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15 Best Cities To Visit In Portugal for An Amazing Trip

Positioned on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal’s seaside view of the Atlantic Ocean makes it a small but equally attractive country. Although it shares its eastern border with Spain, its strategic position on the Atlantic Ocean further increases its allure, making it a destination on the list of every traveler in Europe.

Full of different cultures, sandy beaches, pretty cities, and picturesque landscapes, let alone the stunning national parks, Portugal has so much art, beauty, and history to offer.

It is not unexpected that this country has many UNESCO World Heritage sites, given its rich history. Have we sung the praises of Traditional Portuguese food and the famous Pastel de Nata?

There are plenty of bucket-list-worthy experiences to be had in Portugal, including the beautiful beaches and lively tourist cities, including Lisbon and Porto. Nevertheless, mainland Portugal has a bunch of small towns and cities that will make you say, wow.

Having so many fantastic cities and activities to visit and take part in, going to Portugal may be a daunting task. Therefore, the top cities to visit in Portugal for a rich, historic, and unforgettable experience are listed below.

  1. Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital and also the largest city of Portugal. This extraordinary city receives ample sunlight as it is located on the banks of River Tagus. Besides, Lisbon is famous for its splendid views because it was built on beautiful hills.

In the simple setting, the city of Lisbon is also getting famous in Europe; it has enough to offer like Portuguese foods, historical buildings, and museums. Moreover, you will be able to experience the amazing architecture of the city in your urban walks along the stone-paved streets.

Though Lisbon is a big city, but it retains a glimmer of a small-town aesthetic, mostly because it is delightfully peaceful compared to other metropolitan areas. One of the city center’s popular tourist attractions is the famed Belem Tower and Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, which won the UNESCO world heritage site status.

Do not miss a visit to Pastéis de Belém bakery to enjoy a well-known Pastry of Nata! There are also other must-see places in Lisbon, including the Castelo de Sao Jorge, which sits on a hill near the city center. On the other hand, we cannot forget about Alfama, the best historical center of the city located in the very center of it, and other great places such as The Se Cathedral.

The Portuguese market can be the best gateway to try different but cheap foods across the country. In spite of its growing popularity, the capital city today seems to be a pocket-friendly place where both free and even some affordable activities are hosted.

  1. Porto

Porto, or Oporto as it is popularly known, is the second largest city in Portugal and is situated in the North. It is set on the Douro River, and the Ribeira—a UNESCO-recognized world heritage site—has lovely views.

Unfortunately, not so many people know about Porto and usually prefer Lisbon. Although, this major city gives you a unique experience, which varies from the capital city.

Part of the Porto experience is the unique architecture and the colorful buildings standing out in the streets. Furthermore, the Baroque churches and cathedrals will make the walking tour a sightseeing wonder.

Porto is also well known for gorgeous bridges that blend the old city architecture with the modern essence. Besides the historical and colorful streets with white and blue tiles, a trip to this place will not be complete without visiting a cellar for Port wine at Vila Nova de Gaia.

  1. Sintra

The Sintra’s castles are the most beautiful and fairy-tale-like, and they remind you of Disney movies. The castles and the royal residences of the city are the most attractive and dashing sights for visitors.

Some of the beautiful castles to see in Sintra include the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, a residence of the royal family, and Palácio da Pena (a colorful Pena Palace), which presents to the audience vibrant colors and verd green trees.

Besides the Moorish castle, the background of which is green mountains and the Quinta de Regaleira, the latter having a mysterious garden, it is also worth emphasizing. Also, you can explore the upper tracks of the Sintra UNESCO-listed scenic, beautiful, and charming sceneries.

Lastly, while you are in this historic city, do not forget to spend some time sunbathing and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the shoreline.

  1. Evora

Evora is a small, historical city from the heartland of Antelejo with surrounded by a lot of culture and tradition. This little place, which is one-and-a-half hours away from Lisbon and a bit less of a touristy spot, is also very easy to explore.

The medieval city contains churches, temples, historic buildings, and memorial sites preserved. The Chapel of Bones ( Capela dos Ossos), Praca do Município which is the town square, and the Roman ruins are among the most notable sights of the city.

Furthermore, Evora has its past and is also known for the cork plantations and the top quality wine. Moreover, the things to savor other than just walking down the cobbled streets could be seeing the Cathedral from the top, visiting museums, and having a taste of the cuisine of the local restaurants.

  1. Coimbra

Coimbra is the biggest city in Portugal’s Central part, located on the banks of the Mondego River, a big important river in this area. The city hosts the globe’s oldest and also functioning universities which are still active.

The campus is home to the Biblioteca Joanina, an outstanding Baroque-style library, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Those fans of Harry Potter will be amazed upon viewing this library, as it is thought to have served J.K. Rowling as a muse during the times she spent in Portugal.

It also features a train line between Lisbon and Porto, being convenient even for a day trip. You can enjoy the greenness of botanical gardens as well as visit museums and churches which will connect you to nature and history by just wandering through the center of the city.

  1. Obidos

Obidos is a gorgeous walled town steeped in Medieval heritage with houses clad in white with red roofs and flowers of various colors. Now, this magical place that was given by King Dinis I to his lovely wife and an hour away from Lisbon should be in your Portugal program.

The brick-lined streets are inviting, with overflowing tourists and plenty of activities going on in the town. You may find cafés, vintage bookshops, and handicraft stores along the old streets.

As a matter of fact, Obidos is also well-known for its yearly events, varying from the Christmas Market to the Chocolate Festival and the Middle Ages Fair, so consider this when making your schedule.

  1. Guimaraes

Guimaraes’ fame is tied to the fact that this is where it all began, i.e., the birth of Portugal as a nation and the country’s first capital. Lisbon has a wealth of history, including the Battle of São Mamede, which was fought to establish Portugal as an independent Kingdom.

It is generally believed that King Afonso Henriques was well born in Guimaraes, also. Guimarães belongs to the category of Portuguese cities with a rich political past so there are many historical sites left for a visitor. They include the castle, the Ducal Palace, the royal palace, and the main public square.

  1. Aveiro

This Utopian-like place, which is often called the “Venice of Portugal,” is derived from its uniquely colored small boats and multi-hued housing. One of the major reasons why people prefer to travel to the city is because of the iconic setting where the canals are crisscrossed.

Along with the brilliantly painted boats sailing through the rivers and the lagoons with the tourists, it is particularly recognized for its Art Nouveau style of architecture. On a sunny or hot day, it is lovely to walk along the waterfront and enjoy the cute shops, houses, and restaurants.

The Museu Arte Nova is an amazing place to visit for artists and architecture aficionados who want to see more of these elements from Art Nouveau. Yet, Museu de Aveiro is the ideal spot to venture into the rich customs and heritage of Aveiro if you want to know more.

The main sights to see in Atibaia, besides the cathedral and the Convento de Jesus, are also very wonderous parts of the city for tourists. Along with this, you can visit the Vista Alegre museum, palace, and outlet shop, which are great for buying discounted stuff. Besides, the city’s stunning beaches provide 

  1. Braga

Braga is one of the most populous cities in Portugal. Likewise, it is one of the oldest cities in the country, serving as a major historic center. This makes it a prime tourism destination.

The city, which is North of Portugal, is also known for pilgrimage since a lot of people visit places of worship, including the Braga Cathedral – the oldest in the country. Bom Jesus do Monte Basilica is still another major tourist site and the pilgrimage for many faithful Christians.

Aside from its legacy, the busy metropolis has its own blend of old and modern styles. There are also café, bakeries, pubs, restaurants, and museums around the city center.

  1. Elvas

Elvas, a small town, is situated on a hilltop in Alentejo, a region in Portugal. It is a UNESCO heritage site. The star-fortified walls encircling the city reflect the mighty military fortifications prevalent in Europe all throughout history.

In Elvas, activities include walking along the deeply moated ramparts and seeing the city up high. Besides, you can take a slow walk on the cobblestone road to discover interesting historical attractions such as the Aqueduto da Amoreira, constructed in the 16th Century.

Moreover, if you are interested in the vantage views of the town, there’s a castle located towards the North.

  1. Tavira
Free photos of Tavira

Tavira is definitely one of the places to be in your Portugal bucket list and you shouldn’t miss it, especially if you want a quiet and relaxed place where you can go strolling. You can have an amazing day-trip to this historic center and see Moors and Roman culture in Spain reflected in Portuguese architecture.

This little town in the Algarve region has an old Roman bridge connecting the two sides of the city. The Núcleo Islâmico museum is in the city, which you can visit if you want to dig deeper into the history or visit the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo church, which was built in the 13th Century.

A visit to Tavira, however, is not the same without paying a visit to the nearby beaches where the whitest sand in the country can be found. Despite being small and slow-paced, this city’s streets and buildings, with all their colorful facades, are definitely worth the visit.

  1. Lagos

Many travelers who are visiting the South of Portugal prefer to go to the premier resorts on the Lagos coast. It is this feature that makes this area a treat to explore with beautiful beaches, caves, and coastline.

Activities include learning about the history, escaping the hustle and bustle of the city by going to the hot, sunny beach resorts, and tasting the local cuisine in one of the many restaurants.

  1. Faro

Faro stands out as the largest Portuguese city and is the Capital of the Algarve Region. The city features an airport, lots of attractive tourist spots, shopping malls, and modern architecture. Besides an outlook covered with aestheticism, it has much more to offer.

If you stroll off from Faro’s popular town, you will enjoy the original Portuguese decor. The Faro town of the past is in part encircled by the Roman walls with a lot of history traces. Museums and Nature Centre are there in the city for a person to visit.

For instance, Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is an interesting place where you can spot a variety of bright colors of flamingoes and many wading birds. Fardo stands out with some awesome cafes, restaurants, and bars where you can taste authentic cuisine and listen to pick music.

  1. Costa Nova
Costa Nova

This astonishing city of multi-colored patterned houses is the most appealing city in Portugal, in my opinion. Costa Nova stands out as a preferred destination for tourists and Portuguese residents in summer because of its atmosphere, beautiful landscapes, and beaches.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the local fish market, which is definitely worth touring if you’re a fan of seafood. The whole candy-striped town is very photogenic. If you come to Aveiro, don’t fail to explore Costa Nova for its stunningly colorful landscape.

  1. Funchal

Unlike other cities of Southern and Central Portugal, Funchal is situated on the island of Madeira. As capital of the Island, the city houses lots of attractions such as natural wonders and various botanical gardens.

The coastline view is just as amazing, which gives you a chance to appreciate the city more. Funchal hosts Mercado dos Lavradores and Igreja Colégio, which stands for its outstanding interior.

Also, in this city, there are other things that you can enjoy, such as hiking and wine tasting, so remember to pack your hiking shoes for this trip.


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