Incredible Wonders of Portugal

29.08.2019
Best Places to Visit in Portugal
 

In spite of the country's rather small size, the fabulous historically-rich Portuguese cities are winning over the hearts of more and more travelers from all around the globe. Don't be mistaken thinking that there isn't much to do in this European destination, as Portugal has plenty of locations to surprise you with! In this article, we have put together recommendations on the top Portugal places to spice up your itinerary.

 

Best Places to Visit in Portugal from North to South

Geographically Portugal is divided into 8 regions, stretching along the westernmost part of the European continent and extending on over a dozen islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Below you can familiarize yourself with the towns, arranged from north to south, to consider adding to your Portugal travel itinerary.

 

Northern Portugal Highlights

Braga, Portugal

Our journey through the marvelous Portuguese destinations begins with the historical city of Braga. Often listed among the best cities to visit in Portugal, it is known for its medieval architecture (such as the Braga Cathedral) and for being the country's major religious hub. The key pilgrimage site is the Bom Jesus do Monte Monastery, dating back to the late 1700s, which is easily recognized by its elegant exteriors.

A visit to Braga is often combined with time spent in the neighboring town called Guimaraes. This city houses the mighty Guimaraes Castle which has withstood time since the 11th century and offers to see its unusual Largo da Oliveira Square with the Gothic shrine.

Finalizing the trio is lovely Amarante. This petite town inspires with its architecture and an unparalleled artistic vibe. The major attraction here is the Sao Goncalo Bridge, offering outstanding photo opportunities.

 

Delightful Porto & the Douro Valley

Speaking of towns in Europe you definitely don't want to miss, alluring Porto should surely make the cut. Undoubtedly, Porto is one of the most incredible cities to visit in Portugal.

This trendy northern gem invites travelers to explore its signature attractions like the Dom Luis Bridge (built by the renowned architect of the Eiffel Tower).

The historic Sao Bento Train Station with impressive interiors with blue Portuguese azulejo tiles is one more stop not to miss while touring Porto, as well as the charming Lello Bookshop which became popular after it has inspired J. K. Rowling with its library stairs.

The colorful old town and traditional fishing boats (called "rabelo"), swaying along the river that divides the city in half, can steal your heart!

Porto, Portugal
 
Douro Valley, Portugal

Quick question: what is Portugal famous for? The answer better be port wine! And trust us, there's no better place to immerse in the centuries-old traditions of making this traditional beverage than the Douro Valley.

The hilly slopes by the River Douro have been long used for vineyards, and the views are simply outstanding from mid-spring to fall. Therefore, we suggest treating yourself to a boat ride to see it all from the side of the water.

What's for memorable stops in the Douro region which stretches in north-central Portugal, the Pinhao Village is a good choice for going port wine tasting, visiting historic wine cellars, and getting acquainted with the casual Portuguese rural life. Time provided, save at least one full day for this remarkable region or, even better, stay there for several days.

 

Off-the-beaten-path Cities in Portugal

Moving southward, consider saving some time for Aveiro as the burst of colors and positive emotions is surely worth it! Often referred to as "Portuguese Venice", the town is lined with colorful Art Nouveau buildings and narrow canals on which you can see dozens of multicolored wooden boats. It's also a noted beach destination as well.

Once holding the title of the capital, Coimbra is for sure one of the best cities in Portugal for viewing medieval buildings. The university town has many places to check out, such as the Santa Cruz Church and the Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery. For great pictures of Coimbra, stop by the viewpoints on the Santa Clara or Pedro e Ines bridges.

A detour southeast can take you to Evora which has existed since pre-Roman times. This city represents layers of its history from neolithic times to its present-day ambiance, making it an engaging town to visit. The top landmarks include the remnants of the Roman Temple of Evora and the Gothic 12th-century cathedral.

Aveiro, Portugal
 

Lisbon's Multisided Districts

Lisbon, Portugal

Being one of the biggest cities in Portugal and its glorious capital, Lisbon has a lot in stock for travelers.

The image of orange rooftops and yellow trams swaying along the steep hills of the town all against the deep blues of the Atlantic Ocean alone explain the popularity of the destination, yet what is there in Lisbon that you shouldn't miss?

For starters, Portugal is the proud motherland of such legendary explorers as Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan, thus, a visit to Lisbon's Belem District is a certain "must".

Here you can find the Monument to the Discoveries as well as take a walk on the adjacent Compass Square with adorned tilework in the theme of the age of explorers.

 

Of course, the historical Tower of Belem (often regarded as the symbol of Lisbon dating back to the early 1500s) is an attraction to check out. Initially built for defensive purposes, the white tower actually also served as the point of departure for many voyages of the explorers. Thus, this outstanding landmark is well-worth stopping by and adding to any Lisbon itinerary.

Another highlight in the area is the centuries-old Jeronimos Monastery. Located within reach, this UNESCO-listed Gothic site is one of the most often visited monasteries in Portugal, attracting with its ornate exteriors, extensive history, and unique architecture.

What is more, a 15-minute stroll from the monuments will take you to a popular photo stop in Lisbon, the red San Francisco-style Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge which spans across Tagus River for 2278 meters (7474 feet).

Lisbon, Portugal
 

Splendid Sintra Castles & Cascais

Sintra, Portugal

Without a doubt, the #1 day trip option from Lisbon is the marvelous town of Sintra.

Situated as little as half an hour away from the sunny capital, the area has long been favored by European nobility and aristocracy as here, right by the territory of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park Reserve, they've built their castles, palaces, and unique mansions up on the Serra de Sintra hills.

The utmost attention-grabber of the resort town is the famed Pena Palace which is an outstanding example of the European Romanticism architectural style mixed with a fairy-tale-like ambiance. The colorful exteriors and elaborate towers of the Pena have become among the best-recognized symbols of the country, thus, it's more than fair to say that it is for sure among the top must-see places in Portugal.

 

One more hotspot in Sintra worth checking out is the ornate Quinta da Regaleira. This outstanding residence is best known for its staircase built inside a well which swirls its way down underground for over 27 m (89 ft). The stairs are set in the adjacent gardens and serve as an entry pathway to a secret tunnel leading through a waterfall to the castle.

The third estate to place on your Sintra agenda is the National Palace. Dating back to the 15th century, it once served as a summer getaway for the Portuguese kings. Those interested in history should also check out the 10th-century Moorish Castle which is an interesting landmark.

Finally, a perfect way to brighten up your time in Sintra is going to the nearby coastal destination, Cascais, home to the iconic "Edge of the World" called Cabo da Roca. The cape marks the westernmost point of the European continent and opens glorious views of the Atlantic Ocean from the cliffs.

Cascais, Portugal
 

The Alluring Algarve Region

Algarve Region, Portugal

Those wishing to catch some Portuguese sun can't miss out on the southern Algarve region. As such, Vilamoura and the Faro district are often chosen destinations, boasting various transportation hubs and nice hotels.

Undoubtedly, Albufeira should also be mentioned among the best places to stay in Portugal's south. This holiday resort is selected for beach travel, provides endless opportunities for leisure, and has a broad selection of fine accommodation options.

The city of Lagos can fairly be called one more Portugal must-see and visit resort. The best cliffy Algarve landscapes can be found here with scenic sand-yellow rock formations adorning the waters. By the way, the famous extraterrestrial Gruta de Benagil (also called the Portugal Benagil Cave) that's placed on the beach can easily be reached both from Lagos and Albufeira.

 

Stunning Madeira & the Azores Islands

Last but not least, it would have been a crime not to touch upon the Portuguese islands, positioned far from the mainland amid the Atlantic Ocean. That said, the city of Funchal on Madeira is one of the most historically-rich and naturally beautiful Portugal cities to visit on the islands (the extraordinary Madeira Botanical Garden is a fascinating spot to put on your travel agenda while there).

In general, the archipelago played an important role during the Age of Columbus Discoveries, thus, there's much to see on the close by Porto Santo Island where you can visit the Christopher Columbus House.

Furthermore, if you want to immerse in jaw-dropping nature, travel to the untypical Portuguese destination, the phenomenal Azores Islands. With mind-boggling vistas just about around any corner, the endless hiking paths will surely be a great surprise whereas towns like Ponta Delgada will introduce you to a different side of Portugal.

Azores Islands, Portugal
 

As you can see, there's much more to Portugal than you might have thought at first, right? All in all, we hope that this piece has given you some Portugal vacation ideas, so if you're ready to start planning a tour to Portugal of your own, don't hesitate to contact our professional destination specialists who'll be more than happy to give you a hand.

 
 

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