6 Best Places to Visit in Portugal in 2023
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There is no doubt that Portugal is one of the most attractive destinations in Europe. If you are looking for the best places to visit in Portugal, you have come to the right place.
With its rich history, breathtaking monuments, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant culture, it is a true gem for travelers from around the world. Whether you are interested in exploring the dazzling cityscapes or wandering through majestic countryside landscapes, Portugal has something for everyone.
Historically, Portugal’s location on the Atlantic Ocean and close proximity to North Africa have played a key role in shaping its culture and industry. Indeed, many of Portugal’s most famous buildings originate from the 16th through 19th centuries, when Portugal ruled a vast maritime empire spanning seemingly every corner of the globe.
From bustling cities like Lisbon and Porto to quaint seaside towns like Cascais and Sintra, there is much to explore across this fascinating country. And beyond mere sightseeing, Portugal also offers other incredible experiences like trying traditional Portuguese cuisine or listening to beautiful Fado music. Simply put, if you’re looking for an exciting vacation destination unlike anywhere else in Europe, then look no further than beautiful Portugal!
What Are the Best Places to Visit in Portugal?
There is a long list of fascinating sites to visit in Europe’s westernmost country. Yet, these could be the top six sites to visit in Portugal during your stay.
1. Lisbon – The Capital City
The timeless Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and the largest city in the country. It is spread across seven picturesque hills that overlook the Tagus River. It is definitely one of Europe’s most fascinating capitals.
For many travelers, ascending the city’s slopes and enjoying postcard-perfect views of Lisbon and its surrounds is one of the top things to do while in the city.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest city in Western Europe. Don’t miss visiting the city’s historical monuments and baroque churches or strolling through the ancient streets in the old center. As if that weren’t enough, Lisbon is also home to the stunning University of Coimbra, one of Europe’s oldest universities. Founded in 1290, this prestigious institution has produced some of the brightest minds in history, from poets and scientists to artists and philosophers. Whether you’re admiring its stunning buildings from afar or taking a tour through its ancient classrooms and libraries, it’s hard not to be impressed by all that this historic university has to offer.
The most authentic way to experience Lisbon is to get lost in its cobbled streets and spend a day walking amid the medieval cathedrals, old ruins and pastel-colored homes. You’ll find hidden bakeries serving up fresh pastries, locals chatting in sunny squares, and breathtaking views around every corner. Be sure to stroll along the riverfront and cross one of the iconic bridges spanning the Tagus River. As you wander, you’ll quickly see why Lisbon is one of Europe’s most beloved cities.
Vintage Tram Lines
One of the best ways to get around in this romantic city is by hopping on one of its famous vintage tram lines. The Tram 28 winds along picturesque streets in historic neighborhoods, such as Alfama – one of Lisbon’s oldest districts. Here you will find charming boutiques and cozy cafes nestled among narrow cobblestone alleyways and exquisite churches and other historic buildings. Be sure to visit the 11th-century São Jorge Castle at the top of Alfama – Lisbon’s charming old town – for stunning views of this charming city.
Once you have worked up an appetite exploring Lisbon’s winding alleys, stop for lunch at one of its many local restaurants. From traditional Portuguese cuisine to international dishes with a local twist, finding something delicious to fill your belly is easy here. And after a fulfilling meal, wrap up your day with some authentic Fado music – a truly unique experience that perfectly captures the melodic spirit of Portugal.
The Lisbon coast is just a short drive or train ride away from the city center and well worth a visit. The beautiful beaches, such as Cascais, Estoril, and Carcavelos, make for a perfect day trip from Portugal’s capital. Or, if you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, spend a few days soaking up the sun on one of Portugal’s pristine beaches.
2. Azores – Portugal’s Nine Islands
Mainland Portugal has a lot to offer but if you want to experience beauty in its most sublime way, travel to some of Portugal’s famous nine islands in the Azores.
The Azores are hilly, flower-filled volcanic islands in the middle of the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The Azores’ nine volcanic islands are called by colors; hence they are as follows:
Flores – the Pink Island
Located on the remote island of Flores in the Azores archipelago, Flores is a true hidden gem. Most visitors to the island are drawn by its stunning pink beaches and pristine blue coastline, but there is much more to this scenic landscape than meets the eye.
Whether you want to hike through secluded valleys or explore villages that date back hundreds of years, Flores has something for everyone. And with year-round pleasant weather and abundant wildlife, this enchanting island is truly a paradise waiting to be discovered.
Corvo – the Black Island
Corvo is a small island in the Azores archipelago, and it is known as the black island due to its dark volcanic cliffs and caves. The island is home to many unique species of plants and animals, and it is also a popular destination for birdwatchers.
Corvo is best known for its cave systems, which are some of the largest and most complex in the world. The caves span hundreds of meters and are connected by a network of natural tunnels. UNESCO has designated Corvo a unique biosphere reserve due to its exceptional biodiversity. Visitors can explore the island’s caves and forests, and there are also several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the coastline. Corvo is a truly unspoiled island, and it is well worth a visit for anyone interested in nature or adventure.
Terceira – the Lilac Island
Terceira, nicknamed the “Lilac Island,” is one of the nine islands that make up the Azores archipelago. The island is known for its dramatic volcanic landscape, with crater lakes and fumaroles dotting the landscape. Terceira is also home to a number of unique plant species, including the rare lilac tree. In addition to its natural beauty, Terceira is also home to a number of historic sites.
The capital city of Angra do Heroísmo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the nearby Serra de Santa Bárbara offers panoramic views of the island. Visitors to Terceira will find plenty to see and do, from hiking and birdwatching to exploring the island’s rich cultural heritage.
São Jorge – the Brown Island
São Jorge, one of the Azores islands, got its nickname “the Brown Island” because of its lush vegetation. The island is home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.
São Jorge is also a haven for birdwatchers, as it is home to several rare and endangered bird species. Even for those who aren’t interested in birds, the island offers plenty of other attractions, from hiking trails to volcanic beaches.
Pico – the Gray Island
Located far out in the North Atlantic Ocean, Pico is a remote and mysterious island that has garnered a reputation as something of a hidden gem. With its rugged cliffs and picturesque volcanic peaks, Pico is a true adventure destination for anyone craving an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
This unique island is also home to some fascinating natural wonders that cannot be found anywhere else on earth, including deep underwater caves covered in ancient stalactites and stunning lava tunnels that wind their way underneath the ground. In addition to its awe-inspiring landscapes, Pico also boasts a rich history, with relics of human habitation dating back hundreds of years.
Whether you are interested in ancient stories or cutting-edge diving techniques, Pico truly has something for everyone. So if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind travel experience, be sure to put Pico at the top of your list!
Faial – the Blue Island
Faial is one of the nine islands that make up the Azores archipelago, and it is often referred to as the “Blue Island.” This nickname comes from the fact that Faial is home to a large number of blue hydrangeas, which can be seen blooming throughout the island from May to September.
Faial is also known for its mild climate and its scenic volcanic landscapes. The island’s capital, Horta, is a popular stop for sailors, and it is famous for its marina and maritime museum. Hiking, whale watching, and kayaking are all popular activities on Faial.
São Miguel – the Green Island
São Miguel is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in Portugal. Known as the Green Island, this Azorean gem is awash with lush, verdant forests, spectacular waterfalls, and sweeping stretches of coastline.
Whether you’re seeking a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life or an adventure-filled getaway filled with hiking and snorkeling, São Miguel has everything you need for an unforgettable trip. From wandering through quaint coastal villages to soaking in the bubbling hot springs at Furnas, there’s no shortage of things to do on this idyllic island paradise.
Santa Maria – the Yellow Island
Located far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Santa Maria is a truly unique place. With its endless stretches of golden beaches, mysterious rolling hills, and bright blue waters, this yellow-hued island is a true paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or just want to relax and soak up the sunshine, Santa Maria has something for everyone. With its mild climate and year-round warm weather, this amazing island is perfect for hiking, surfing, diving, and other outdoor activities. So if you’re looking for a little slice of paradise off the beaten path, be sure to visit Santa Maria – the yellow island on the Azores!
Graciosa – the White Island
Graciosa is one of the nine Azores islands, and is known for its stunning cliffs, which are bleached white by the sun. The island is a popular destination for tourists, who come to enjoy the island’s beaches, hiking trails, and fishing villages.
Graciosa is also home to a number of unique species of plants and animals, including rare orchids, stunning waterfalls, and exotic birds. With its mild climate and natural beauty, Graciosa is the perfect destination for a summer getaway. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the island’s rugged terrain, there is something for everyone on this beautiful and unspoiled island.
The archipelago is a truly unique destination that offers something for everyone. Visitors are drawn to the area because of its spectacular scenery, stunning beaches, magnificent flora and marine life, quaint towns, hot mineral springs, and outstanding whale watching opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, you’ll find it all here.
3. Madeira – The Floating Garden of the Atlantic
Madeira, a four-island archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of North Africa, is one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Portugal.
Nestled in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by aquamarine, sapphire and turquoise seas, and framed by rugged volcanic peaks, Madeira is nothing short of a paradise on earth. Truly deserving its reputation as one of the most beautiful destinations in Portugal, this island archipelago is every nature lover’s dream come true. With its stunning landscape dotted with lush riverside forests, cascading waterfalls, and sprawling vineyards, Madeira truly has it all.
Make sure to visit Funchal, the capital of Madeira. Funchal is a historic city with plenty to offer tourists looking to explore its rich past. The city is home to several Roman ruins, as well as a number of historic sites, monuments, fortresses, and churches.
Visitors can learn about the island’s history at the Madeira Story Centre, or take a walking tour of the old town. Funchal also has a number of museums, including the Madeira Whale Museum and the Museum of Natural History. For those looking for something more active, there are plenty of hiking trails in the nearby mountains. And, of course, no visit to Funchal would be complete without sampling some of the local wine.
Madeira is famous for its luxury resort towns like Santa Cruz or Calheta, which are set against the backdrop of stunning scenery and sparkling blue waters. Whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway or a bustling, action-packed vacation, these towns have something for everyone.
From sophisticated restaurants to vibrant nightlife, from world-class spas to calm, relaxing beaches, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to come here each year. Whether you’re interested in sunbathing on golden sand beaches or exploring rugged volcanic landscapes, Madeira’s resorts have everything you could ask for and more.
Natural lovers shouldn’t miss out on visiting the Laurisilva Forest of Madeira was declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1999.
4. Northern Portugal
Northern Portugal is a food and wine lover’s paradise. The Douro Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in the world, is home to some of the best port wine cellars in the world. The region is also famous for its fresh seafood, delicious cheeses, and mouth-watering pastries. For those who prefer to cook their own meals, the local markets are overflowing with fresh produce and meats. And of course, no trip to Northern Portugal would be complete without sampling some of the region’s famed port wine.
Visit Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, and explore the best port wine cellars. A culinary tour in Porto is a must-do for any foodie. And don’t miss a walking tour of the historic center of this charming town. You’ll get to know Porto most authentically by exploring its narrow streets and discovering its hidden gems.
Vila Nova de Gaia
Just across the Rio Douro from Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia is home to almost all of the city’s port wine lodges. Many of these cellars offer tours and tastings, which provide a fascinating insight into the history and production of port wine. The various wines on offer can be sampled in the cellars’ tasting rooms, and many of the lodges also have restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with a view of the city. With its riverside location and abundance of port wine history, Vila Nova de Gaia is a must-visit for any traveler to Northern Portugal.
So if you’re looking for a food and wine-filled vacation, Northern Portugal is the perfect destination. The region is home to some of the country’s best restaurants and wineries, as well as breathtaking scenery. And with so much to see and do, you’ll never be bored. From exploring the charming city of Porto to sampling the region’s delicious wines, Northern Portugal has something for everyone.
5. Algarve’s Sandy Paradise
The Algarve region in southern Portugal is famous for its spectacular cliffs, golf courses, and beautiful sandy beaches. Explore the peaceful views of the south coast, and the quiet of whitewashed towns with pretty tile houses tucked among olive and orange trees.
Algarve is famous for its castle ruins, Renaissance monuments, wonderful gift shops, and exquisite restaurants in major cities, including Faro, Silves, and Tavira. This region is a place of great natural beauty, with its sandy beaches, rocky coastline, and clear turquoise waters. It is also a place of great history and culture, with its castles and fortresses built by the Moors during the Middle Ages, and its magnificent churches and palaces dating back to the Renaissance.
The Algarve is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. The region has a Mediterranean climate, which means that it enjoys warm weather all year round. And if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort experience, the Algarve has plenty of those too. But the best part about the Algarve might just be its beaches. The water here isn’t too rough, making it perfect for swimming. So whether you’re looking to soak up some sun or take a dip, the Algarve is the place to be.
6. The Sintra Mountains
Portugal’s wild and rugged Sintra Mountains make for a great day trip from Lisbon. The best way to explore the area is on foot, taking in the old Moorish ruins, subtropical gardens, and lush slopes as you go.
The highlight of the hike is unquestionably the Pena Palace, a 19th-century palace perched atop a hilltop with sweeping views of the mountains and coastline. After working up an appetite, head to one of Sintra’s many charming cafes for a well-deserved break. With its fairytale castle ruins, secret gardens, and dramatic viewpoints, the Sintra Mountains are a must-visit and definitely one of the best places to visit in Portugal.
Sintra has long been a favorite summer retreat for the Portuguese royal family for over 500 years. Nestled in the lush green hills of the Iberian Peninsula, it offers the perfect combination of breathtaking natural beauty and cosmopolitan appeal. With its winding cobbled streets, picturesque palaces, and stunning array of cultural sites, Sintra quickly became a major tourist magnet when it was opened to the public in the early 19th century.
Today, millions of people flock here every year to easily accessible attractions like Neptune’s Fountain and Monserrate Palace – but that’s certainly not all there is to see in this fascinating city! Whether you are a nature lover looking to explore ancient forests or an art enthusiast searching for unique cultural treasures, Sintra has something special just waiting to be discovered.
FAQs about Traveling To Portugal
Here are some of the things that you might want to know about traveling to Portugal?
How Long Does It Take To Get To Portugal From The US?
The distance from the United States to Portugal is 4040 miles, which takes 11h 51m on a nonstop flight. The most popular route is Newark to Lisbon with a duration of 6h 35m on average.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Portugal?
The best time to visit Portugal is from mid-April to mid-June or from September to early October when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. However, if you’re looking to experience Portugal’s world-famous festivals, you’ll want to plan your trip for late June or early July.
Is Portugal Expensive To Visit?
Portugal is actually quite affordable when compared to other European countries, especially its neighboring Spain. However, prices can vary greatly depending on where you choose to stay, what attractions you want to visit, and what kind of experiences you’re looking for.
Does Portugal Have An Unesco World Heritage Site?
Yes, Portugal currently has seventeen UNESCO world heritage sites in Portugal, sixteen cultural ones, and one natural one.
What Are Some of the Best Cultural Sites in Portugal?
Some of the best cultural sites in Portugal include the Historic Center of Oporto, Historic Center of Guimarães, Monastery of Alcobaça, Monastery of Batalha, Convent and Castle at Évora, and Douro Valley. These are just a few examples, and there are many other interesting cultural sites in Portugal that you can visit.
What Should I Pack For Portugal?
When packing for your trip to Portugal, you’ll want to bring comfortable clothing and shoes, sunscreen and a hat or umbrella (depending on the time of year), and any personal items that you may need. Some additional things to consider bringing include a camera or phone for taking photos, a book or guidebook for reading during downtime, and a light jacket or sweater for cool evenings.
What Is The Official Language Of Portugal?
The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, but you’ll also find that English is widely spoken throughout the country. Spanish is also commonly spoken in some areas, particularly near the border with Spain.
What Currency Is Used In Portugal?
Portugal uses the Euro as its official currency. Credit cards are widely accepted at most shops and restaurants, and ATMs can be found throughout the country. It’s a good idea to bring some cash with you in case of emergencies or for smaller purchases, but it’s not necessary to exchange a large amount of money before arriving in Portugal.
Are There Any Local Customs or Etiquette Rules That I Should Know About?
When visiting Portugal, it’s important to be respectful of the local culture and customs. This includes following any dress codes at religious sites or government buildings, practicing common courtesy when interacting with locals, and keeping noise to a minimum in public spaces.
Additionally, you may want to consider learning some basic Portuguese phrases before your trip, as this can show locals that you’re interested in their culture and willing to make an effort to communicate.
What Are Some of the Top Attractions in Portugal?
Some of the top attractions in Portugal include the Cristo Rei statue in Lisbon, the Castle of Sao Jorge, the Palacio da Pena in Sintra, the Algarve Coast, and the Porto wine region. These are just a few examples of the many wonderful things to see and do in Portugal.
What Are Some of Portugal’s Popular Festivals and Events?
Some of Portugal’s most popular festivals and events include the Lisbon Carnival, the Tomar Fair, the Coimbra Summer Festival, and Porto International Film Festival. These are just a few examples, and there are many other exciting festivals and events in Portugal that you can explore during your visit.
What Is the Weather Like in Portugal?
The weather in Portugal varies depending on the region, but generally speaking, the climate is mild with average temperatures between 47°F to 83°F. The summer months ( June-August) can be quite hot, with temperatures sometimes reaching over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter months (December-February), temperatures can drop below freezing, but it is not uncommon for them to remain in the 50s or low 60s. Overall, Portugal has pleasant weather year-round and is a great destination for anyone looking to escape from the cold of winter or beat the heat of summer.
Portugal is a beautiful country with a lot to offer visitors. From its stunning coastline and sandy beaches to its quaint villages and historic cities, there is something for everyone in Portugal. Whether you’re looking to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sun or explore the rich culture and history of this fascinating country, be sure to add Portugal to your list of must-visit destinations.