Wed. May 29th, 2024
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With magnificent architecture, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and a rich history and culture, you’ll never run out of things to do in Portugal. From exploring palaces and monasteries to sipping wines and listening to Fado music, here’s just 25 wonderful things to do on your next trip to Portugal.

1. Explore Lisbon’s historic districts

Lisbon’s Alfama, Baixa, and Chiado districts are a maze of cobbled streets, historic buildings, and vibrant life. Alfama, the oldest quarter, gives you a glimpse into the city’s Moorish past, while Baixa impresses with its grand squares and Pombaline architecture. Chiado’s chic cafes and shops are the heart of Lisbon’s literary scene.

yellow tram Lisbon Portugal

2. Visit the Hieronymite Monastery

This UNESCO World Heritage site in Lisbon is a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Its unique Manueline architecture, ornate carvings, and maritime motifs pay homage to the explorers who set sail from nearby Belém. The monastery’s cloisters are a masterpiece of Renaissance art, making it a must-visit for history and architecture enthusiasts.

3. Marvel at Palácio da Pena 

Set on a hilltop in Sintra, the Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) is a remarkable symbol of 19th-century Romanticism in Portugal. This UNESCO-listed site is painted with vivid colors, decorative battlements, mythological statues, and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the Atlantic Ocean. Inside, the palace is equally impressive, with ornate interiors that blend Moorish, Gothic, and Manueline styles.

Pena Palace Portugal

4. Watch a Fado performance

Portugal’s soulful traditional music expresses the beauty of Portuguese culture. Attending a live Fado performance in an intimate Lisbon venue is a moving experience. You’ll hear the country’s stories of maritime exploration, love, and loss through song, with haunting melodies, poignant lyrics, and beautiful classical guitar.

5. Taste Portuguese tarts in Belém

The iconic Pastéis de Belém, a creamy custard tart encased in flaky pastry, originated in Belém, a historic Lisbon district. You can still visit the original bakery, which dates back to 1837. Here you’ll find not only the taste of au thentic Portuguese tarts but also a peek into the culinary tradition that has become beloved worldwide.

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Portuguese tarts

6. Discover the Palace Gardens at Palacio de Mateus

The Baroque palace near Vila Real is renowned for its stunning facade and spectacular gardens. Designed in the 18th century, the gardens feature manicured hedges, ornamental lakes, and statues dotted among the palace’s impressive architecture.

7. Visit the Livraria Lello in Porto

Famed for its neo-Gothic architecture, Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Its ornate wood carvings, stained glass ceiling, and iconic red staircase make it a temple of literature and a must-visit for book lovers. The bookstore has inspired writers and artists for over a century, including J.K. Rowling during her time in Porto.

Livraria Lello Porto

8. See the Castle of Guimarãe

Often referred to as the birthplace of Portugal, the Castle of Guimarães is a symbol of the nation’s foundation. The castle’s imposing stone walls and towers dominate the landscape, offering insights into medieval military architecture. A visit here is a journey back in time, where you can learn the deep history and legends of Portugal.

9. Relax in the Algarve

Known for its breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, and crystal-clear waters, the Algarve is one of Portugal’s best beach destinations. From bustling resorts like Albufeira to secluded coves accessible only by boat, the Algarve is full of coastal gems. The region is also famous for its world-class golf courses, making it a haven for both sun-seekers and sports enthusiasts.

Algarve beaches Portugal

10. Walk through Coimbra’s historic university

The UNESCO-listed University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe, holds centuries of academic tradition. You can explore its historic buildings, including the Joanina Library, known for its Baroque architecture and ancient manuscripts. Set on a hilltop, you’ll also marvel at the panoramic view over Coimbra.

11. Marvel at the Azores

A group of volcanic islands in the Atlantic, the Azores is home to a unique blend of breathtaking natural landscapes, from lush greenery to dramatic cliffs and clear blue waters. Explore the island’s volcanic orig ins and rich marine life, and go whale watching, hiking, and diving. You can even explore thermal springs, crater lakes, and charming villages across the Azores.

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Azores landscapes Portugal

12. Witness the Shrine at Fátima

The Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima is one of the world’s most important Marian shrines, attracting millions of pilgrims every year. The site commemorates the 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children. With its Basilica, Chapel of the Apparitions, and modern Church of the Holy Trinity, the Sanctuary offers a peaceful environment for reflection and prayer.

13. Cruise the Douro River

Take a cruise along the Douro River to see the stunning landscape of terraced vineyards that produce Portugal’s famous Port wine. You’ll get picturesque views of traditional quintas (wine estates) and pretty villages. It’s an essential experience for wine lovers and those seeking to immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty.

vineyards along Douro River Portugal

14. Experience Porto’s wine culture

Porto, the city that gave Port wine its name, is filled with wine cellars offering tours and tastings. As you explore these cellars, you’ll learn about the production of Port wine, from the grape harvest in the Douro Valley to the ageing process in oak barrels. Enjoy a tasting session to get an introduction to the various types of Port, from ruby to tawny to vintage.

sunset over Porto, Portugal

15. Enjoy fresh seafood in Nazaré

Famous for its giant waves and traditional fishing culture, Nazaré serves up some of the freshest seafood in Portugal. Visitors can enjoy a variety of dishes, from grilled sardines to seafood stews, in beachfront restaurants while watching surfers tackle the Atlantic’s mighty swells. The town’s vibrant market is also a great place to sample local delicacies and watch daily life in a Portuguese fishing community.

16. Stroll through Óbidos

With its narrow streets, colorful houses, and Gothic doorways, this medieval town is absolutely gorgeous. Óbidos hosts a range of cultural events, including a traditional Christmas market and a medieval fair, offering a glimpse into Portugal’s rich history. You also can’t miss tasting the local cherry liqueur, Ginja, served in chocolate cups.

whitewashed buildings Obidos Portugal

17. Explore the Roman ruins of Conímbriga

One of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal, Conímbriga offers an impressive glimpse into ancient Roman life. The well-preserved ruins include houses with intricate mosaics, public baths, and a forum. The onsite museum displays artifacts from daily life in Roman Portugal, and it’s a fascinating destination for history buffs and archaeology enthusiasts.

18. Hike in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Peneda-Gerês is filled with breathtaking landscapes of rugged hills, pristine rivers, and lush forests. Hiking trails will take you through ancient villages, past Roman bridges, and to secluded waterfalls. The park is home to a rich biodiversity, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of wild horses or rare bird species.

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waterfall in Peneda-Gerês National Park Portugal

19. Attend a Portuguese cooking class

Portuguese cuisine is all about fresh seafood, spices, and olive oil, and it’s utterly delicious. Taking a cooking class will give you a deeper insight into traditional cooking techniques and recipes passed down through generations. From crafting the perfect Pastel de Nata to preparing a flavorful seafood cataplana,  a cooking class is the hands-on way to experience Portugal’s culinary heritage.

20. Admire the Cathedral in Évora

With a blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, Évora’s cathedral stands as a testament to the city’s medieval past. Its massive walls, rose windows, and cloisters create an atmosphere of solemnity and grandeur. Climbing the towers provides a sweeping view of Évora’s UNESCO-listed historic center, revealing the city’s architectural diversity and historical depth.

Evora Cathedral Portugal

21. Take a surf lesson in Peniche

Home to consistent waves and a variety of breaks, Peniche is famed as a surfer’s paradise. It’s great for both beginners and experienced surfers, with ideal conditions all year round. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find surf schools offering lessons and equipment rentals, so you can experience the thrill of riding the Atlantic waves. The nearby Berlengas archipelago nature reserve is also worth exploring for its crystal-clear waters and unique marine life.

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22. Sip Alentejo wines

The rolling hills of Alentejo are dotted with vineyards producing some of Portugal’s finest wines. Wine enthusiasts can tour estates, learn about the winemaking process, and sample a variety of reds, whites, and rosés that reflect the region’s diverse terroir. The warm climate and rich soil contribute to the unique flavors of Alentejo wines, making this region a paradise for wine connoisseurs.

green vineyard in Antelejo region of Portugal

23. Visit the Convent of Christ in Tomar

This architectural complex, originally a Templar stronghold, showcases the evolution of Portuguese architecture over centuries. The Convent of Christ includes the Romanesque Charola, the Order of Christ’s ornate chapter house, and several cloisters reflecting Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance styles. Its history as a religious and military center makes it a fascinating site for history lovers.

24. Visit the Gothic Monastery at Batalha

The Monastery of Batalha is a masterpiece of Gothic and Manueline architecture, built to commemorate Portugal’s victory in the Battle of Aljubarrota. Its ornate facades, stunning stained glass windows, and the Unfinished Chapels are beautiful to explore, and it’s a monument of Portuguese artistry.

Experience Portugal on: Great Iberian Cities

Batalha gothic monastery Portugal

25. Explore the Serralves Museum in Porto

Set within a stunning contemporary park, the Serralves Museum showcases the best modern art in Portugal. Its exhibitions feature works by Portuguese and international artists, spanning a range of media from painting and sculpture to multimedia installations. The museum’s design, by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, and its surrounding gardens are artworks in themselves, and the peaceful environment is perfect for appreciating the art.

Source: https://www.trafalgar.com/

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By Lala