Well-known for its Mediterranean climate, sunny days, tiled buildings, winding rivers, killer coastline, and rich history, Portugal is a top tier travel destination for many. Being a rather small country it seems like it should be relatively simple to plan a trip, however when a country offers so much it can still be somewhat overwhelming. Where should you start exploring? What should you see? How long should you spend? Here are 12 of the best places to visit in Portugal in order from South to North because honestly we couldn’t rank them. Yup, they’re all that good.

12 Of The Best Places To Visit In Portugal


The Algarve Region of Portugal is one that is dotted with gorgeous beaches, and breathtaking coastline. There are plenty of towns and villages along the southern stretch of Portugal, however, Carvoeiro gets our vote due to its small village feel, family friendly vibes, and its proximity to some killer hiking and cave exploration! You’ll want to budget two days to explore.


  • Explore Benagli Cave (we recommend getting an early start and paddleboarding or kayaking in)
  • Hike Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
  • Walk along the Carvoeiro Boardwalk + visit the Algar Seco Cliff Formations
  • Relax at the many beaches (Praia do Vale de Centenanes + Praia Cavalho are two of our favs)
  • Visit Downtown Carvoeiro


Évora is perhaps one of Portugal’s most overlooked little towns, but it’s also one of the best medieval towns in the country. Visiting Évora is really like stepping back into the 14th century. Despite its rich religious history, it is still a university town with many restaurants and café’s to explore as well. Without a doubt, the highlight for us was the Capela dos Ossos (Bones Chapel). It was pretty humbling to be in a room decorated with the skeletons of 5000+ people. Also, Dom loves bones. You’ll want to budget three hours to explore.


  • Visit Capela dos Ossos + Igreja de São Francisco
  • Walk through Prada do Giraldo
  • Take in views from the rooftop of Cathedral of Évora
  • Stroll past the Templo Romano Évora
  • Visit Agua de Prata Aqueduct


Visiting the bustling capital city is an absolute must when making a trip to Portugal. Despite its moderate size, Lisbon is still a fairly walkable city, and exudes the perfect blend of history, culture, color, architecture, and sights. We think you’ll love strolling the beautiful neighborhood streets (especially those in the oldest area of the city, Alfama) and keeping an eye out for Portugal’s famous tiled buildings! You’ll want to budget two to three days to explore.


  • Admire the architecture of Torre de Belém
  • Take in views from Padrão dos Descobrimentos
  • Visit Monasterio de los Jerónimos de Belém
  • Ride Elevador de Santa Justa
  • Stroll through The LX Factory (+ maybe grab a glass of vinho verde!)
  • Visit Museu Coleção Berardo
  • Try Pastel de Nata
  • Ride Number 28 Streetcar
  • Walk through Convento do Carmo
  • Visit one of the many miradors in the city (we love Miradouro das Portas do Sol + Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara)
  • Explore Castelo de São Jorge
  • Visit Oceanário de Lisboa


If we could only pick one place to visit in Portugal for a weekend perhaps it would be this dreamy, whimsical, drop-dead-gorgeous town. When we first visited it felt like we were stepping right into a fairytale. Loads of history + culture in every nook of the city, plus numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites – it’s simply a no-brainer. You’ve gotta go. To hit the top highlights you’ll want to budget 1 day to explore, however, if you have the time we think two days is more sufficient and will have you feeling less rushed.


  • Explore Sintra’s Historic District
  • Visit Palácio Nacional da Pena
  • Walk the Walls of the Moorish Castle
  • Explore Monserrate Palace
  • Try Queijadas
  • Explore Palacio Nacional de Sintra
  • Visit Quinta da Regaleira
  • Take in views from Azenhas do Mar Viewpoint (~15 minute drive northwest of Sintra)
  • Take in views from Cabo da Roca (~20 – 25 minute drive west of Sintra)


This picturesque medieval town is a fantastic day trip from the country’s capital, after a day in historical Sintra, or a stop over on your way up to northern Portugal! We loved this small town for its winding streets, authentic feel, white washed buildings, signature cherry liquor, Ginjinha, and perhaps most for its famous castle wall walk (read: walking the castle walls is a must)! You’ll want to budget two to three hours to explore.


  • Walk the Castle Walls
  • Visit Aqueducto de Óbidos
  • Try Ginjinha (don’t forget the chocolate cups!)


Although this historic fishing town has morphed into surf/beach town; we still think that it is worth a trip to see some of the world’s largest waves (the largest waves make their presence during Portugal’s winter). You’ll want to budget a half day to explore (more if you plan on heading into the surf yourself).


  • Walk around the streets of the Fisherman’s District
  • Walk up the stairs (or take the Funicular) to O Sitio District
  • Visit Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré
  • Read about the amazing surfers + see their boards at the Surf Museum (housed in the fortress São Miguel Arcanjo, itself built in the 1500s)
  • Nazaré Lighthouse
  • Walk along Nazaré Beach


A city that derives its name from two rivers, Alcobaça is a charming little town only ~100km north of Lisbon making it a great day daytrip. The real draw, however is the incredible monastery. Built in the 12th century it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and several of Portugal’s past monarchs have been put to rest here. Walk amongst their ornate mausoleums and learn about the very sad love story of King Pedro I and Inés de Castro. Plan on spending somewhere around three hours here to explore.


  • Visit Alcobaça Monastery
  • Explore the ruins of Castillo de Alcobaça (great views of Alcobaça Monastery, too)


Home of yet another one of Portugal’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Batalha Monastery, this little town makes for another quick stop on your way through the region. In sharp contrast to Alcobaça’s Monastery, this one is done in a very ornate Gothic style which took 200 years to complete. In fact, part of the building was never finished, as the stonemasons were ordered to Lisbon to start work on Mosterio de Jerònimos. Plan on spending somewhere around three hours here to explore.


  • Visit Batalha Monastery
  • Have a bite at Burro Velho (modern Portuguese fare)

Aveiro/Costa Nova

Known to many as “the Portuguese Venice,” the town of Aveiro makes for a quaint and lower key afternoon. Explore the city’s canals via a traditional boat, indulge in the local sweets, and just stroll. If you’re on a tight schedule budgeting a half-day here works, however, if this stop is part of a larger road trip and you’ve been logging the miles on foot perhaps a slower paced day is welcomed. In that case, mark Aveiro + the neighboring town of Costa Nova down for a full-day.


  • Visit the striped homes along José Estêvão Avenue promenade (Costa Nova)
  • Visit Market of Fish (“Mercado do Peixe”)
  • Walked around Old Town Aveiro
  • Try Over Moles from Confeitaria Peixinho
  • Take a “Moliceiro” (boat ride through the canals)

Douro Valley

The terraced hillside vineyards of the Douro Valley are certainly one of the most unforgettable sites in Portugal. One of the roadside information signs we read described it as “the most beautiful place on Earth.” While we may not make that bold statement, it is certainly breathtaking and is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Take your time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage protected Valley, learn about the wine and port made here, and treat yourself to a tasting at one (or two..or three…) of the many quintas (vineyards) here. It’s a place to spend at least an entire day, although some would say two to three days wouldn’t be a waste either.


  • Taste the Port! (duh)
  • Visit Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman Winery – our top pick for child friendly vibes)
  • Drive N222 (voted best road in the world to dive by Avis in 2015)
  • Walk through the vineyards at Quinta do Bomfim


One of the most gorgeous cities we’ve ever visited, Porto is definitely a special place. The city seems to rise out of the banks of the Douro like a pop-up book, and its tiled buildings and cobbled streets give it a very magical feel. Besides drinking some of it’s namesake wine, make sure you take the time to visit some of the incredible churches and monuments, dig into a Francesinha “sandwich”, walk across the Ponte Luis Bridge I, and see the “most beautiful bookstore in the world.” It is every bit as incredible as it sounds. Two to three days are a must.


  • Chapel of Santa Catarina (aka Chapel of Souls)
  • Admire the famous Azulejo Tiles throughout the city (some of of fav spots: Iglesia de San Ildefonso + São Bento Train Station + Porto Cathedral + Igreja de Camo)
  • Visit Torre dos Clerigos Church + Tower
  • Pick up a book at Livraria Lello
  • Take in views from Miradouro da Vitoria + Jardim do Morro
  • St. Francisco Church Monument (Ribeira Square)
  • Stroll along Douro River
  • Cross Ponte Luis Bridge I
  • Try Francesinha (aka “Porto’s Manwich” – trust us, it will leave you in a food coma)
  • Enjoy a Port tasting (again…duh)


If you’re a nature lover then Arouca needs to be on your Portugal itinerary. Whether your exploring the banks of the Pavia River via the 8km of wooden pathways that connect the towns of Areinho and Espiunca or whether your flying high above the River on the world’s longest suspension bridge, a day in Arouca is a day well-spent. You’ll want to budget a half-day at a minimum to explore, however, if you’re traveling with kids and plan on competing the walkway we lean towards a full-day.


  • Walk across Ponte 516
  • Hike Pavia Walkways


Known mainly as a religious city, many are surprised to find out that Braga is actually the third biggest city in Portugal. As it was home to the first bishops in the country, there are quite a few absolutely beautiful monuments, churches, and basilicas to explore. Don’t be fooled however, as it is also home to one of Portugal’s biggest universities, thus it has its fair share of restaurants, bars, and shops to explore, as well. Whether it’s an overnight stop on your trip, or just a daytrip from Porto, plan on spending a half to full day here.


  • Visit the Basilica Bom Jesus do Monte
  • Ride the Bom Jesus do Monte Funicular up/down
  • Explore Braga Cathedral
  • Walk through Praça da Republica Braga
  • Explore Iglesia Carmon

Happy Travels

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