Portugal is one epic country to explore and, possibly, one of the most gorgeous countries in Europe! Now, I know, that’s a pretty mean feat to say but there are so many places in Portugal that are so diverse and totally unique.
Honestly, with all the stunning cobbled streets in Porto, the dramatic coastline near Lagos and the palaces of Sintra (to name a few), you really will be spoilt for choice. And you know what, that was the hardest thing I realised before our very first trip… there’s just so many incredibly beautiful and best places in Portugal to explore.
This is why I wanted to share with you a few of my top pics on the best places in Portugal to visit this year. Some are cities, others are hikes, whilst some are Portugal’s gorgeous islands. Whatever they are, I’m almost certain there’ll be a few that catch your eye.
Take a look below at some of the best places in Portugal to visit this year. You’re gonna have the most amazing time exploring Portugal! 🇵🇹
1.) The Algarve
Right in the south of Portugal, I’m pretty ashamed to say that my first ever visit to the Algarve was only last year. What a mistake that was! Located on the Portuguese coastline, the Algarve is a beautiful region with lots of soft sand beaches and quaint fishing villages to boot.
This is possibly one of the more popular spots in Portugal for visitors looking for sun, sea and sand… but that’s not all that’s here. The Algarve really is one of the best places in Portugal to visit, especially for its natural beauty.
Once here, head to Tavira Island for a beach retreat or visit Vicentine Coast Natural Park to hike along the picturesque cliffs that seem to gauged out by the sea itself. Alternatively, take a boat tour over to Benagil Cave or see the stunning area around Lagos or Sagres.
For a much quieter beach, head over to Praia do Amado on the west coast of the Algarve. Far fewer people visit this beach than those on the south coast. Just be warned the sea can be a little cooler with stronger ocean currents.
Porto is still one of my favourite cities and best places in Portugal to visit for a city break. Famous for its colourful houses, historic bridges and that fortified wine *slurp*, the coastal town of Porto is a proper lovely place to spend a long weekend.
Once here, head to Torre dos Clerigos to climb the Baroque tower and enjoy 360 views of the city before exploring the cobbled streets of Ribeira (downtown Porto) and enjoy sangria aside the Douro River. Oh, and don’t forget to visit Livraria Lello, one of my favourite bookshops in all the world!
If you want to explore some of the stunning buildings in the city, pop over to the Church of Saint Ildefonso or even the Chapel of Souls. Plus, If you’re here in June, get tickets to Primavera Festival, the countries famous music festival that it shares with Barcelona.
Oh, and if you fancy a lovely beach, head further down the coast to Costa Nova (60-minutes away). It has an incredible beach and some of the most picturesque houses.
Located at the base of the Sintra Mountains, It’s actually quite easy to partner Sintra with a visit to Lisbon (or even Cascais). Perched on the western fringes of Portugal, it’s one of the most magical and best places in Portugal to explore. Yeah, that might sound a bit cheesy but it really is how it feels.
Now, the one downside of Sintra being so beautiful is that it can get incredibly busy. If you want to miss the majority of the crowds, pop across first thing in the morning and avoid weekends. Oh, and if you’re looking for a place to stay, pop over to Penha Longa which is gorgeous.
4.) Douro Valley
Located in the north of Portugal the Douro Valley runs from the city of Porto across to the eastern border. Now, the valley has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001 and it’s easy to see why.
It’s one of the best places in Portugal for great quality wines. Once here, make sure to visit Quinta da Pacheca, Winery, explore Quinta das Carvalhas and Quinta do Seixo. Just make sure to have a designated driver.
One home to the rich and famous, Cascais is something of a Monte Carlo of Portugal and a stunning town to experience.
Once here, head over to Boca do Inferno and see the jagged coastline, Carcavelos beach (though it does get busy) and gorge on all the fresh seafood at Maria Pia which is so yummy.
For the longest time, I’d never really thought of visiting Madeira but finally, last year, we made the trip. Boy, was I wrong to wait so long! The island is stunning.
Madeira really is one of the best places in Portugal to explore even though it’s a little away from the mainland itself. Once here, make sure to explore Camara De Lobos, ride a Monte sledge and watch the sunset from Maktub in Paul do Mar.
If you fancy a hike, pop over to Ribeiro Frio Natural Park or Pico do Areeiro that are just stunning. Oh, and don’t forget to take the ferry over to Porto Santo Island too! It’s a world apart in how it looks (compared with Madeira).
7.) The Azores
Home to volcanic scenery, a budding marine life (hello whales) and 18th-century churches the island of Sao Miguel (and the Azores, generally) is a real treat. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Iceland… just a bit warmer!
Although the majority of flights will require a connection with mainland Portugal, it’s well worth the extra hour connection to visit one of the best places in Portugal. Whilst you’re here, make sure to spot Vila Franca do Campo, see Lagoa do Fogo and find Lagoa do Canario. If you fancy a dip, pop over to Centro de Interpretacao Ambiental da Caldeira Velha (a tongue twister, for sure) for a soak in the thermal pools.
And don’t forget to enjoy Bar Caloura to gorge on freshly caught fish while enjoying beautiful sea views (especially at dusk).
Head to São Jorge Castle to explore the palace ruins before taking the tram from Bairro Alto to Belém to explore the coloured, winding, streets. While in town make sure you go to Prego na Peixaria for lunch, they serve the best fish sandwiches. That being said, if you love a little spice, make sure to have to Piri Piri chicken whilst in the city.
Now, there are so many amazing and best places in Portugal to explore right within Lisbon itself. For me, one of my favourites has to be the neighbourhood of Alfama. Not only is it the oldest in the city, but it also has so many incredible winding streets to discover.
Oh, and don’t forget to ride the traditional trams that roam the city (tram 28 is one of the best).
Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and has its roots deeply buried in Catholicism that’s really shaped the city. As such, the city hosts one of the countries largest religious festivals – The Semana Santa which is quite spectacular to see.
Religion aside, Braga is a beautiful cobbled town with bustling plazas, vibrant cafes and cocktail bars that are great for a weekend break. Oh, and if you fancy a little break away from the city itself, pop over to Castle of Guimarães which is steeped in almost 1,000 years of history.
10.) The Alentejo Region
Picture rolling vineyards, wide open green planes and the sunkissed trails, the Alentejo region is one of the best places in Portugal to explore if you’re in the south. Make sure to see the Roman ruins of São Cucufate, explore the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa and the Convent of Chagas. Plus, don’t forget to explore the stunning hilltop town of Marvão (and its castle).
Honestly, Imagine crumbly houses, little craft shops and loads of yummy dishes and this is what the Alentejo region is like. I almost guarantee that you’ll be eating mountains of cheese, wine and a massive bowl of Caldo Verde.
The medieval village of Monsanto sits on the east side of Portugal close to the border of Spain. Dating way back to the 16th century, all precariously lodged between giant fallen rocks that dot the village.
There’s something quite picturesque about this little village and a good weekend can be spent lost down its cobbled lanes and historic sites. Once here, you’ve gotta explore the Castle of Monsanto, see the cathedral and stop off at Adega Tipica O Cruzeiro for lunch with a view.
Obidos is a fortified town home to a historic medieval castle, quaint cobbled streets and picturesque artist houses that are well worth seeing. It really is one of the best places in Portugal to visit for a more relaxing time away from the cities as the pace of life is much slower here.
Once you’ve arrived, be sure you head down to Lagoa de Óbidos, a coastal lagoon where kitesurfing and windsurfing are popular sports. Oh, and make sure to visit Obidos Castle too!
Located on the Mondego River the little city of Coimbra has a lot to offer. Once the medieval capital of Portugal Coimbra is home to the country’s most renowned university, picture perfect colourful buildings and street side bars packed to the rafters with locals after a post-work pint.
Plus, if you fancy a little jaunt outside of the city (or a gorgeous place to stay) then pop over to Buçaco Palace, which was built at the end of the 19th Century and inspired by Manueline buildings like the Belém Tower in Lisbon.
14.) Mateus Palace
Often thought of as one of the best places in Portugal to see Baroque architecture, Mateus Palace is a stunning place to visit.
Around a 90-minute drive from Porto, Mateus Palace is a great place to visit for a day trip further inland. Once inside you’ll be able to take a guided tour around the house, chapel and wander on your own around the gardens. It really is a special place.