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Things to do in Portugal

Things to do in  Portugal

Welcome to Portugal

Long overlooked in favor of its larger neighbor, Spain, Portugal is holding its own on the European travel circuit today, as growing numbers of visitors discover its old-world charms. Outstanding food, award-winning wines, and distinctive Manueline architecture are just the beginning. Portugal's diverse landscapes range from granite peaks and forested hills in the north, to the sunny beaches of the southern Algarve—all bordered by nearly 500 miles of stunning Atlantic coastline. Start in Lisbon, taking in the capital's many historical sights and famous hills by foot or electric bike. The country's faded glory as a maritime empire in the 15th and 16th centuries is most evident here, but humans have lived in this region since prehistoric times. After a city tour, take a day trip to wander through Roman ruins in Evora; tour a royal castle and a Moorish palace in Sintra; or visit one of the well-preserved medieval villages, like Obidos, that are sprinkled all over the countryside. In Northern Portugal, foodies flock to the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley for wine- and food-tasting tours. Porto's striking harbor is the starting point for scenic Douro River cruises. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline fix by surfing, skydiving, or parasailing in the Algarve. And for those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the fishing villages of Nazare, Sagres, and Tavira can feel like a trip back in time. Portugal's delights are many, and with easy access to Western Spain, your Iberian itinerary could extend to Seville, Cordoba, or Granada.

Top 10 attractions in Portugal

#1
Sintra

Sintra

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Once a hot spot destination for Portuguese royalty—Lord Byron called it a “glorious Eden”—Sintra is widely acclaimed as one of Portugal's most beautiful destinations, full of gardens, tiled villas, colorful palaces, and neo-Gothic structures, all surrounded by verdant hills rolling toward the Atlantic Ocean.More
#2
Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

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A mighty medieval fortress perched on the banks of the Tagus River, Belem Tower is one of Lisbon’s most visited landmarks. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos), it’s a lasting symbol of Portugal’s maritime heritage, dating back to the early 16th century.More
#3
Fátima

Fátima

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Fátima is one of the most important shrines to the Virgin Mary in the world, as three shepherd children are said to have stated that Mary appeared to them. The last event, on Oct. 13, 1917, is known as the Miracle of the Sun and was attended by upwards of 40,000 people. A marble pillar with a statue of Our Lady marks the exact spot in the Chapel of Apparitions, and millions of pilgrims make the journey to see it yearly.More
#4
Douro

Douro

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The Douro region in Northeast Portugal is near the border with Spain. Even with the advent of modern civilization, this area is characterized by a sort of frontier spirit that tenaciously preserves a traditional way of life handed down through many, many years.Thinly populated and remote, the Douro is not unlike Galicia in Spain in that its people speak a dialect that is markedly different than the rest of the country; in the Douro, it is closer to Latin vulgate than Portuguese. Along with speaking a traditional language, pottery and weaving are still important cottage industries. Long-held folk practices include a dance with wooden staves called the Dance of the Pauliteiros, which takes place on the third Sunday of August, during the Feast of Saint Barbara. Curiously, this dance is less related to Saint Barbara than it is to Roman martial pomp – the Dance of the Pauliteiros is an outgrowth of the old Roman sword dances.Notable ruins in the town of Miranda do Douro include the watchtower of the Miranda do Douro castle and the Baroque courtyard left behind from the long-since-destroyed Archbishop’s palace. The city’s cathedral is also of interest; it features a magnificent marble high altar as well as a 19th century ex-voto centered around a piece called “Infant Jesus in a Top Hat.”More
#5
Douro River (Rio Douro)

Douro River (Rio Douro)

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A major river on the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro River (Rio Douro) flows from Duruelo de la Sierra in northern Spain all the way to Porto in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. More than just the region’s lifeline, it’s also the centerpiece of the Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More
#6
Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena)

Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena)

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The crown jewel of UNESCO-listed Sintra, Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena) never fails to inspire. The fanciful red and yellow palace is an exotic mix of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance elements, commissioned by King Ferdinand II and completed in 1854 on a hilltop high above Sintra.More
#7
University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

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Portugal’s oldest university, the University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra) was founded in 1290, and is located in the former capital city. Now a popular tourist destination, the university was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2013, and boasts notable architecture, a botanical garden, a science museum, and more.More
#8
Alfama

Alfama

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Sprawling down the southern slopes of Lisbon, Alfama is the capital’s oldest and most picturesque district with steep cobblestone lanes and a sea of terracotta roofs. Head there in the day to take in the sights, browse the flea market, and ride the historic tram, then come back after dark to soak up the atmosphere at the many fado bars.More
#9
Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca

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Cabo da Roca, just north of Lisbon, is known for its dramatic views and scenic cliff-top walking path. The westernmost point in continental Europe and once believed by Europeans to be the edge of the world, today it is home to a defensive lighthouse that was built in the 16th century and serves as a haven for local birdlife.More
#10
Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George's Castle)

Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George's Castle)

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Since the 11th century, St. George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge) has stood tall in the Lisbon skyline, viewable from almost every point in the city. The Moorish castle overlooks various districts and offers some of the best panoramas of the city. Even if you have only a few hours, the former fortress offers plenty for you to do.More

Trip ideas

Top Beaches on the Algarve

Top Beaches on the Algarve

Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon

Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon

Top Hiking Trails on Madeira

Top Hiking Trails on Madeira

Top activities in Portugal

Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto with Pickup

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Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
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Lisbon: Half Day Sightseeing Tour on a Private Electric Tuk Tuk

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Lisbon: Half Day Sightseeing Tour on a Private Electric Tuk Tuk

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Sintra, Cascais and Pena Palace Guided Tour from Lisbon

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Sintra, Cascais and Pena Palace Guided Tour from Lisbon

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Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
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Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
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Sunset Boat Tour in Lisbon

Sunset Boat Tour in Lisbon

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Lisbon Half Day Private Tour

Lisbon Half Day Private Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in Portugal

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Great day trip with Joao
Celso_P, Jan 2022
From Lisbon: Óbidos, Nazaré, Batalha & Fátima
We booked the trip primarily to see Fatima but we were in awe at Batalha.
star-5
Perfect day trip for the family.
Eric_S, Dec 2021
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
I highly recommend this tour if you would like to see history and the beautiful country side of Portugal.
star-5
A must do and see!!
diana_t, Nov 2021
Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
Such beautiful places to visit.
star-5
One of the best tours of Braga and Guimarães!
Michelle_R, Nov 2021
Porto: Guimarães and Braga Day Trip
I expected to see beautiful sights, after all this is Portugal!
star-5
Pena Palace is a must see!
Jesle_K, Nov 2021
Sintra Private Tour, a dreamlike experience!
We weren’t so lucky with weather during our Sintra visit but our tour guide, Danny, made sure that we still get to see what we came to Sintra for.
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Sintra Lisbon tour
k_c, Nov 2021
Lisbon and Sintra Highlights Private Tour
Highly recommend tour for a quick way to see the city.
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Informative and thorough
Morgan_D, Oct 2021
Lisbon and Sintra Private Tour
From our tour of the Pena Palace to lunch in Sintra and driving all over Lisbon to see the different neighborhoods and attractions.
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Fantastic tour, good guide!!
Ilse_V, Oct 2021
Sintra Small Group Tour from Lisbon
This day tour is really nice to see a lot of paces!
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Another wonderful view of Portugal
Larry_S, Sep 2021
Ericeira And Mafra Amazing West Coast Tour
The coastline of Portugal is magnificent, and the opportunity to visit both of these towns was something that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss while in Portugal.
star-5
Nice tour
simona_G, Sep 2021
Half-Day Algarve Countryside and Villages Jeep Safari
Nice to see other side of Portugal 🇵🇹
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Picturesque Douro Valley is a must see!
Loredana_Z, Sep 2021
Douro Valley Tour with Visit to two Vineyards, River Cruise and Lunch at Winery
Such a picturesque area of Portugal to visit, absolutely beautiful!
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My day in Douro Valley
Brian_L, Aug 2021
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
It was a great way to see a part of Portugal I never would have experienced on my own.
star-5
Great day full of discoveries
Elyse_D, Aug 2021
Lisbon off-the-beaten-path Small Group Tour: Sesimbra, Arrabida & Wine Tasting
We were happy to see more of Portugal with our friendly and competent tour guide.
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Comprehensive and breathtaking
Renee_A, Aug 2021
Sintra, Cascais and Pena Palace Guided Tour from Lisbon
Very pleasant, informative and comprehensive way to see 3 cities in Portugal.
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Amazing day - The walk to do
GAELLE_R, Jul 2021
Paiva Walkways and Alvarenga Small-Group from Porto
Take the time to see the bridge 516 Arouca, an experience to have.
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Wear shoes with a good grip. Be willing to try new foods.
Bruce_K, Jan 2022
Portuguese Cuisine: 17 Tastings Lisbon Food Tour
Our two tour guides spoke perfect English and took care of everything with the restaurants where we stopped.
star-5
Great guide Nuno!
Lu_C, Jan 2022
Best of Braga and Guimaraes Day Trip from Porto
All day drizzle and foggy rain was not really good for good pictures but I enjoyed an amazing company- Nuno, Yzabel ( new trainee) I hope to see you around again.
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Great day trip to two medieval cities
Rick_M, Dec 2021
Braga and Guimarães with Lunch Included - Small Group - Full Day
both cities were beautiful and historic, we had time in each to see the highlights and to just wander a bit.
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Beautiful city with a great guide
melicia_t, Nov 2021
Lisbon: Half Day Sightseeing Tour on a Private Electric Tuk Tuk
I would highly recommend the tuk tuk tour to see Lisbon and even more so, recommend hugo to be your guide.
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Would Recommend! Nature/History Tour
Nadine_K, Nov 2021
Flashback Safari - Nature/History tour
We had a great time and got to see a lot more places than usual during this time of year (Nov) which was amazing.

All about Portugal

When to visit

Come summertime, temperatures soar in Portugal, making the Algarve a popular hub for sailing tours and sunbathing sessions. Given its vertiginous hills, the capital city of Lisbon is best saved for the cooler spring and summer months, when you’re less likely to break into a sweat. And in the winter, venture to northerly Porto for a warming glass of port—or two.

Frequently Asked Questions
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