Portugal is a stunning country with plenty to offer tourists. From its vibrant cities to its beautiful coastal towns, there’s something for everyone in Portugal. If you’re looking for a vacation destination that offers culture, history, and natural beauty all in one place, then Portugal should be at the top of your list! In this blog post, we will explore 25 of the best places to visit in Portugal.
Regions to Visit in Portugal
Portugal is a country with a rich history and diverse culture. Situated on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is bordered by Spain to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is also a short plane ride to some of Europes most exciting cities like London and Paris. The country is divided into four main regions: the north, the south, the central region, and the Azores and Madeira Islands. Each region has its own unique landscape and climate, as well as its own traditional customs and cuisine.
The north of Portugal is known for its lush green scenery and mild climate. This region is home to some of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations, such as the city of Porto and the Douro Valley. The south of Portugal is known for its sunny beaches and Mediterranean atmosphere. The Algarve, located in the south of Portugal, is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. The central region of Portugal is known for its historic towns and cities, such as Lisbon, Coimbra and Tomar.
The Azores and Madeira Islands are known for their volcanic landscapes and mild climates. These islands are located in the middle of the Atlantic and are popular tourist destinations for those looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
25 Best Places to Visit in Portugal
When visiting Portugal, don’t miss adding these places to visit to your list. There really is something for everyone. Portugal has historic cities, locations for nature lovers, glorious beaches and so much more.
If you’re looking for a city with plenty of character, then Porto is the place for you. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the countries second largest city . It is located on the Douro River in northwestern Portugal. Visitors can explore its winding streets, admire its Gothic architecture, and sample its famous port wine.
Start your exploration at the UNESCO-listed Ponte Dom Luis I, a stunning bridge that spans the River Douro. Then head to the historic Ribeira district, where you can wander the cobbled streets and admire the traditional azulejo tiles. If you’re feeling active, why not take a boat trip along the river or explore one of the many green spaces in the city, such as the Jardim do Palacio de Cristal? And of course, no visit to Porto would be complete without sampling some of the local port wine or the city’s most famous dish – francesinha. There are no shortages of small cafes offering it in the charming old town.
As Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon is a must-visit for anyone visiting the country. This historic city is full of charm and is a digital nomad hotspot with its winding streets, quaint cafes, and colorful buildings. Lisbon is also a great place to learn about Portuguese history and culture. Be sure to visit some of the city’s most famous landmarks, such as the Jeronimos Monastery and the Tower of Belem.
Spend some time exploring the Alfama area where you can wind your way through the narrow streets and soak up the atmosphere of this special place. Don’t miss sights like the Castle of Sao Jorge, the Cathedral of Santa Maria da Sé, and the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara for some unbeatable views over the city.
Lisbon is also home to a number of excellent museums and galleries, making it a great destination for culture vultures. Highlights include the Museu do Chiado, which houses a collection of Portuguese art from the 14th-20th centuries, and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, where you can see works by masters like Velázquez and Zurbarán. For something a bit different, head to the Museu Berardo, where you can check out contemporary art from around the world.
Located in central Portugal, Coimbra is a beautiful university town with plenty to offer visitors. Its picturesque setting on the Mondego River is perfect for a relaxing stroll. Visitors can also explore its medieval Old Town, which is home to a number of historic monuments and buildings. Be sure to visit Praça da Republica, the main square, and climb up to the castle for views over the city.
The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest in Europe and well worth a visit. The campus is located on a hill overlooking the city, and features a number of historic buildings and gardens. Admission to the university grounds is free, making it a great place to explore even if you’re not taking a class.
For something a little different, head to Quinta das Lágrimas. This picturesque estate was once home to King Pedro and his mistress Inês de Castro. The love story between the two has become famous part of Portugese royal family lore, and today visitors can tour the gardens where they once walked hand-in-hand.
If you’re looking for a fairytale destination, then look no further than Sintra. This small town, located just outside of Lisbon, is full of charm and no doubt one of hte best places to visit in Portugal. With its castles, palaces, and gardens, Sintra is a must-visit for anyone who loves architecture and history.
Don’t miss the Pena Palace which is a vibrantly coloured 19th-century palace that looks like something straight out of a fairytale or the Castle of the Moors, an ancient Moorish castle that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. They are both located at the top of a high and each have views out to the Lisbon coast.
Nearby is the Quinta da Regaleira. It has a sprawling estate with ornate gardens, subterranean passageways, and a towering waterfall. Back in the quaint town center, see the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. This grand palace that was once the summer residence of Portuguese Portuguese royal family.
Located in the southernmost region of Portugal, Faro is a beautiful coastal town with plenty to offer visitors. With its sandy beaches, clear waters, and Mediterranean climate, Faro is perfect for a relaxing vacation in the Algarve.
The town’s Old Town is worth exploring, with its narrow cobbled streets and traditional buildings. There are plenty of shops and outdoor cafes to indulge in. Visitors can also enjoy a stroll around the picturesque marina or take a boat tour of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
This protected area is home to a diverse range of wildlife, and its sheltered lagoon is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. Boat tours typically depart from the marina, and there are a number of companies offering both half-day and full-day trips.
If you’re looking for a truly unique vacation destination, then look no further than the Azores islands. The Azores are a group of nine islands in the middle of the North Atlantic, and they offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience both natural beauty and Azorean culture. The islands are home to dramatic landscapes, including crater lakes, mountains, and black-sand beaches.
When planning a trip to the Azores, be sure to include some of these top places on your list:
- Ponta Delgada: This is the largest city in the Azores and the capital of Sao Miguel Island. It is known for its picturesque harbor, imposing fortifications, and lively markets. Ponta Delgada is also a good base for exploring the rest of the island.
- Sete Cidades: This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Azores. Sete Cidades is actually two crater lakes – one blue and one green – that are connected by a narrow strip of land. The lakes are surrounded by lush vegetation, and there are several hiking trails that offer great views. It is located on Sao Miguel Island.
- Faial Island: Faial is one of the most famous of the Azorean islands, due in part to its role as an important stopover for transatlantic sailing ships. The island also boasts spectacular volcanic landscapes, charming villages, and excellent scuba diving and whale watching opportunities.
- Pico Island: Pico is best known for its towering volcano, which offers hiking trails with sweeping views. The island also has a number of wineries that produce excellent Madeira wine.
For a unique experience, the Azores islands are some of the best places to visit in Portugal.
Madeira is a small chain of beautiful Portuguese islands located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast from Northern Africa. They are a small archipelago separate from the Azores with dramatic cliffs, lush vegetation, and year-round mild climate. Madeira is a popular vacation destination for those looking to escape the cold winters of Northern Europe.
The island is home to a number of top-rated hiking trails. Visitors can enjoy stunning views from the top of the Pico Ruivo mountain. Otherwise, Madeira’s capital Funchal, is also a popular tourist destination, and visitors can explore the city’s historic center or enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Other popular attractions on the island include the Madeira Botanical Garden and the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. Whether you’re looking to explore stunning natural scenery or simply relax in the sun, Madeira has something for everyone.
Tomar is a small town located in central Portugal. Visitors can explore its winding streets, admire its medieval architecture, and learn about its rich history. Tomar was once home to the Knights Templar, and you can still see their influence in the town’s architecture.
In Tomar, visitors can see the UNESCO-listed Convento de Cristo, marvel at the 700-year-old aqueduct that runs through the town center, and learn about Tomar’s rich history at the Museu Municipal. It is a quaint town to relax in and soak in the local culture.
Evora is a beautiful city located in southeastern Portugal. With its Roman ruins, medieval churches, and cobbled streets, Evora is full of history and charm making it one of the best places to visit in Portugal.
The Roman Temple of Évora is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Dating back to the 2nd century AD, this well-preserved temple is a must-see for history buffs. For a taste of Évora’s medieval past, pay a visit to the Carmo Convent. This Gothic convent was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake but still boasts an impressive façade and beautiful views of the city.
However, if you’re looking for something truly unique, check out the Chapel of Bones. This eerie chapel is decorated with the bones of over 5,000 monks and is not for the faint-hearted!
Keep in mind that no trip to Évora would be complete without exploring its green spaces. The Jardim Público is a lovely park in the center of town, while the Jardim da Manga is a scenic spot perfect for a picnic lunch.
Aveiro is a small city located in central Portugal. Its canals and colourful buildings make it a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore the city’s Old Town, visit its many museums, or take a boat ride through its canals.
Start your visit at the Central Canal, a scenic waterway lined with colourful buildings. Then, head to the Aveiro Museum to learn about the city’s history and culture. For a taste of Aveiro’s traditional sweets, be sure to try ovos moles, a delicious egg-based confection.
Other top attractions include the Praca da Republica, a beautiful public square, and the Igreja de Sao Domingos, a stunning church with an ornate interior. Aveiro is also known for its delicious seafood, so be sure to sample some of the local cuisines! Their local delicacy is eels.
Vila Nova de Milfontes
Vila Nova de Milfontes is a beautiful town located on the west coast of Portugal. Amidst stunning scenery, there are plenty of things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes which make it one of the best places to visit in Portugal.
Visit the coastal fortress of Forte de São Lourenço for sweeping views of the town and ocean. Stroll through the streets of the old town, lined with traditional whitewashed buildings. For a taste of local culture, try some of the delicious seafood dishes on offer in the restaurants. And for those who enjoy outdoor activities, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, and fishing in the surrounding area. The town connects to the famous Rota Vicentina hike.
Cascais is a beautiful town located in Portugal. It’s known for its stunning beaches and is one of the most affluent towns in the country. If you’re looking for things to do in Cascais, check out the beaches.
Praia da Conceição and Praia da Duquesa are the inner city beaches but just outside of town is Guincho Beach. This expansive beach is stunning and known for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Just up the coast is Cabo da Roca. The lighthouse is located at the westernmost point of Europe and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great place for hiking, picnicking, and simply taking in the natural beauty.
Visitors can also enjoy the town’s many shops and restaurants or take a walk along its scenic coastline in Cascais. There is a great boardwalk to explore.
Lagos is a small town in Southern Portugal with beautiful beaches, a mariana and a historic center with lots of resturants and plenty of bars to choose from. Some of the country’s most iconic beaches are found in and around Lagos including Praia Dona Ana, Ponta da Piedade, Meia Praia and Praia do Camilo. Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail to explore the coastline, go on a dolphin-watching tour or visit the iconic Benagil Cave by kayak.
The town developed from a fishing village, and was once a stop on Portugal’s trading routes. Visit the Museu Municipal Lagos or Mercado de Escravos to learn more about the history of the area.
Setubal is located about 50 kilometers south of Lisbon. In addition to its natural beauty, Setubal is also home to a number of historical landmarks and museums worth visiting like Museu de Setúbal which was founded in 1909 and is dedicated to the history and culture of the city.
Visit the Castle of Saint George, which is a medieval castle located in the historic center of Setúbal. It was built in the 12th century by the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, and later expanded by King John I. The castle has been well preserved and is now open to the public as a museum.
Setubal is home to several beaches, including Praia do Sado, Praia da Figueirinha, and Praia Azul. These beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. Otherwise, take a boat ride to see dolphins in the summer in their natural habitat.
Nearby is the Parque da Serra da Arrábida which is a nature reserve located just outside of Setúbal. It is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life, as well as stunning views of the coast. There are numerous hiking trails through the park, making it a great place to explore on foot.
The Douro Valley is a beautiful region located in northeastern Portugal. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, the first demacated wine region in the world and by far one of the best places to visit in Portugal. Winding its way through the countryside for nearly 200 miles, the Douro River has created a landscape of rolling hills, lush vineyards, and picturesque towns. The valley is home to some of Portugal’s finest wines, and visitors can tour vineyards, enjoy wine tastings, and explore the region’s many historic landmarks.
There are many different types of wine produced in the region, from dry reds to sweet dessert wines. The most famous wineries are located in the town of Peso da Regua, but there are also many smaller producers dotted around the valley.
However, if wine is not your thing there is still planet to do in the way of outdoor activities. Cycling, hiking and river swimming is abundent in the area.
Founded in the 5th century by Roman soldiers, Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal. Its rich history is evident in its architecture, which includes a blend of Roman, Moorish, and Baroque styles.
This historic city is full of museums, churches, and other cultural attractions. Start your visit at the Braga Cathedral, a beautiful example of Baroque architecture. Then head to the Museu da Imagem, where you can learn about the history of photography in Portugal.
For something a bit different, check out the Biscainhos Palace, a former noble residence that now houses a museum. Then take a walk or hike up to the Bom Jesus do Monte, a sanctuary with stunning views of the charming city. It is an unforgettable place to visit in Portugal.
Obidos is a medieval walled village with a rich history. Meander through the medieval town, which is filled with narrow streets lined with colorful houses and great restaurants. You can even walk along the top of the walls that line the town.
When you enter you’ll be greet by la Porta da Villa which is a decorative entrance with beautiful titles. Be sure to visit the magnificent medieval castle, which dates back to the 12th century, and the Igreja de Santa Maria, which is one of the most important Gothic buildings in Portugal.
Also don’t miss trying Ginja de Óbidos. This cherry liqueur is the village’s most famous beverage. It is often served in a chocolate cup and makes a great souvenir. Just outside of town is the enormous Aqueduct, which used to supply the fountains in the town. Then just a short drive down to the coast is the Obidos lagoon
Situated on a high cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Nazare is a popular holiday destination. The town is home to a number of famous beaches, including Praia do Norte, which is known for its giant waves. Surfing is a popular activity in Nazare, and the town is host to a number of international competitions each year. However, for non-surfers, Nazare Beach is a good spot for laying out in the sun and swimming.
In addition to its natural beauty, Nazare is also home to a number of historic buildings and museums. The Church of Santa Maria da Nazare is one of the most iconic landmarks in the town, and the Museu de Cera de Nazare offers a look at the history of wax figure production in Portugal.
Gerês National Park
Peneda-Gerês National Park is the only national park in Portugal. Visitors can explore its hiking trails, scenic landscapes, and historic villages. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including eagles, deer, and wild boars and many rare and endangered species.
Visitors can hike through the forests, swim in the lakes, or explore the old Roman ruins that are scattered throughout the park. With miles of trails that wind through towering mountains and dense forests, the park offers something for everyone.
For those looking for a challenge, the 10-mile Gerês Transversal hike is a great option. The trail takes hikers across the entirety of the park, offering stunning views of Lake Caniçada along the way. For those wanting a shorter hike, the 3-mile Amarante Circuit is a great option.
Peniche is a port city located on the Atlantic coast of mainland Portugal, approximately 100 kilometres north of Lisbon. The city has a long history as a fishing and trading center, and it is still an important hub for both commercial and recreational fishing. Peniche is also well-known for its surf beaches, which attract visitors from all over Europe.
Just off the coast of Peniche is Berlenga Grande Island. This popular tourist destination has beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes and a variety of things to do. The island is home to a number of historical sites, including the fort of Sao Joao Baptista, which was built in the 16th century. There are also a number of hiking trails that wind through the island’s lush vegetation however, for those looking for a more relaxing experience, there are plenty of places to sunbathe or go for a swim without any crowds.
Serra da Estrela
The Serra da Estrela region is home to the country’s highest mountain peak, and in winter, the area is covered in a thick layer of snow. At the Estância de Ski da Serra da Estrela, visitors can enjoy sledding, skiing, and other winter sports, or simply take in the beauty of the snow-capped mountains.
In the summer, there are also plenty of outdoor activities on offer, such as rock climbing, mountain biking and paragliding. It is a cosy area to stay tucked away in the mountains.
Albufeira is your classic vacation destination in the Algarve. Popular with Northern Europeans, including families, groups of friends, stag and hens dos, and couples. This is one of the few places in the country where you can get a classic English breakfast.
Beaches near Albufeira are some of the best in the country, and there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Don’t miss Praia de São Rafael or Praia dos Pescadores. There are some resturants and beds for rent along these beaches.
There are also a number of attractions in Albufeira, including the Castle of Paderne and the Algarve Zoological Park. And for those who want to experience the nightlife, Albufeira has plenty of resturants, bars and clubs.
Elvas is a small town located in southern Portugal, near the border with Spain. It is a lesser known place to visit due to its remote location atop a hill but its well-preserved medieval architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Site status make it worth the trek.
Visitors to Elvas can explore the historic center, which is filled with beautifully preserved buildings, or take a walk through one of the many green parks. Popular attractions include the Elvas Aqueduct, a Roman-style aqueduct that spans over 6km, and the Elvas Castle, a medieval castle that offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.
Monsanto is a historic city located in the central-southern region of Portugal. Monsanto was first settled in the 12th century and was an important stop on the trade route between Lisbon and Salamanca. The town has less a 1000 inhabitants and was voted “Most Portuguese village in Portugal”.
Visitors come to see the unique architecture of the town. Houses are made from granite, many of which are built into the rocks and have giant boulders as roofs. There are also some great lookout points to the surrounding countryside, one such is from the towns castle.
Fátima is a small town located in central Portugal. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit Fátima to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary. According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherd children in 1917. Since then, Fátima has become one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world.
The town is home to several churches and a massive basilica that was built in honor of the Virgin Mary. Every year, on May 13th, pilgrims from all over the world come to Fátima to celebrate the apparition of the Virgin Mary. If you’re ever in Portugal, be sure to check out this beautiful town and its rich history.
Planning Your Visit to Portugal
Portugal is a beautiful country with much to offer visitors. From its stunning beaches and coastal towns to its historic villages and national parks, there is something for everyone in Portugal.
If you are staying for a week, pick around 3 places on the list and keep in mind the distance between them. It is about 5 hours from Porto in the north to the Algarve in the south by car, if you are doing a road trip, so try to choose places to visit in Portugal which are in close proximity to one another. Otherwise, plan your travel time accordingly.
It might not be possible to squeeze all 25 of the best places to visit in Portugal on your first trip. However, Portugal has a way about it that keeps people coming back time and time again. You have a whole lifetime to see it all.