PORTUGAL TRAVEL GUIDE

Portugal is a small country located in southwestern Europe. The mainland is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. With its mild climate, affordable prices, and range of activities, Portugal is the perfect travel destination. Portugal is home to diverse landscapes, ranging from the lush mountains in the north to medieval towns in the center and rocky beaches in the south. Add to that a superb cuisine as well as a unique culture and history, you won’t get bored exploring this country. In this video, we highlight 15 amazing places to visit on the mainland of Portugal!

Portugal travel guide

Check out our video of the best places to visit in Portugal for a more detailed look!

Table Of Contents

Portugal Best Places To Visit

Portugal is one of our favorite countries in all of Europe! The great weather, friendly people, and diverse things to do make it a great travel destination for all ages. There is also a lot of history to be learned throughout the country. In this article, we break down the top 15 places to visit in Portugal. At the end of the article, we will also break down itinerary options to help you decide where to go depending on how long you have your vacation.

Nazaré

Nazaré is located along Portugal’s Silver Coast, about halfway between Lisbon and Porto. Known for the highest surfable waves in the world, this authentic fishing town has grown into a popular tourist destination over the last decades. During the winter months, big wave surfers are drawn to its spectacular waves. But Nazaré is also a great summer destination, thanks to its golden beaches, beautiful scenery, and small relaxed vibes. You can do a short walk along the cliffs to get the best views of the city and waves from above.

Nazare in portugal

Heavy waves at Nazaré

Mafra

Situated near Lisbon, Mafra is a traditional Portuguese town that is home to one of Europe’s largest and most extravagant places: the National Palace of Mafra, which was built in the 18th century on the orders of the then king. This vast complex covers an area of nearly 40,000 square meters and is worth visiting as a day trip. But it can also easily be combined with a hike at nearby Tapada de Mafra, a recreational space that was once used by the Portuguese royal family as a hunting ground.

Algarve West Coast

With wide-open beaches and sheer sea cliffs, the West Coast of the Algarve is a true hidden gem in the south of Portugal. The entire region falls within the boundaries of a natural park (Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina), and you can follow a number of trails that showcase its wild scenery, both inland and along the coast. But it’s also a great surfing destination, especially for beginners. From windy Sagres to the picturesque Aljezur, you can find many incredible beaches!  

Algarve west coast

Beach near Sagres

Serra de Monchique

Serra de Monchique is a chain of mountains in the western Algarve region of Portugal. It’s also a lesser-known travel destination, characterized by pristine, lush nature and an authentic mountain town. The idyllic town of Monchique can easily be reached by road and is home to sweeping vistas and a network of nature trails. From here, you can go to the highest point in the Algarve, which is 902 meters (Fóia).

Sierra de Monchique

4x4 Drive Into The Mountains

Ericeira

Ericeira is a small beach town located 50km from Lisbon. It’s often referred to as the surfing capital of Europe, with surfers from all over the world heading to its golden-sand and rocky beaches. But apart from its surf-scene, Ericeira is also becoming increasingly popular among digital nomads and other travelers. This is thanks to its amazing sunsets, beautiful coastline, and relaxing vibes. You can learn more about it in our other article all about the best things to do in Ericeira.

Parque Natural da Arrábida

Arrabida Natural Park lies to the south of Lisbon, between the towns of Setúbal and Sesimbra. It’s a protected area and when you visit you can see why. It has incomparable natural beauty, made up of white chalk cliffs that contrast with a deep blue sea and green vegetation. The best way to enjoy this park is by either relaxing at one of the sandy beaches or hiking one of the many trails which criss-cross the park. Our favorite trail started near the BioVilla, which extended up from the valley and to the top of the mountain for some great views.

Silves

The historic town of Silves is another great place to visit in Portugal. Situated in southern Algarve, it was once the region’s capital. In fact, during the Moorish era from the 9th to 12th century, Silves had great importance as a trading center. Today, Silves is a peaceful and relaxed place, with many historic remnants of the past. Don’t forget to visit the stunning Silves Castle (Castelo de Silves) and its cobbled streets surrounding it.

silves castle views

Silves Castle Walls

Óbidos

Located in central Portugal, Óbidos is the finest example of a Portuguese walled town. It’s fully encircled and has a Moorish castle at its center, making for a romantic medieval look. The town’s main attraction is undoubtedly its cobbled historic center, filled with small cafes, shops, and whitewashed houses. Make sure to climb up the walls and loop around, as you’ll have astonishing views from here. Book a day tour from Lisbon to Óbidos and Nazaré here.

Peneda-Gerês National Park

Located near the Spanish border in northern Portugal, Peneda-Gerês national park is a 2 hour drive from Porto. It’s the oldest protected area and the only national park in the country, covering about 695 square kilometers. From authentic mountain villages to amazing landscapes with numerous viewpoints and waterfalls, this place is truly breathtaking. The park can be easily explored by car, but we recommend doing at least one hike to get a full experience of this place’s natural beauty. There’s a great hike from the parking lot at the Pedra Bela viewpoint (Miradouro da Pedra Bela)  to the Arado waterfall (Cascata do Arado). The out-and-back trail is about 8 kilometers and took us 3.5 hours total to complete, including stops.

Lagos

Lagos is the western Algarve’s liveliest port town and a true tourist hub. It’s known for its vibrant, historic old town and a spectacular coastline, consisting of steep cliffs, hidden caves, and unique beaches. Make sure to hike along the cliff walls, but also see them up close from a kayak or boat tour. Read our article all about Lagos to learn more about this idyllic town and the best things to do there.

Lagos beach views

Lagos coastal views

Lisbon

A destination you can’t miss when traveling to Portugal is its capital city of Lisbon. Located in western Portugal on the estuary of the Tagus River, Lisbon is a vibrant city with a rich, turbulent history that can be observed in its many iconic monuments and buildings. But besides that, Lisbon also has a buzzing nightlife, a delicious cuisine, and a wide variety of tourist attractions. Check out our Lisbon article, where we highlight 10 awesome things to do in this charming city!

Lagoa (Benagil/7 Hanging Valleys Trail)

Undoubtedly one of the most scenic destinations in all of Portugal, Lagoa also lies in the southern Algarve region. Home to majestic cliff-lined beaches, it is fun to explore this area from both land and water. It’s an absolute must to hike the breathtaking 7 Hanging Valleys Trail, which boasts endless views of the Atlantic ocean as well as limestone rock formations. But the Benagil Cave is also something you can’t miss. This seaside cave can only be reached by kayak or boat, and is known as one of the most beautiful caves in the world.

Sintra

The picturesque town of Sintra is located 30 kms to the west of Lisbon, in the center of Portugal. Combining ancient castles, extravagant palaces, and beautiful natural scenery, Sintra is a unique travel destination. Highlights include the gardens and mansion of Quinta da Regaleira, the towering Castle of the Moors, and the vibrant Pena Palace. We have another article all about how to do a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, including how to get there and how to get around.

How to get to Pena Palace

Pena Palace

Douro Wine Valley

The Douro wine valley sits on the banks of the Douro River, upstream from Porto and almost to the border of Spain. This region is where the famous port wine is produced and wine tastings are available at many of the wineries. But apart from wine tourism, the Douro Valley promises travelers some of Portugal’s most idyllic natural landscapes. Explore the valley on a hike, take a boat cruise up the river, or take a peaceful train ride.

Porto

Located in northwest Portugal along the Douro River, Porto is the second-largest city in the country. This was our favorite city in all of Portugal for a good reason. Its culture, architecture, riverside profile, and hilly streets make for a great combo. One of the most beautiful parts of Porto is undoubtedly its riverside, with views of the water and the famous Dom Luís 1 Bridge. But Porto also has amazing local food options and delicious port wine that you can’t find anywhere else in Portugal. Learn more about this romantic city in our Porto article.

porto wine tasting

Port Wine Tasting

 

Interactive Map Of Portugal

Since there are so many beautiful places to see in Albania, we recommend renting a car and driving around the country if you can. This will save you time while also allowing you to see some of the more remote spots in the country. To get to all of the spots we mentioned in this article, simply click on one of the destinations in the map below and then click "Get Directions".

 

Portugal Travel Tips

Portugal is one of the most beautiful countries you will ever travel to in Europe! That being said, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to have the best trip possible.

  1. Travel in the shoulder season. Portugal gets very busy during the summer months, so try to go between September-October or May-June. This will allow you to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

  2. Public transportation is very good throughout the country. You can get between most places by bus or train and they even have Uber as well in the country. So if you're looking to save money, try public transportation instead of renting a car.

  3. Don't assume starters are free with your meals! A lot of restaurants will put bread on the table when you get there. If you eat it, you generally have to pay for it.

 

Portugal Itinerary Options

Portugal isn't a huge country, but it does have a lot of things to see! We put together a few options for a Portugal travel itinerary depending on how long you're planning to be in the country for.

If you have 7 days:

  • Lisbon (2 days)

  • Sintra (1 day)

  • Obidos (1 day)

  • Porto (3 days)

If you have 10 days:

  • Lisbon (2 days)

  • Sintra (1 day)

  • Lagos (2 days)

  • Silves + Sierra de Monchique (1 day)

  • Obidos (1 day)

  • Porto (3 days)

If you have 14 days:

  • Lisbon (2 days)

  • Sintra (1 day)

  • Lagos (2 days)

  • Silves + Sierra de Monchique (1 day)

  • Benagil (1 day)

  • Parque Natural da Arrábida (1 day)

  • Ericeira (1 day)

  • Obidos (1 day)

  • Porto (3 days)

  • Douro Wine Valley (1 day)

 

More Portugal Articles

We have specific articles for many of the destinations listed above. These articles go into more detail about best things to do in those areas and they also include additional maps for those regions. For instance, if you are interested in one of the cities we mentioned, then click on the article to find a list of best things to do there, a video about that destination specifically, and additional travel tips for that area.