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Top 8 Things to Do in Portugal

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Sailing the beautiful blue bay near Lagos, in the Algarve region in Portugal

Sailing the beautiful blue bay near Lagos, in the Algarve region in Portugal

With so many spectacular highlights, Portugal is often so much more than most travelers expect with so much to see and do.

The diverse landscape stretches from the Atlantic coast to rocky mountain ranges, rolling plains, and sunbaked valleys, each region stamped with historic palaces and stunning highlights.

Cinematic beauty, seductive rhythms, and ghosts of past nations dating back to ancient Celts reveal only the tip of Portugal’s deep roots.

1. Discover the Diverse Cultural and Geographical History

Moorish castle with view to Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Moorish castle with view to Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Beauty meets history as Portugal is one of Europe’s oldest countries. The deep heritage is rooted in historical towns and ancient ruins from Celts to Romans, Visigoths to Moors. Whether following the trail of the Knights Templar or stepping through the corridors of a lost culture, Portugal surprises many visitors with the depth of culture spread. Across the enchanting settings of palaces and misty woodlands, seaside castles, and preserved labyrinths of medieval town centers, there is something to discover around every corner.

Best Places to Visit for Cultural History: Lisbon | Porto | Tomar | Coimbra | Angra do Heroísmo | Évora

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

2. Indulge in Surprising and Unique Flavors

Bacalhau à Brás, a traditional Portuguese dish

Bacalhau à Brás, a traditional Portuguese dish

Portugal’s cuisine has the unique advantage of rising from the rugged mountains, lush valleys, and the Mediterranean Sea. With a stunning array of multicultural influences, Portuguese food will immerse you in the flavors of the past with a celebration of contemporary gastronomic aesthetics. With both the effects of past colonialism and modern globalization, you will find fresh seafood, delicious wines, and seasonal produce steeped in the flavors of local nutrients that blend at least 800 years of tradition.

Best Places to Visit for Food: Lisbon | Douro Valley | Porto | Évora | Algarve Region | Beira Region

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

3. Sample the Diversity of Historic Vines

Vineyards along the river in Portugal's Douro Valley

Vineyards along the river in Portugal's Douro Valley

The wine tradition is strong and thriving in Portugal. With numerous awards, abundant international recognition, and exclusive cultural experiences, Portugal plunges you into the landscape and culture of the wine that reveals the distinctive personalities of the local soils and the different winemaking regions.

Best Wine Regions to Visit: Douro Valley | Viseu | Aveiro | Madeira | Évora | Reguengos de Monsaraz

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

4. Wander Winding Trails

Cycling tour in the Alentejo region of Portugal

Cycling tour in the Alentejo region of Portugal

Many are surprised to learn that Portugal is a haven for cycling excursions. From the eastern frontier to Moorish villages scattered throughout the Guadiana Valley, explore the dramatic coastal cliffs, historic city walls, and epic ancient ruins that bring to life the history and wonder of Portugal’s tangible charms. Whether exploring the unknown north or winding around the vineyards of the Douro Valley, Portugal offers fantastic freedom around to explore the diverse scenery.

Best Places to Visit for Cycling: Alentejo Region |  Ecovia do Litoral | Guadiana Valley Natural Park | Ria Formosa Natural Park | Peneda Geres National Park

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

5. Discover Cultural Artifacts

Ancient Roman temple and Cathedral tower in Evora, Portugal

Ancient Roman temple and Cathedral tower in Evora, Portugal

Museums in Portugal immerse you in the heritage of the country. Exhibitions and galleries range from artistic platforms that showcase the exploration of the Western World to the rich blend of significant cultural artifacts brought from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. With exquisite architecture, magnificent monuments, and exceptional artifacts, Portugal’s museums give you elaborate displays of priceless treasures.

Best Places to Visit for Museums: Lisbon | Porto | Monsaraz | Évora | Funchal

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

6. Embrace the Uniqueness of Urban Scenery

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

As one of the oldest countries in Europe, Portugal’s cities embrace their past but move with a contemporary rhythm. Portugal is small but mighty, with a range of diversity within its borders that reveal extraordinary layers of cultural heritage and history. Whether in cities edging the wine country, cobblestone medieval centers, or ancient ruins hiding in plain sight, Portugal’s urban landscapes will give you a completely different perspective of the country’s beauty and charm.

Best Cities to Visit: Lisbon | Porto | Coimbra | Sintra | Obidos | Faro | Braga

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

7. Uncover the Authentic Portuguese Culinary Spirit

Cooking barbecued mackerels in Portugal

Cooking barbecued mackerels in Portugal

Portuguese cooking is not just the flavor of the food but also the spirit of the food. Any cooking class in Portugal celebrates the entire process of a meal. From the ingredients of the recipes to the surroundings of the dining room, the ambiance stems from the friendly people as much as from the beautiful scenery. With stunning wines, diverse landscapes, and seasonal ingredients, a cooking class in Portugal will show you the culture's essential flavors.

Best Places to Visit for a Cooking Class: Lisbon | Algarve Region | Porto | Albufeira | Évora

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

8. Enjoy the Diverse and Sun-Soaked Coastline

Walkway to Praia do Bordeira beach and beautiful blue sea view, Algarve region, Portugal

Walkway to Praia do Bordeira beach and beautiful blue sea view, Algarve region, Portugal

Portugal shines with the golden sands that span much of the nation’s more than 1,056 miles of coastline. You can enjoy the diverse scenery at a relaxed pace when sitting on unique red cliffs or visiting a remote fishing village worthy of a postcard. With lavish resorts, fantastic waves, and waters ranging from turquoise to azure, cobalt to crystal, Portugal is an idyllic destination for any beach getaway.

Best Places to Visit for Beaches: Praia de Marinha | Praia da Arrifana | Moledo | Aveiro | Setubal | Brejao | Sintra

Best Time to Visit: July | August | September

More Travel Information & Tips

Medieval Castle of Marvão in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Marvão, Portugal

Medieval Castle of Marvão in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Marvão, Portugal

Portugal is an immersion into the Iberian Peninsula, a true escape for travelers eager to find distinctive wines or experience a family-friendly tour of a historic fortress. With welcoming beaches and storybook castles, Portugal offers you a timeless sense of history and culture easily explored through a variety of transportation options. You can find helpful tips, historical insights, and possible future adventures with Zicasso’s Portugal Travel Guide. If you want to plan a trip, you can speak to a Portugal travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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