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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 attractions in Portugal

Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)

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


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

Clérigos Church and Tower (Torre & Igreja dos Clérigos)

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

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

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


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

Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

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

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

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

Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio)

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

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

Dating back to 1741, the Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte is the most important pilgrimage site on the island of Madeira. Notable relics inside the church include the tomb of Charles I of Hapsburg, an Austrian emperor exiled to Madeira, and a silver sculpture of the Virgin Mary.More

Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos)

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

Madeira Botanical Gardens

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

Cabo da Roca

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

Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena)

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

Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

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

Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa)

Forming an integral part of Porto’s historic center, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa is a marvel of neoclassical architecture. The 19th-century palace has played host to royals such as Her Majesty the Queen, and today can be explored only as part of a guided tour.More

Trip ideas

Riding the Lisbon Tramway

Riding the Lisbon Tramway

Top 5 Beaches on the Algarve

Top 5 Beaches on the Algarve

How to Spend 3 Days in Porto

How to Spend 3 Days in Porto

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Lisbon

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Lisbon

How to Spend 2 Days in Porto

How to Spend 2 Days in Porto

Top activities in Portugal

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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Complete Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Wine Tastings and River Cruise
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Douro Valley Wine Tour: Visit to Three Vineyards with Wine Tastings and Lunch
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Sintra and Cascais Small Group Tour from Lisbon
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Sintra or Sintra - Cascais Private Tour (from Lisbon)
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Recent reviews from experiences in Portugal

Amazing day trip
Emerald_A, Jan 2023
Small group tour to Sintra, Pena Palace, pass by Regaleira, Cabo Roca, Cascais
Amazing tour we were able to see so much of Portugal other than Lisbon in just a day!
Fabulous and informative tour!
Laura_S, Jan 2023
Sintra Full Day Small-Group Tour: Let the Fairy Tale Begin
He provided a rich and detailed narrative of Sintra in both English and Italian, as we were a multilingual group.
Rainy Day in Porto, Still Well Worth the Trip
David_M, Jan 2023
From Lisbon: Day-Trip to Porto, Nazaré & Óbidos
Flavio was fun, flexible, and engaging in Spanish and English.
Well worth it to see beautiful Portugal!
kdf19, Jan 2023
Private Driver around Lisbon - Customizable Tour
We had a very long layover in Lisbon and we were so lucky to be able to book a private driver to see parts of beautiful Portugal!
An amazing but all too short trip
Laura_G, Jan 2023
Douro Valley Tour Including 3 Wineries to Small Groups
Her English and French equally explanations were through and she made everyone in our group feel welcome.
Entertaining and enlightening transfer
Etosha_T, Jan 2023
Private transfer from Lisbon to Porto.
It’s a great way to see more of the lovely country of Portugal.
The best of Lisbon in one day
Mireia_S, Dec 2022
From Lisbon: Day-Trip to Porto, Nazaré & Óbidos
I recommend it to everyone who wants to visit Lisbon and don’t know what is the most important places to visit.
This was our second visit...
Peteris_S, Dec 2022
Full Day Outdoor Nordeste & waterfall Tour with Lunch
Both times, Green Vision organized one of the our activities.
Castle & Views
Kathleen_P, Dec 2022
Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
Great way to see different areas of Portugal in a day.
Excellent tour, and excellent guide (João)
Gabriel_C, Dec 2022
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
You get to see a lot of places during this tour.
Excellent tour of lisbon
Khelan_P, Nov 2022
Lisbon: Half Day Sightseeing Tour on a Private Electric Tuk Tuk
We got to see the city and understand the layout very well!
This tour is a must!
Damon_T, Nov 2022
Albufeira Dreamer Boat Trip
Stunning views, beautiful weather, and we even got to see a School of Dolphins playing.
Great way to see the...
Sonia_L, Nov 2022
Porto Downtown and Sightseeing Bike Tour
Great way to see the city.
Tour was worth the money!
Maria_M, Nov 2022
Sintra Half-Day Private Tour - A Journey through Wonderland
I have few days to visit Portugal, and I took this tour to save time and enjoy the best spots of Portugal.
Wonderful cultural and historical experience with amazing food!
Melissa_A, Nov 2022
Portuguese Cuisine: 17 Tastings Lisbon Food Tour
I would recommend this tour to any of my friends coming to visit Lisbon!
getting to see the...
Barry_S, Nov 2022
Transfer Porto | Lisbon With Sightseeing
getting to see the seaside for the first time in Portugal.
Anna was fabulous!
Ellen_B, Nov 2022
Fatima, Obidos & Nazare, a dreamlike experience!
Her English was excellent, her knowledge of her beloved Portugal amazing, and her kindness truly genuine.
Great day trip!
mdecker, Nov 2022
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
You get to see 4 towns on this all day tour.
Better than taking the train
Clifford_S, Nov 2022
Porto-Lisbon transfer with visits on the way
Much better if you want to see more of Portugal while you travel from Porto to Lisbon.
Great walking tour.
Mary_C, Oct 2022
Best of Lisbon Guided Walking Tour
This was a great walking tour of all the main attractions.
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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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