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Things to do in Portugal

Things to do in  Portugal

Welcome to Portugal

Long overlooked in favor of its larger neighbor, Spain, Portugal is holding its own on the European travel circuit today, as growing numbers of visitors discover its old-world charms. Outstanding food, award-winning wines, and distinctive Manueline architecture are just the beginning. Portugal's diverse landscapes range from granite peaks and forested hills in the north, to the sunny beaches of the southern Algarve—all bordered by nearly 500 miles of stunning Atlantic coastline. Start in Lisbon, taking in the capital's many historical sights and famous hills by foot or electric bike. The country's faded glory as a maritime empire in the 15th and 16th centuries is most evident here, but humans have lived in this region since prehistoric times. After a city tour, take a day trip to wander through Roman ruins in Evora; tour a royal castle and a Moorish palace in Sintra; or visit one of the well-preserved medieval villages, like Obidos, that are sprinkled all over the countryside. In Northern Portugal, foodies flock to the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley for wine- and food-tasting tours. Porto's striking harbor is the starting point for scenic Douro River cruises. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline fix by surfing, skydiving, or parasailing in the Algarve. And for those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the fishing villages of Nazare, Sagres, and Tavira can feel like a trip back in time. Portugal's delights are many, and with easy access to Western Spain, your Iberian itinerary could extend to Seville, Cordoba, or Granada.

Top 15 things to do in Portugal

#1
Sintra

Sintra

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Once a hot spot destination for Portuguese royalty—Lord Byron called it a “glorious Eden”—Sintra is widely acclaimed as one of Portugal's most beautiful destinations, full of gardens, tiled villas, colorful palaces, and neo-Gothic structures, all surrounded by verdant hills rolling toward the Atlantic Ocean.More
#2
Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

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A mighty medieval fortress perched on the banks of the Tagus River, Belem Tower is one of Lisbon’s most visited landmarks. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos), it’s a lasting symbol of Portugal’s maritime heritage, dating back to the early 16th century.More
#3
Clérigos Church and Tower (Torre & Igreja dos Clérigos)

Clérigos Church and Tower (Torre & Igreja dos Clérigos)

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Standing atop a hill overlooking Porto, Portugal, are the Igreja dos Clérigos, an 18th-century church and one of the city’s architectural symbols, and the Toree dos Clérigos, its bell tower. Intricately carved baroque shells and garlands on the church reflect Porto’s seaside location, and the bell tower offers panoramic views of the city.More
#4
Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)

Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)

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Watching over the city from its hilltop spot, the imposing fort-like Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)is a reminder of Porto’s diverse history. Featuring Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture, this is Porto’s oldest and largest church, a must-visit for architecture and history aficionados.More
#5
Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

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Designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel—the architect responsible for the Eiffel Tower—Ponte de Dom Luis I marked a significant step forward in Porto’s economic growth at the time of its construction; before it existed, the only passages across the river were boats lashed together. Today, visitors can admire the Douro River and the Ribeira District from the pedestrian walkway of Porto’s most symbolic sight.More
#6
Alfama

Alfama

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Sprawling down the southern slopes of Lisbon, Alfama is the capital’s oldest and most picturesque district with steep cobblestone lanes and a sea of terracotta roofs. Head there in the day to take in the sights, browse the flea market, and ride the historic tram, then come back after dark to soak up the atmosphere at the many fado bars.More
#7
Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio)

Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio)

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Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio) was home to Lisbon’s Royal Palace until a 1755 earthquake brought it to the ground. The palace now stands elsewhere, and the square has been restored with ornate arches, grandiose civic buildings, and an equestrian statue of King Jose I. Marble steps lead from Praça do Comércio down to the River Tagus.More
#8
Barreta Island (Ilha Deserta)

Barreta Island (Ilha Deserta)

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A sandy, uninhabited island off Portugal’s Algarve coast, Barreta Island (Ilha Deserta) is a popular beach destination and wildlife refuge inside Ria Formosa National Park. With freshwater lagoons, salt flats, sand dunes, and more, the park has a diverse range of habitats—each with its own resident population of birds and other species, including chameleons.More
#9
Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George's Castle)

Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George's Castle)

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Since the 11th century, St. George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge) has stood tall in the Lisbon skyline, viewable from almost every point in the city. The Moorish castle overlooks various districts and offers some of the best panoramas of the city. Even if you have only a few hours, the former fortress offers plenty for you to do.More
#10
Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos)

Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos)

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UNESCO World Heritage–listed Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) is one of Lisbon’s most elaborate buildings. Inspired by Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India, King Manuel I commissioned the edifice in the 1500s to thank the Virgin Mary for a successful journey. For 400 years, the monastery’s monks gave guidance and comfort to sailors.More
#11
Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca

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Cabo da Roca, just north of Lisbon, is known for its dramatic views and scenic cliff-top walking path. The westernmost point in continental Europe and once believed by Europeans to be the edge of the world, today it is home to a defensive lighthouse that was built in the 16th century and serves as a haven for local birdlife.More
#12
Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade)

Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade)

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Lying at the southern end of Porto’s majestic Avenida dos Aliados is Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade), which started its life in the late 18th century when the city began to expand beyond its medieval walls. If you stand in the centre of the square, you’ll get spectacular views of some of Porto’s architectural symbols, which include the Baroque City Hall (Câmara Municipal).More
#13
Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

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Erected in 1960, this giant white monument stands at the edge of the Tagus River, and depicts a caravel—a ship commonly used by Portugal’s 15th-century explorers—about to set sail. Aboard the ship is 32 sculptures of leading figures from Portugal’s seafaring heyday, including Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan.More
#14
Sé Cathedral of Funchal

Sé Cathedral of Funchal

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The Sé Cathedral of Funchal (Sé Catedral do Funchal, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, is Madeira’s key religious landmark. Built in the late 15th century, the cathedral is one of the island’s longest-standing buildings, and features classically Madeiran design elements, including volcanic rocks.More
#15
Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena)

Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena)

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The crown jewel of UNESCO-listed Sintra, Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena) never fails to inspire. The fanciful red and yellow palace is an exotic mix of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance elements, commissioned by King Ferdinand II and completed in 1854 on a hilltop high above Sintra.More

Trip ideas

Top Beaches on the Algarve

Top Beaches on the Algarve

Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon

Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon

Top Hiking Trails on Madeira

Top Hiking Trails on Madeira

Top activities in Portugal

Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
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Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
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Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
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Lisbon: Half Day Sightseeing Tour on a Private Electric Tuk Tuk
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Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
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Lisbon Traditional Boats - Sunset Cruise
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Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
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Dolphins and Benagil Caves from Albufeira - Allboat
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Complete Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Wine Tastings and River Cruise
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Albufeira Beach BBQ with Caves and Coastline Cruise
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Sunset Sailing Tour in Lisbon on a Luxury Sailing Yacht
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Recent reviews from experiences in Portugal

star-5
Great boat trip!
neilio321, Aug 2022
Dolphins and Benagil Caves from Albufeira - Allboat
Topped off by going way out to sea to see loads of dolphins!
star-5
It was a great trip,...
Lourdes_G, Jul 2022
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
It was a great trip, quick and long enough to see the high points of each stop.
star-5
Best day in Portugal
Johanna_N, Jul 2022
Lisbon - Private Wine Tasting Tour to the Setubal Wine Region
We had a great day and got to see beautiful places and drink amazing wine!
star-5
Awesome tour
Samuel_C, Jul 2022
Sintra and Cascais Private Tour with Pena Palace Ticket
Cascais is a must to visit and I loved having both cities in one tour.
star-5
Great day trip from Lisbon
Laura_K, Jul 2022
Sintra and Cascais Small Group Tour from Lisbon
It’s a great way to see some of the diverse landscape of Portugal so close to Lisbon.
star-5
Great Tour
Tammy_N, Jul 2022
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
Excellent way to see this part of Portugal.
star-5
Great trip to see Fatima, Nazare and Obidos! Highly recommended!
Emma_R, Jul 2022
Full-day Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Tour from Lisbon
The tour provided an opportunity to visit Fatima, Nazare and Obidos in one day in a comfortable van and knowledgeable guide.
star-4
Fun with friends
Lisa_M, Jul 2022
Sunset tour to Sagres
It was definitely worth the small amount to see the area.
star-5
A must do tour!
Anaud_S, Jul 2022
2 Hr City Tuk Tuk Tour of Lisbon
It is hands down the best way to visit the city and see all the spectacular attractions.
star-5
This is the best wine tasting EVER!
Carrie_W, Jul 2022
Lisbon - Private Wine Tasting Tour to the Setubal Wine Region
It was wonderful to see a bit of Portugal other than our apartment in Lisbon and the surrounding neighborhood.
star-4
Beautiful Portugal
manuel_n, Jul 2022
From Lisbon: Óbidos, Nazaré, Batalha & Fátima
Experience the attractions in Portugal as the locals do.
star-5
Awesome sailing with the Flying Dutchman
Joseph_B, Jul 2022
Dolphins and Benagil Caves from Albufeira - Allboat
This tour made it possible for us to see a part of Portugal that we could not have seen on foot.
star-5
Awesome way to see Sintra and Cascais
Troy_M, Jul 2022
Sintra Small-Group Tour from Lisbon with Cabo da Roca and Cascais
The pace of the tour was perfect, we got to see so much in 9 hours but we never felt rushed or that we were anywhere too long.
star-5
Sintra and Peña Oakace Day trip
Laura_W, Jul 2022
Small group tour to Sintra, Pena Palace, Regaleira, Cabo da Roca and Cascais
Great way to see some beautiful Portugal sights while staying in Lisbon.
star-5
A Must Do!
Susan_W, Jun 2022
Boat tour Benagil Caves
You will see the Argave River and fall in love!
star-5
Great experience!
Elisa_B, Jun 2022
Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
We learned a lot about the history of Portugal and were able to see & fully experience the places we visited that day.
star-5
Pedro was an outstanding...
Mark_G, Jun 2022
Fátima & Óbidos &Nazaré (+Underground Caves) & drinks! Private Tour from Lisbon
Got to see a lot of Portugal that I would not have seen if I had not take.
star-5
Great tour
Donna_S, Jun 2022
Private Half-Day Tour to Sintra from Lisbon
Great way to see a lot of the countryside.
star-5
Highly recommend!
Cheryl_C, Jun 2022
Porto Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Optional River Cruise and Wine Tasting
On and off buses are an excellent way to see a city.
star-5
Amazing Day
Jamie_P, Jun 2022
Albufeira Beach BBQ with Caves and Coastline Cruise
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to see more of Portugals hidden gems.
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All about Portugal

When to visit

Come summertime, temperatures soar in Portugal, making the Algarve a popular hub for sailing tours and sunbathing sessions. Given its vertiginous hills, the capital city of Lisbon is best saved for the cooler spring and summer months, when you’re less likely to break into a sweat. And in the winter, venture to northerly Porto for a warming glass of port—or two.

People Also Ask

What is Portugal is famous for?

Portugal is famous for its food and drink. During the Golden Age of Discovery, the Portuguese spread flavors and spices all over the world, lending influence to various cuisines. Port wine has also been a favorite drink among wine lovers for centuries and is from the Douro Valley.

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What should I not miss in Portugal?

The capital, Lisbon, is a must-visit for travelers to Portugal. The city has everything from water sports to cultural activities to some of the best food in Europe. You'll get a comprehensive overview of the country’s history and culture while touring Lisbon.

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How many days do you need in Portugal?

For an overview of Portugal, try to spend 10 to 14 days in the country. Plan for four to five days in Lisbon, three to four in Porto, and anywhere from three to five in the Algarve. Day trips to other areas can be done from any of those locations.

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What is the prettiest town in Portugal?

The enchanting mountain town of Sintra—30 minutes from Lisbon—is the prettiest in Portugal. Once used as the summer retreat for the royal family, Sintra is peppered with fantastical castles and regal homes. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for to its mix of natural and cultural attractions.

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Which part of Portugal is best for a holiday?

The Algarve is known in Europe as a top holiday destination thanks to its endless supply of beaches, rugged coastline, and temperate weather year-round. The area is also known for its calm seas and great seafood, making it a no-brainer for vacationers.

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Is Portugal expensive to visit?

No. In comparison with other European countries, Portugal is on the more affordable side. Meals range from a few euros at a local tavern to still affordable at international restaurants. Accommodations, especially outside of the major cities, won't break your wallet when compared to other Europe hot spots.

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