Terracotta rooftops and colorful buildings in Alfama, Lisbon

18 Best Places to Visit in Portugal

The sun-basked westernmost country of mainland Europe—blessed with serene landscapes, magnificent architecture, riveting historical sites, delicious cuisine, and spirited locals—is a place you can’t afford to miss on your next European adventure. As poetic as the classical fados, or laments, that echo through its cobbled streets, Portugal is a splash of color and a symphony of diverse experiences that will enrapture your senses. From sky-kissed mountains to iridescent seascapes, UNESCO World Heritage sites to vibrant cultural hubs, Portugal has so much to offer.

I first visited the country in my university days because my friend had a house there, and I was so enamored with it I went back countless times. In fact, I loved it so much, I ended up bartending for about 6 months in the seaside town of Lagos in the Algarve. Portugal is one of those places you can go back again and again and never really get tired of it.

Most people have heard of Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, but there are tons of great places to visit in Portugal besides those three. Here are 18 destinations that are worth including in your itinerary for an authentic Portuguese expedition:

Best Places in Portugal To Visit


Lisbon, Portugal’s sun-kissed capital, blends traditional charm and modern dynamism against a canvas of scenic beauty. Iconic yellow trams navigate narrow cobbled streets, passing tiled façades on their way to hilltop viewpoints, or ‘miradouros’, revealing panoramic cityscapes. The Alfama district, with its historic castle and intricate alleyways, echoes tales of Lisbon’s rich past. Meanwhile, the riverside district of Belém invites exploration of its namesake tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. Known for its vibrant nightlife, gastronomy, and culture, Lisbon offers a captivating mix of historic allure and contemporary cool.

Where to Stay: The Lumiares Hotel & Spa, The One Palácio da Anunciada


Lushly adorned with Baroque churches, characteristic blue-tiled buildings and a labyrinth of medieval alleyways, Porto is a city where romance meets tradition. Sip on the world-renowned Port wine and engage yourself in an intimate conversation with the affable locals. Don’t forget to explore the Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers quintessential Portuguese experiences.

Where to Stay: PortoBay Flores, Torel 1884

Douro Valley

Prepare to be intoxicated by not just the world-class vintages, but also by panoramic vistas of undulating hills and sprawling vineyards in Douro Valley.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a picturesque panorama of terraced vineyards cascading down hillsides to meet the meandering Douro River.

This region, famed for Port wine production, offers stunning landscapes, historic estates, and wine tastings at centuries-old quintas. With rolling hills lined with row upon row of grapevines, and quaint riverside villages that embody a tranquil rhythm of life, the Douro Valley presents a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and wine-making tradition.

It’s an unmissable stop for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers who plan on visiting Northern Portugal.

Where to stay: Six Sense Douro Valley, The Vintage House Hotel


Nestled in the misty Sintra Mountains near Lisbon, Sintra is a fairy-tale town brimming with palatial splendors, lush forests, and ancient castles. At its heart stands the candy-colored Pena Palace, a vibrant blend of architectural styles. The mystical Quinta da Regaleira, with its enchanting gardens, towers, tunnels, and an iconic initiation well, unveils a magical realm. From the Moorish Castle, visitors can witness breathtaking panoramas of Sintra and beyond. Renowned for its romantic allure, Sintra weaves a tapestry of history, art, and natural beauty that captivates every visitor.

Where to stay: Sintra Palace Marmòris, Tivoli Palácio de Seteais


Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, Coimbra is a city bathed in intellectual finesse and cultural panache. The University of Coimbra’s stunning hilltop campus bursts with historical significance, boasting a baroque library and panoramic views of the city.

As you wander down to the Mondego River, the old town offers a web of medieval streets, a vibrant arts scene, and a wealth of churches and museums. With an infectious intellectual vitality and rich cultural tapestry, Coimbra is a compelling meld of the contemporary and the ancient.

Where to stay: Sapientia Boutique Hotel, Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas


Venture south to Lagos, nestled in the Algarve region. This vibrant waterfront town is popular for its azure sea, sandy beaches, and striking rock formations. The Old Town, with its cobbled streets, quaint cafés, and Moorish walls, brims with historic charm. Highlights include Ponta da Piedade, a spectacular cliff-side vista, and expansive beaches such as Meia Praia. Lagos’ lively ambiance, enriched by a flourishing food scene, party-esque nightlife, and bustling marina, combines with its natural beauty and rich history to create a captivating retreat for all types of travelers.

Where to Stay: Iberostar Selection Lagos, Lagos Avenida Hotel


The sleepy town of Sagres with its sun-drenched beaches, legendary surf-points and untouched landscapes is the perfect spot for a peaceful, off-the-grid vacation.

Situated in Portugal’s sun-drenched Algarve region, this alluring coastal town is marked by dramatic cliffs that meet the azure ocean. Believed to be the site of Prince Henry the Navigator’s famous nautical school, Sagres holds historical significance in the Age of Exploration. Today, this breezy destination enchants visitors with its breathtaking vistas, pristine beaches, and the iconic Cape St. Vincent lighthouse—Europe’s southwesternmost point. Renowned amongst surfers for its consistent swells and unspoiled surf spots, Sagres remains a delightful retreat amid nature’s splendor.

Where to stay: Memmo Baleeira Hotel Sagres, Pousada de Sagres


Guimarães, considered the birthplace of Portugal, is a historic city marked by ancient streets, medieval buildings, and a significant cultural heritage. Dominated by the imposing Guimarães Castle and the stately Ducal Palace, the city’s well-preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for its remarkable conservation of old traditions, Guimarães offers a fascinating journey through Portugal’s past. Whilst its vibrant cultural scene, full of arts, music, and gastronomy, resonates with contemporary energy, making it an alluring blend of then and now.

Where to stay: Conquistador Palace, Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães


On Portugal’s silver coast lies the charming Óbidos – a remarkably well-preserved medieval town. Enclosed by fortified walls, its enchanting maze of cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, and the stunning hilltop castle transport visitors back in time. Notable for its literary festival and the unique tradition of ginginha served in chocolate cups, Óbidos encapsulates the charm and culture of old-world Portugal. Its magical ambience, combined with sweeping countryside views, makes it a delightful destination for every traveler.

Where to stay: Pousada do Castelo de Óbidos, Hotel Real d’Óbidos


Step into Évora, an open-air museum of a city, where every stone whispers tales of Portugal’s Roman, Gothic and Baroque era. UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal’s Alentejo region offers a rich tapestry of history stretching back more than two millennia. Its well-preserved old town, enclosed by medieval walls, hosts architectural marvels from various eras—Roman temples, Gothic cathedrals, and Moorish courtyards. The iconic Chapel of Bones, with its sobering walls lined with skeletal remains, is a must-visit. Known also for its vibrant cultural scene and gastronomy, Évora seamlessly blends ancient allure with modern vivacity.

Where to stay: Pousada Convento Évora, M’ar de Ar Aqueduto


Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, is a tranquil haven known for its exceptional natural beauty. Characterized by a subtropical climate, Madeira boasts verdant mountains, vibrant gardens, and rugged coastlines. The region’s rich volcanic soil nurtures a wide array of unique flora, earning it the moniker “Floating Garden of the Atlantic”. With hiking trails, water activities, world-class wines, and distinctive folk traditions, Madeira provides a myriad of experiences for those seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion.

Where to stay: Reid’s Palace, Savoy Palace

The Azores

The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, is a captivating archipelago located in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean. Renowned for their dramatic landscapes, these volcanic islands feature lush green pastures, vibrant hydrangea-filled fields, steep cliffs, and blue crater lakes. The Azores offer a plethora of experiences for nature lovers from whale watching, hiking ancient trails, diving into clear waters, to exploring unique volcanic cave systems. This untouched Eden promises an unforgettable encounter with nature’s raw beauty.

Where to stay: Sensi Azores Nature & Spa, Azor Hotel

Braga and The Minho

The Minho region, in the green northern frontier of Portugal, is known for its lush landscapes, fertile vineyards that produce the effervescent Vinho Verde, and rich cultural heritage. Nestled within Minho, Braga—Portugal’s religious heart—dazzles visitors with its Baroque-infused architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and landmark historical sites like the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. Enveloped in centuries-old traditions, Braga’s charm is superbly complemented by Minho’s natural beauty, together offering an enviable blend of history and nature.

Where to stay: Melia Braga, Hotel Vila Gale Collection Braga


Monsanto, dubbed as ‘the most Portuguese village in Portugal,’ offers a surreal spectacle—with homes wedged between, and even inside, gigantic boulders. Perched high on a mountain, it provides commanding views of the surrounding plains. The village’s quaint streets, stone houses, and historical castle remain largely unchanged for centuries, retaining a unique charm that transports visitors back in time. This historic village is a living testament to human adaptability and the rich heritage of Portugal.

Peneda-Geres National Park

Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal’s only national park, is a natural paradise spread across an expansive 700 square kilometres. It is a botanist’s dream with an estimated 600 endemic or unique species. Its striking natural beauty includes rugged hills, flourishing forests, sparkling waterfalls, and crystalline rivers. Peneda-Gerês also brims with diverse wildlife, traditional villages, and ancient archaeological sites—providing a multifaceted experience for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and adventure seekers alike.


Albufeira, the heart of Portugal’s Algarve region, boasts a delightful blend of sun-kissed beaches, historical charm, and vibrant nightlife. The town’s two main areas—the atmospheric Old Town and the bustling Strip—offer visitors a whirlwind of experiences, from picture-perfect panoramas and alfresco dining to exhilarating club-hopping. With a range of activities such as dolphin watching, picturesque coves, and waterparks, Albufeira caters to travelers of all ages and interests, making it a premier destination for those looking to bask in Portugal’s southern beauty.

Where to stay: EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel, Vila Origens Boutique Hotel


Often considered merely a gateway to the Algarve, Faro, Portugal, deserves recognition as a destination in its own right. The city offers an authentic taste of Portuguese culture and history, highlighted by the old town’s well-preserved medieval architecture. Eclectic, sun-soaked beaches lace the shoreline, while inland, the Ria Formosa Natural Park provides a sanctuary for diverse bird species. Whether you’re a lover of history, nature, or lively nightlife, Faro provides unique experiences for every kind of traveler.

Where to stay: 3HB Faro, Hotel Faro & Beach Club


Ericeira, Portugal’s surf haven, is adorned with dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches. A traditional fishing village turned world-class surfing destination, it has maintained its age-old charm. The town centre is filled with narrow, cobbled streets, traditional Portuguese houses, delicious seafood restaurants, and lively bars. Its status as a World Surfing Reserve, the first in Europe, further accentuates its allure, making it a must-visit spot for wave seekers worldwide.

Where to stay: Aethos Ericeira, Immerso

A Final Word

Each of these 18 destinations is a window into Portugal’s soul, reflecting distinct facets of its multifaceted culture, history, and geography. As you traverse through this mesmerizing country, it’s not just a journey across captivating destinations, but also a timeless, emotional sojourn that leaves you wanting for more. So pack your bags and set off on a beautiful Portuguese odyssey!

Planning a trip to Portugal soon? I’ve put together this ultimate 7 day itinerary, which covers all the highlights! You can also check out my Portugal travel guide, which is packed with blog posts and info.

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