Portugal is a small country with a big punch. This tiny nation provides an amazingly broad choice of visitor attractions, from modern capitals to out-of-the-way towns and villages and bustling beach resorts, and stunning national parks.
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Portugal’s capital and largest city, which stretches along the banks of the Tagus River near the Atlantic Ocean, winds upward among seven steep hills, creating an enchanting destination of warm weather, charming alleys, quaint shops, Gothic cathedrals, impressive bridges, and colourful neighbourhoods reverberating in traditional fado music.
The capital is a seduction of the senses; whether you appreciate the custardy sweetness of the savoury salt-fish zing of bacalhau, or the beauty of the calçadas, there’s a reason it’s at the top of a million must-see lists (traditional mosaic walkways). Lisbon is still one of Europe’s most cheap and peaceful capitals.
With its vibrantly coloured facades, bottle-green gardens, and Disney-like crenellated castles, Sintra, perched in the foothills of the eponymous mountain range, is almost ludicrous at first glance. It’s no surprise that children adore it and that many visitors visit on day trips from Lisbon, which is around 30 kilometres (19 miles) to the southeast.
You’ll need to stay overnight to take it all in, and you won’t regret spending 48 hours – or perhaps more – at a hotel.
This is a place with all the magical attractions of Camelot or Westeros, from the lovely 19th-century Pena Palace to the medieval Castle of the Moors.
It’s no wonder, then, that Hans Christian Andersen once resided in a house in Sintra’s woods. You may come across it on your way down from the stately attractions.
If you want pleasant weather, exciting hikes, and stylish beaches, the Algarve is one of the greatest destinations. The southernmost area of Portugal is a postcard of whitewashed villages, manicured golf courses, and opulent resorts.
Sure, it’s touristy, but with tiny fishing villages and bays sheltered by majestic cliffs, it’s also a spot to get away from it all.
Everyone speaks English, whether you like it or not, which comes in useful if you need instructions and can’t speak a word of Portuguese. After all, the Algarve has long been associated with elderly British, which explains the airbrushed feel of towns like Albufeira and Vilamoura.
If you want to get away from the crowd, don’t give up: there are still a lot of untouched territories, including peaceful places like Sagres, Tavira, and Aljezur, to mention a few.
In Portugal, surfing is like a religion, and the small fishing community of Ericeira has taken on a near-sacred reputation among wave-riders. It’s not difficult to get to – for a few Euros, you can be there by bus in less than an hour – and while it’s not the closest beach town to the capital, it’s certainly one of the busiest.
If surfing isn’t your style, don’t worry: it’s become a spectator sport in Ericeira these days, with enthusiastic audiences watching the athletic exploits. Ericeira’s restaurants specialize in tasty, fresh seafood. Choose a table, order sardines, octopus salad, and munch away the days until late-night escapades in Lisbon beckon.
Évora, nestled in the heart of the Alentejo, is one of Portugal’s most enticing locations. Évora, known for its incredible collection of well-preserved monuments, should be examined carefully and without haste.
The impressive Templo Romano, which dates from around the second century; the brooding but compelling 12th-century Sé (cathedral); and the Igreja de S. Francisco, with its lugubrious Capela dos Ossos, completed in the mid-1550s, are all examples of the city’s medieval walls enclosing centuries of history.
Évora has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance and the pristine condition of its architectural masterpieces. But you’ll be enchanted by the city’s lovely market-town atmosphere and down-to-earth personality: it’s a joy to meander and shop through its Moorish alleyways; peruse intriguing museums; and eat lunch in attractive squares, where you’re treated as a guest rather than a tourist.
Exotic flowers, a warm environment, and, yes, a hair-raising jet ride: there’s something special about Portugal’s subtropical island offcut in the Atlantic Ocean, 1078 kilometres (670 miles) southeast of the mainland.
It’s grown into the trendiest of Portuguese resorts, with the capital, Funchal, hosting one of the world’s greatest New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Take the ferry to nearby Porto Santo Island, where you’ll discover one of Portugal’s most gorgeous stretches of sand. A visit is worthwhile at any time of year.
A stay in a city completely encircled by gigantic castle walls doesn’t get much more wonderful than this. Videos are the kind of place you need a camera for charming, picturesque, and romantic. It’ll make your Instagram account a million times more colourful.
The charm of the town is found in its signature white buildings framed in brilliant flowers and souvenir shops that are delighted to welcome, but not desperate for, visitor traffic. Ginja de Obidos, a colorful cherry liqueur sometimes served in miniature chocolate cups, is a must-try.
The city has earned a reputation as one of Portugal’s most romantic destinations, having been given as a wedding present by Portuguese kings to their queens.
A city in the heart of Portugal receives more visitors than the rest of the country combined. What is the explanation for this? Coimbra is home to a substantial number of Roman and medieval ruins and has served as the country’s capital at one time.
The University, one of the world’s oldest continuously operational degree-granting institutions, is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
Coimbra’s most notable feature is its library, the Baroque-style Biblioteca Joanina, named one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.
The Azorean archipelago is located nearly halfway between the American and Portuguese coasts, with each island deserving your vacation time. The largest, So Miguel, is the most accessible by air and is a lovely rolling green oasis with plenty to keep you occupied for a few days.
Hiking trails, waterfalls, and the stunning twin lakes of Lagoa das Sete Cidades contribute to an Azorean experience.
The small village of Furnas is a must-see for everyone interested in volcanic power: here, you’ll find natural, mineral-rich hot springs and calderas on the earth.
The busy city of Porto sprawls along the hills overlooking the Douro River in northern Portugal, prized for both its natural and architectural beauty. It is world-famous for its production of fine port wine.
So that’s it! According to our recommendations, the top places to visit in Portugal are mentioned above. Whenever you visit Portugal, give these places a shot to show their charm.