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Portugal Beach

Travelling to Portugal? 5 places you should not miss!

Portugal is a popular holiday destination with tons of places to see? But where do you start, and what are the highlights of this beautiful country? Let’s have a look at the top 10 most popular destinations in Portugal!

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Table of Contents

Lisbon

When you fly to Portugal, chances are you fly into Lisbon. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and here is where you’ll find many gorgeous sights! The city is built on seven hills, but thankfully the cute trams in the city will get you from A to B. Besides an excellent public transport network, the city centre of the capital is small enough to walk around. Check out this article for a complete list of the best tours in Lisbon, Portugal!

The city centre

Lisbon has a number of neighbourhoods such as Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto, Graça and Príncipe Real. Sights to visit are for example the Arco da Rua Augusta at Praça do Comércio, the Botanical Garden, the cathedral Sé de Lisboa, Museu Arqueológico do Carmo and the Santa Justa Elevator.

Tip: For a stunning view of the city, book a river cruise during sunset! You won’t regret it!

Where to stay

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Ancient Lisboa

Are you in Lisbon on a Saturday or Tuesday? Then it’s worth your while to visit the flea market Feira da Ladra. You’ll have a beautiful view of the Panteão Nacional and the Church of São Vicente de Fora. There are many places to enjoy a coffee or a traditional Portuguese meal. After the flea market, you can enjoy the many tiny streets of Alfama. Don’t forget to enjoy the fantastic views at Portas do Sol, Santa Luzia and Miradouro da Graça.

Tip: From Castelo de São Jorge, you have a fantastic view over Lisbon during sunset!

For more information about Alfama, check out this blog post!

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Belém

When you have time, visit the district Belém. It’s a little outside the city centre of Lisbon, but you’ll be rewarded with unforgettable sights! Belém lies on the northern shore of the river Tagus, and the views are simply stunning. Discover the tower Torre de Belém, the monastery Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or enjoy art at the Museu Coleção Berardo.

Pastéis de Belém

You’ll easily spend a day in Belém, and during your break, you can visit THE place where the famous Pastel de Nata comes from. The queue outside the bakery might look long, but you won’t have to wait long to taste the amazing Pastéis de Belém! Aside from the amazing Pastel de Nata, you’ll find pastries and cakes like Bolo de Arroz, Pastel de Feijão and Mil Folhas. Examples of hearty snacks are Pastéis de Bacalhau, Folhado de Salsicha and Coxas de Galinha. Enjoy!

Sintra

A famous day trip from Lisbon brings you to Sintra. Sintra is a town and municipality northwest of the Portuguese capital. From Rossio station, a direct train takes you all the way to the town of Sintra. From the station, you can take a bus or tuk-tuk to the many fairytale-like sights in Sintra.

Palácio da Pena

The most famous sight in Sintra is probably Palácio da Pena. With colourful walls, towers and stunning views, this is a must-see when visiting Sintra. It was built in the 19th century and was used as a palace and a monastery. From the palace, there are gorgeous hikes to the Temple of Columns, the Warrior Statue, the High Cross and the gardens Vale dos Lagos e Pateira. The palace can easily be reached by bus or tuk-tuk.

Castelo dos Mouros

Castelo dos Mouros is a Moorish castle on top of the cliffs. You’ll enjoy stunning views over the rest of Sintra from the castle’s ruins and can see as far as the Atlantic Ocean. Castelo dos Mouros was built in the 10th century, and it’s the perfect spot for a hike.

Quinta da Regaleira

Another fairytale is found at Quinta da Regaleira. This palace was built in the 20th century, and the building takes your breath away! The gardens are equally stunning, and here you’ll discover a unique Initiation Well. You can walk the steps all the way to the bottom, and through a labyrinth of tunnels, you’ll arrive back of the gardens.

Sintra town

In Sintra town it’s well worth visiting the Palácio Nacional de Sintra. With its unique towers, it’s a hard-to-miss sight. Next to the palace, you can visit the gorgeous Jardins do Palácio Nacional de Sintra, with exclusive plants, trees and flowers. In the town are many bars, cafes and restaurants as well. Sintra is also loved for yoga retreats in Portugal. Check out this post for the best yoga retreats in Portugal!

Insider tip: have dinner at Bacalhau na Vila!

Although a day trip to Sintra is easy to arrange from Lisbon, staying a night to visit multiple sites is recommended. Sintra is a fantastic place to hike, and you’ll surround yourself with nature. In the palaces alone, you’ll easily spend a few hours! By staying a night, you’ll enjoy the quiet streets of Sintra town, and you’ll be the first in the morning to arrive at a new dreamy sight. Other places to visit are for example Parque e Palácio de Monserrate, Chalet e Jardim da Condessa d’Edla, the Convent of the Capuchos and the lake Lagoa dos Mosqueiros.

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Porto

Porto, or Oporto, is the second-largest city in Portugal. The city is famous for its Port wines, and this is the place to be to taste them! When you visit WOW Porto, you’ll learn a ton about the production and taste of the Port wines. Seven museum experiences are available, and there are regular workshops and tastings.

Famous landmarks

When you arrive by train in Porto, you’ll most likely arrive at São Bento Station, and straight away, you’re welcomed by blue and white azulejo tiles. In the rest of the city centre, you’ll find more unique sights such as the book shop Livraria Lello, the 75-meter-high Clérigos Tower and the Igreja do Carmo with its many azulejo tiles. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful Palácio da Bolsa!

When it’s time for a drink, you can visit Cais da Ribeira, a scenic boardwalk along the river Douro. It’s one of the city’s oldest areas and boasts many colourful houses. From this point, you also have the option to go on a cruise! The 6 Bridge cruise is a famous option, and there are also daily cruises to the wine region Douro. For a full list of things to do in Porto, check this article!

Just outside the city centre, it’s worth visiting Parque de Serralves. Here you’ll discover stunning gardens, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, a Treetop Walk, Casa do Cinema and the outstanding Villa Serralves. With so many sights in one, you’ll easily spend an entire day here!

Traditional Francesinha

When it’s time to eat, you can try a famous Francesinha, a sandwich with its origin in Porto. It’s made from thick slices of white filled with Portuguese ham, cheese, sausage, and steak! Multiple variations are available, and Francesinha is often served with french fries and a fried egg on top. It is the perfect meal for a carnivorous appetite, and it goes well with a beer. Vegan options are also available in certain restaurants, so everyone can try this traditional meal!

After dinner, there are many places to visit where you can enjoy a magnificent sunset over the city. Bring your picnic blanket, your loved ones and your favourite drink to see Porto in all its glory! Good viewpoints are for example Jardim do Morro, Largo da Pena Ventosa, and and Miradouro das Virtudes.

Where to stay

To see most of the views in Porto, you’ll need 2 or 3 days in the city. And also around Porto are many stunning places to visit, such as the Douro Valley and many fantastic beaches. Porto has apartments and hotels for all budgets, and here are some favourites! Exe Essenzia Porto, Feel Porto Antique, and The White Box Boutique House. Or choose your perfect spot on the map below.

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Algarve

A trip to Portugal is not complete without visiting the Algarve. It is the most southern province in Portugal, and the beaches are beloved by everyone! What makes the beaches so spectacular is the red and yellow rocky cliffs that contrast with the turquoise blue from the ocean. Add some sun, palm trees and magical viewpoints, and it’s picture-perfect!

Cities and Towns

Along the coastline are a few bigger cities to discover. Popular cities are Faro, Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos. Some cities are pretty big, and there are many things to do in the high season. The beaches are perfect for families with children, and there are plenty of clubs and bars to enjoy a night out. Are you looking for a quiet, picturesque village? The Algarve has it all!

Faro

Faro has an airport and many travellers arrive in this city, which is also the capital of the Algarve. It’s a recommendation to visit the old town and visit some sights. Look, for example, at the gruesome Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the skulls), the Catherdral or Arco da Vila.

Around Faro are many cute towns that are worth a visit. Go, for example, to Tavira, Fuseta or Cabanas. Although busier in the high season, these towns are pretty sleepy and have enough sights for a relaxing holiday in the Portuguese sun. The nature reserve Ria Formosa is also located here, and from most towns, you can make a fantastic cruise between the flamingos and many islands. Enjoy a day of island hopping or discover the beautiful birds that strike down every year.

Albufeira

Albufeira lies in the centre of the Algarve, and the city is full of energy. Trips to Portimão, Lagos and Faro are easy to make, and there is a lot to see in the area. Get up early for a day to visit one of the most beautiful beaches along the Portuguese coastline. The Benagil Cave gets visited by thousands of people, and later in the day, it can get jam-packed. You can, of course, also prebook your ticket so you can jump straight on board the speedboat! If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot lots of dolphins on your trip!

Benagil Cave
Benagil Cave by Mondo Generator / Unsplash

Lagos

The charming coastal town of Lagos is known for its nightlife and unique nature. The rocks of Ponta da Piedade are like no other, and you can visit these cliffs in several ways. You can drive to the lighthouse and park your car in the car park. After that, it’s only a short walk to the rocks. Tip: visit Ponta da Piedade during sunset to see the fantastic colours that reflect on the rocks!

Another unique way to discover Ponta da Piedade is by paddleboard! Be warned; the tour leaves early! But it is oh so worth it! The place is tranquil, and you’ll see the sunrise over the Algarve. You might never want to leave this place! There are trips along the coastline by kayak as well! Or enjoy a romantic cruise when the sun sets for the day. Is this paradise on earth? Check the complete guide about things to do in Lagos!

Where to stay

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The Atlantic Coast

Not only the Algarve is worth a visit, but the Atlantic Coast is also just as stunning! It’s a surfers paradise, with many cute seaside towns to visit. With a coastline with a length of 1,794 kilometres, you’ll be sure to find beautiful beaches and plenty of fish restaurants!

Stunning beaches and seaside towns

Whether you like to surf or not, the beaches on the Atlantic Coast are stunning! Check out Praia da Bordeira, Praia do Espingardeiro or the beaches of Comporta. Or check out seaside towns like Azenhas do Mar, Ericeira and Nazaré. Nazaré, by the way, is famous for the waves! Especially during the winter months, waves often reach up to 20 meters (65 feet). Well-known surfers even show their skills on waves that reach up to 30 meters (100 feet)!

The Portuguese islands

If you have extra time, please visit the Portuguese islands! There are regular flights from the mainland to Funchal on Madeira. The island is known for its flowers and is the perfect place to hike! Madeira has a unique wine culture and has become famous among digital nomads. Also, Carnaval in Funchal is an event to remember!

The Azores consists of 9 islands, and there are direct flights to São Miguel, Pico or Terceira, and the other islands are connected by flights or boats. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, and the archipelago has one of the largest whale sanctuaries in the world! Mother Nature has been very kind to the Azores, and you’ll find geysers, hot water lagoons, volcanic craters and many waterfalls.

Where to stay

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Have you already been to Portugal? And if so, what was your favourite place? These 5 places are visited the most, but there are of course many places to visit in Portugal. We’ll leave that for another time!

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

8 Responses

  1. I have never been to Portugal. From your blog, I can tell it is a cool country to visit. The Intricate designs of the buildings are mesmerizing. The Food Explora in me loves the food you presented. Will pin it for later reference. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Portugal is somewhere I would like to explore more. I have lots of friends who have been and slow travelled and fallen in love with the place. Sintra looks lovely and is definitely on my radar now.

  3. Wow, I really want to go to Portugal. People keep on talking about early retirement in Lisbon, so I definitely want to check it out some time. Thanks for the article!

  4. I have to start by saying that Portugal is one of our favourite countries to visit. We have visited several times and have visited the top 5 places your blog suggests. But as I went through the blog, your notes gave me lots of reasons to go back. We definitely did not have enough time in the charming small town of Sintra. And want to spend more time on the islands. All great reasons to go back for sure.

  5. Love Portugal and cannot wait to return. Porto was a dream. I particularly love all the tile work throughout the city as well as the Moorish architectural influencee.

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