10 Best Books Set in Portugal

best books set in portugal

I’ve been contemplating taking a trip to Portugal, so naturally finding a good book that takes place there it part of the planning process.

Luckily, if you’re looking for books that take place in Portugal, there’s a range of genres and variety of stories to choose from. Here’s some of the best. Happy reading, and please feel free to share your thoughts if you end up reading one of these!

The High Mountains of Portugal
Yann Martel

What It's About: In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomas discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that--if he can find it--would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe's earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.

Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomas's quest...

Publication Date: February 2, 2016
historical fiction magical realism portugal

300 Days of Sun
Deborah Lawrenson

What It's About: Combining the atmosphere of Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins with the intriguing historical backstory of Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train, Deborah Lawrenson’s mesmerizing novel transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes...

Publication Date: April 12, 2016
historical fiction portugal mystery

Night Train to Lisbon
Pascal Mercier

What It's About: Raimund Gregorius teaches classical languages at a Swiss lycee, and lives a life governed by routine. One day, a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman inspires him to question his life—and leads him to an extraordinary book that will open the possibility of changing it.
Inspired by the words of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor whose intelligence and magnetism left a mark on everyone who met him and whose principles led him into a confrontation with Salazar's dictatorship, Gregorius boards a train to Lisbon...

Publication Date: October 15, 2008
philosophy portugal historical fiction

The Day of Atonement
David Liss

What It's About: Sebastião Raposa is only thirteen when his parents are unjustly imprisoned by the Inquisition, and he is forced to flee Portugal or face the same fate. But a decade in exile only whets his appetite for vengeance—transforming a once frightened boy into a dangerous man, determined to right unforgivable wrongs with unrelenting fury.

Well schooled by his benefactor, bounty hunter Benjamin Weaver, in the use of wits and fists alike, Sebastião returns to Lisbon—in the guise of English businessman Sebastian Foxx—to stalk the ruthless Inquisitor priest Pedro Azinheiro. But in a city ruled by terror and treachery, no enemy can be underestimated, nor any ally trusted. As Foxx is drawn into the struggles of old friends, confronted by new foes, and forced to play a game of deception, he finds himself befriended, betrayed, tempted by desire, and tormented by personal turmoil. And when a twist of fate turns his plans to chaos, he must choose between surrendering to bloodlust or serving the cause of mercy.

Publication Date: September 23, 2014
historical fiction mystery historical

A Small Death in Lisbon
Robert Wilson

What It's About: Klaus Felsen, forced out of his Berlin factory into the SS, arrives in a luminous Lisbon, where Nazis and Allies, refugees and entrepreneurs, dance to the strains of opportunism and despair. Felsen's assignment takes him to the bleak mountains of the north where a devious and brutal battle is being fought for an element vital to Hitler's bliztkrieg. There he meets the man who plants the first seed of greed and revenge that will grow into a thick vine in the landscape of post-war Portugal.

Investigating the murder of a young girl with a disturbing sexual past, Inspector Ze Coelho overturns the dark soil of history and unearths old bones from Portugal's fascist past. This small death in Lisbon is horrific compensation for an even older crime, and Coelho's stubborn pursuit of its truth reveals a tragedy that unites past and present.

Publication Date: July 19, 1999
mystery historical fiction crime

Cork Boat
John Pollack

What It's About: Cork Boat tells the story of Pollack’s improbable quest. Overcoming one obstacle after another, he convinces skeptical bartenders to save their corks, corrals a brilliant but disorganized partner, and eventually cajoles more than one hundred volunteers who help build the boat until their fingers bleed.

Ultimately, Pollack completes his vessel of 165,321 corks and sets sail on a fantastic voyage down the Douro River in Portugal, where the Cork Boat becomes a national sensation.

Publication Date: January 6, 2003
travel memoir adventure

The Company of Strangers
Robert Wilson

What It's About: Lisbon 1944. In the torrid summer heat, as the streets of the capital seethe with spies and informers, the endgame of the Intelligence war is being silently fought.Andrea Aspinall, mathematician and spy, enters this sophisticated world through a wealthy household in Estoril. Karl Voss, military attaché to the German Legation, has arrived embittered by his implication in the murder of a Reichsminister and traumatized by Stalingrad, on a mission to rescue Germany from annihilation...

Publication Date: October 19, 2001
historical fiction thriller mystery

Alentejo Blue
Monica Ali

What It's About:

Publication Date: June 20, 2006
portugal short stories owned books

Pirate King
Laurie R. King

What It's About: In England's budding silent-film industry, megalomaniac Randolph Fflytte is king. At the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities. At Lisbon rehearsals for "Pirate King", based on Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance", thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses meet the real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity...

Publication Date: September 6, 2011
historical fiction mysteries sherlock holmes

José Saramago

What It's About: A previously unpublished novel by a literary master, Skylight tells the intertwined stories of the residents of a faded apartment building in 1940s Lisbon.

Silvestre and Mariana, a happily married elderly couple, take in a young nomad, Abel, and soon discover their many differences. Adriana loves Beethoven more than any man, but her budding sexuality brings new feelings to the surface...

Publication Date: October 17, 2011
portugal saramago portuguese

Tango in Madeira
Jim Williams

What It's About: A disillusioned soldier looks for love. An exiled Emperor fears assassination. Agatha Christie takes a holiday. And George Bernard Shaw learns to tango.

In the aftermath of World War I, Michael Pinfold a disillusioned ex-soldier tries to rescue his failing family wine business on the island of Madeira...

Publication Date: April 15, 2013
portugal mystery historical

best books set in portugal

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