21 Insanely Beautiful Places To Visit In Portugal
For a small European country, Portugal packs quite a punch. Golden beaches, captivating cities, cobblestone villages and medieval castles – there’s literally so many incredibly astonishing places to visit in Portugal. Truth be told, its idyllic cinematic scenery, innovative art, succulent food and history are just the start. Even with its relatively small area, the options for things to do and places to visit in Portugal are simply endless. What’s more, it’s hands down one of the best value destinations in whole European continent. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, you’re bound to have the trip of a lifetime in this country.
Visiting the country soon, but don’t know where to go in Portugal? Wondering what to do in Portugal? Guess what? We’ve made things a little bit simpler on your end by rounding up the best and most beautiful places to visit in Portugal!
There’s no better place to start your Portuguese adventure than in Lisbon. Overlooked often for its famous European cousins, Portugal’s capital specializes in calming tourists into its easygoing charm. Perched perfectly atop seven hills, it has lovely alleyways winding between splashy centuries-old buildings, making it one of the top places to visit in Portugal for photography junkies. The remarkable Saint George’s Castle is peeking out the city skyline, exuding a mystical old world feel to the thriving cosmopolitan city. And, amazingly, the village life here holds strong, in spite of the sleek modern buildings that are rising slowly throughout the capital.
But, there’s more to the city than chilling in cafes, while nibbling on custard tarts. As you explore the city, you’ll get to uncover a ton of mesmerizing attractions in Lisbon, such as the Oceanarium, Santa Justa Elevator, Tram 28, Alfama, Belem and Castelo do Sao Jorge.
They don’t call Sintra as one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Portugal for nothing. With its quirky mansions, historic castles and a heap of idyllic gardens, Sintra feels like a scene from a fairytale movie. From the medieval Castle of the Moors and the exquisite Monserrate Palace to the romantic Pena Palace, this city will delight your senses as well as transport your mind to fictional destinations, such as Westeros and Camelot. And to make things even better, it’s also a great destination for hiking.
3. Douro Valley
Want to see something really unique awe-inspiring? The Douro Valley – one of the oldest demarcated wine regions on earth – showcases amazing steep terraced vineyards carved magnificently into granite bluffs and mountains. Furthermore, the valley flaunts whitewashed estates as well as historic wine cellars that lure visitors from all over the world. Visit the valley for its premier wines, ports, excellent regional restaurants, postcard-worthy villages and winding picturesque roads.
Nestled in the middle of the Atlantic, this archipelago, made up of 9 volcanic islands, teems with adventures. In fact, this island destination has been labeled as the “Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic”. For the aquatic adventurer, the Azores offers opportunities for surfing, diving, sailing, world-class whale watching and other water sports. Additionally, it lets you try a ton of land adventures, like canyoning, hiking, biking and horseback riding. And for the daredevils, you may try paragliding here as well. To top it all off, the archipelago is an enticing wonderland of fantastical caverns and lively crater lakes that speak of its volcanic origin.
And, did I mention that it is home to 2 of the 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal? Yep, a visit to the Azores is an opportunity to see a pair of iconic places to visit in Portugal and world heritage sites – the 3 biospheres (Corvo, Flores and Graciosa) and Pico’s vineyards.
Cascais, once a quaint fishing village, is now a chic coastal resort, beloved for its adventure pursuits, water sports, sophisticated nightlife and glorious beaches. A favorite hub for artists, writers and artisans, Cascais will inspire you, and give you a fantastic vacation with its exquisite backdrop. Moreover, it flaunts an impressive art collection, displayed proudly in The Conde de Castro Guimares. To make your visit even more memorable, hit the smart new marina, brimming with yachts that glisten and shimmer in the bright sunshine.
Looking for historic places to visit in Portugal? Then, make sure to include Guimaraes to your list of places to visit in Portugal! Nicknamed aptly as the “birthplace of Portugal”, this historic city is the first capital of the country, as well as the place where its first king ruled in the 12th century. With a visit to this city, you’ll get to lay eyes on the castle wherein the king and a ton of other important figures in the country’s history once resided.
Overlooking some of the most dramatic scenery in the Algarve, this elongated, small village has an end-of-the-world atmosphere, with its wind-whipped, empty fortress set high above the ocean and sea-carved cliffs. Even with its connection to the rich nautical past of Portugal, there’s not much of historical appeal in town. Truthfully, its allure mainly lies in its sense of isolation and access to some magnificent beaches. Plus, the village has a mellow vibe, cheery bars and cafes, as well as a flourishing surfing culture. Outside Sangres, you’ll find the enchanting and stunning cliffs of Cabo de Sao Vicente.
Itching to hit the beach? Why not include Lagos to your list of places to visit in Portugal? Home of some of Europe’s finest beaches, Lagos will sweep you away, with its water sports, surf spots and fabulous coastline that offers stunning views. For a memorable trip in Lagos, check out Praia de Odeceixe, Prai da Dona Ana, Meia Praia and Praia da Marinha.
Speaking of places to visit in Portugal for beach lovers, Albufeira is another destination that’s worth checking out in the country. With over a dozen different beaches to choose from, this Portuguese hub will totally quench your cravings for the beach. Hugging southern Algarve’s coast, this sweet vantage point highlights sparkling white Moorish houses with breath-snatching multi-hued cliffs. As an added bonus, it has old fortress remnants with a remarkable historical flair and modern amenities.
Evora is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Portugal for bona fide history buffs. Drenched in culture and history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has a host of impressive historic sites, such as the Cathedral of Evora and the 2,000-year-old Templo Romano. Even better, it can be quite a mysterious Halloween destination, especially when you visit the Chapel of Bones, or also referred Capela dos Ossos. Known as one of the bizarrely wonderful places to visit in Portugal, this 16th century church has over 4,000 human skeletons inside and on its walls.
With its beautiful weather and calm weathers, it’s easy to see why Portimao is often billed as a sailor’s paradise. And, there are plenty of elite sailing international competitions that happen in Portimao, but you don’t have to be an experienced pro to set sail. Hop on the Santa Bernarda double-masted pirate ship, and cruise the coast on one of the most laid-back places to visit in Portugal. On dry land, you may please your palate with a succulent seafood meal, wander the photogenic Alvor boardwalk or zip around the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve’s go-kart track.
Searching for Instagrammable places to visit in Portugal? Romantic, picture-perfect and charming, Obidos is a great spot to bring a smartphone or camera, and make your Instagram page more lively and colorful. Not only does it boast striking castle walls, but it’s also brimming with souvenir shops and white houses that are framed beautifully in bright flowers. While exploring Obidos, don’t forget to savor Ginja de Obidos – a tasty cherry liqueur served oftentimes in small chocolate cups. With its labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and classic crenellated wall, it’s also one of the most romantic places to visit in Portugal.
No list of the best places to visit in Portugal is complete without the inclusion of its 2nd largest metropolis – Porto. Humble yet opulent, the city is a wondrous blend of bustling metropolitan culture and old world charm, making it one of the most intriguing places to visit in Portugal. Declared as a UNECO World Heritage, this fashionable city will unleash your inner shutterbug with its ornate tiles, bell tower, colorfully picturesque houses, medieval winding streets and 14th century walls.
Wondering where to go in Portugal for an unforgettable offbeat experience? Don’t forget to put Madeira to your bucket list of places to visit in Portugal! Praised for its natural wonders, this Portuguese destination beckons travelers with its extraordinary mountains and volcanic soil wherein anything grows. And clearly, the island offers tons of hiking opportunities through its lush landscape, like Verada do Areeiro – a hike between two peaks in Madeira. Another exciting experience in this destination is walking along the exterior of an irrigation system or a mountain. For foodies, the island has plenty of tasty treats in store for you as well, like the malasada, espetada and bolo de caco.
15. Parque Natural da Arrábida
Looking for a sure-fire bet? For years, Parque Natural da Arrábida has been one of the go-to places to visit in Portugal, and with good reason. Not only does it offer golden, clean beaches, but it also has chiseled cliffs and thickly green hills. In addition, it s a protected area blessed with a wealth of Mediterranean plants, including chamomile, thyme, lavender, strawberry, pistachio and olive.
16. Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo – Costa Verde’s majestic jewel – wows visitors with its alluring medieval center as well as lovely beaches just outside the city. Since the city played an important role in the Age of Discovery, expect to see dozens of historic sites in its medieval city center, like Manueline palaces and the neo-Byzantine Santa Luzia Sanctuary.
Located at the heart of the country, Tomar is truly one of the most historic and eye-catching places to visit in Portugal. Normally, visitors in this city make a pit stop to the striking UNECO World Heritage site, Convent of Christ. If, however, you’re looking for a more quirky and unusual experience, make your way to Museo dos Fosforos – a one-of-a-kind matchbox museum that’s deemed as one of the world’s finest. Likewise, you may go to Castelo de Almourol, to get your castle fix and savor a dramatic Portuguese sunset.
18. Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês
You can’t leave Portugal without a visit to its one and only national park – Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. Covering three mountain ranges, the park has a plethora of exciting activities in store for outdoor connoisseurs, such as bird watching, hiking as well as snapping photos of its eye-catching flora. And, even if you’re not much of a nature lover, there are still a lot of things you can do in this part of Portugal, like wandering through the castles from the Megalithic period, walking an ancient Roman pathway and catching wild Garrano ponies that roam freely.
Marvao is absolutely one of the most visually appealing places to visit in Portugal. With its narrow lanes, surrounding countryside and whitewashed house, Marvao is a gorgeous and lavish retreat with views to die for. To make things even better, the village has a marvelous castle and a bunch of low-key restaurants and guesthouses.
With a network of photogenic canals and humpbacked bridges, it’s no wonder they call Aveiro as the “Venice of Portugal”. A prosperous town with an energetic youthful buzz, Aveiro has a mishmash of awesome sights as well, including the Santo Antonio Park, Aveiro Museu, Convento de Jesus, Aveiro Cathedral, Fisherman’s Wharf and Sao Goncalinho Chapel.
Braga is an elegant Portuguese city with ancient narrow lanes and a splendid medley of baroque churches and plazas. The perpetual bell chiming is a sweet reminder of the age-old devotion of Braga to the spiritual world. The city’s religious festivals, especially the elaborately staged Holy Week (Semana Santa), are well-known throughout the country.
But, there’s more to Braga than its religious festivals and historic sites. After all, it has an upscale old city center that’s jam-packed with top-notch restaurants, trim boutiques, lively cafes and low-key bars that cater to students from the well-known Universidade do Minho. As a matter of fact, the city is so young and vibrant that is was named as the European Youth Capital in 2012.
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