It only took a single day in Portugal to fall in love with the country. However, after staying there for several months, it truly is confirmed. In fact, is fighting for the spot of my most favorite nation in Europe. While the country is small, you would never know it when visiting.
There are so many things to do and see such as delightful towns, unspoiled seashore, rocky peaks, lively cities, beautiful valleys, and verdant rainforest isles. Check out below for our list of the 19 best places to visit in this wonderful country.
Must See Places In Portugal
Sites To See In North Of Portugal
Check Out Porto
Porto is the 2nd biggest city in Portugal and is famous for its wine. However, it is impossible to talk about Porto and not talk about Vila Nova de Gaia as the two cities are connected by no less than 6 bridges. Go to these cities if you are looking for the true Portuguese feel. You can see houses covered with beautiful ceramic tile work, eat a lot of tasty food, go to lovely beaches close by, and have amazing views of the river. Check out the Ribeira area near the river for a bunch of good places to eat, shop and see a lot of people.
Check Out Braga
You can easily see that Braga is the religious capital of the country by simply looking around and seeing all of the religious buildings around the city. As such, the city is host to many religious festivals such as Semana Santa. In addition, make sure to check out some of the popular religious sites such as Antigo Paço Episcopal, Bom Jesus do Monte, and Sé Cathedral. In addition, the city is one of the oldest in the country. You can walk along the streets and see the architectural influences of many different eras such as the Baroque, Gothic, and Roman.
Check Out Douro Valley
It is very tempting to stay the entire time in Porto. However, make sure to take some time and go to the Douro Valley. Before the best way was going by river. However, now with a tunnel road going through the Serra do Marao mountain range, driving is very easy. This area is full of stone mountains and vineyards and is a great place to enjoy a nice wine vacation.
Sites To See In Middle Of Portugal
Check Out Obidos
You can enter this famous walled metropolis by the beautifully Porta da Vila. Here you can see the Passion of Christ depicted on the gate in ceramic tiles. Inside the city, feel free to walk around the city as there are no cars. Enjoy the beautiful white houses, and check out the Santa Maria church which was built in the 12th century. If you want to get a good overall view of the city, you can walk along the wall that encloses the city as it only takes 1 hour.
Check Out Coimbra
Coimbra is a famous medieval city on the Mondego River in Portugal. However, don’t let that make you think that it is dead. In fact, due the large student populace in the city, it if a very happening place. In fact, the city has the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest educational institutions in the world. When you are in town, make sure to visit Biblioteca Joanina and cathedral Sé Velha. In addition, don’t forget to try some Portuguese crúzios at Café Santa Cruz. While walking along the streets, make sure to listen closely, as you might hear traditional Portuguese music, known as fado.
Check out Aveiro
Aveiro is sometimes called the Portugal’s Venice. While this might be a bit of an exaggeration, it is a charming and colorful place to visit. You can explore the 3 canals in the city on boats called barcos moliceiros, which are similar to gondolas. In addition, the colorful houses along the beautiful beaches are striking to the eye. One of the best things about this village is that it is not really a tourist destination. Therefore, everything that you see is not just for the tourists, but it actually how it is. A few historical places that you should visit while here include: São Gonçalinho Chapel, Convento de Jesus, and Aveiro Cathedral.
Sites To See Around Lisbon
Lisbon is not only the capital of Portugal, but also one of the best places in the country to visit. The city has many nicknames including, The City of Light, the Queen of the Sea, and the City of Seven Hills. After living in Lisbon for over 2 months, it definitely has earned these nicknames. While the city is large, each district has its own unique feel. For example, if you go to Belém, you can check out the historic location where some of the most famous explorers sailed from. If you go to Príncipe Real, get ready for some high end shopping. If you go to Barrio Alto, get ready for some fun nightspots. If you go to Alfama, have fun getting lost in its little alleyways and side street.
From the magnificent views on top of the hills around the city, the roofs of the house in Lisbon look like red water going down to the Tagus river. Walking down the streets, there is bound to be something wonderful to discover, such as the ceramic tile work. At the end of the day, make sure to eat some fish and caldo verde or something simpler such as prego or bifana. In addition, you are always close to a pastry shop where you can find tasty things such as pasteis de nata.
Check Out Cascais
Cascais is only 45 minutes by train from Lisbon. It is a great place to escape to the beach on the weekend. However, the main beaches in the city get very crowded during the summer. You can explore the center of town which has a lot of nice restaurants and little shops. Also, consider walking or taking a bike to the Boca do Inferno just outside of town. If you just go a little bit farther, you can also visit the large sandy beach Praia do Guincho where you can enjoy the water and perhaps even surf a bit.
Check Out Sintra
There are many things you must see when visiting Sintra including several palaces, a castle, a mansion and a lot of beautiful walking trails. In addition, you will get to see many beautiful gardens. The city is a popular day trip for those in Lisbon. However, in order to truly see everything, plan for at least 2 full days in the city. For those with limited time, make sure to check out Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace.
Check Out Parque Natural da Arrabida
Algarve is not the only place to find beautiful beaches. If you are looking for other places to go, head out to Parque Natural da Arrábida. It is only about 1 hour south of the city of Lisbon. Just above the beach are the Serra da Arrábida Mountains. They are filled with beautiful trails and a lot of green plants. Walking down from the ridge, you will go to the beautiful beach with perfect sand and clear waters. Here you can find a lot of different plants common to the region such as lavender, pistachio, and strawberries.
Sites To See In The Algarve
Check Out Lagos
The Algarve area in Portugal has the finest beaches in Europe. For those visiting the area, Lagos is a good starting point. The area is similar to the Mediterranean. However, due to its location on the Atlantic, you can also surf here as well. The entire area is great, but make sure to visit some of the following spots:
- One of the best spots to take photos is the Praia da Marinha area due to the limestone rocks in the area.
- If you are looking for long beautiful sandy beaches, make sure to head over to Meia Praia. The beach is more than four kilometers longs, so there is bound to be some space even when there are a lot of people there.
- Head over to Praia da Dona Ana to experience the beautiful beach, water, and cliffs.
- If you are looking for somewhere say to swim at the beach, head over to Prai de Odeceixe
Check Out Tavira
Tavira is the place to go to relax, especially if going out at night is not your thing. However, don’t worry, as there is still a lot to do here. You can explore the city along its stone streets and see many churches, mansions, and Roman remnants. Also, Ilha de Tavira, a small island, is nearby and offers a great beach.