sides, aligning with the British, all the while selling off Portugal’s Tungsten, a metal used to produce armor-piercing projectiles (which apparently melted the British tanks), to the Germans for gold that the Nazi’s looted. And at the end of the war, all that gold helped Portugal emerge economically intact. 

From the list:

The best historically accurate books about Portugal

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Book cover of A Seventh Man

A Seventh Man

By John Berger

Why this book?

Berger published this in 1975 at a time when Turkish, Greek, and Portuguese guest workers were arriving in Western Europe, having been recruited by employers to fill vacancies in factories during the years of sustained economic growth. Berger succeeds in humanising these workers, helped by photos taken by his long-term collaborator, the Swiss photographer Jean Mohr. Berger could not anticipate that these young men would later be joined by their families and put down roots. His book speaks of adventure and opportunity, but also of exploitation and humiliation. Numerous memorable vignettes stick in my mind, including his observation about migrant…

From the list:

The best books on the history of migration and refugees

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Book cover of Rick Steves Portugal

Rick Steves Portugal

By Rick Steves

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best books on moving to Portugal

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