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Top 8 Must-See Places in Portugal

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Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

The following information highlights the eight must-see places in Portugal where you can savor energetic contemporary life steeped in the spirit of old-world heritage.

Most visitors to Portugal are delighted to find that this essential European destination holds many surprises. With foundations in the ancient world and lively modern culture, the cinematic landscapes, enchanting villages, stunning art museums, and storybook castles exceed expectations.

From the colorful homes that hug the hillsides surrounding Lisbon to the rocky cliffs that hang over the shimmering waters of the Algarve, you will find plenty to see and do at these iconic destinations.

1. Lisbon

Saint Jorge's Castle in Lisbon, Portugal

Saint Jorge's Castle in Lisbon, Portugal

Colorful, vibrant, and full of cultural warmth, Lisbon is dense with historic monuments and famous museums, narrow old quarters, and a gorgeous riverbank promenade. Portugal’s capital city feels unhurried, which only adds to its beguiling allure stretching across the seven enigmatic hills. With breathtaking views, exceptional cuisine, and shimmering white-domed cathedrals, it is practically impossible for you not to embrace Lisbon’s timeless and yet timely charms.

Highlights: Belem | Alfama | Jeronimos Monastery | Saint George’s Castle | Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit: March | April | May | September | October

2. Porto

Colorful rows of old historical houses in Porto, Portugal

Colorful rows of old historical houses in Porto, Portugal

With culture, history, and waterfront elegance, Porto looks as though it was carved out of the surrounding granite hills shaped by the River Douro. Narrow streets wind between architectural grandeur with extravagant Baroque or stately Neoclassical touches. Modern art captures traces of past masterpieces while the waterway offers an unforgettable panorama of the city. Porto is a city easy to love for its hints of edginess and enduring luxury, whether in the food, local culture, or tasty wine.

Highlights: Clerigos Tower | Bolsa Palace | San Francisco Church | Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art | Vila Nova de Gaia

Recommended Length of Stay: 3-4 days

Best Time to Visit: April | May | June | September | October

3. Algarve

Boats in the turquoise water at Ponta da Piedade in the Algarve region of Portugal

Boats in the turquoise water at Ponta da Piedade in the Algarve region of Portugal

The Algarve region is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. With a sensational coastline with pristine beaches, the Algarve feels wild and remote, lavish yet rugged. You can perch on top of towering coastal cliffs or find sea caves, find a surfer’s paradise or enjoy serene views of a bird-filled lagoon. Historic castles and whitewashed villages only add to the already remarkable beauty of the region.

Highlights: Ponta da Piedade | Faro | Vila Real de Santo António | Tres Irmaos Beach | Alcoutim | Tavira

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit: April | May | June | September | October

4. Alentejo

Medieval village of Monsaraz in the Alentejo region of Portuggal

Medieval village of Monsaraz in the Alentejo region of Portuggal

Visitors are drawn to the Alentejo for its calm, where you can enjoy miles of white-sand beaches, walled hilltop towns, Roman ruins, and landscape draped in olive trees or vineyards. You can embrace the slower pace of life around the golden wheatfields or explore the whitewashed villages with gorgeous Moorish influences. The Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region and captures the captivating spirit.

Highlights: Évora | Vila Nova de Milfontes | Monsaraz | Elvas | Troia Peninsula

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit: April | May | September | October

5. Vinho Verde

Vineyards in the Vinho Verde DOC, subregion of Minho, Portuga

Vineyards in the Vinho Verde DOC, subregion of Minho, Portuga

To find your way into the Vinho Verde, you can follow the vineyards that blanket the countryside as medieval architecture rises out of the hills. Rugged mountains, winding rivers, cascading waterfalls, and some of the nation’s most refreshing wines are yours to enjoy. The topography, the weather, and the wine truly make for one of the most unique and delightful experiences in Portugal.

Highlights: Valença do Minho | Viana do Castelo | Vieira do Minho | Caminha | Ponte de Lima

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit: May | June | July | September

6. Peneda-Geres National Park

Aerial view of the historic village of Lindoso and the Peneda Geres National Park in Portugal

Aerial view of the historic village of Lindoso and the Peneda Geres National Park in Portugal

Peneda-Geres National Park is a natural amphitheater shaped by winds, water, and time revealing the grandeur of Portugal's only national park. To say that the natural beauty of the park is impressive barely scratches the surface. With oak forest and more than 100 granite villages preserved in elegant history, the delicate ecosystems protect an endangered way of life for the community and the region's wildlife. From hiking the wilderness to enjoying local food, both the natural and the historical heritage of the area is on beautiful display.

Highlights:  Vila do Gerês | Cascata do Arado | Geira | Castro Laboreiro village | Mradouro da Pedra Bela

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit:  April | May | June | August

7. Óbidos

Typical cobblestone streets with flowers  in Óbidos, Portugal

Typical cobblestone streets with flowers in Óbidos, Portugal

Obidos is a labyrinth of beauty and intrigue with cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses draped in flowers and splashes of colorful paint. The city reflects one of the many places in Portugal lost in time and defined by luxury, with a historic main gate and shops dressed in chocolate and sour cherry liqueur. The nooks and crannies give you plenty to discover with medieval walls, whitewashed cottages, cafes, and handicraft stores.

Highlights: Óbidos Castle | Santa Maria Church | Porta da Vila | Senhor da Pedra Sanctuary | Óbidos Aqueduct

Recommended Length of Stay: 1-2 days

Best Time to Visit: May | June | September | October

8. Aveiro

Traditional boats in the canal, Aviero, Portugal

Traditional boats in the canal, Aviero, Portugal

With the charming canals and painted boats, pastel colors shading the Art Nouveau houses, it is too easy to compare Aveiro to Venice. But Aveiro takes you much further culturally and authentically than Venice ever could. Aveiro is glamour and romance with a timeless regal ambiance and striking features. Waterside shops and restaurants match the atmosphere of the museums and the sophistication of the artisan craftsmanship all around.

Highlights: Sao Jacinto Beach | Dunas da Sao Jacinto Nature Reserve | Aveiro Museum | Sé Cathedral |  Aveiro Canals

Recommended Length of Stay: 1-2 days

Best Time to Visit: May | June | September | October

How many days is enough to see Portugal?

Lagoon and waterfall at Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro on Flores island in the Azores,Portugal

Lagoon and waterfall at Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro on Flores island in the Azores,Portugal

Roughly two weeks is the best amount of time for you to have the ideal experience in Portugal. Traveling for approximately two weeks will give you plenty of opportunity to blend larger cities like Lisbon and Porto with smaller towns, villages, and regions like Aveiro, Obidos, or Alentejo. More time in Portugal opens up the countryside and cities for a more rounded experience with the chance to hike the hinterlands and sample historic wineries, indulge in the cuisine or bask on the beaches, in addition to discovering medieval and ancient towns.

More Travel Information & Tips

Azulejos tiles in the church of Misericordia in Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Azulejos tiles in the church of Misericordia in Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Too often, Portugal hides in the shadows of other European destinations but deserves equal fame with just as many must-see destinations. Every region offers enticing and unique things to do, like sipping port overlooking an antique vineyard or visiting storybook castles, finding a pristine beach, or witnessing history in handmade tiles. You can find more helpful information on the experiences you crave with our Portugal Travel Guide. If you would like to plan a trip, you can speak with a Portugal travel expert for free by filling out a Trip Request Form or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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