Movies and Books about Portugal

When we watch movies or documentaries, sometimes they spur my husband and me to put a destination on our travel bucket list. Such was the case when watched the Portugal episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations, back in 2013. It took us awhile, but we finally made it to Portugal in 2018.

Once we choose a destination, we find it helpful to watch movies so that we can hear the language. We don’t learn the language, but we pick up a couple of words and no longer fear being lost in communication. We also sometimes pick up ideas for additional places to visit while we’re in that locale.

A non-fiction book can help you learn more about the history and culture of the place you’re going to visit. A fictional book can make a destination come to life through a story. Guidebooks can help you plan your trip.

If you’re thinking about heading to Portugal, check out these resources:

Anthony Bourdain’s visit:

Travel Channel clips

Commentary and restaurant list from The Portugalist

Rick Steves’ guidebook for Portugal

Lisbon film recommendations from Nina Santos of Culture Trip (You’ll probably have an easier time finding these than the ones Rick Steves recommends below.)

Jeffery Barrera’s guidebook for starting the Camino de Santiago in Portugal

Movie: Night Train to Lisbon (2013). See fiction books below for description.


Suggested by Europe travel guru Rick Steves:


  • Amália(2008). This film captures the life of Portugal’s beloved fado singer, Amália Rodrigues, who rose from poverty to international fame. (If the film is hard to find, listen to a YouTube clip of her lovely singing.)
  • The Art of Amália(2000). Interviews with the diva are highlighted in this documentary.
  • Capitães de Abril(2000). The story of the 1974 coup that overthrew the right-wing Portuguese dictatorship is told from the perspective of two young army captains.
  • Letters from Fontainhas(2010). This trio of short films follows three troubled lives in Lisbon.
  • Pereira Declares(1996). Marcello Mastroianni plays the namesake in this film inspired by the Tabucchi novel mentioned earlier.
  • The Strange Case of Angelica (2010). Manoel de Oliveira’s film about a photographer haunted by a deceased bride is set against the landscape of the Douro Valley.

“Books: Nonfiction


“Books: Fiction

  • Baltasar and Blimunda(José Saramago, 1998). Saramago’s love story offers a surrealistic reflection on life in 18th-century Portugal.
  • The Crime of Father Amaro(Jose Maria Eça De Queirós, 1875). Set in a provincial Portuguese town, this book by the great 19th-century Portuguese novelist highlights the dangers of fanaticism.
  • Distant Music(Lee Langley, 2003). Catholic Esperança and Jewish Emmanuel have an affair that lasts through six centuries and multiple incarnations; the book also delves into Portugal’s maritime empire, Sephardic Jews, and Portuguese immigrants in London.
  • The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon(Richard Zimler, 1996). The author illuminates the persecution of the Jews in Portugal in the early 1500s.
  • The Lusiads(Luís de Camões, 1572). Considered a national treasure, Camões’ great epic poems of the Renaissance immortalize Portugal’s voyages of discovery.
  • Night Train to Lisbon(Pascal Mercier, 2004). Mercier’s international bestseller, turned 2013 film, follows the travels of a Swiss professor as he explores the life of a Portuguese doctor during Salazar’s dictatorship.
  • Pereira Declares: A Testimony(Antonio Tabucchi, 1997). Set in Portugal in 1938 during Salazar’s fascist government, Pereira Declares is the story of the moral resurrection of a newspaper’s cautious editor.
  • A Small Death in Lisbon(Robert Wilson, 2002). In this award-winning thriller, a contemporary police procedural is woven with an espionage story set during World War II, with Portugal’s 20th-century history as a backdrop.”

If you’re scratching your head and wondering, “Why all of these travel-related blogs in a time management blog?”, the answer is simple. Getting away from it all allows our bodies and brains to take a break. Going on a vacation – no matter how long and no matter where – will do wonders for your productivity. But sometimes properly planning for the type of vacation that lowers your stress levels (and doesn’t add to it) can take a lot of time. To save you time and stress, I’m sharing my travel tips with you.

If you always say that you’re going to watch a movie or read a book about a place that you’re going to visit, but then you never end up doing it, be sure to schedule some time on your calendar. If you make appointments with yourself, you’ll create the time that you need to watch a movie or read books about Portugal.



For movies related to other holidays, occasions and places, see my lists of favorite movies here.

About Helene Segura

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead?The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits.Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

Leave a Comment