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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 10 attractions in Portugal

#1
University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

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Portugal’s oldest university, the University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra) was founded in 1290, and is located in the former capital city. Now a popular tourist destination, the university was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2013, and boasts notable architecture, a botanical garden, a science museum, and more.More
#2
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
#3
Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida)

Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida)

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With coves of golden sand and bright blue water hidden among pine-covered hills and vineyards, Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida) in Portugal is a hidden gem for nature lovers. The beaches are the main draw, but the park also attracts hikers and photographers, who come to explore the landscape and enjoy the panoramic views.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
Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga)

Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga)

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Located in city of Braga in northern Portugal, the Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga) is the oldest surviving church in Portugal and one of the most important monuments in the country. Built in a Burgundian Romanesque style between the 11th and 13th centuries, the cathedral provided architectural inspiration for many other churches and monasteries built in Portugal around the same time. Due to numerous modifications over the centuries, the cathedral today features a mix of styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Baroque.The cathedral consists of several chapels built at different times. The parents of the first Portuguese were buried in the Chapel of the Kings in 1374 and the Chapel of the Glory was built in the mid-14th century as the final resting place of Archbishop Goncalo Pereira. Looks for the tomb guarded by siz life size stone lions and the painted Moorish geometrical designs. Also of note for visitors is the choir with sculptured gilt wood stalls built in the late 1730s and two gilt wood organs carved around the same time.Don’t miss the Cathedral Museum, which includes elaborately carved 18th century choir stalls, the 10th century chalice of Saint Gerald, a 14th century statue of the Virgin Mary and an 11th century Arab ivory box.More
#6
Madeira Botanical Gardens

Madeira Botanical Gardens

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One of Madeira’s loveliest green spaces, the island’s Botanical Gardens (Jardins Botânicos da Madeira) debuted in 1960. Stretching across 20 acres (9 hectares) and home to more than 2,000 species of exotic plants, the oasis is best known for its colorful geometric flower beds and carefully groomed topiary gardens.More
#7
Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte)

Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte)

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Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte) is the most important pilgrimage site on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The original church was built in 1741 on top of the foundations of an old chapel that was said to be built by the son of the settler of the island, but it was soon destroyed by an earthquake. The church that stands today dates to 1818. The interior features elegant chandeliers, a statue of Our Lady of the Mountain and the tomb of Charles I of Habsburg, the last emperor of Austria who lived in exile on Madeira until his death in 1922. Also inside the church is a silver Pieta that was the only relic saved from the earthquake. Every year in mid-August the surrounding village of Monte is home to a large festival that includes a procession to the church in honor of Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of Monte).More
#8
Lagos Zoo (Parque Zoologico de Lagos)

Lagos Zoo (Parque Zoologico de Lagos)

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Home to more than 140 different species from across the world, Lagos Zoo offers a family-friendly alternative to the crowded Algarve coast. Opened in 2000, the zoo has become a world-class conservation facility, and its close proximity to central Lagos makes it a top choice for a day away from the city.More
#9
Sete Cidades

Sete Cidades

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Nature lovers will find plenty to marvel at in the Azores, but the otherworldly volcanic landscape of São Miguel Island’s Sete Cidades is one of the archipelago’s most magnificent natural wonders. The massive caldera has two lakes: one blue and one green.More
#10
Douro River (Rio Douro)

Douro River (Rio Douro)

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A major river on the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro River (Rio Douro) flows from Duruelo de la Sierra in northern Spain all the way to Porto in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. More than just the region’s lifeline, it’s also the centerpiece of the Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.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

Sunset Boat Tour in Lisbon

Sunset Boat Tour in Lisbon

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US$30.33
Sunset Sailing Tour in Lisbon on a Luxury Sailing Yacht

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Sunset Sailing Tour in Lisbon on a Luxury Sailing Yacht

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US$46.41
US$54.60  US$8.19 savings
Albufeira Dreamer Boat Trip

Albufeira Dreamer Boat Trip

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US$35.79
Oporto Six Bridges Cruise

Oporto Six Bridges Cruise

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US$18.20

Recent reviews from experiences in Portugal

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Learning Portuguese from a local.
Sarah, Nov 2020
Private Virtual Portuguese Language Class with a Local
This is a must for anyone about to visit Portugal!
star-5
Great tour
Polly_S, Sep 2020
Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
A good chance to see a lot of Portugal in a short amount of time.
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Great experience
Suresh_V, Aug 2020
Fatima, Batalha, Nazare and Obidos
The stories and history that he mentioned made us fall in LOVE with Portugal and it’s people.
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Portuguese Pronunciations
Heather_B, Jul 2020
Private Virtual Portuguese Language Class with a Local
I highly recommend this course for anyone getting ready to visit Portugal.
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A wonderful trip.
Eric_S, Jun 2020
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
Portugal always impresses with great places to visit.
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Fascinating Porto from different angles
Yuliya, Mar 2020
Porto City Tour Full Day with Lunch (optional) and Wine Tasting
Entire day tour makes you to see the city from different angles and view points.
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Wonderful time with Rodrigos
Lucille_P, Feb 2020
Lisbon to Porto with stop at Óbidos Nazaré Fátima Coimbra and Aveiro private
My husband and I would highly recommend taking this tour to visit Portugal.
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Best part of Porto visit
maghentrinker, Jan 2020
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, and Optional Lunch and Cruise
We normally do not want to join guided tours but to see the Douro Valley and visit the vineyards this was by far the best option.
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Value for money experience
freyazemek, Jan 2020
Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
A fantastic way to see the highlights of Sintra and Cascais in one day.
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Excellent tour
Michellelwinslow, Jan 2020
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
This was an excellent tour and way to see multiple cities in Portugal.
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Wonderful Day
libby k, Nov 2019
Arrabida and Sesimbra Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon with Wine Tasting
I thoroughly recommend this tour as a great way to see more of Portugal than just Lisbon.
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Highly recommended trip.!!!
mariaX4186SB, Nov 2019
Full-Day Small-Group Tour to Fátima and Óbidos and Nazaré
Very professional and knowledgable guide with perfect English and great insights about life in Portugal.
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Sinatra & Cascais Private Tour with Guide & Driver
Linda F, Oct 2019
Sintra and Cascais Private Tour
Sandra the guide spoke excellent English and was extremely knowledgeable about the culture and history of Sinatra, Pena Palace, Cascais and the Atlantic Coast area of Portugal.
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Relaxing trip
Dannilo V, Oct 2019
Porto: Santiago de Compostela and Valença do Minho Day Trip with Lunch
He was good in driving while narrating the history of Porto and the places we have to visit.
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Great!
GoPlaces65335580585, Oct 2019
Hiking and Swimming in Gerês National Park
Highly recommend this if you're looking for an adventurous day out of the city to see more of beautiful Portugal.
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Great Tour!
Loreta T, Oct 2019
Best of Lisbon Guided Walking Tour
The tour guide is very knowledgeable and speaks English fluently.
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Great way to spend a layover
Vincenzo C, Sep 2019
Lisbon Layover
Our tour guide met us precisely on time and immediately took us around to see the sights.
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Probably one of our favorite days in our trip!
391martha, Sep 2019
Premium Service-Douro Valley with Lunch,Boat and Tastings
His English was excellent and he was very knowledgable regarding Douro Valley.
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Excellent Small Group Tour
448bobc, Sep 2019
Premium Service-Douro Valley with Lunch,Boat and Tastings
This was English speaking and our guide had such a great personality.
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Wonderful Experience
Michael P, Aug 2019
Lisbon Hills Electric Bike Guided Tour
I strongly recommend this tour, it was a great way to see Lisbon and learn about the history of Portugal.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions