Millions travel to Portugal yearly, as this southern country is increasingly becoming a top destination in Europe. However, while most stick to Lisbon and Porto, the country has a wide range of places to visit, from rural and coastal areas to remote islands and busy cities.
Let’s take a look at the 10 best places to visit in Portugal if you are planning your itinerary.
For an already crafted itinerary, take a look at our 1 Month Portugal Itinerary that takes you to most of the places on this list.
The capital of Portugal there’s a reason most tourists head to Lisbon. One of the oldest cities in Western Europe, Lisbon is a cosmopolitan city filled with historical heritage, culture, and architecture that will leave a mark to remember. From the iconic calçada Portuguesa (cobbled streets) to the lively streets of Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s environment provides a comforting experience that will make you feel at home.
Porto was elected Best European Destination in 2010 and 2014 and has seen a boom in tourism ever since, giving other European countries a run for their money. 280 km north of Lisbon, the beautiful city of Porto lies along the Douro river. Home to Port wine, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and the stunning Ribeira district, Porto is not lacking in activities to experience. One of the oldest in Europe, Porto’s old town in the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996.
3. Douro Valley
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Douro Valley is a cultural landscape of vineyards where Douro wines are grown and produced in traditional wine cellars. Departing from Porto, the Douro river flows in the middle of these green hills with vineyards. Beware, visiting the Douro Valley is quite expensive by Portuguese standards, but it is still a unique experience, known for the highest quality cuisine and wines.
Sintra was once a hidden gem in Portugal but has, in the past decade, been discovered by tourists. Despite the overcrowdedness in the historical center in the summer, Sintra is quite large and has beautiful places to explore. Located on the Portuguese Riviera, Sintra‘s mountainside is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sintra is known for its beautiful palaces and mansions, nineteenth-century gardens, and some of the best beaches in Portugal.
The region of the Algarve is one of the most sought out areas in Portugal, with tourists from all over the world. The warmest area in Portugal, it is known as the crown jewel of Portugal, where the population heads to in the summer. Along with beautiful beaches along the Algarve coastline, this region features quaint villages, waterparks, caves, delicious cuisine, and a lot more. Our favorite places in the Algarve are Tavira, Portimao, and Faro.
Located in Central Portugal, Coimbra is perhaps one of the cities in Portugal with the most historical significance. Once the capital of Portugal and once a Roman settlement, Coimbra’s mark on Portugal is far greater than it is given credit for. Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, as well as a renowned library, Coimbra is often referred to as the City of Knowledge. The University of Coimbra, as well as the Alta (uptown) area of the city, are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This region of the Alentejo is located in center-southern Portugal, covering over 31,600 km2 of land, the largest in the whole country. Between Lisbon and the Algarve, the Alentejo provides those visiting it with a diverse experience. From vast fields with olive groves and cork trees to hilltop villages with ancient castles and a stunning coastline of beaches, the Alentejo has so much to offer.
Located in the interior of Portugal, the village of Monsanto was not known to most people, despite the Portuguese. However, in late 2022, it was announced that the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon was filmed in the iconic village of Monsanto! Monsanto is on the official route of Portuguese historical villages. In 1938, it was named the “most typical Portuguese village of all.” From the Monsanto castle to beautiful viewpoints, this village has unique features.
Madeira has an all-year-round summer climate, even in winter, gorgeous landscapes and tropical-like beaches. The island was elected the “World’s Leading Island Destination” from 2015 to 2021 by the World Travel Awards. While it is an autonomous region of Portugal, Madeira is actually located many miles away in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, 400 kilometers north of the Canary Islands. We also recommend visiting Porto Santo, a smaller beach island, a 3-hour ferry away.
Also an autonomous region of Portugal, the Azores archipelago is located between Lisbon and New York, 850 miles from Portugal. The nine islands cover up to 906 square miles of land. The largest island is São Miguel at 293 square miles. The eight other islands are Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Pico, São Jorge, Santa Maria, Terceira, and Corvo, the smallest one. Each island is unique, featuring its own lush greenery, landscapes, mountains, waterfalls, and viewpoints.