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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


University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

Portugal’s most famous and prestigious university, the University of Coimbra is one of Europe’s oldest colleges and has become a popular tourist attraction in its own right. First established in Lisbon in 1290, the university moved to its current location in 1537 and today stands proudly at the highest point of the town. Touring the vast hilltop campus unveils an array of historic architecture, most notably the imposing 18th-century University Tower, an important landmark of the Old Town, and the renowned 18th-century Biblioteca Joanina (João V Library), an elaborately decorated National Monument. Around 300,000 ancient books grace the shelves of the famed library and the richly decorated interiors are a show-stopping display of Portuguese art and architectural design, featuring two-tiers of exotic wood shelves, gilded pillars and intricate ceiling paintings by Lisbon artists Simões Ribeiro and Vicente Nunes.More

Barreta Island (Ilha Deserta)

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

Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida)

Golden beaches, steep cliff sides, tall pine trees, and hillsides of Mediterranean greenery characterize Arrabida National Park, a stretch of land along the Portuguese coast between the seaside towns of Setúmbal and Sesimbra. From the summit of Serra da Arrabida, the highest point of the park, to the beaches of Portinho da Arrábida, this area is full of natural beauty. Praia do Figueirinha and the Praia do Creiro are two notable beaches. Small coastal villages with centuries old monasteries and stone forts are present throughout. Hiking trails are a great way to explore the park; many have sweeping views of the sea and are surrounded by the area’s indigenous plants and animals. The Rota Moinho (Windmills Track) has several traditional windmills to see en route. The town of Pamela is a great place to begin many of the available hikes. On a clear day, it is possible to see all the way to Lisbon.More

Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)

Originally a Romanesque church from the 12th century, the Porto Se Cathedral was rebuilt with a Gothic style about 600 years later. Like other major churches in northern Portugal, this twin-towered cathedral boasts remodeling design by the famed Italian architect and painter Nicolau Nasoni. Perhaps this is why the western façade and interior are undeniably Romanesque. Visitors should take note of its gilded main altar and its silver Altar of the Sacrament. On the left hand aisle is the statue of Oporto’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora de Vendoma. The interior is decorated by azulejos (blue ceramic tiles), installed in the 18th century. Apart from the church’s architectural treasures, it is also famed for its view – the terraces on the north and the west sides of the church provide stunning photo opportunities for capturing Oporto’s labyrinthine streets and dwellings.More

Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga)

Located in city of Braga in northern Portugal, the Braga Cathedral 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.More

Sé Cathedral of Funchal

One of only a handful of late fifteenth century structures to survive the test of time, this Gothic-style cathedral is evidence of an impressive history and rich architectural past. Its impressive exterior gives way to an understated, spiritual gathering space and altar that make Sé Cathedral Funchal a perfect spot for quiet reflection or contemplative prayer. Visitors can marvel at the detailed ceiling and beautiful side altars while attending morning mass at 8 a.m. The church’s unique bell can be heard throughout the town just before services start.More

Lagos Zoo (Parque Zoologico de Lagos)

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

Sete Cidades


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

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Portugal's caravels sailed off to conquer the great unknown from Belém, and today this leafy riverside precinct is a giant monument to the nation's Age of Discoveries. Belém Tower, or Torre de Belém, the much-photographed symbol of Portugal's maritime glory, is a stone fortress on the bank of the river Tagus dating from 1514 - 19. You can climb the tower, and look into the dungeons from when it was a military prison. UNESCO have listed it as a World Heritage Site.The imposing limestone Monument to the Discoveries, also facing the river nearby, is shaped like a caravel and features key players from the era. If you have time, look around the Centro Cultural de Belém, one of Lisbon's main cultural venues, which houses the Museu do Design, a collection of 20th century mind-bogglers.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 Wine Tour: Visit to Three Vineyards with Wine Tastings and Lunch

Special Offer

Best of Lisbon Guided Walking Tour

Best of Lisbon Guided Walking Tour

Lisbon Half Day Private Tour

Lisbon Half Day Private Tour

Lisbon and Sintra Private Tour

Lisbon and Sintra Private Tour

Douro Valley Tour with Visit to two Vineyards, River Cruise and Lunch at Winery

Special Offer

Treasures of Lisboa Food Tours

Treasures of Lisboa Food Tours


Recent reviews from experiences in Portugal

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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Great Tour!
Loreta T, Oct 2019
Best of Lisbon Guided Walking Tour
The tour guide is very knowledgeable and speaks English fluently.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Frequently Asked Questions