If you have decided to visit Europe, chances are, you’re probably going to visit Italy, Germany, England and France. This is the standard travel plan of people who travel to Europe. Whether they have been to Europe many times over or this is their first time, chances are, they would visit at least one of those four countries.

It’s very easy to see why this is the case because, let’s face it, Italy has a lot of history, Paris has a lot of style, London has a lot of local color, and Germany has a lot of technology. If you had all of these travel destinations together, it’s very tempting to think that you have assembled a comprehensive European vacation.

Unfortunately, as comprehensive as that picture may seem in your mind, it’s a completely inaccurate and incomplete picture. You see, in Europe, the Iberian peninsula actually played a big role both in the economic, historical and military development of Europe. We’re talking, of course, of Portugal and Spain.

Spain, in particular, played an immense role in the development of Europe and you’re really leaving a lot out of the picture if you have decided to define your next European vacation as a trip that leaves out Portugal, Spain or both.

Do yourself a big favor and include Spain or Portugal in your vacation plans and you would not be disappointed. In fact, if you add Portugal to your itinerary, you would have blown apart the value that you get from your trip. Seriously. You would have maximized your return on investment.

Why? Well, let’s put it this way, if you were to travel to Paris, France right now, chances are, you’re going to be paying too much money and walking with a generic tourist experience. That’s the bottom line. What’s so awesome about jumping into one bus, checking out some sights, snapping some pictures, taking some selfies, getting back on the bus going to another destination and repeating that process over and over again? You do this all day, every day and at the end of the process, you only have a lot of pictures and a fairly shallow appreciation of the destinations that you’ve been to.

Compare that with Portugal. With Portugal, you get a wide range of historical sights. You get a wide range of cultural and social experiences, while at the same time, paying less money.

You also get a lot more travel options because you’re paying less money. You have a lot more options on the table and this increases the likelihood that you would remember your Portugal trip so much better than your standard tourist package trip to Paris or London.

Keep this mind because Portugal has always been on the back burner as far as travel destinations are concerned. Portugal is in the list of those European countries where people would say, “they’re nice to travel to. I will get to them when I have time.” Of course, most people don’t have the time. Most people would rather keep going back to Italy or keep going back to France and Germany or the UK. There’s little space and time and, frankly, motivation for anything else.

This really is too bad because whether you like sardines or you like coastal scenes or you just like techno music or warm, friendly, Mediterranean people, Portugal is it. It has so much to offer. It also has a lot of history.

Believe it or not, before the British came up with the empire on which the sun never set, the Portugese beat them by a cool 200 years. That’s right. Portugal’s empire used to span all over the globe. Whether we’re talking about Macau in China, certain parts of Indonesia, certain parts of South America, certain parts of Africa, and all points in between, including India, the Portugese were there. And more importantly, they have exported their culture.

It’s not uncommon to find hybrid Portugese cultures all over the world. Whether it’s Angola, Macau or India, the Portugese not only physically dominated the place, but they also left their DNA. That’s right, there was a lot of intermarriages. There were a lot of Portugese men settling in those places.

If you want to conceptualize a global culture that transcends all races and ethnicities and religious backgrounds, you would be hard pressed to not include Portugal on that list. Portugal is a cutting edge country just judging from this history.