30 Best Things To Do In Portugal (2022 Guide)

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
/
Last Updated:
January 14, 2022
Here's a rundown of the absolute best things to do in Portugal. Discover the best sites on offer, from the northernmost point to the southernmost point.
things to do in Portugal
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Portugal is a country full of history, culture, great food and picturesque countryside.

We actually put together a guide on the perfect 10 day road trip itinerary, which you may have already read.

But in fact, we actually spent closer to 3 weeks in Portugal!

Discovering all of the truly best things the country has to offer.

We've condensed it down in this guide to the 30 best things to do and see in Portugal.

So if you're looking for inspiration for a visit to this wonderful country, this is the place to be!

Let's take a look ...

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30 Best Things To Do In Portugal

1. Visit the amazing city of Porto

Porto Portugal

Porto had to be one of our top places to visit in Portugal. It’s the second-largest city and the capital of the Northern region.

The beautiful city stands out as it has many ancient buildings but also a touch of modern culture. 

Porto is close to the water, so you can enjoy some really amazing seafood. Don’t miss out on Porto’s famous wine! 

The best part is you don’t need a lot of time; you can cover the city in 1-2 days and still catch all the top things to do in Porto.

Enjoy the architecture, scenery, beautiful streets, and superb cuisines at a price that isn’t too hard on the pockets. 

2. Take a dip in the tidal pools of Leça da Palmeira

A unique attraction worth checking out is the tidal pools of Leca da Palmeira.

The pools themselves are known as Piscina das Marés and are definitely one of the top things to do in Portugal. 

Located on the Northern coastline, the swimming pools are built to blend into the landscape flawlessly.

There is a large pool for adults and a smaller one for children. 

For those who might be afraid of waves, the pool is designed specifically with safety in mind so you can swim confidently on the Atlantic coast, or you may wish to just soak in the beautiful seaside views.

3. Road trip the Douro Valley

road trip the Douro Valley

Go on a journey along the Douro Valley to see some of the most breathtaking views! Dramatic mountains and vineyards surround the winding roads, and you will get some amazing photos of the beautiful countryside.

It really is one of the best places to see in Portugal.

Douro Valley Portugal

Although you can travel by ferry, we highly recommend driving so you can get a better experience of the small villages and distant lookout points. 

Don’t miss out on the little village of Tua. Peso da Regua, Pinhao village and Lamego!

Easy to reach viewpoints with magnificent outlooks are San Leonardo de Galafura and Casal De Loivos.

2-3 days is enough to explore the main attractions of the region.

Keep in mind that some roads are very narrow and curvy when you’re trying to find excellent vantage points.

4. Go wine tasting in the Douro Valley (Quinta da Padrela is the spot we recommend)

Quinta da Padrela

The Douro region itself is a World Heritage site, so if you’re visiting Portugal, wine tasting in the Douro Valley is a must for all wine lovers! 

A trip to these vineyards is sure to give you a sense of calmness and serenity.

Enjoy the exquisite flavours of some of the best wines in Portugal! 

We highly recommend Quinta da Padrela; a beautiful Winehouse that is surrounded by stunning gardens.

This family-owned place is sure to explain and present interesting information about how wine is made in the Douro region.

It’s one of our Portugal must sees.

5. Visit the “Double Viewpoint”

Double Viewpoint in douro valley

Although this particular viewpoint is harder to access, the views are absolutely picturesque!

The narrow and winding roads aren’t for the faint-hearted, so be prepared for a curvy ride! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also opt to do a hike from Pinhão. 

At the top of Double viewpoint, you will be rewarded with some amazing panoramic views of the Douro river and the surrounding vineyards. 

There are benches provided so you can sit and admire the landscape.

You can even try catching some fantastic sunset views if you aren't in a hurry! 

6. Check out the Castle Fortress of Almeida

This extraordinary fortress built in the seventeenth and eighteenth century around a medieval castle is quite an interesting site to visit!

The scale of the fort is truly jaw-dropping. If you love history, this is a well-preserved site with a strong historical background. 

The fortress is located near the Spanish border.

This is why it has faced numerous sieges throughout the past. The castle also exploded in 1810, during the Siege of Almeida.

The construction is also unique as the fortress is a star shape with 12 points, which is seen more clearly from an aerial perspective.

You will need a couple of hours to explore the fort at your own pace and also don’t forget to visit the rooftop.

7. Visit the highest peak in continental Portugal (Torre)

If you're looking for raw beauty, this is the place for you! Away from all the crowds, you can experience natural beauty with stunning views of the mountain drops. 

Don't forget to bring your camera; if you have the perfect weather conditions, you'll even be able to see the Atlantic ocean. 

Torre literally means tower in Spanish.

The peak was named after Dom João Tower, which is located on the summit. Dom João VI was unhappy with the mountain's height, so he constructed a tower on the top, increasing the height of the mountain by 2000 metres. 

This particular part of the mountain is the only ski resort in Portugal.

Skiing is only possible in the winter months.

However, you can visit the ski lift to enjoy views at any time of the year. 

8. Drive through Parque National Da Serra Da Estrella

Parque National Da Serra Da Estrella

This is certainlu one of the most beautiful part of Portugal to drive in. If you don't have your own vehicle don't worry, you can rent a campervan or motorhome in Portugal quite affordably and discover it all for yourself.

The recommended time for this trip is around May to October. If there is a chance of snow, it is strongly advised to delay your trip as it can be quite dangerous.

There are a few villages you can visit on your way up, such as Folgosinho, Gouveia and Sabugueiro, which is the highest village in the entire country.

You may also opt to do some hiking trails. 

Make your way towards a viewpoint for river Zêzere which is one of the highlights of this road trip!

This U shaped glacial valley is truly stunning and not to be missed. 

9. Go for a dip at Praia Fluvial De Loriga

Praia Fluvial De Loriga
It's freezing...but beautiful!

Surrounded by nature, this beautiful river beach is hidden inside the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.

The water comes from the spring in the mountains, and the pools are situated amongst the rocky mountains making it a unique sight! 

The crystal-clear turquoise waters of Praia Fluvial De Loriga are extremely hard to resist! Although the temperature of the water does remain cold the majority of the year, this is a real gem

The natural pool is usually crowded in the summer months and on weekends, so be sure to get there early. 

10. Explore the quirky town of Monsanto

Mostano portugal

A quick trip to the small town of Monsanto can be a great escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities as it is a quiet and rural place. It’s one of the most unique places to visit in Portugal.

Since the town of Monsanto was voted ‘the most Portuguese village in Portugal’ in 1938, many building regulations are followed to ensure the village remains in its original form. 

Two things make Monsanto stand out from other villages: the location of the town on top of the hilltop and also the houses and castle walls are made with a mixture of boulder and stone, which is quite rare to find!

11. Explore the Castle of Monsanto

Follow the narrow streets through the village, which will lead you to the castle located on top of the hill. The walk is around 30 minutes, but you will be rewarded with stunning views.

Dating back to the middle ages, the castle had a significant role in the past as the Portuguese were able to survive several battles, such as the Napoleonic invasions.

Make sure you wear appropriate footwear because the climb is pretty steep!

12. Check out the surf at Nazare beach

Nazare beach

Known for its monster waves, Nazare beach is a popular destination amongst surfers. The biggest waves are usually during winter, from October to March. 

Many competitive surfing challenges are also held on the beach during this time. Some Guinness world records have even been broken by some who surfed these enormous waves. 

If you want to skip going in the water, Nazare is a pleasant coastal town with something for everyone.

selfie at nazare beach

Enjoy the ocean views, visit the lookout points or dine in at some great seafood restaurants. 

13. Explore beautiful Óbidos and its castle

Óbidos

Located only an hour’s drive away from Lisbon, this fairy tale village is definitely worth visiting. 

The town of Obidos was gifted from King Denis of Portugal to his Queen for their wedding in 1282. In the past, the Queen had conveyed her love for the beautiful town! 

As you walk the cobbled streets and take in views of the whitewashed houses, you will not want to stop taking photos. 

town of Óbidos

The medieval town is still surrounded by fortified walls and also has a well-preserved castle worth checking out! It’s one of the best cities in Portugal if you want to experience some architectural history.

14. Try Ginja de Obidos (sour cherry liquor)

The Ginja de Óbidos is a specialty of Portugal and it is only produced in Obidos. It is one of the most loved liqueurs of Portugal as it has an intense wild cherry flavour with a fruity sweetness.

The liquor is produced from some of the best wild cherries with a few spices, such as Cinnamon. It is macerated for at least 12 months in wood barrels. The bottle also contains the Ginjinha fruit.

It is recommended that you serve it at around 16ºC or chilled during summer for the best experience. You can have it by itself or even pair it with vanilla ice cream or dark chocolate.  

15. Explore the amazing castles of Sintra

Sintra castles

The city of Sintra is situated only an hour drive away from Lisbon and can make an excellent day trip. The town is known for all its historical landmarks and Romanticism architectural style. 

Sintra is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site as it has preserved many of its medieval castles. 

Some of the best castles we recommend visiting are Palácio da Pena, Moorish Castle and Village Palace.

castles in sintra portugal

You will really enjoy immersing yourself in this fairy tale village which will take you on a true journey to times of the royals, kings and queens.

16. Spend the day in the capital of Lisbon

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon is one of the most popular destinations in Europe and is one of the most common Portugal things to do. Whether you want to try the local cuisine, shop at cute boutiques or visit a scenic lookout, Lisbon has something to offer for everyone.

The best way to truly explore the capital is simply to roam the cobblestone streets so you can enjoy the vibrant city life.

You can also take advantage of ‘the trolley’ in Lisbon, a fun way to get from one place to another, which will save you some money.  

All the major attractions are quite nearby, so you will be able to fit in quite a few things in one day!

17. Explore the National Coach Museum

If you’re looking for things to do in Lisbon and love European history, we highly recommend visiting the National Coach Museum. It is known for exhibiting the most extensive collection of antique coaches Worldwide.

Receiving up to 200,000 tourists annually, the museum is one of the most admired in Lisbon. The majority of the carriages displayed were used by Portuguese royalty. Through your journey throughout the museum, you will discover how carriages evolved through time into cars we use today!

The museum is suitable for any age group, and you are guaranteed not to get bored with their rare collection of interesting carriages.

18. Visit the National Museum of Ancient Art

Another great place to visit for history and art lovers; here you will find a huge collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, and other art forms from the Middle Ages. 

Spaced out over three floors, all the exhibits in the museum are well presented. You will be able to finish the whole museum within 2 hours.

After you finish viewing the museum, enjoy a coffee at the cafe and relax with beautiful views of the garden. 

19. Wander around the Marvel at the Oceanario de Lisboa

The Lisbon Oceanarium is Europe’s largest indoor aquarium.

It is a perfect place for both adults and children to spend hours walking around and appreciating our sea life. The displays are well maintained, and there are many interactive exhibits making it a fun yet knowledgeable experience.

There are so many different species of fish and marine animals, including sharks, penguins, seahorses, starfish, octopuses and many other marine animals. Try and buy tickets online to avoid the long queues. 

If you are passionate about marine life, you will appreciate that the Oceanarium also raises awareness of all the environmental aspects and dangers faced by marine life today. 

20. Take a boat cruise in the Algarve & go swimming

The Algarve is Portugal’s famous region located in the South.

It is recognised for its beautiful Atlantic beaches. You are sure to find a wide variety of different sea activities and it’s one of the best places to visit in Portugal for adventurous travellers and just those who like to soak up a little sunshine.

The weather conditions are favourable all year, but the sea temperature varies.

It is quite warm around summer, but through other seasons it might be pretty cold. 

If you don’t want to get wet, you have the option of exploring the Algarve via a boat cruise.

On a lucky day, you may even be able to spot dolphins and whales on your trip out in the water.

21. Discover the beautiful beaches in Lagos

Lagos beaches

If you’re looking to enjoy a beachside vacation and want to indulge in some water activities, then the beaches of Lagos should not be left out of your journey.

Meia Praia is the main attraction as it is the largest beach in Lagos, stretching up to 5 kilometres.

The calm sea makes it perfect for families and children.

There are lots of other activities you can engage in, such as kitesurfing or beach volleyball.                            

All of the beaches in Lagos are different and unique in their own way! Praia da Batata, Praia Dona Ana and Praia de Porto de Mós are amongst other popular beaches in Lagos. 

22. Walk the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

This easy trail is ideal for a day walk, which can be completed in about two to three hours.

You will get incredible panoramic views of the magnificent sea arches and beautiful Algarve coastline.

The trail begins at Praia da Marinha and ends at Praia de Vale Centeanes.

It may be a bit demanding as there are some steep elevations along the way.   

Although this hike can be done all year round, we recommend the best time to go is Spring.

The cold winter weather and scorching heat during summer will make this hike not so pleasant. 

23. Discover the Benagil Caves

Benagil Caves

If you haven’t heard of these caves, don’t worry; many people don’t know about them till they reach Portugal!

That being said, the Benagil caves are a true phenomenon located in the region of the Algarve.

It is an open-sky limestone cave, so you can see the sky through the top.

The sunlight streams through onto the golden and turquoise blue waters. The caves are said to be more than 20 million years old. 

The most popular way to discover the caves is by boat.

You can also hike over the cave to see views from the top.  

It does get really busy during the day, so make sure to reach early to avoid the crowds! 

24. Dine on the beachfront of Monte Gordo

monte gordo

If you're craving some local cuisine or looking to enjoy a fancy cocktail, dine in at Monte Gordo's beachfront.

You will find fancy high-class restaurants as well as casual dining.

The beachfront is full of kiosks, cafes and outdoor bars so you can sit and relax. 

You are sure to find a wide selection of cuisines from different parts of the world! Unwind and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere of Monte Gordo's beachfront. 

25. Take a trip to Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça

In English, the name translates to The fortress of our Lady of Grace. The fortress was devoted to the defence of Portugal, especially against Spain. 

Don't be deceived; the fort may seem small from the outside, but it is enormous from the inside. It is easy to get lost in the passages of this historic building. 

The fortress is exceptionally well preserved and is an eye-opening experience into Portugal's defence strategies in the past. You can explore it on your own, but we recommend hiring a tour for a small extra fee for a guided tour so you can get more extensive knowledge of the fort's history.  

You can climb up to the top floor, and get fantastic views over the countryside and the village of Elvas.  

26. Admire the historic city of Évora

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage, the medieval city of Évora is often overlooked when planning a trip to Portugal. The architecture and medieval sites are preserved so well, Évora is often known as Portugal’s “Museum City”. 

Some of the main attractions include: Praça do Giraldo, which is Évora’s main city square; Capela Dos Ossos (the chapel of bones) and Temple of Diana that is the ruins of a Roman temple. 

If you are strained for time, a day trip will be sufficient. However, if possible we highly recommend spending 2 or 3 days as there is so much to see. 

27. Try Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts)

Pastéis de Nata

Your trip to Portugal will be incomplete without trying these local delights. Beware, they can be highly addictive once you have tried them.  

Every bakery will have its own unique recipe, but the egg tart is usually a round puff pastry with a filling of egg-based custard on the inside. They taste best when finished with powdered sugar & cinnamon on the top.

It will cost you approximately €1-1.15 per custard tart, and you can enjoy these tarts all day around, especially early in the morning or even if you’re after an afternoon snack.

28. Check out the nightlife in Albufeira

Albufeira is known to be the region’s party hub. If you’re looking for the best nightlife in the country, this is the place to be. 

For something quiet, you can visit the centre of the old town Albufeira, which has some pubs, live music, bars, and restaurants. 

Otherwise, for a more happening party, you can check out the Montechoro strip. The strip is full of discos and clubs, with some staying open until the morning hours. 

29. Walk around the Praça do Comércio

The famous waterfront Praça do Comércio is a significant tourist attraction in Lisbon. 

The beautiful symmetrical buildings face the river Tejo, making it a beautiful scenic place to visit. At present, these buildings are used as government offices. 

Interestingly, the waterfront Praça do Comércio was completely ruined in an Earthquake that stuck in 1755. In the same year, a tsunami and fire also hit the square. It was then rebuilt again. 

You can also get a free tour guide from the meeting point, which is great to learn some extra details of Praça do Comércio.

30. Catch the sunset at Cape St Vincent

Cape St Vincent is the southwesternmost point of mainland Portugal, famous for spectacular sunsets. This is a must for all nature lovers as you can just relax and watch the beauty unfold right in front of you.  

Keep your camera ready as you capture the beautiful sunset and different hues in the sky. It does tend to get crowded, so aim to be there an hour before sunset. We highly recommend carrying a jumper and jacket as it can get extremely windy up the top, even during the summer months. 

Cape St. Vincent also has one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe, with a beam that shines up to 60km. It safeguards one of the World’s busiest shipping routes in the world. 

Where to stay in Portugal

where to stay in portugal

Now that you know what to do in Portugal, you need somewhere to stay. You’ll be happy to know; accommodation is quite reasonable in Portugal compared to other European cities. 

If you are travelling on a budget, you have the option of staying in a dorm room, which will cost around 10 euros per night. Economic hotels are also another choice which will roughly cost you approximately 20 euros per night.

There are a wide variety of luxurious hotels and family-friendly resorts if you’re willing to spend some extra money whilst you enjoy your holiday. 

Getting around Portugal

getting around portugal

There is so much to see around Portugal; you are bound to move around different towns and villages as you make the most of your trip! 

Portugal has a very impressive and well-connected transport network which makes travel convenient and hassle free.

The widespread rail network covers almost the whole country, making it easy for tourists to commute to popular attractions.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can opt to travel by bus. 

Hiring a car is another alternative if you would like to travel the country at your own pace and schedule.

However, drivers should be prepared to drive through some narrow roads when visiting some of the smaller towns.

By far the best way to see Portugal (and the way went for) is by campervan! Giving you full flexibility to stay in the most breathtaking locations Portugal has to offer. You can learn more in our guide on the best campervan rentals in Portugal.

Best time to visit Portugal

best time to visit portugal

Portugal has something to offer in all seasons. In the summer months, crowds flock to enjoy the warmer ocean temperatures and soak up the sun. During winter, many surfers come to catch the big waves on the coast.

We highly recommend travelling in the off-seasons around summer! The Spring season can be the best time to travel Portugal to enjoy the warmer weather but avoid the crowds.

If you’re on a budget, you should avoid the peak summer months as the country is full of tourists, and you can expect rates to be much higher than usual.

How long do you need in Portugal?

How long do you need in Portugal

We recommend you spend a minimum of 7 to 10 days in Portugal to see all the things the beautiful country has to offer and submerge in the local culture.

Cramming too many attractions and running from one place to another probably isn’t the best way to travel the country.

The best part about Portugal is it’s a small country so getting around is fairly easy. If you have more time, you extend your stay by completing some road trips and staying at some local villages.  

We spent roughly 3 weeks here, but actually condensed our stay down into a practical 10 day Portugal road trip itinerary, that I recommend you check out too!

Final Thoughts

Portugal is a country full of rich history, beautiful scenery and many incredible things to see and do. As you can see, there are so many amazing things to see in Portugal.

You really can’t go wrong if you tick off all or even just a few of these amazing sites.

We hope this list has been helpful whilst you create your itinerary and try to decide what to see in Portugal.

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