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27 Best Places & Cities in Portugal to Visit (Map Included)

Portugal is a beautiful country with plenty to see and do. From its stunning beaches to its ancient cities, here are the 27 most beautiful cities, towns, and places you need to visit in Portugal. I’m including a map to help you plan your trip and discover some of the prettiest Portuguese cities.

viewpoint in lisbon portugal

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Overwhelmed with planning your trip to Portugal? My entire 17-day trip was organized by Epic Travel. They’re a small bespoke travel agency that will create an itinerary of the best spots for your interests, including transportation, tours, and hotel stays. Mention ‘Stuffed Suitcase’ when you book and you’ll get a VIP gift or upgrade.

Lisbon and the Capital Region

Most international travelers will find themselves arriving in the Capital Region of the country by way of the Lisbon airport. This region may be the area with the largest city in the country but it also offers some spectacular countryside vistas and castles.

Lisbon

What is the best city to visit in Portugal? Many would argue that for tourists it’s Lisbon. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and offers visitors a vibrant city scene with plenty of history around every corner.

I absolutely love walking around Lisbon and discovering the different neighborhoods. The streets are filled with history and beautiful tile work in addition to modern graffiti and mural art. Check out my Lisbon travel guide and my favorite Lisbon day trips.

lisbon tram stop

And if you’re wondering where to stay in Lisbon, I loved my stay at the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa which is a luxury hotel on the upper edge of the main city of Lisbon. If you want to be closer to the center of the city, check out the Martinhal Lisbon Chiado apartments.

Sintra

If you’re looking for epic castles nestled in the Portuguese landscape, Sintra must be on your list. If you’ve researched Portugal vacations at all, you’ve likely seen photos of a beautiful yellow and red castle on a hilltop. That’s Palacio Nacional da Pena, aka Pena Palace. And it’s located in Sintra.

Sintra is also home to the fabulous Quinta da Regaleira, a castle/mansion property with beautiful grounds in addition to beautiful buildings. You’ll truly feel like you’ve been transported into a fairytale storybook. And for a truly historic, luxurious stay while in Sintra, check out the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais.

pena palace in sintra portugal

Belém

Belém is actually a neighborhood near Lisbon, but it’s filled with some amazing things to do. The most notable is the Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Belém is also a popular spot for tourists to enjoy the classic Portuguese custard tarts, Pastéis de Belém, at the “original” bakery of the same name.

pastel de nata custard tarts in belem portugal window

The Tagus River is a big feature when touring Belém. There are multiple museums and sights to see along the waterfront. But my absolute favorite activity in Belém was a sunset cruise organized by Epic Travel.

beautiful sunset view from sailboat looking at 25 de Abril Bridge on Tagus River in Belem Portugal city

As I mentioned before, Epic planned our entire 17-day trip and organized some amazing and unique experiences and hotels that truly immersed us in the Portugal experience. Mention Stuffed Suitcase when you book and you’ll get a special gift!

Cascais

If you’re in the area of Lisbon and searching for some Portugal beach towns, you must head to Cascais. While this town certainly has some tourist town vibes going on, you can’t beat the chance to relax in the sun on the sand. You can also rent bikes and ride along the coast, and I highly recommend enjoying a pitcher of sangria with friends on the rooftop at Cafe Galeria House of Wonders!

While in Cascais, I stayed at the Martinhal Cascais Luxury Resort and it was an amazing stay with gorgeous grounds, delicious food, and a lovely spa.

beach in cascais portugal

Porto & Douro (the North)

Porto is another popular entry point for visitors and it’s also a waypoint for many travelers who want to head to the renowned Douro Valley region of the country. I’ll admit that visiting the north country in early October was quite a spectacular sight.

Porto

After Lisbon, Porto is the next biggest city in Portugal. There’s a huge history of Port wine in this region (maybe you guessed that by its name. Porto sits at the mouth of where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s filled with historic buildings and churches, much like Lisbon.

trams on street in porto portugal

When in Porto, you can explore the narrow cobblestone streets and discover residents hanging up their laundry alongside some charming cafes. History buffs will enjoy touring the Church of São Francisco, which is lined with gold and has a tomb you can wander through.

Harry Potter fans might want to visit the Livraria Lello bookstore that has been rumored to be the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s books. And don’t miss the chance to take a river taxi across to Vila Nova de Gaia, where you can do some port tasting and museum tours at WOW (World of Wine).

beautiful city in portugal porto train station tile art

You can certainly find some fabulous places to stay in the central district of Porto like One Shot Aliados Goldsmith 12 and Se Catedral Hotel Porto, Tapestry Collection By Hilton. But, if you want to get away and enjoy a luxurious stay with a spa, check out Vila Foz, an old-world manor house turned hotel situated on the coast of the Atlantic. They have historical and modern room options in addition to a superb restaurant chef and breakfast offering.

Douro Valley & Pinhão

Wine and Port lovers must visit the Douro Valley. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and features the unique terraced vineyards along the rolling river valley landscape. Driving along the N-222 along the Douro River between Peso da Regua and Pinhão is considered one of the best road trips in the world.

douro valley landscape vineyards and river valley

Spend the day visiting local wineries where you’ll enjoy trying table wines as well as port wines. Two places I definitely recommend are the Churchill’s Estate Vineyard for a wine tasting and to enjoy lunch on the terrace at Ventozelo.

If you’re looking for places to stay while visiting the Douro Valley, Pinhão offers some great options and is one of the largest towns in the region. We stayed at the lovely Vintage House hotel that sits right on the Douro River, and I also had lunch at the luxurious Six Senses Douro Valley which is about three-quarters of the way from Porto to Pinhão.

Braga

Braga is considered the religious epicenter of Portugal. The Braga Cathedral is the oldest in Portugal and was built in the 12th century by the parents of Portugal’s first king, D. Henrique and D. Teresa. It’s well-known for its Holy Week Celebrations and the São João Festival.

Every visitor to Braga must see the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, a city icon, with its monumental staircase. It offers an excellent panoramic view of the city, as do two other churches nearby: Nossa Senhora do Sameiro Sanctuary and Santa Maria da Falperra Church.

Braga is close to Porto and can easily be visited on a day trip while staying in the city.

hilltop view at braga portugal city

Guimarães

The historical center in the area that was within the Guimarães city walls is associated with the formation and identity of Portugal and was classified as a World Heritage site. The city retains a well-preserved heritage that is evident in the iron balconies, granite porticos, mansions, and arches that connect the narrow streets. As you stroll around Guimarães you might imagine yourself being dropped in a medieval movie.

Visitors will certainly want to see the Castle, which dates back to the 10th century and was pivotal to the founding of Portugal. On the journey to the Castle, check out the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, a 15th-century monument in which it is possible to see the influence of French seigneurial architecture, the Monument to King Afonso Henriques, and the Romanesque Chapel of S. Miguel.

Guimarães is another easy day trip from Porto and could be partnered with a visit to Braga.

arial view of guimaraes city in portugal

Central Portugal

Much of central Portgual is overlooked by travelers, however, for visitors searching for a slow exploration of the country, this region is dotted with a rich history of the country. If you’re a fan of medieval towns and castles, you’ll get your fill in the central region, along with some great beaches and mountains, too.

Óbidos

Another charming medieval Portuguese town, and possibly one of the prettiest towns near Lisbon, is Óbidos. Óbidos is a walled city nestled on high ground near the Atlantic coast. Within the city walls are maze-like cobblestoned streets and whitewashed houses.

The original castle still stands and you can actually walk along the 40-foot tall battlement walls, which encircle the entire town for about a mile. This adventure can be a nail-biter as there are no guardrails, but it offers fabulous views.

aerial view of Obidos town in portugal

For a truly unique Portugal experience, book a stay at the historic Pousada Castelo de Obidos, which combines 14th-century medieval accommodations in the castle with modern facilities in the heart of the village of Óbidos. All rooms are air-conditioned and have fully equipped private bathrooms. Some rooms include stone walls, four-poster beds, and chandeliers.

Belmonte

This charming Portuguese town is most known for being the birthplace of Pedro Álvares Cabral, who explored Brazil in 1500. But beyond its famous son, Belmonte is also well known for its granite castle that sits upon a hill at the top of the city.

Belmonte is also known for its well-preserved Jewish Quarter which lies below the castle walls. Many Jews fled Portugal at the time of the Inquisition and their story is told at the nearby Jewish Museum. Belmonte is home to the last remaining community of Marranos in Portugal. Marranos were Spanish and Portuguese Jews who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity during the Middle Ages but continued to practice Judaism in secret.

direction sign in belmonte portugal next to wall mural on building along side street

Serra da Estrela

Outdoor enthusiasts and cheese lovers will want to visit the Serra da Estrela mountains while in Portugal. This is the highest point on mainland Portugal. You can hike to the top of Serra da Estrela and along the way see the beautiful mountain countryside and maybe even some flocks of sheep being herded by the famed Estrela dogs.

Those flocks of sheep are the source of the area’s other famed attraction, Serra da Estrela cheese. The creation and labeling of the cheese is strictly regulated with specific rules about production. It’s enjoyed all over the country, I was even served some on my business class flight on TAP Portugal.

dessert of three small dishes on tap airlines business class

Coimbra

Coimbra is one of many riverfront cities in Portugal. It is home to the University of Coimbra, the oldest university in Portugal and one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world. The University is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists can visit the university and climb to the top of its tower where a bell still tolls at the start and end of classes. Visitors can see the Joanine Library, which features beautiful gilt-covered bookcases holding more than 300,000 works dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries. 

Beyond the university, Coimbra also has some great museums and historical sites, like the Monastery of Santa Cruz, which houses the tomb of the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques. Fado music is also popular in Coimbra and a great cultural experience to enjoy one evening.

And if you’re on a romantic getaway and looking to overnight in Coimbra, check out the historic Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra hotel. Some rooms have views over the city and one has a sunken round jacuzzi tub that looks like an old roman bath!

view of coimbra portugal from across river

Aveiro

The city of Aveiro will give some Venice vibes. The city is next to the sea and is crossed by a network of channels through which moliceiros, aka, local boats coast through. The slender, colorful boats used to be used to collect algae and seaweed, but today they’re used for sightseeing trips. Since Aveiro is fairly flat, tourists can also explore on foot or by bike. BUGA bikes are freely available, provided by the Aveiro City Council.

It should come as no surprise that the city is known for its seafood cuisine. However, it’s also well known for a sweet treat made with eggs and sugar, ovos moles (soft eggs). They’re sold in wooden barrels or wrapped in a crusty wafer in different shapes.

view from river of colorful boats on via of aveiro portugal

Nazaré

Being surrounded by the ocean means there are plenty of Portugal beach towns. And Nazaré is one such town. This city attracts a lot of surfers due to its big waves, and it has become a tourist hot spot. But Nazaré is also well-known for still showcasing the historical fishing tradition of the region.

You’ll see many references to Nazaré’s seven skirts, which is in reference to its traditionally clad women who — at least according to local lore — wear skirts with seven petticoats. Some say it’s one for each day, others say it’s for the seven colors of the rainbow. But many historians believe that it was a way wives would stay warm while waiting for their fishing husbands to return from the sea.

view looking down at portugal beach town of nazare

Alentejo Region

The Alentejo region of Portugal was perhaps my biggest surprise on my recent trip. It’s the largest region in Portugal and is often overlooked as a pass-through for travelers heading from Lisbon to the Algarve. However, the Alentejo region is filled with epic estate properties and some of the best table wines in the country! Epic Travel also arranged for a cork trekking activity that is only available in the Alentejo!

Tip: The Alentejo region gets very warm in the summer months, and mosquitos can be an issue during those months.

Monsaraz

Monsaraz is another of the plentiful medieval walled cities in Portugal. It’s nestled near the Spanish border and sits on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding countryside and Lake Alqueva. You can walk and explore the historic architecture of the city, as well as shop for locally made goods like pottery and wool.

monsaraz town in alentejo portugal

One of my delights during my time near Monsaraz was my stay at the exceptional São Lourenço do Barrocal hotel. This hotel is a former farming estate and the guestrooms range from rooms in the main building to gorgeous villas, perfect for families. They have two restaurants as well as a fitness center and spa, and they do whatever they can to make your stay fulfilling.

We had a night sky viewing activity one evening in the old amphitheater on the property. And I will say that the Alentejo region is the perfect place for stargazing!

night sky over São Lourenço do Barrocal in alentejo portugal

Redondo/Corval

Near the town of Monsaraz are two towns that are the absolute best places to buy pottery for Portugal souvenirs. Corval and Redondo both are known for their history of creating classic Portugal earthware pottery.

Redondo is also known for its cork production and you can even visit the Herdade da Maroteira vineyard and take a jeep tour through a cork forest! Corval is perhaps the largest pottery center in Portugal. It’s a charming countryside town with narrow streets and pottery lining the storefronts.

cork tree in alentejo portugal near redondo

Évora

Much of the Alentejo region is about the countryside, but Évora is the primary city for the region. Évora was where many of Portugal’s early kings had homes and its history earned it a UNESCO World Heritage designation.

Évora is great to explore on foot, and you can make stops during the day at some of the cafes and shops while exploring. Be sure to check out the arches of Praça do Giraldo, the Roman Temple baths, as well as the São Francisco Church, with its intriguing (or creepy) Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos).

arial view of evora city in portugal

There’s a new hotel and spa in the Évora area that is the perfect getaway hotel. The Evora Farm Hotel & Spa has various room options, a fabulous restaurant, beautiful pools, and a relaxing spa. It’s also

Comporta

Moving from the countryside of the Alentejo to the coast brings me to mention Comporta. This is a holiday beach town for many Lisbon locals, but also is an extremely popular beach escape for other European travelers. The Comporta beach stretches over 30 miles of coastline and has a wide beach and sand dunes.

men walking on comporta beach in portugal at sunset with moon high in sky

Comporta is home to one of the best beaches in Portugal as well as the largest rice paddies in the country. Visiting Comporta is all about connecting with nature, but it’s also growing to be a high-end tourist destination.

One of the most high-end hotels in Portugal can be found in Comporta. The Sublime Comporta is a sustainable 5* hotel and spa with a superb restaurant. It’s nestled in a wooded area a couple of miles away from the town and beach.

Vila Nova de Milfontes

One of the most popular summer getaways for the Portuguese is the sleepy coastal town of Vila Nova de Milfontes. During the summer season, the town is booming with tourists and water activities on the beach. During the off-season, the town mostly closes down, but can still offer some great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. The 142-mile Fisherman’s Trail runs along the coast and through Vila Nova de Milfontes.

If you’re searching for an off-the-beaten-path hotel to stay at that is within a short drive of Vila Nova de Milfontes, check out the Craveiral Farmhouse. It’s a country house with villas that invite guests to get away and relax. They also happen to have fabulous wood-fired pizzas, so even if you’re not planning to stay on property, it’s a great lunch stop while out exploring!

vila nova de milfontes arial photo portugal beach town

The Algarve

The southern coast of Portugal is filled with cliffs and beaches and attracts many visitors. The Algarve is dotted with small seaside towns and also features some of the larger resorts you’ll find in the country.

Lagos

We spent half a day in Lagos and I loved the charming shops and cafes as well as the cliff walks and beaches. The town is one of the many walled cities of Portugal, and it also has Moorish architecture that still is evident today. The Moorish Castle of Lagos still stands guard on the seaside.

There are many fabulous beaches to explore, you can walk along much of the coast to explore each unique spot. Lagos also is near the very popular tourist site of Ponta da Piedade which is a tip of Portugal that juts into the Atlantic and features free-standing rocks.

rocks in ocean at ponta da piedade viewpoint at algarve portugal

Faro

Faro is considered the capital of the Algarve region and does have an airport for those wanting to fly into the Algarve. Faro is another walled city and features the 11th-century “Arab Gateway” into the old city, which is the oldest horseshoe arch in the country. The town has winding streets that can feel maze-like and are filled with charming shops and restaurants.

old town street with white buildings in portugal city of Faro

Tavira

Close to the Spain border is the riverside and seaside city of Tavira which spans across the Gilão River. This cute Portugal town features some unique architecture from the former Arab inhabitants that were designed to allow cool airflow during hot days. Visitors can also climb to the top of the Castle Tower in town for a fabulous view of the city.

Beyond the city, Tavira also has great nature and wildlife experiences. Head to the Ria Formosa (Formosa estuary) to find beautiful birds like the flamingo, the black-winged stilt, and the pied avocet. At the end of the estuary, Quatro Águas, you can take the boat across to the beach on the sandbar that separates the lagoon from the sea. There are over 6 miles of beach along there.

bridge road in tavira portugal

Olhão

Unlike so many of the historical towns of the Algarve I mentioned above, Olhão is a fairly young city in Portugal. However, it’s one of the best places in the Algarve to escape the tourists and get a taste of real-life Portugal seaside culture. Olhão is a working fishing village, so it’s also the ideal place to get your fill of seafood dining!

bench with tile in olhao algarve city in portugal

While visiting the Algarve, it can work well to have a car and drive around for day trips to many of these towns. If you’re looking for a vacation home on a winery outside of the busy resort towns, check out Morgado do Quintão. You can rent villas with kitchens and multiple bedrooms, some even have a pool, and they produce some amazing wines! If you are looking for more of a resort stay, check out the Tivoli Carvoeiro which sits on the edge of the Algarve coast.

Azores

The Azores is an up-and-coming tourist destination. A nine-island archipelago that sits in the middle of the Atlantic between Lisbon and New York. The Azores islands all have unique characteristics but many are focused on natural beauty, adventurous activities, and agriculture.

Planning a trip to the Azores has a few unique hurdles like transportation and dining, so I highly recommend reaching out to a travel agent, like Epic Travel, to help you plan the best Azores trip.

São Miguel

The largest Azores island is São Miguel. You’ll find some amazing viewpoints as well as ample adventure opportunities while on São Miguel. The island has a unique feel of being a cross between Ireland, Hawaii, and Iceland. It’s truly breathtaking. I will give a heads up that the main city of Ponta Delgada is a cruise port for cross-Atlantic sailings, so be sure to check for cruise schedules when planning your days.

Head out on some day tours to visit highlights like the famous Blue and Green Lake at Sete Cidades viewpoints, Lagoa das Furnas where the thermal ground features help cook the local specialty stew, cozido nas caldeiras, and the beautiful Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões.

viewpoint from são miguel island in azores portugal

I stayed at three different properties while on the island, each with its own benefit. In Ponta Delgada, the Octant (formally Azor) Hotel is a modern-styled hotel with upscale dining, a luxury spa, and a rooftop bar. The rooms are furnished with a clean style and many rooms have balconies overlooking the marina and town.

My stay at the Furnas Spa Hotel was our home base for visiting the Lagoa das Furnas park and where we experienced the thermal spring waters that the island is famous for. I loved eating in their outdoor dining room and they have a daily activity that would be great for families.

Our final stay was in a villa at the eco-beach Santa Barbara Resort. Our villa had patio access to a pool and a small kitchenette. The resort is located on the beach and has some beautiful ocean views with a relaxed style.

Pico

Another extremely popular Azores island is Pico. It’s the second-largest island and is home to the tallest mountain in Portugal, also called Pico. Pico is a volcanic island and its hot climate with unique mineral soil has made Pico a popular wine-producing island. They primarily make a high-acidity wine varietal called Verdelho, and you’ll find it served often while dining in the Azores.

pico island town with volcano in background

São Jorge

The final island I’ll mention for the Azores is São Jorge. This is another volcanic island and it has the largest amount of fajãs, lava/landslides, in the Azores. These flat land areas were created thousands of years ago and now offer some picturesque views, with a central peak running down the center of the island and fajãs shaping the coast.

Many of the Azores islands have cows, and the cows on São Jorge help produce the popular unpasturized semi-hard São Jorge cheese.

coastline fajas on sao jorge azores portugal

Map of Cities to Visit in Portugal

Portugal is a diverse country with something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or culture, you’ll find it in many of these Portugal cities. The country has a rich history with a variety of cultural influences that shape the food, architecture, and activities found in each of these cities in Portugal.

To help you organize your plans and help visualize the best places to visit, I’ve created a map for you to use. Just click on the image below to load the Google map.

map of the best cities in portugal to visit
pin image collage for best cities to visit in portugal with text overlay

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