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What Are the Best Places to Visit in Portugal?

February 4, 2023

A rich patchwork of buzzing cities, romantic towns, sun-soaked beaches, and lush mountains - Portugal has no shortage of places to satisfy your wanderlust. From north to south experience the ornate architecture, unique artistry, savory cuisine, and rich cultural traditions this country has to offer, set against the backdrop of breathtaking scenery. With so much to see, our local experts have assembled a list of the best places to visit in Portugal to help you create the perfect itinerary

Enjoy our round-up of the most beloved Portuguese cities that should be on every traveler's bucket list. For more individualized recommendations connect with one of our local Heroes

Table of Contents: Best Places to Visit in Portugal

Porto: A City of Old World Charm 

The authentic charm of Porto is intoxicating. Ranked as one of the best cities in Europe by travel magazines, it is renowned for its UNESCO Heritage-listed old town, ornate architecture, and accessible beaches. The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto is Lisbon's more traditional sibling and offers old-world charm and traditions. Locals note that the best way to explore this historic city is by foot. Visit the historic Ribeira quarter and trendy Cedofeita district, some of the best places to visit in Porto for famous attractions. In addition to sightseeing, visitors can expect to enjoy high-quality artisanal crafts, savory cuisine, and of course, regional Port wine. It's no wonder why this beautiful metropolis makes our list of the best places to visit in Portugal. 

Lisbon: Portugal’s Artsy and Historic Capital 

The bustling capital of Lisbon is a mecca for art, history, and culture. A true pedestrian playground, connect with a local Hero for recommendations on the best places to visit in Lisbon. Hit the cobblestone streets of the historic Alfama neighborhood, the oldest district in town, and home to the area's most renowned monuments and museums. Lisbon seamlessly blends the past and the present through its creative scene. Over the years it has exploded in the art world, most notably with its street art. Hit the Bairro Alto district to admire the eye-catching work of local artists. 

Sightseeing Tip: For the best views of Bairro Alto head to Elevador da Bica, considered one of the world's most beautiful streets.

Óbidos: A Fairytale Medieval Town

A town fit for a postcard, the whimsical hamlet of Óbidos transports its visitors back in time. Strict building regulations have protected the historic integrity of the settlement. And inhabitants reside in traditional houses painted in hues of white, blue, and yellow. The medieval village is most known for its impressive Moorish castle, where you can catch dreamy aerial views. Depending on the time of the year, Óbidos attracts visitors for its popular cultural festivals - the most notable being the International Chocolate Festival, the Opera Festival, and their Mediaeval Christmas Market. 

Braga: An Architectural Haven 

There is an endless array of magnificent architecture in Portugal, but when it comes to modern design Braga takes the crown. Interspersed among Baroque palaces, antique cathedrals, and archeological museums, the city boasts several iconic contemporary monuments. One example is the iconic Braga Municipal Stadium, designed by renowned Portuguese architect, Souto Moura, winner of the illustrious Pritzker Architecture Prize. History buffs will still be satisfied by the sights of this metropolis. And can visit famous landmarks such as the Braga Cathedral, the oldest in the country, and the Archaeological Museum, which surrounds ancient Roman ruins. For travelers who have 10 days in Portugal or more, our locals recommend Braga as a great day trip from Porto. 

Sintra: An Oasis of Castles 

Aerial shot of the magnificent Pena Palace of Sintra. Credit: Oleg Shakurov (essuera) via Pixabay

Get away from the hubbub of the capital with a visit to the serene countryside of Sintra. A day trip away from Lisbon, the royals of Portugal would frequent this idyllic town during the summer months. The region is spoiled for beauty, boasting romantic castles, lush valleys, and surrounded by magnificent pine forests. Once a seasonal destination for Portuguese aristocracy, the city is home to some of the country's most eye-catching castles from different eras. An excursion to marvel at the palaces of Sintra makes our list of things to do in Portugal that locals recommend.

Aveiro: The Venice of Portugal

Characterized by canal passageways, brightly painted boats, and ornate buildings, the coastal town of Aveiro is commonly referred to as the "Venice of Portugal." The kaleidoscope-colored city sits along the Ria de Aveiro lagoon, accessible by barcos moliceiros (colorful boats). The barcos were once used to harvest seaweed but now serve to navigate the water labyrinth of the city. Aveiro is a feast for the eyes and features many Art Nouveau-style buildings along the channel. For adventurers interested in a more inside look at this architectural landscape ask our Heroes for off-the-beaten-path suggestions. 

Funchal: The Garden By the Sea 

Stunning wide shot of Madeira port. Credit: christinak93 via Pixabay

For thrill-seekers who want to explore beyond the mainland, a trip to the island paradise of Madeira is one of the things that locals recommend. Born from a volcanic explosion, this Atlantic archipelago is a veritable Eden of lush mountains, towering palm trees, vivid botanical gardens, and black-sand beaches. Fly into the capital city of Funchal where most of the island’s residents live. Day and night you can find people gathering at the Avenida do Mar, a Main Street flanked by stores, cafes, restaurants, and fountains. Funchal is also one of the best places to visit in Portugal for scuba diving, and divers can find a diverse collection of ocean life. 

Guimaraes: The Birthplace of Portugal

Of the country’s many idyllic small towns, Guimarães is one of the places in Portugal most recommended by our locals. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is referred to as the "birthplace of Portugal” due to the historic lore that has surrounded it. Many believe that it was the birthplace of Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, and is therefore a significant site. The has preserved its medieval architecture and visitors enjoy the old-world atmosphere of the settlement. While Guimarães is a small town they still boast a thriving cultural scene and earned the 2012 European Capital of Culture title.

The Best Places to Visit in Portugal 

So you've read about our favorite destinations in Portugal. Now what? That is where our Heroes come in. Connect with a local to help you create your own itinerary based on your interests and the length of your stay. Whether you have 10 days in Portugal or a long weekend our experts are here to create a trip unique to you. We look forward to finding out what your favorite places will be! 

As you begin your travel planning process check out some of our other Portugal blog pages: 


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