20 Things To Do In Portugal

Things To Do In Portugal

Portugal, a gem in Southern Europe, is a country filled with rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re an avid adventurer, a history buff, or a foodie, Portugal offers a plethora of experiences that cater to all types of travelers. From the bustling streets of Lisbon to the serene beaches of the Algarve, and from the historic charm of Porto to the natural beauty of the Azores, there is no shortage of things to do in Portugal. This comprehensive guide will take you through the top activities and destinations that should be on your itinerary, ensuring you make the most of your Portuguese adventure.

Things To Do In Portugal

  1. Explore Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a vibrant city known for its picturesque neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and lively atmosphere. Start your exploration in the historic district of Alfama, where narrow cobblestone streets and colorful houses create a charming ambiance. Visit the iconic São Jorge Castle for breathtaking views of the city and the Tagus River.

Next, head to the Belém district to see the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t miss the chance to taste the famous Pastéis de Belém, a delicious custard tart that originated here.

Stroll along the waterfront at Praça do Comércio, one of the largest squares in Europe, and take a tram ride on the historic Tram 28 to see the city’s highlights. Lisbon is also home to a thriving food scene, with numerous restaurants offering traditional Portuguese dishes and modern cuisine.

In the evening, explore the Bairro Alto district, known for its nightlife, with countless bars and live music venues. Lisbon’s mix of old-world charm and modern vibrancy makes it a must-visit destination in Portugal.

  1. Visit Porto

Porto, located in northern Portugal, is famous for its port wine and stunning riverfront. The historic center, Ribeira, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, characterized by its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and vibrant atmosphere. Start your visit with a walk along the Douro River, where you can enjoy picturesque views of the city and the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge.

Take a guided tour of one of the many port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river, and learn about the history and production of this famous wine. Enjoy a tasting session to sample the different varieties of port.

Visit the Livraria Lello, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, with its stunning architecture and intricate wooden staircase. Don’t miss the São Bento Train Station, known for its beautiful azulejo (tile) panels depicting scenes from Portuguese history.

For a panoramic view of the city, climb the Clérigos Tower. In the evening, dine at one of the many riverside restaurants and enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine while taking in the beautiful sunset over the Douro River.

  1. Relax in the Algarve

The Algarve, located in southern Portugal, is known for its stunning coastline, beautiful beaches, and charming towns. This region is a paradise for sun-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. Start your visit in Lagos, a historic town with a lively marina, cobbled streets, and a beautiful old town.

Explore the breathtaking cliffs and grottoes of Ponta da Piedade, a natural wonder that offers some of the most stunning coastal views in Portugal. Take a boat tour to explore the hidden caves and secluded beaches along the coast.

Relax on the golden sands of Praia da Marinha, often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. For a bit of adventure, try surfing at the popular beaches of Sagres, known for their great waves and stunning scenery.

Visit the charming town of Tavira, with its picturesque streets, Roman bridge, and beautiful churches. The Algarve is also home to some of the best golf courses in Europe, making it a popular destination for golf enthusiasts.

In the evening, enjoy fresh seafood at a beachfront restaurant while watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. The Algarve’s natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere make it a perfect destination for a relaxing getaway.

  1. Discover Sintra

Sintra, a picturesque town nestled in the hills of the Serra de Sintra, is a must-visit destination just a short drive from Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its stunning palaces, historic estates, and lush gardens. Start your visit with a trip to the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, a royal palace with distinctive twin chimneys and beautiful azulejos.

Next, explore the enchanting Pena Palace, perched on a hilltop and known for its vibrant colors and eclectic architecture. The palace offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the Atlantic Ocean. Wander through the expansive grounds of the palace, which are filled with exotic plants and hidden pathways.

Visit the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira, a romantic estate featuring an ornate palace, a chapel, and a lush garden with winding paths, grottoes, and the famous Initiation Well. The well’s spiral staircase descends deep into the earth and is surrounded by myth and legend.

Take a leisurely stroll through the town of Sintra, with its charming streets, traditional shops, and delightful cafés. Don’t miss the chance to try the local pastries, such as travesseiros and queijadas.

Sintra’s fairy-tale setting and rich history make it a magical destination that captivates visitors with its beauty and charm.

  1. Experience Fado Music

Fado is the soulful music of Portugal, characterized by its melancholic melodies and poignant lyrics. Experiencing a live Fado performance is a must for any visitor to Portugal. This traditional music genre dates back to the early 19th century and is deeply rooted in the culture and history of the country.

Lisbon is the heart of Fado, with many historic Fado houses, known as “casas de fado,” where you can enjoy live performances. Head to the neighborhood of Alfama, the birthplace of Fado, to find some of the best venues. One of the most famous Fado houses is Clube de Fado, where talented musicians perform in an intimate setting.

The Fado Museum in Lisbon is also worth a visit. It offers an in-depth look at the history and evolution of Fado, with exhibits showcasing famous Fado singers, instruments, and recordings.

Porto and Coimbra also have vibrant Fado scenes. In Coimbra, Fado has a unique style, often performed by university students in traditional academic attire.

When attending a Fado performance, expect a deeply emotional experience. The singers, known as “fadistas,” often sing about love, loss, and longing, accompanied by the mournful sounds of the Portuguese guitar. The dimly lit rooms and attentive audiences create an atmosphere that allows the music to truly resonate.

Experiencing Fado is not just about listening to music; it’s about connecting with the soul of Portugal and understanding the country’s rich cultural heritage.

  1. Tour the Douro Valley

The Douro Valley, located in northern Portugal, is one of the oldest wine regions in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This stunning region is known for its terraced vineyards, picturesque landscapes, and, of course, its world-famous port wine.

Start your tour with a visit to a traditional quinta (wine estate) to learn about the wine-making process. Many quintas offer guided tours and tastings, allowing you to sample a variety of wines, including the renowned port.

Take a scenic drive or a leisurely boat cruise along the Douro River to enjoy the breathtaking views of the valley. The river meanders through the hills, providing a serene backdrop to the lush vineyards and quaint villages.

Visit the town of Pinhão, located in the heart of the Douro Valley, where you can explore the historic train station decorated with beautiful azulejos depicting scenes of the wine harvest.

For a unique experience, take a ride on the historic Douro Line train, which runs along the river and offers spectacular views of the valley. The train journey takes you through tunnels and over bridges, providing a different perspective of the region.

In the evening, dine at one of the local restaurants and enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine paired with excellent Douro wines. The Douro Valley is not only a paradise for wine lovers but also a region of stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

  1. Enjoy the Azores

The Azores, an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. This remote group of islands offers stunning landscapes, lush greenery, volcanic craters, and crystal-clear lakes.

Start your exploration on São Miguel, the largest island, known for its breathtaking viewpoints and natural hot springs. Visit the Sete Cidades, a twin lake situated in a massive volcanic crater, where the contrasting colors of the lakes—one blue and one green—create a striking scene.

Relax in the hot springs of Furnas, a geothermal area with bubbling mud pots and natural hot water pools. The Terra Nostra Park in Furnas is home to beautiful botanical gardens and a large thermal pool, perfect for a relaxing soak.

Head to the island of Pico, home to Portugal’s highest mountain, Mount Pico. This dormant volcano offers challenging hikes with rewarding views from the summit. Pico is also known for its vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you can sample unique volcanic wines.

For whale watching, visit the island of Faial, where you can embark on a boat tour to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The Azores are one of the best places in the world for whale and dolphin watching.

The Azores offer a mix of adventure and relaxation, with stunning natural beauty and unique experiences that make it a must-visit destination for any traveler.

  1. Wander Through Évora

Évora, located in the Alentejo region of Portugal, is a charming city known for its well-preserved historic center, rich cultural heritage, and beautiful architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a glimpse into Portugal’s past with its Roman ruins, medieval walls, and centuries-old buildings.

Start your visit at the Praça do Giraldo, the main square, surrounded by whitewashed buildings and lively cafés. From here, explore the narrow streets lined with historic houses and quaint shops.

Visit the Roman Temple of Évora, also known as the Temple of Diana, one of the best-preserved Roman structures in Portugal. Nearby, you’ll find the Évora Cathedral, a stunning Gothic building with impressive views from its rooftop.

One of the most unique attractions in Évora is the Chapel of Bones, located in the Church of St. Francis. This eerie chapel is decorated with human bones and skulls, serving as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life.

Take a stroll through the University of Évora, one of the oldest universities in Europe, with beautiful cloisters and historic buildings. The university adds a vibrant atmosphere to the city with its student population.

In the evening, enjoy a meal at one of Évora’s traditional restaurants, where you can savor regional dishes such as migas, açorda, and Alentejo pork. Évora’s rich history, cultural treasures, and relaxed ambiance make it a fascinating destination to explore.

  1. Surf in Nazaré

Nazaré, a coastal town in central Portugal, is famous for its massive waves and world-class surfing. This once sleepy fishing village has gained international fame as a top destination for big wave surfers, attracting thrill-seekers from around the globe.

The waves at Praia do Norte, just north of the town, are some of the largest in the world, with record-breaking swells reaching up to 100 feet. These giant waves are caused by an underwater canyon, the Nazaré Canyon, which funnels and amplifies the ocean swells.

For those who want to experience the thrill of big wave surfing, Nazaré offers the perfect challenge. The best time to catch these colossal waves is during the winter months, from October to March. However, even if you’re not a surfer, watching these incredible waves from the safety of the shore is an unforgettable experience.

For beginners or those who prefer smaller waves, the main beach of Nazaré, Praia da Nazaré, offers more manageable conditions for surfing and bodyboarding. Several surf schools in the area provide lessons and equipment rental for all skill levels.

When you’re not surfing, explore the charming town of Nazaré, with its narrow streets, traditional houses, and vibrant fish market. Take a ride on the funicular to the Sitio district for panoramic views of the coastline and the iconic lighthouse that overlooks Praia do Norte.

Nazaré’s unique combination of giant waves and traditional Portuguese charm makes it a must-visit destination for surfers and travelers alike.

  1. Hike in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Peneda-Gerês National Park, located in the northwest of Portugal, is the country’s only national park and a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. This stunning park is characterized by rugged mountains, deep valleys, dense forests, and crystal-clear rivers.

One of the best ways to explore the park is by hiking its numerous trails, which offer breathtaking views and the chance to see diverse flora and fauna. The Trilho dos Currais trail is a popular choice, taking you through beautiful landscapes and offering panoramic views of the Serra do Gerês mountains.

The park is home to several picturesque villages, such as Soajo and Lindoso, where you can see traditional granite houses and espigueiros (granaries). These villages offer a glimpse into the rural way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries.

Don’t miss the stunning waterfalls and natural pools scattered throughout the park, such as the Arado Waterfall and the Tahiti Waterfall. These spots are perfect for a refreshing swim or a picnic surrounded by nature.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Peneda-Gerês is home to a variety of animals, including wild horses, ibex, and eagles. The park’s diverse habitats provide excellent opportunities for bird watching and wildlife photography.

After a day of hiking, relax in one of the park’s thermal spas, such as the Termas do Gerês, where you can soak in natural hot springs and rejuvenate your body and mind.

Peneda-Gerês National Park offers a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to connect with nature and experience the beauty of Portugal’s wilderness.

  1. Explore Coimbra

Coimbra, a historic city in central Portugal, is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and offers a rich cultural experience. Start your visit at the University of Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The university’s Joanina Library is a must-see, with its stunning baroque architecture and vast collection of ancient books.

Stroll through the medieval streets of the old town, where you can visit the Sé Velha (Old Cathedral), a beautiful Romanesque building. Don’t miss the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, a Gothic structure with a fascinating history.

In the evening, enjoy a traditional Fado de Coimbra performance, a unique style of Fado music typically sung by university students. Coimbra’s blend of history, culture, and academic heritage makes it a captivating destination.

  1. Visit Madeira

Madeira, an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, is known for its stunning landscapes, lush gardens, and vibrant culture. Start your exploration in Funchal, the capital, where you can visit the colorful Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmer’s Market) and the beautiful Botanical Garden.

Take a scenic cable car ride to Monte, where you can visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and enjoy panoramic views of Funchal. For an adrenaline rush, try a traditional wicker toboggan ride back down to the city.

Madeira is also famous for its levada walks, a network of irrigation channels that offer scenic hiking trails through the island’s lush interior. Don’t miss the stunning Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Enjoy the island’s delicious cuisine, including fresh seafood and the famous Madeira wine. Madeira’s natural beauty and unique experiences make it a must-visit destination.

  1. Tour the Batalha Monastery

The Batalha Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an architectural masterpiece located in central Portugal. This Gothic monastery was built to commemorate the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 and is one of the most impressive monuments in the country.

Explore the intricate details of the monastery’s façade and the stunning Manueline-style architecture. Inside, visit the Royal Cloister, the Chapter House, and the Founder’s Chapel, where you can see the tombs of King João I and his wife, Philippa of Lancaster.

The Batalha Monastery’s grandeur and historical significance make it a fascinating destination for history and architecture enthusiasts.

  1. Discover Óbidos

Óbidos, a charming medieval town located in central Portugal, is known for its well-preserved historic center and picturesque streets. The town is surrounded by ancient walls and offers a glimpse into Portugal’s past.

Start your visit by walking along the town walls for panoramic views of Óbidos and the surrounding countryside. Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses, colorful flowers, and traditional shops.

Visit the Óbidos Castle, which now operates as a luxurious hotel, and the beautiful Igreja de Santa Maria, a church with stunning azulejos and a rich history. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Ginja de Óbidos, a local cherry liqueur served in chocolate cups.

Óbidos is also known for its lively festivals, such as the Medieval Market and the Chocolate Festival. The town’s enchanting atmosphere and cultural events make it a delightful destination.

  1. Experience the Alentejo Wine Route

The Alentejo region, located in southern Portugal, is renowned for its vineyards and excellent wines. The Alentejo Wine Route offers a scenic journey through rolling hills, olive groves, and charming villages, with numerous wineries to visit along the way.

Start your wine tour in Évora, a historic city with several wineries nearby. Visit Herdade do Esporão, one of the region’s most famous estates, where you can tour the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, and enjoy a wine tasting session.

Continue your journey through the picturesque towns of Reguengos de Monsaraz, Borba, and Redondo, each offering unique wine experiences and opportunities to sample local varieties. Pair your wine tasting with traditional Alentejo cuisine, known for its hearty flavors and use of local ingredients.

The Alentejo Wine Route combines beautiful landscapes, rich history, and exceptional wines, making it a must-visit for wine enthusiasts.

  1. Visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park

The Ria Formosa Natural Park, located in the Algarve, is a stunning coastal lagoon system that stretches for over 60 kilometers. This protected area is known for its diverse wildlife, beautiful landscapes, and pristine beaches.

Explore the park by taking a boat tour through its labyrinth of channels, islands, and sandbanks. These tours often include stops at secluded beaches and opportunities for bird watching. The park is home to a variety of bird species, including flamingos, herons, and ospreys.

Visit the island of Culatra, where you can enjoy a relaxing day on the beach and sample fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants. The Ria Formosa is also a great spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling.

The park’s natural beauty and tranquil environment make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

  1. Discover the Caves of Mira de Aire

The Caves of Mira de Aire, located in central Portugal, are one of the largest and most impressive cave systems in the country. These limestone caves, discovered in 1947, offer a fascinating underground adventure with stunning rock formations and intricate stalactites and stalagmites.

Take a guided tour through the caves, where you will descend deep into the earth and explore a series of chambers and passages. The highlight of the tour is the Grand Hall, a vast cavern adorned with magnificent formations.

The caves are also home to an underground lake and a waterfall, adding to their natural beauty. The well-lit paths and informative guides make the Caves of Mira de Aire an enjoyable and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

The caves’ unique geological features and breathtaking scenery make them a must-visit attraction in Portugal.

  1. Enjoy the Beaches of Costa da Caparica

Costa da Caparica, located just south of Lisbon, is famous for its long stretch of sandy beaches and vibrant beach culture. This coastal area offers a perfect escape from the city, with a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful seaside scenery.

Spend your day lounging on the golden sands, swimming in the clear waters, or trying out water sports such as surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. The consistent waves make Costa da Caparica a popular spot for surfers of all levels.

Take a walk along the promenade, where you will find numerous beach bars and restaurants offering delicious seafood and refreshing drinks. In the evening, enjoy a beachside sunset and the lively nightlife that Costa da Caparica has to offer.

For a unique experience, take the Transpraia, a vintage beach train that runs along the coast and stops at various beaches. Costa da Caparica’s stunning beaches and vibrant atmosphere make it a perfect destination for a beach day.

  1. Visit the National Palace of Mafra

The National Palace of Mafra, located just outside of Lisbon, is a magnificent baroque palace and monastery complex that showcases the grandeur of Portuguese architecture. Built in the 18th century by King João V, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most important monuments in Portugal.

Explore the palace’s vast rooms, including the impressive Basilica, the Royal Apartments, and the stunning Library, which houses over 36,000 volumes and is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

The palace also features an extensive park and game reserve, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. The Convent and the Palace’s Infirmary offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the monks who once lived here.

The National Palace of Mafra’s architectural splendor and historical significance make it a must-visit attraction for history and culture enthusiasts.

  1. Explore the Berlengas Archipelago

The Berlengas Archipelago, located off the coast of Peniche, is a group of small islands known for their rugged beauty and rich marine life. The main island, Berlenga Grande, is a protected nature reserve and offers a unique escape into nature.

Take a boat trip from Peniche to the islands, where you can explore the dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and hidden caves. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities here, as the waters around the archipelago are home to a variety of marine species.

Visit the São João Baptista Fort, a 17th-century fortress perched on a rocky outcrop, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The fort can be reached by a scenic path that winds along the cliffs.

The Berlengas Archipelago is also a great spot for bird watching, with several seabird species nesting on the islands. The archipelago’s natural beauty and tranquil environment make it a perfect destination for a day trip.


Portugal’s diverse attractions make it a unique and captivating destination for travelers. Whether you’re exploring historic cities, lounging on beautiful beaches, tasting world-renowned wines, or hiking through breathtaking landscapes, there are endless things to do in Portugal. Each region offers its own distinct charm and experiences, making every visit unique and memorable. Embrace the warmth of the Portuguese culture, indulge in the local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich history and natural beauty of this remarkable country. Your journey through Portugal promises to be an unforgettable adventure, leaving you with cherished memories and a longing to return.

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