11 high locations to go to in Portugal, from historic cities to seashores with surf enchantment

Lisbon and Porto get all of the love, however there’s far more to Portugal than its charming historic cities. Golden seashores, mountainous parks and plush river valleys are among the many many highlights of this small Iberian nation.

Each area has its personal various points of interest, and discovering the most effective place to go relies upon largely by yourself pursuits. In the event you’re after sun-kissed seashores and aquatic adventures, look to the Algarve; for historic architecture-filled cities with a wealthy, conventional eating scene, make your method to Évora. Here is a rundown of the highest locations to go to in Portugal. 

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Finest for nightlife 

Seven iconic hills overlook Lisbon’s postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, white-domed cathedrals and grand civic squares – a charming scene, crafted over centuries. The Portuguese capital is full of galleries to browse (together with the Museu Nacional do Azulejo with its trove of ceramic tiles) and castles to discover (such because the hilltop Castelo de São Jorge).

And town has sufficient pastel de nata (custard tart) spots to fulfill even probably the most sweet-toothed customer. By evening, Lisbon’s get together folks take over, filling old-school ingesting dens, brassy jazz golf equipment and open-all-night golf equipment that burst into life as soon as the solar goes down.

Setúbal Peninsula 

Finest for wild, cliff-backed seashores

South of Lisbon, the Setúbal Peninsula has lengthy been the weekend playground of Lisboetas (Lisbon residents). A ferry trip, adopted by a brief bus or bicycle trip, takes you to the Costa da Caparica, a seemingly infinite beachfront that will get wilder and fewer crowded the additional south you go. In order for you a surf lesson, some downtime on the sands or a meal overlooking the lapping waves, that is the place to come back. 

In the event you’re looking for a bit extra solitude, head all the way down to the Parque Pure da Arrábida on the southern finish of the peninsula. Right here, you will discover cliffs lined with thick vegetation, picturesque coves and seashores comparable to Praia do Portinho da Arrábida, with tremendous sand, azure waters and the ruins of an historic website that dates again to Roman occasions. 

The good-looking Palácio Nacional da Pena towers over Sintra © Taiga / Shutterstock


Finest for a fantastical escape

Lower than an hour by practice from the capital, Sintra seems like one other world, and it is an ideal possibility for a day journey away from town hubbub. Like a setting from a fairy story, this historic hillside township is sprinkled with stone-walled taverns and lorded over by a multicolored palace.

Forested hillsides type the backdrop to this storybook setting, with imposing castles, mystical gardens, unusual mansions and centuries-old monasteries hidden among the many bushes. The fog that sweeps in by evening provides one other layer of thriller; cool evenings are greatest spent by the hearth in one in all Sintra’s many charming B&Bs.

The Minho 

Finest for conventional villages and wilderness trails 

The Portuguese have a particular fondness for the Minho, a verdant area of vineyard-covered valleys, mountainous wilds, remoted seashores and picturesque river cities that appear little modified by time. The gateway to the area is Braga, a metropolis with Roman ruins, a fabled medieval cathedral and tranquil flower-trimmed plazas sprinkled with outside cafes and eating places. 

Additional north, you’ll discover Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, an unlimited, rugged wilderness of dramatic peaks, meandering streams and frozen-in-time stone villages. Dozens of mountain climbing trails crisscross the reserve, taking walkers previous previous Roman roads, fort ruins or glowing waterfalls. You may also cool off in idyllic swimming holes – the most effective locations to be in Portugal through the summer time.

A couple takes a selfie at the Jardim do Morro. In the background, a view of the cityscape of Porto is visible, including its famous bridges.
Lovely Porto is Portugal’s second-largest metropolis © Adrienne Pitts / Lonely Planet


Finest for city exploring 

It might be exhausting to dream up a extra romantic metropolis than Porto. Portugal’s second-largest city middle is laced with slim pedestrian lanes, baroque church buildings and cafe-dotted plazas, main the attention all the way down to the Duoro River and its landmark bridges. Evidently, there is no scarcity of issues to see and do. Begin within the Ribeira district – a Unesco World Heritage Web site – then cross the bridge to discover centuries-old port wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia, the place you possibly can sip the world’s greatest port. 

You may also study Porto’s historical past (each the drink and town) and different aspects of Portuguese identification on the World of Wine, a sprawling complicated of museums, eating places and bars overlooking town. Although Porto is outlined by its air of dignified historical past, trendy structure, cosmopolitan eating, vibrant nightlife and creative exercise are injecting new life into town.

Douro Valley 

Finest place to drink in tremendous views (and wine) 

Considered one of Portugal’s most lovely areas lies simply east of Porto. Right here, the meandering Rio Douro flows previous towering hillsides lined by the steeply terraced vineyards that make up Europe’s oldest demarcated wine area. Whether or not you come by boat, practice or automotive to the Douro Valley, you’ll be rewarded with astonishing views at each flip, particularly as you close to the beautiful village of Pinhão within the coronary heart of the area. 

Many vacationers sprint in on a fast day journey, however to profit from the area, spend the evening at one of many vineyard-surrounded guesthouses within the space comparable to Quinta Nova or the Casa Cimeira.

Street view of the Historic Centre of Evora, Portugal. The street is narrow and lined by stalls, selling their wares outside.
The historic middle of Évora is a Unesco World Heritage Web site © Takashi Photographs / Shutterstock


Finest for historic structure 

The center of the Alentejo area, Évora is one in all Portugal’s most superbly preserved medieval cities, and it is a fascinating place to spend a few days. Contained in the 14th-century partitions, slim, winding lanes result in placing monuments, together with an elaborate medieval cathedral, Roman ruins and a picturesque city sq.. However this is not a musty museum piece – Évora can be a full of life college city, and its many eating places serve up some wonderful, hearty Alentejan delicacies.


Finest for a pupil vibe

Portugal’s most atmospheric school city, Coimbra rises steeply from the Rio Mondego, and its good-looking medieval quarter homes one in all Europe’s oldest universities. College students roam the slim streets clad in black capes, whereas the sound of fado (Portugal’s soulful conventional type of music) drifts via the Moorish city gates in the direction of the stained-glass home windows of the historic Café Santa Cruz.

Grown-ups will admire the city’s student-driven nightlife and the medieval lanes of the steeply stacked historic middle. Guests with youthful youngsters can hold busy at Portugal dos Pequenitos, a theme park with miniature variations of Portuguese monuments.

An overhead view of Praia da Falesia in Portugal. The thin strip of golden sand is full of people sunbathing. Behind the sand is bright brown cliffs and in front is a turquoise sea.
Praia da Falésia is one in all many fashionable stretches of sand lining the Algarve © Eloy Rodriguez / Getty Photographs

The Algarve

Finest for a soothing household vacation

Sunseekers have a lot to have fun in Portugal. Alongside the south coast, the Algarve is famed for its beautiful and diversified shoreline, and you may be part of the crowds on the people-packed sands at main resorts or discover seaside peace on dramatic wild seashores backed by wind-carved cliffs. Days are spent taking part in within the waves, taking lengthy oceanfront strolls, or browsing a few of Europe’s most memorable breaks. 

The Algarve can be the most effective locations in Portugal for youths. You’ll discover family-friendly seashores, water parks and loads of outside adventures (from boating to hidden sea caves to exploring undeveloped islands). There’s by no means a nasty time to go to this area, with its 300 days of sunshine every year, although you’ll discover the most effective costs and thinnest crowds in winter. 

Parque Pure da Serra da Estrela 

Finest for mountain climbing and alpine actions in winter

The Serra da Estrela – Portugal’s highest mountain vary – is the place to come back for rugged surroundings, outside adventures, and glimpses of a vanishing conventional lifestyle. Hikers can select from an expansive community of high-country trails with stupendous vistas, and the area’s fascinating mountain villages make good bases for outside adventures.

On the nation’s highest level – the summit of Torre, artificially pushed to 2000m (6561ft) by the addition of a not-so-subtle stone monument – you possibly can slalom down Portugal’s solely ski slope. Oh, and did we point out the furry sheepdog puppies that frolic by the roadside? You’ll lengthy to take one dwelling!

An aerial view of the medieval houses, wall and tower of Obidos, Portugal. The street is filled with crowds of people.
The principle streets of Óbidos are very busy at weekends and through festivals © StockPhotosArt / Shutterstock


Finest hilltop village

Wandering the tangle of historic streets within the historic city of Óbidos is enchanting at any time of 12 months, however come throughout one in all its festivals and also you’ll be in for a particular deal with. Whether or not you fancy the concept of a mock-up jousting match at a medieval truthful, looking for the subsequent Pavarotti on the Festival de Ópera or delving into the written world at Folio – Portugal’s greatest worldwide literature competition – you couldn’t ask for a greater backdrop.