My Best Travel Experiences Of 2021

2021 was a strange year for Europe, as most countries spent the first and last months of the year “closed” to tourism (or at least, with tight security measures).

But between April/May and September/October, it was possible to experience a certain “normality” with regard to travel. And I, not only managed to explore my country (Portugal), but I also had the opportunity to travel abroad twice!

In other words, my best travel experiences of 2021 result from a mix of these two realities. On the one hand, when there were more restrictions, I chose to do day trips close to home. And on the other hand, when the situation allowed, I was able to leave my region (or the country) for days/weeks!

So, do you want to know more about My Best Travel Experiences Of 2021? Keep reading!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Please read my disclosure & privacy policy for more information.

No time to read now? Pin it for later!

Best Travel Experiences of 2021
Best Travel Experiences of 2021

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Countries

One of my best travel experiences of 2021 was, without a doubt, visiting two countries for the first time: Andorra and Luxembourg. And even though I’ve only been able to travel to/through four countries this year, I already feel lucky (considering the situation we currently live in)!


Between vaccines, tests, masks, disinfectants, quarantines, and social distancing, traveling around Europe (and beyond) has become a very challenging and complicated, but not impossible hobby. These were the 4 countries that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Cities, Towns, and Villages

Despite having been to only a few countries in 2021, I’m happy to have “beaten a record” in the number of cities, towns, and villages. Especially when compared to the thirteen and sixteen destinations I visited in the years 2020 and 2019 (respectively)!

Sintra (Portugal)

One of my best travel experiences of 2021 was exploring nineteen locations for the first time, to which I ended up adding more than three dozen repeated locations (thirty-one, to be more precise)! Here are the 50 cities, towns, and villages that I visited in 2021:

  • Abrantes (Portugal) – in April
  • Alcobaça (Portugal) – in April and September
  • Almeida (Portugal) – in June
  • Almourol (Portugal) – in April
  • Amarante (Portugal) – in August
  • Andorra la Vella (Andorra) – in August
  • Arcos de Valdevez (Portugal) – in July
  • Barcelona (Spain) – in September
  • Batalha (Portugal) – in April and September
  • Belmonte (Portugal) – in June
  • Braga (Portugal) – from January to December
  • Bombarral (Portugal) – in April
  • Castelo Mendo (Portugal) – in June
  • Castelo Novo (Portugal) – in June
  • Castelo Rodrigo (Portugal) – in June
  • Coimbra (Portugal) – in September
  • Constância (Portugal) – in April
  • Entroncamento (Portugal) – in April and September
  • Escaldes-Engordany (Andorra) – in September
  • Fátima (Portugal) – in April
  • Girona (Spain) – in September
  • Guimarães (Portugal) – in April and September
  • Idanha-a-Velha (Portugal) – in June
  • Linhares da Beira (Portugal) – in June
  • Lisbon (Portugal) – in April, August, and September
  • Luxembourg (Luxembourg) – in November
  • Mafra (Portugal) – in April
  • Marco de Canaveses (Portugal) – in August
  • Marialva (Portugal) – in June
  • Mira de Aire (Portugal) – in April
  • Monsanto (Portugal) – in June
  • Óbidos (Portugal) – in April
  • Ortiga (Portugal) – in April
  • Penafiel (Portugal) – in July and August
  • Piódão (Portugal) – in June
  • Porto (Portugal) – in May
  • Queluz (Portugal) – in April
  • Sabugal (Portugal) – in June
  • Santa Coloma de Cervelló (Spain) – in September
  • Sintra (Portugal) – in April
  • Soajo (Portugal) – in July
  • Sortelha (Portugal) – in June
  • Tarragona (Spain) – in September
  • Tomar (Portugal) – in April and September
  • Torres Novas (Portugal) – in April
  • Torres Vedras (Portugal) – in April
  • Tortosendo (Portugal) – in June
  • Trancoso (Portugal) – in June
  • Vianden (Luxembourg) – in November
  • Vila Nova da Barquinha (Portugal) – in April

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Archaeological Sites

Honestly, I think few tourists go to archaeological sites these days. Perhaps because most are sites in ruins, these monuments are easily replaced by visits to castles, museums, or palaces. Well, what if I told you that many of the archeological sites in Europe are part of the identity of that city, region, or country?

Castro of Monte Mozinho (Portugal)

For that reason, I concluded that it was essential to create a topic about “Archaeological Sites” on my cultural travel blog, in 2021. Especially because I realized that I had already explored a lot of them in my itineraries in historical cities, such as Athens or Rome! These were the 12 archaeological sites that I visited in 2021:

  • Almofala Tower (Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal) – in June
  • Arab Baths (Girona, Spain) – in September
  • Bragandelo Fort (Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal) – in July
  • Castro of Monte Mozinho (Penafiel, Portugal) – in July and August
  • Centum Cellas Tower (Belmonte, Portugal) – in June
  • Colony Forum (Tarragona, Spain) – in September
  • Early Christian Necropolis (Tarragona, Spain) – in September
  • Fountain of the Idol (Braga, Portugal) – in July
  • Roman Amphitheatre (Tarragona, Spain) – in September
  • Roman Baths of Alto da Cividade (Braga, Portugal) – in July
  • Roman Circus (Tarragona, Spain) – in September
  • Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio (Torres Novas, Portugal) – in April

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Castles

One of the things that fascinate me most about Europe is its thousands of castles. From traditional medieval castles (which served as military fortresses) to romantic castles built in the 19th century, the examples that don’t surprise me are quite rare!

Vianden Castle (Luxembourg)

Earlier this year, I had promised myself that I would visit as many castles as possible in Portugal. And I think the result was very satisfactory because I managed to explore eighteen castles in my country – and four of them were a first! Here are the 20 castles that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Gardens

“Gardens and Parks” is a relatively recent topic on my cultural travel blog as I only created it in May 2021. In fact, I postponed for a while the decision to have a Nature related category on my blog, to distance myself from the niches of “outdoor travel”, “ecotourism”, “Nature travel”, etc.

Garden of Saint Barbara (Portugal)

But unlike those blogs, I decided to develop a “Gardens and Parks” topic more focused on culture, history, and landscape architecture. Hence, it included formal gardens that once belonged to royal palaces, and green parks that were once hunting forests, among others. These were the 10 gardens that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Museums

In contrast to the previous section, “Museum Guides” have been part of my cultural travel blog since its beginning. I mean, my guide to the Louvre Museum was the first article I published on this blog and the one that ended up defining the niche I was going to write about!

National Art Museum of Catalonia (Spain)

Similar to what I mentioned about cities, towns, and villages, one of my goals for 2021 was to visit many museums and art galleries. And I did it! In addition, I went to thirty-eight of these museums for the first time, which turned out to be one of my best travel experiences of 2021. Here are the 49 museums that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Palaces

If I’m a big fan of castles, it’s no surprise that I love palaces too, right? One of my favorite things about these types of monuments is their architecture, which always leaves me speechless! And what about the ones that have those Baroque gardens, which are always perfectly arranged? Wow, these are even more stunning!

Palace of Raio (Portugal)

Interestingly, all the palaces I visited this year are located on the Iberian Peninsula (eight in Portugal and three in Spain). And another curious detail is the fact that more than half of these palaces (six, to be precise) are UNESCO World Heritage Sites! These were the 11 palaces that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Parks

As I explained in the chapter on “The Gardens”, writing about Parks (national, natural, municipal, green, etc.) is news to me. And I have to confess that the ones I visited in 2021 were not on purpose, but rather associated with specific itineraries or guides about places or monuments.

National Park of Peneda-Gerês (Portugal)

For example, it’s almost mandatory to stroll through the National Forest of the Seven Hills when visiting the Convent of Christ, or to hike a trail in the National Hunting Park of Mafra when exploring the National Palace of Mafra! By the way, all the places I just mentioned are UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Here are the 10 parks that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The Religious Temples

I never wanted to have a topic on my blog associated with “Religious Tourism”, but the truth is that it’s very unlikely that you visit cities, towns, and villages in Europe and not enter one church or chapel. Religious temples are part of the lives, history, and traditions of populations – and, as a cultural travel blogger, I couldn’t ignore that!

Monastery of Serra do Pilar (Portugal)

I clearly remember writing in 2019 and 2020 that one of my travel goals for 2021 was to visit temples of other religions. And yes, I went to two synagogues. Still, I feel like I have to include other types of religious temples in the coming year! These were the 50 religious temples that I visited in 2021:

Best Travel Experiences of 2021: The UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Whether this is the first or tenth time you’ve been reading my cultural travel blog, I think you’ve already realized that UNESCO World Heritage Sites are an essential component of my work as a blogger and traveler. After all, this is a list of the best that each country has to offer its tourists and locals!

City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications (Luxembourg)

In other words, it’s more than natural that visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites was one of my best travel experiences of 2021. Furthermore, it’s a real mission for me to make known these places and monuments so important to the history of Humanity! Here are the 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I visited in 2021:

Share this blog post on your social media!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top