Portugal is quickly gaining a lot of recognition as a travel destination in recent years. With so many places in the country, if you are wondering where to go and what to see in Portugal – here are 28 of the best and most beautiful places, from pristine islands to beaches to towns and hilltop villages, UNESCO heritage sites and more. Add these beautiful places to your Portugal holiday itinerary and start planning your trip. While summer is warm, Portugal enjoys a mild winter and spring and fall are great times to visit!
We visited Portugal during our December break and fell in love with the country and its people. While we got to a few cities and small towns during our one week in Portugal, we can’t wait to go back and explore more of the beautiful places in Portugal. High on my list is visiting the southern coast of Portugal and Hawaii like landscape of the Azores! I sought the help of fellow travel bloggers who have traveled extensively in the region what some of their favorite places in Portugal was and why they think you need to visit! Without further ado here are 28 best places to visit in Portugal. Go ahead and plan an epic Portugal holiday!
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28 Best & Beautiful Places to visit in Portugal
The wild, remote and gorgeous islands of Portugal
By Sinead Camplin from Map Made Memories
The Atlantic island of Madeira is an underrated destination for a family holiday. This lush, tropical Portuguese island is popular with visitors all year round but prices are generally lower in the cooler, quieter Spring and Autumn months.
The capital of Madeira, Funchal, is a charming small city lined with mosaic pavements, pretty parks and impressive architecture. There are stunning churches to explore and a number of excellent museums such as the CR7 Museum dedicated to the achievements of local hero, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Take a scenic cable car ride from Funchal to Monte to visit the beautiful tropical gardens. After a good run around for the kids in Monte, descend to Funchal on a short but thrilling wicker toboggan ride. Any family visiting Madeira should explore the island, not just Funchal. Madeira has dramatic coastal scenery, interesting rural towns, plus caves and saltwater swimming pools to enjoy. There are breathtaking viewpoints at every turn and that’s why we think it one of the most beautiful places in Portugal!
Many people visit Madeira to walk the world-famous levadas. These irrigation channels – lined with walking paths – criss-cross the entire island offering an impressive array of walks to suit all ages and abilities. We particularly enjoyed the easy Levada do Risco hike which culminates at a jaw-dropping waterfall and also involved walking through a pitch-black irrigation tunnel one kilometer long!
Sao Miguel, The Azores
By Vanessa Hunt from Wanderlust Crew
If lush green hills, blooming blue hydrangea flowers, pristine beaches, and waterfalls are your idea of beautiful, then the Azores is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Portugal, and somewhere you must see! The Azores islands are an archipelago of nine islands in the Atlantic ocean, easily accessible from Europe or North America. The most popular and iconic island of Sao Miguel Azores offers some of the most amazing sites like the Furnas, the valley town that is actually a crater of a volcano, Lagoa das Furnas, with the smallest church in the Azores, gorgeous natural hot springs around the island, the amazing Terra Nostra Gardens, and some of the best whale watching in the world.
A great way to see most of the island is by taking an ATV tour that will allow you to see the heart of Sao Miguel by exploring its backroads. Be sure to stop by a cheese shop and try some of the famous Azorean cheese! You can easily get to the other islands in the Azores by ferry or plane and each island is special and unique.
While the Azores are certainly beautiful, it’s the people and the culture that make it an amazing place to visit.
Furnas, São Miguel in the Azores
By Julie from Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal
The little village of Furnas on the island of São Miguel in the Azores sticks in my mind as one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. As well as taking a walk around, there are other fascinating things to do there.
The steaming sulfur and underground cooking holes at the lakeside offer an almost alien landscape that complements the lakeside greenery. You can even buy a small portion of the traditional meat and vegetable casserole, cozido, which has been cooked in huge vats, from a mobile food truck. Or wait until you get to a restaurant that has a reserved cooking hole near the lake.
It also turns out that to enjoy the natural thermal pools in Furnas, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. In fact, it’s quite refreshing to be bathing in pools of warm water, surrounded by tropical foliage and feeling cooling raindrops on your face. There are two such pools you can visit; Poça Da Dona Beja and the one within the Terra Nostra Gardens. There are two hotels within the gardens but you can pay to explore the grounds and pools as a day guest. Aside from the hot springs, this tropical garden is an oasis filled with lush green vegetation, bright colored flowers, pretty ponds and some rather amusing topiary.
Terceira Island in the Azores
By Sylvia Van Overvelt from Wapiti Travel
The Azores archipelago consists of 9 lush green islands and a true paradise in the middle of the Atlantic. The pristine islands are still today largely untouched and unknown to many tourists. They are all similar in that they all have vast unspoilt nature and very few inhabitants. Yet they all also have some distinctive highlights. It’s hard to pick one island as the best, but if we really need to, it would be Terceira. Terceira is the third largest island of the archipelago. We loved it because it had many unique and impressive sights. Algor do Carvão was without any doubt our favorite. It’s a deep underground lava cave with a reflective lake on the bottom. Almost as beautiful are Furnas do Enxofre and Gruto do Natal.
Hiking Lovers will fall in love with the Azores the moment they arrive. All islands count several strenuous but fantastic hikes and Terceira is not different. The hike along mistérios negros is one that you shouldn’t miss. The place to go after a tiresome hike is Biscoitos, a large and popular natural swimming pool and a great place to tan and relax in summer. Spring and Summer are both excellent seasons to visit the Azores.
There is an increasing number of direct flights to the islands but today getting to the Azores will likely still involve a flight to Lisbon first for most people. Once in Lisbon you can hop on one of the daily flights to Terceira.
Best Places to visit in Northern Portugal
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
Did you know Portugal was born in the North, in Porto! Porto is one of the oldest cities in the country and it is where the country gets its name from too. The historic center of Porto and the River Douro on the Gaia side, where the Port Wine lodges are located, are all classified as World Heritage. Porto is so photogenic and one of the top places to visit in Portugal whether you are a wine lover or not.
From the beautiful tile works in the churches and the São Bento Train station to the Historical Centre and the Ribeira Square, the Lello Bookshop, the Café Majestic, the Port Wine Cellars – there is so much to see in Porto. We spent 4 days and wished we had 2 more. Don’t miss the Cathedral, the Clérigos Tower, the Guindais Funicular, the many miradouros, the 6 bridges that span the river and Museum of Modern Art.
Our hotel in Porto was one of the nicest places we stayed in Portugal, the view from our balcony was the best!
By Jorge & Cláudia from Travel Drafts
Sistelo is a small beautiful village located in the north of Portugal in Arcos de Valdevez. The town is also known as the “little Portuguese Tibet” due to its terraces spread all over the mountain. The terraces were created for agriculture proposes in order to optimize the little available arable land. The scenery is simply breathtaking and is one of those places you must visiting while in Portugal (if you don’t mind getting off the beaten path).
Although Sistelo is a very small town you have plenty to visit and do besides enjoying the view. You won’t want to miss the Castle of Sistelo, the Roman Bridge and Mill, the House of Visconde of Sistelo and the Parish Church. But one of the best things to do in Sistelo is definitely hiking the Ecovia do Vez.
The Ecovia do Vez is a 32 km long trail, along the Vez River, that starts or ends in Sistelo. From the trail, you will catch fantastic views of the terraces of Sistelo and be mesmerized with the Vez river. In summer you can even swim in several parts of the river.
The best time to go is in spring or summer, although it is the peak season, so you will have to share Sistelo with plenty of people. There are a few local houses where you can stay in Sistelo or along the way, but the best place to stay is in Arcos de Valdez as it is a bigger city with more options.
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
The Douro Valley is an enchanting valley with amazing landscapes. It is a World Heritage site and considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world to drive! This is where River Douro enters Portugal between the ravines and mountains and flows through the landscape and where the Port and Douro wines are produced. From here the wines are sent to the lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia, in Porto. See this post about driving on the Douro Valley and the viewpoints along the way.
Many go on a river cruise to see the beautiful places along the Douro river in Portugal or you can take a train. In Pinhão, right by the river. The railway station is a must-see to admire its ancient Portuguese azulejos blue, white and yellow tile dedicated to the cultivation of vines.
The Douro Wine Region Valley, up to Barca de Alva, is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. Where the river carved deep valleys out of the land and the hard work of Man transformed the schist mountains into soil and terraces where vines are planted the vines. With knowledge handed down from generation to generation, the vines grown on the terraces are exposed to the rays of the sun which give the grapes the warmth that the wine craves. Specially beautiful to visit in fall when the vines are in shades of gold and fiery red. While you can visit as a day trip from Porto, stay a night or two at this beautiful hotel with amazing views of the valley.
Peneda-Geres National Park
By Josh and Sarah from Veggie Vagabonds
After spending a few months traveling from the bottom to the top of Portugal, there was one place that really stuck in our minds: Peneda-Geres National Park.
This incredible park is right in the north of the country, not far from the Spanish border. It stretches across more than 700-km-sq of breathtaking natural landscapes and is an absolute haven if you like the outdoors. From hiking and climbing to mountain biking and rafting, there are plenty of adrenaline options with some seriously beautiful surroundings.
It’s the Peneda-Geres hiking options that are really out of this world though, and the countless trails take you to some of the most naturally stunning parts of the park. Whether you fancy a slow afternoon amble or a multiday epic, you’ll find it here. Experiencing the hiking trails will also give you an awesome opportunity to see some of the local wildlife. The park is home to snakes, bats, wolves, deer and golden eagles, though you’re less likely to run into any wolves.
Whether you’re looking for sharp mountains and rolling valleys, flowing waterfalls and crystal clear lakes or dense pine forests and rich vineyards, you’ll find it in Peneda-Geres!
Best Places to visit in Alentejo
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
UNESCO world heritage site of Evora Portugal with its Roman ruins, a 12th-century cathedral, a spooky chapel of bones along with charming cobblestoned streets lined whitewashed houses trimmed with bright yellow borders deserves a spot on your Portugal holiday itinerary!
The historic center of the Évora is surrounded by a defensive wall dating from the Roman, Moorish periods encompassing whitewashed houses adorned with bright yellow dashes and pretty azulejos. Évora was an important Roman town because of its location on a trade route to Rome. It is one of the popular places to visit in Portugal these days. Most come to see the massive Aqueduct that provided clean drinking water to Evora and the Temple of Diana.
Chapel of Bones, an ossuary built with the remains of bones of 1,245 monks is located inside the Church of St. Francis. Climb up the bell tower at The Sé Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the view of the city is not to be missed.
If you are spending the night in Evora, you can also visit Elvas a small Portuguese town located east of Alentejo near the border of Spain. It is charming and has narrow streets and the houses have bright yellow stripes (which was believed to ward off evil). Cromlech Almendres (another one of those hidden places in Portugal that many people miss), an ancient megalithic monument older than the Stonehenge in not too far from Evora, Portugal.
Vila Viçosa, Renaissance ducal town
By Yasha from Dare2Go
Vila Viçosa is a very small town, around 150km due east of Lisbon, located between the World Heritage cities of Evora and Elvas. It is on the Tentative List to become a World Heritage site. Relatively unknown but it will soon make it on everyone’s list of places to visit in Portugal.
The beauty of Vila Vicosa comes from 2 main influences: It is in the centre of Portugal’s major marble quarrying region. It had a strong influence on the history of Portugal. (It was the fiefdom of the House of Braganza for more than 4 centuries.) This makes for some very beautiful, historic, marble buildings. And the footpaths are even paved in marble. It’s a splendid sight.
But the most impressive of all is the Ducal Palace of Viçosa. Construction began in 1501, followed by many renovations and additions over time. The stunning classical facade took 30 years to complete. The last owner of the Palace, King Manuel II of Portugal, died in exile in 1932. His will ordered the creation of a foundation to care for this royal estate. You can take a guided tour through room after room that remains the same as when lived in by the Dukes of Braganza.
Other sights to see in Vila Vicosa include:
Castle of Vila Viçosa, at the top end of the main street.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Conception, next to the castle
The Pillory of Vila Viçosa, just outside the Sanctuary
Church of the Augustinians, right opposite the Ducal Palace
Museum of Marble, in the town’s former railway station
Portugal is a fabulous place to visit in any season. We were there at the end of April and spent time sitting in a cafe in the sun. Try to stay in the centre of town. Everything is in easy walking distance and you can enjoy the town’s attractions at varying times of the day and into the evening. We would recommend staying at Casa do Colegio Velho.
By Cindy Baker from Travel Bliss Now
Sitting high over the Alentejo countryside, Monsaraz is one of the oldest and most atmospheric places in Portugal. Dating back to the 8th century, it’s a place to get a true feel for medieval Portugal. As you wander through the little village, you’ll also be charmed by the narrow cobblestone streets and whitewashed cottages with red roofs and wrought iron balconies.
The top spot for visitors is the town’s formidable castle. From there, you’ll get fabulous views over Alqueva Lake, the largest artificial lake in Europe. This area is a dark sky reserve, with fabulous starry nights. Visit the nearby observatory for telescopic views.
Be sure to stop in at the 16th century Igreja (church) de Nossa Senhora da Lagoa and the Fresco Museum. Best of all, enjoy traditional Portuguese food at local shops and restaurants. This region is known for its olive oil, wine, sheep’s cheese and artisanal bread.
Summer temperatures can be extremely hot, so the best time to visit Monsaraz is spring or fall. The village is 185 kilometres east of Lisbon and, since public transportation is limited, you’ll need a car to get there. There is parking just outside the town walls, all the better for exploring this ancient village on foot.
Best Places to visit in Central Portugal
Serra da Estrela
By Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker
Most people first hear about Portugal in the context of amazing beaches, beautiful cities, and picturesque villages. But there’s more to Portugal than the busy coastal areas. The “Star Mountain Range” is mainland Portugal’s highest elevation. Besides having a pretty name, it’s also a truly beautiful area to visit.
I’d been planning a visit to the Serra da Estrela since 2015. My obsession came from the natural beauty in the area, the ease of access to the peak, and the mountain cheese Queijo Serra da Estrela. In summer 2018, I finally had the opportunity to make that journey a reality when I traveled to Porto and Coimbra.
In summer, the region is a very pleasant recreational area for hiking, picnicking, and rural tourism. Before reaching the summit, I was lucky to see a few Estrela Mountain Dog (Cão da Serra da Estrela) puppies, which is one of Portugal’s oldest dog breeds meant for herd-guarding.
I hitchhiked to the summit named Torre of the Serra da Estrela from Viseu. It just took a couple of rides and I spent the afternoon there enjoying the views, touching the last patches of melting snow that trickles down in picturesque artificial lakes, and eating the renowned cheese at 1993 meters above sea level. A few abandoned radar domes on the peak emphasize that this place can both be breathtakingly beautiful and hostile. Eerie chairlifts swinging in the summer breeze tell the story about winter fun up here. I’d love to return for that. During the colder months, Serra da Estrela is the only place in Portugal where you can try ski, or go sledding, snowboarding or ride a snowmobile.
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
The town of Obidos in Portugal is known as the “wedding present town” as it was given by King Dinis to his bride on their wedding day in 1282. Surrounded by a fortified wall, Óbidos is one of the pretty places you don’t want to miss when visiting Portugal. It has cobblestone streets that lead up to a gorgeous historic center with whitewashed houses lined up along the streets of this charming town.
The main gate of Óbidos’ features a chapel and a gorgeous blue-and-white-tiled baroque balcony which dates to around 1380. The city has a fascinating history and was founded several centuries Before Christ. It was conquered by the Portuguese King Alphonso I in the twelfth century, and in the eighteenth century was a favorite holiday spot for royalty. You can visit as a day trip from Lisbon or stay inside this quaint town at – Pousada de Óbidos (an upscale hotel set in a medieval 700-year-old castle),
By Karolina Klesta from Lazy Travel Blog
Visiting the town of Fatima is one of the best things to do in Portugal. A popular pilgrimage site to devout Catholics due to the legendary apparition of the Virgin Mary in the summer of 1917, Fatima has more to offer than a boost to your spiritual faith.
Yes. The basilicas, cathedrals, and other religious structures of Fatima are worth visiting because of their impressive architecture, but the real attractions of Fatima are its natural wonders. Enter the Grutas de Moeda, where you will be awed by its network of ten chambres filled with haunting formations and Jurassic fossils.
Visit the Ourém’s impressive hilltop 15th-century castle and be blown away by the stunning vistas you will see from the top. If you were a big fan of dinosaurs as a child or have children who are, take a walk around the Monumento Natural das Pegadas de Dinossaurio de Ourem-Torres Novas to literally walk in the footsteps of Sauropods, the largest creatures that have walked the planet.
South of the island, you will find dramatic natural attractions in the Sierra de Aire range, from its Mira de Aire Caves to its trails through chalky valleys and long-abandoned mines. It is also here that you will find Batalha, a well-preserved medieval monastery.
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
Situated on the edge of an extensive coastal lagoon system, Aveiro is often called the Venice of Portugal. Where the Italian city has gondolas, Aveiro, Portugal has colorful boats called moliceiros. Once used for seaweed-harvesting these traditional boats are used for touristy canal cruises these days. It is about a 45-minute ride along the canal system. The canal system is nowhere near as big as Venice though! But Aveiro is charming!
Costa Nova is a small fishing village in Portugal with colorful striped wooden beach homes is not too far from Aveiro. Praia da Costa Nova is about 13km west of the town of Aveiro and is a popular surfing hangout. The beach town is pretty busy during the summer month and one of the popular places in Portugal for families to spend summer holidays.
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
The University and the town of Coimbra is a great place to explore and learn a little about the history of Portugal. The university consists of Pátio das Escolas a vast courtyard surrounded by majestic 16th- to 18th-century buildings. These include Paço das Escolas, Torre da Universidade, Sala dos Capelos, Prisão Acadêmica, Capela de São Miguel and Biblioteca Joanina. You can climb up the Tower or Torre da Universidade to get a bird’s eye view of the colorful rooftops of the town of Coimbra and the river. We stopped in Coimbra while driving from Porto to Lisbon.
Don’t miss a visit to Biblioteca Joanina the university’s lavish baroque library, a hidden gem that does not often make it on the list of places to visit in Portugal, probably because you can’t take photos inside! The library is believed to have inspired the towering library shelves in Harry Potter. The walls of the library are about 6 feet wide and the most interesting fact about the library is that it houses a colony of bats to protect the books. They are let to fly through the library at night so that they eat the harmful insects that might damage the books. Pretty ingenious!
You can visit Conímbriga, one of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal and outside of Italy which is located not too far from Coimbra.
By Corina Preda from Another Milestone
Located in the heart of Portugal, the little town of Tomar is a real discovery for all its visitors since it hides not one, but many tourist attractions. Known as the city of Templars because it was founded by the Knights Templar, Tomar hosts a great treasure left behind by this Order: the Convent of Christ, UNESCO heritage site.
You should dedicate at least two hours to explore all the chambers of the convent and to walk on the walls of the castle that surround the convent. Inside you will discover a mix of styles from different periods since the convent was built during 5 centuries and you can see blue Portuguese tiles as well as the red cross, symbol of the Templars. Connected to the convent, but accessible from outside the city, the large convent’s aqueduct is also a tourist attraction. You can walk on it if you are not afraid of heights or you can take amazing pictures of it from different corners. Either way, you will love visiting this beautiful town, which is one of my favorite places in Portugal.
Another stop you should include in your itinerary in Tomar is the city center. It is a pleasure to walk on its narrow streets framed by white buildings with dark yellow windows. Wandering on them you will arrive in the main square of the city, Praca da Republica, where you can see the Tomar Town Hall and the church of St. John the Baptist. Tomar is a quiet, tranquil and beautiful place in Portugal, perfect to be explored in a day!
Top places in Portugal near the Capital
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
Portugal’s capital city Lisbon needs no introduction and probably where you will start or end your Portugal holiday! The city of seven hills and has many wonderful miradouros from where you can enjoy sunsets and panoramic views. Walk along cobbled alleyways, visit ancient ruins and cathedrals and in the evenings listen to Fado in one of the clubs.
The old city’s pastel-colored buildings, Belem Tower, Tagus Estuary, Discoveries Monument and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge all are places you can’t miss when visiting Portugal. If you like to see and learn about the tiles that adorn the walls of the houses in Portugal visit the National Azulejo Museum that displays 5 centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. Just outside Lisbon is a string of Atlantic beach towns, from Cascais to Estoril.
We loved our stay at the Lapa Palace in the quiet and posh and diplomatic neighborhood of Lapa. Built in the 19th-century, overlooking the Tagus River, the palace once was the home to a Count. Part of the Leading Hotels of the World this beautiful hotel is a short drive away from the city center.
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
Sintra’s whimsical fairytale palaces and monuments are popular places to visit in Portugal. So expect long lines and wait time but it is worth the wait! The wooded and mountainous area has been a longtime sanctuary for the Portuguese royal families and there are many beautiful castles, villas and lush gardens to visit. The town center of Sintra is quaint and charming.
You can’t visit ALL of them unless you spend at least 2 to 3 days in town. But on our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, we covered 3 of the main attractions – The Chalet of the Countess of Edla (mistress and second wife of King Ferdinand II), the colorful Pena Palace and the extravagant and quirky property of Quinta da Regaleira. If you have time don’t miss a visit to the Moors Castle and Monserrate Palace. If you are staying in Sinta, Tivoli Palacio de Setesais or Sintra Marmoris Palace would be great options to spend a night or two.
Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Portugal
Contributed by Elisa from World in Paris
Cabo da Roca is the name of the westernmost point of Portugal and the whole continental Europe. If you look at a map of Portugal, Cabo da Roca corresponds to the “nose” of the country. It is located 42 km west of Lisbon which makes Cabo da Roca a great half-day trip from the capital. For those who have more free time for exploring Lisbon’s surroundings, Cabo da Roca is also easily combined with other interesting places like Cascais or Sintra for a day trip out of the capital.
The best (and cheapest) way to reach Cabo da Roca is by a combination of train + bus. Trains leave Lisbon to Sintra or Cascais and from there public buses connect these two sites to Cabo da Roca.
Cabo da Roca is a natural sight and apart from an information center and a monument with the inscription “westernmost point of the European continent” there’s not much else to do. The next bus back to the capital is in one hour, which gives plenty of time to explore the surroundings and capture some beautiful shots.
Beware that Cabo da Roca is a very windy place so avoid caps or other accessories that can easily fly away.
Praia da Ursa
By Kevin from Kevmrc Travel & Photography
A little further away from Cabo da Roca is the next place that is on our list of beautiful places in Portugal. It is still relatively under the radar though!
Praia da Ursa is a beach located in Sintra, west of Lisbon. Sintra is mostly visited on a day-trip from Lisbon, and people usually see the gorgeous palaces and castles in the area, such as the colorful Pena Palace. But the coast gets less love, and that’s exactly why it’s a good reason to visit, you will escape the crowds!
The beach is also pretty tough to reach. You will need to hike on a steep trail from Cabo da Roca and climb down on a rocky path. But trust me, it’s absolutely worth it! When you’ll get to the beach, you’ll discover a wild beach, with massive rock formations in the sea, a place where you’ll undoubtedly spend many hours just enjoying the place and taking in the view. You can then drive back to the capital, and you’ll be right in time to watch the sunset in Lisbon.
The best time to visit is around the end of Spring, where it’s hot enough to chill on the beach, but still without the crowds. If you want to swim, you’ll need to visit in summer. A great place to stay not far from Praia da Ursa is Pensao Sisudo, a comfy B&B for a very affordable price.
Costa da Caparica
By Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
Just outside of Lisbon, on the opposite bank of the Tagus river, is a spectacular coastline of sandy beach backed by flaming red cliffs. With no direct public transport to get here, it’s not as accessible as the more popular beaches on the train line between Lisbon and Cascais. But limited accessibility means limited crowds and you get to have this beautiful place to yourself! If you don’t have a car it’s not too expensive to take a taxi or Uber here.
The beach stretches for about 10 kilometers, which means that it never feels crowded, even in the height of summer. While the beach itself is beautiful, what really makes this place special is the range of sandstone cliffs, known as the Arriba Fóssil, and the shady forest behind it. If you’re into hiking, I recommend doing a loop walk, heading north along the top of the cliffs from Fonte da Telha and then scrambling down to walk along the beach on the way back.
While most people visit as a day trip from Lisbon, there are a few hotels and apartments nearby if you want to base yourself here for a couple of days. Some stretches of the beach are completely undeveloped, but there are also a few small seaside villages like Fonte da Telha, where you can find restaurants and accommodation. Kali Vice Surf Villa is a great choice that offers private rooms as well as hostel dorms. As for dining options, Bambu is one of few veg-friendly restaurants in the area that offers something for everyone, including seafood as well as various kinds of veggie burgers.
By Kirsten from Multigenerational Vacations
Cascais is a lovely fishing village, a quick 45 minute drive from Lisbon. Due to its proximity to the capital and stunning beaches, this was the summer escape for the Portuguese nobility in the 19th century. Today visitors can relax on stunning beaches of the Portuguese Riviera, explore the cobblestoned historic center, and visit historical sights.
Favorite Beaches in Cascais include Praia da Conceição and Praia da Rainha, both with easy access from town. Lovers of art and architecture will enjoy the colorful azulejo tiles on buildings, and patterned cobblestone streets. Don’t miss the uniquely designed 19th century mansion, Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães and a visit to Boca do Inferno, literally “the mouth of hell”, the remains of a cave that has been battered by sea waves for centuries.
We visited in March when the weather was picture perfect. During the summer months, Portugal can get quite warm, but at least the water is there to cool off. Our favorite place to stay in the area is Martinhal Cascais with lovely family villas, a kids’ club and playground, pools, and on-site restaurants. Cascais is one of the places in Portugal that is gaining a lot of recognition lately! With villas and traditional hotel rooms, it is the perfect place for a multigenerational vacation.
Best Beaches and coastal towns in Algarve, Portugal
By Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads
The Vicentina coast in the south of Portugal is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. It stretches from Odeceixe in the north to Cabo de S.Vicente in the south. The coast is a part of the Alentejo Natural Park, it’s the longest protected stretch of the coast in Portugal. As a result, the area is not overexploited, there are no big hotels, resorts, cities, shopping centers, and highways, it’s as wild as it was 50 years ago. The scenery along the coast is amazing; dramatic cliffs, hidden bays, unspoiled sandy beaches, small fishermen’s villages, and blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Vicentina Coast is a real paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and watersports lovers. There are many things to do here; surfing, cycling, windsurfing, hiking, kayaking, diving and more. Surfing and hiking are the two most popular activities on the Vicentina Coast. The best spots for surfing are Praia de Odeceixe, Praia de Arrifana, and Sagres. The Rota Vicentina is a network of hiking trails that includes short day hikes and two long-distance routes the Fishermen’s Trail and the Historical Way. Most of the trails follow the coast, past hidden beaches, along the cliffs to small fishermen’s villages where hikers can stay for the night.
Spring is the best time to visit the Vicentina Coast, the weather is nice, it’s warm and sunny but not too hot like in July and August. This time of the year there are not too many people, fields and meadows are covered in flowers and hundreds of storks build their nests at the edge of the cliffs.
Praia da Marinha
By Preethi from Local Passport Family
When visiting Portugal, it hardly gets more beautiful than the Algarve coast, and Praia da Marinha is one of the Crown Jewels. With its iconic rich arches and beautiful, clean and sandy beaches, and crystalline blue water, it feels like a true paradise.
While some of the Algarve beaches have bigger waves or smaller beach areas, Praia da Marinha is blessed with calmer waters and a wide stretch of sand, making it perfect for families with little ones. (See tips for visiting Portugal with kids) During low tide, you’ll be able to cross the rocks over to the arches. Depending on how adventurous you are, you may even be able to climb up some of the rock cliffs into a few little caves!
As it is indeed stunningly beautiful, Praia da Marinha, along with the rest of the Algarve, tends to get quite busy in the summer months. Consider heading there in the shoulder seasons of April-May or September-October. You’ll find mild temperatures and have a much better chance of getting a patch of sand to yourself. Don’t miss this beautiful beach during your Portugal holiday.
There are a number of small towns nearby that have lodging spaces. For a wider selection of hotels, head to nearby Lagos, which is only a short drive away and will allow you a perfect home base to explore Portugal’s southern coast.
Benagil Sea Cave
By Claire Sturzaker, Tales of a Backpacker
Benagil Sea Cave is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Portugal. It’s unique because of the way the water has eroded the rock in a dome shape, and there is a hole in the top which lets sunlight stream into the cave. On the cave walls the water has exposed beautiful patterns in the stone and two natural entrances to the cave from the water. Although you can see the cave from above, you can only get inside it from the sea, so most people take a Benagil Cave tour to see it up close.
As the cave has become one of most popular places in Portugal, restrictions on the tours tightened, and now the only way to walk around inside the cave is to take a kayak or SUP tour. Boat tours are not allowed to disembark inside the cave, but you still get plenty of time to admire the cave and take photographs from the boat. Small RiB boats are easier to maneuver inside the caves, and your captain will make sure you get a good view no matter where you are sitting!
Taking a tour from a nearby town such as Lagos or Portimao means that you can see more of the incredible Algarve coastline, which is littered with rock formations and hidden beaches. The best time to go to the Benagil Cave is on a calm day when the sea is smooth, and you can get inside the cave to admire its beauty.
Faro, the capital of Algarve
By Sarah Vanheel from CosmopoliClan
The capital of the Algarve is a charming city, in part thanks to its well-preserved historic centre. A majestic gate called Arco da Villa forms the impressive entrance to the Old Town or Cidade Velha. Behind the city walls, you’ll find cobblestone streets aligned with white-washed houses and enchanting squares dotted with fragrant orange trees. You will understand why this makes our
At the heart of it all is Faro’s cathedral, the Sé. Follow its winding staircase to take in the amazing views over the old town. Outside of the city walls, follow the patterned streets to the Carmo church with its remarkable Chapel of Bones. A more cheerful sight is Faro’s marina which is also the gateway to the Ria Formosa Natural Park with marshes, lagoons and deserted islands.
Faro is also home to the only international airport in southern Portugal. Because it’s so well-connected, the city forms the perfect travel base to explore the wider region: Discover the authentic Algarve in Olhão or Tavira, play a round of gold on the world-class courses in the Golden Triangle, relax on the golden beach of Falésia, explore the Algarve coast by boat, visit the pink Palácio de Estoi with its romantic gardens or dance the night away in posh Vilamoura.
Aldeia da Pedralva
Contributed by Viki from Chronic Wanderlust
After several trips to beautiful places in Portugal, I am still discovering new and exciting things, and it keeps reminding me why I am so in love with the country. On my most recent visit, I was traveling along the Rota Vicentina. It is a long-distance hiking trail that follows the Atlantic coast in the South of Portugal. There I discovered the small village Aldeia da Pedralva.
Aldeia da Pedralva lies 10 km from Vila do Bispo which it is part of. The story of Aldeia da Pedralva is quite an interesting one. A long time ago, the small village was inhabited by 100 people. Then they started to leave, and the town became almost deserted. In 2006 it was decided that something had to be done to save this place. A long and complex process of urban recovery took place to rebuild and remodel some of the 50 houses and recover the heritage and history of Aldeia da Pedralva.
The village is not big, but one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever come across. The white houses with colorful doors and windows make a perfect stop when you are in the region. You can also stay in the homes and wake up in this picturesque place. I’d recommend you skip the hot summer months and come here in Spring or Autumn. Base yourself here to discover the region, go hiking and enjoy an active holiday. Curious to learn more about the area? This guide about the Rota Vicentina will help you inspire your activities.
Whether you are planning a Portugal holiday or dreaming of retiring in the Portuguese Riviera like me, I hope this list of beautiful places in Portugal inspires your trip! When visiting Portugal don’t miss trying a few Portuguese pastries the Portugues have a sweet tooth and figured our more than a few ways of making egg custards.
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