Wander-Lush

28 Unforgettable Things to Do in Portugal: The Ultimate List

Portugal is easily one of the most rewarding travel destinations in Europe, with cosmopolitan cities, quaint villages, wine country, pristine forests – and not to forget, 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) of picturesque coastline ranging from dramatic cliffs, coves and caves to placid, sandy beaches.

Add to that more than 800 years of history, a fabulous food scene, music traditions and much more, and mainland Portugal plus the diverse islands of Madeira and the Azores have something to offer literally every type of traveller.

This mega Portugal Bucket List brings together 28 of the best things to do in Portugal, including must-sees, immersive cultural experiences , hands-on activities, and quirky and alternative Portugal attractions.

→ Don’t miss: The best places to visit in Portugal

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28 of the best things to do in Portugal

Ride the #28 tram in lisbon.

A yellow tram on the street in Lisbon, Portugal.

There’s no better introduction to Lisbon , the capital city of Portugal, than a self-guided tour by tram. A Lisbon icon, electric trams first launched in 1901 and have been ferrying locals and visitors alike up and down the city’s hills ever since.

Tram 28 is the best route for sightseeing and views. Think of it as Lisbon’s more authentic answer to a hop-on-hop-off tour bus! Running between Martim Moniz and Campo Ourique, it takes passengers along some of the city’s most beautiful streets, past key landmarks including Lisbon Cathedral, the Thieves Market, São Jorge Castle, National Pantheon, Miradouro da Graça, Arco da Rua Augusta, and more.

At just €3 per trip (paid either in cash to the driver or using a rechargeable Viva Viagem card), it’s also a very affordable way to see the best of Lisbon. Climb aboard a vintage Remodelado carriage, stake out a spot on one of the wooden benches, and sit back and absorb the sights and sounds of Lisboa.

The tram runs seven days from 6am. It’s a good idea to arrive early to beat the crowds. Riding the whole line takes around 50 minutes one-way depending on traffic. For a less-touristy alternative, the #12E tram follows a similar route through the historic Alfama neighbourhood , stopping at São Jorge Castle and Se Cathedral.

Alternative Lisbon experience: Follow the 28 tram route in a private electric tuk-tuk and snap photos of the charming yellow trams along the way!

Learn how to make Pastel de Nata in Belem

A single pastel de nata Portuguese egg tart on a white plate.

When visiting Portugal, it’s mandatory to munch on as many rich and flaky Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts) as humanly possible. This delicious pastry was born in the shadow of the iconic Belem Tower (Torre De Belem) in the 18th-century kitchens of Jerónimos Monastery, making Lisbon the spiritual home of Pastéis.

While you should definitely buy a pack or two of authentic Belem custard tarts to take home as a souvenir , why not go one better and learn how to make them from scratch yourself. It’s a life skill that will serve you well!

A Pastel de Nata Masterclass is a must-do for foodies and a great experience for kids. The original recipe is a closely guarded secret, but padeiras are more than willing to spill the beans for eager visitors who want to master the art. The best workshops take place in local bakeries and teach you how to make the creamy custard from scratch.

Try it: Book a Pastel de Nata Workshop with an expert baker , including a glass of Ginjinha sour cherry liqueur in an edible chocolate cup to pair with your fresh-baked tarts.

Cruise the Douro River in Porto

A fleet of rabelo boats on the river in Porto, with a beautiful bridge in the background.

Life in Portugal’s second city revolves around the Douro River, giving Porto some of its most famous landmarks including its handsome bridges and medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, with its colourful merchant houses and historic cafes .

Do as Porto’s wine merchants once did and let the trade winds whisk you through the city. A boat trip on the Douro is the perfect way to tour the top sights and learn what makes Porto one of the country’s most interesting cities .

In the past, rabelo – low-slung wooden cargo boats – were used to transport barrels of Port wine from the vineyards in the country’s interior to the city and onward to the shipping docks. A fleet of colourful rabelo now float the same historic route, taking visitors down Porto’s life-giving river and showing off the best of the city from a unique perspective.

A typical boat tour of Porto covers the famous ‘Six Bridges’ including Ponte D. Maria Pia, Ponte Infante Dom Henrique and Ponte de Dom Luís I, the Gaia caves, and the Cabedelo Nature Reserve. You’ll see the Foz do Douro, where the river empties out into the Atlantic Ocean, and the Barra do Douro with its dazzling lighthouse.

Take a day trip to the splendid Pena Palace

Pena Palace, a colourful Portuguese palace near Lisbon.

Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Portugal and a highlight of Sintra, a convenient day trip from Lisbon. Considered one of the finest expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in Europe, it’s both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Set atop a hill and enveloped by green forest (200 hectares of which is the royal garden), Pena Palace is instantly identifiable because of its bright red, yellow and mauve facades, scalloped white trimmings and pointed turrets. It might look cartoonish in photos but seen up close in person, it’s very lavish indeed – especially the painted interiors, which were used as a summer royal residence for Portugal’s ruling family. 

A Sintra day trip is very easy to organise, travelling by train on the CP-Sintra line from Lisbon. Pena Palace is a 30-minute bus ride from the railway station.

Alternatively, a combination Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais day tour from Lisbon is a good choice if you’re on a tight timeline. Other noteworthy landmarks in the area include the National Palace on Sintra’s central square, Monserrate Palace and the Moorish Castle, later on this list of things to do in Portugal.

Pena Palace tickets: Pre-purchase your tickets online and skip the queue.

Listen to Fado music in Chiado, one of the best things to do in Portugal for local culture

Recognised as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Fado is a beloved Portuguese tradition that incorporates music, lyrics and movement. For an insight into the nation’s seafaring heritage, watch a live Fado performance in Chiado in Lisbon where Fado has been humming in the streets for more than 200 years.

Though its exact origins are a bit of a mystery, it’s widely believed that Fado emerged in the mid-1800s at a time when Portuguese mariners were undertaking their most daring sea voyages to the New World. Singing and dancing became something of a ritual for sailors as they searched for a reprieve from their stressful day jobs. 

Somewhat ironically, much of Lisbon’s Fado music is soulful and almost mournful. Coimbra Fado, by contrast, is more upbeat – apparently it was devised as a way for male students at the university to woo their female counterparts!

Fado is most commonly associated with Lisbon’s old Alfama and Mouraria districts. In the beginning the singers were all male, but today it’s women who take the lead, reciting stirring melodies that transport listeners to another time and place, accompanied by 12-string guitars and violas. Bars and restaurants in Alfama and Bairro Alto host Fado performers, and the popular Fado in Chiado theatre stages shows every night of the week.

Experience Fado: Folk music performances in Lisbon .

Tour one of the world’s oldest universities in Coimbra

A lavish library inside the historic Coimbra University in Portugal.

Have you ever been to a university that is a combination of a palace, a church and has strong vibes of Harry Potter ’s Hogwarts? If you haven’t, it’s time to add Coimbra University to the long list of things you must do in Portugal.

Coimbra is the biggest city in Central Portugal. You can easily reach it by train from Lisbon in about two hours or Porto in about one hour, or stop here on your road trip from Lisbon to Porto . There are many historical monuments in Coimbra but the university campus, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, is the most famous.

With a history dating back to the 13th century, this stunning university is actually the oldest of its kind in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe . It is located in what used to be a royal palace and has many interesting treasures to explore as well as commanding fabulous views of Coimbra and the Mondego River.

Some of the most interesting places on the university campus are the Capela de São Miguel, with its beautifully decorated ceiling and walls, the chambers of the palace, and the rooftop balcony that offers excellent views of the area. One place you must visit is the Biblioteca Joanina. Walking into this ancient library feels like stepping into a movie set: all golden decorations, a piano, and a resident colony of bats!

You can visit Coimbra University by yourself if you wish, but it’s best to take a tour to learn about the history and secrets that hide in the various chambers. The university organises guided tours. Note that if you buy your own tickets, there are two types – make sure you buy the one that includes a visit to the library.

By Maya from Chasing Lenscapes

Pre-purchase your Coimbra University tickets: These skip-the-line tickets include an in-depth 90-minute tour of the main halls and the Biblioteca Joanina.

Take a stroll in the enchanting Bucaco National Forest

Walking paths and overgrown trees in the Bucaco National Forest near Coimbra.

Located roughly 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of the historic city of Coimbra, the Buçaco National Forest is a true gem in Portugal. This 105-hectare green space houses one of the most remarkable tree collections in Europe, including species dating back to the Portuguese Age of Discoveries (around 500 years ago).

In the 17th century, the forest was settled by the Order of Discalced Carmelites – though it was previously inhabited for centuries before that. The monks built its walls, little chapels that are still standing today, and a convent that was supposed to be converted into a royal palace but is now a unique luxury hotel, the Buçaco Palace.

The best way to explore the forest is by foot, walking at least one of the many trails that take you through this enchanted place. Be sure to grab a map at the information centre (Posto de Turismo do Luso-Bussaco) as it will be very useful. Some of the points of interest you can’t miss while wandering through Buçaco are the Buçaco Palace, Fonte Fria fountain, and Portas de Coimbra (Coimbra Gate).

The most convenient way to get to the forest is by car, so this is a great opportunity to take a scenic road trip through central Portugal .

By Or from My Path in the World

Drink Port wine in the Douro Valley

Vineyards reach down to the Douro River in central Portugal.

If you’re in Portugal and you haven’t tried Port wine, have you even been to Portugal at all?! A tasting of the nation’s most famous export is an absolute must, and the best place to do it is the Douro Valley outside Porto, one of Europe’s most famous wine regions .

There are many advantages to doing a wine tasting in the Douro Valley rather than in Porto city. In Porto, you will only find overpriced touristy Port tastings; whereas in the Douro Valley, you will be able to visit centuries-old wine estates ( quintas ) in person. The acres and acres of vineyards here are incredibly picturesque and give visitors the chance to really immerse themselves in Portugal’s winemaking traditions.

The best way to visit the Douro Valley is through an organised tour from Porto. This one by Living Tours includes two different quintas, a boat tour on the Douro river, and a generous lunch. It’s also possible to rent a car and visit multiple quintas on your own. But that would mean you can’t drink port – so a tour is definitely the preferred option here!

By Lara from The Best Travel Gifts

Best Douro Valley tour from Porto: This itinerary by Living Tours includes tastings with the winemakers, a regional lunch, and spectacular views of the terraced vineyards.

Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in the Algarve

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in the Algarve, a walking route past cliffs and white sand beaches in Portugal.

There are few better ways to appreciate the beauty of the Algarve coastline than by foot. And thankfully, there are several stunning walkways you can take to explore one of Portugal’s premier beach holiday destinations from a different perspective.

One of the most popular walks along this stretch of sun-kissed shoreline is the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail . At just under 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) out and back, it’s an easy half-day hike, or you can do it over a full day and enjoy the many beaches you’ll pass along the way.

Beaches aside, there’s plenty to see along the path such as natural grottos (including the famous Benagil sea cave), rock arches and bridges, sea pillars, and a lighthouse.

The family-friendly hike is described as moderate, and can be hard going in the heat of the summer months, so do yourself a favour by hiking in autumn instead. At this time of the year, you’ll enjoy sublime temperatures, fewer crowds, and won’t have to jostle for a parking spot.

You can complete the track in either direction, starting at Praia Vale de Centeanes or Praia da Marinha. If you don’t fancy retracing your steps it’s possible to just do it one way and catch a cab or Uber back to your car.

By Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Kayak through the Benagil sea cave

Kayaks on the shore beneath the Benagil sea cave in southern Portugal.

Out of all grottos that dot the southern Portuguese coast, the Benagil cave is the most captivating. That’s because, in addition to the lateral erosion caused by the pounding waves, the rain has worn away the top of the cave. The result is a natural skylight that illuminates the cavern and the beautiful patch of white sand that lies inside.

The fenced area around this ‘eye’ allows visitors to peer inside from the top of the cave. But to truly experience the magic of the Benagil grotto, you need to access it from the water.

Instead of hopping on one of the small tourist boats that pass through the cave, you could join a Benagil cave tour by kayak or SUP. Most of these tours are organised in the morning, allowing you some time to enjoy this mesmerising cave without the constant boat traffic. The beauty of arriving by kayak or SUP is that you’re allowed to actually set foot on the gorgeous beach – a privilege that boat visitors don’t have.

A kayak or SUP tour typically lasts around two hours and takes you to see several intriguing sea caves along the coastline. It can be quite intensive, depending on the water conditions, but a support boat with a lifeguard tags along and can tow your kayak if necessary.

By Sarah from CosmopoliClan

Try it: Book your Benagil cave kayaking experience with Secret Algarve.

Swim in a natural hot spring in the Azores

People swim in a natural geothermal pool in the Azores.

One of the most exciting things to do in Portugal is experience the hot springs on the Azorean island of São Miguel. The largest of the Azores – a chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean and an autonomous region of Portugal – São Miguel has a wide selection of hot springs to enjoy.

There are several different geothermal springs on the island, each with its own unique feel. Terra Nostra is probably the most famous, known for its large spring-fed pool that is so rich with iron and other minerals that the water is almost golden in colour. Terra Nostra also has smaller springs as well as a botanic garden and a restaurant where you can eat cozido , an Azorean stew cooked underground using geothermal heat (look out for it later on this list).

Another cool spot is in Ponta da Ferraria, where a hot spring meets the ocean just where some rocks make a natural pool. You’ll have to time the tides just right – otherwise it can be too hot or too cold – but it’s a magical experience feeling the water’s temperature ebb and flow as the hot spring water mixes with the brisk Atlantic waters. Best of all, it’s free!

Should you want even more soaking time on your Sao Miguel itinerary , there are several other hot springs in the Azores also worth mentioning, including Poça da Dona Beija and Caldeira Velha.

Tip: Bring a dark-coloured bathing suit to enjoy the hot springs in the Azores – lighter suits may get stained by the mineral waters.

By Allison from Eternal Arrival

Experience it: Evening tour to Furnas for hot spring bathing at Poça da Dona Beija as the sun sets plus a traditional dinner under the stars.

Go hiking at sunrise on Madeira Island

A man looking out over the Pico Ruivo do Paul viewpoint on Madeira island in Portugal.

Portugal’s second autonomous island region, Madeira, comprises four islands, each with a subtropical climate and breathtaking landscapes of volcanic rock formations, dramatic cliffs and pebble beaches. It’s no secret that Madeira boasts some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Europe , many leading to high-altitude viewpoints for panoramic views of the cliffs and ocean.

From moderate and flat levada walks that take you through the island’s forested interior (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to more challenging mountain summits that see you rise up above the clouds, Madeira is a hiker’s paradise.

The Pico Ruivo do Paul trail is an easy hike of 1.5 kilometres (just under 1 mile), taking around 45 minutes to complete. It culminates at a 1600-metre-high marked viewpoint where you are rewarded with spectacular views down to the water’s edge.

One of the most adventurous things to do in Portugal is to set out for sunrise on another popular but longer trail that links the island’s two highest points, Pico do Areeiro and Pico Ruivo. This Madeira hike is more strenuous, taking around 7-9 hours to complete the 15.6 kilometres (9.7 miles).

Ride a moliceiro boat in the quaint town of Aveiro

Molicero boats on the waterfront in the town of Aveiro, Portugal.

One of the best day trips from Porto is to Aveiro, a charming town known for the gondola-style boats that roam the canals. With a long history, it’s a cultural wonderland with plenty of sights and culinary experiences thrown in for good measure.

Just an hour from Porto by train, Aveiro is easy to reach and explore on foot. The main activity is riding one of the colourful molicero boats. These were originally used to farm seaweed and keep the region fertile, although they’re now more of a popular tourist attraction. A short ride will set you back €5-10.

Another place to visit is the nearby Costa Nova, a small beach town with Instagrammable huts painted in every colour of the rainbow. It’s easy to reach Costa Nova from Aveiro by hopping on a bus or hailing a taxi.

Finally, don’t miss indulging in Aveiro’s culinary gems. Ovos moles are traditional snacks from Aveiro made with sweetened egg yolk in wafer. Many cafes sell them, but there’s nowhere better than Confeitaria Peixinho where they have been made since 1856. Try the ones shaped like mini molicero boats!

By Rose from Where Goes Rose

Try it: Aveiro moliceiro experience with a visit to the Aveiro salt pan, the old Beira-Mar, neighbourhood, the Jerónimo Campos ceramics factory, and the Fish Market.

Go azulejo hunting in Porto

Painted Portuguese azulejo tiles at Sao Bento Station in Porto.

Discovering the gorgeous azulejo tiles is one of the best things to do in Porto , Portugal. The word ‘azulejo’ stems from the Arabic al zellige , which means ‘polished stone’. You will find these glazed ceramic tiles almost everywhere in Porto – from churches to railway stations, fountains to benches. Azulejo is a very important part of Portugal’s cultural heritage.

King Manuel I of Portugal brought this art form to this country in the 15th century from Seville, Spain . Initially tiles used simple geometrical patterns, but over time the repertoire transformed into a more intricate and decorative art form depicting religious stories and the history of the nation. You will mainly find these tiles in blue and white. Shades of yellow and green are also common.

You can easily explore Porto’s azulejos yourself. You will find some of the greatest works inside the Sao Bento Railway Station , where almost 20,000 azulejo tiles painted in the early 20th century by Jorge Colaco depict the history of Portugal and rural scenes. The work took almost 11 years to complete!

Other outstanding azulejos can be found at the Porto Cathedral, Igreja do Carmo, Capela das Almas, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the Casa da Musica.

By Moumita & Sankha from Chasing the Long Road

Alternative experience: Try a tile-painting workshop where you’ll learn about the history of azulejos while hand-painting your own souvenir tiles.

Browse the beautiful Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto

The red staircase inside the gorgeous Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto, Portugal.

Located in the heart of Porto, the Livraria Lello is considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, was famously inspired by it when writing her novels – she regularly visited the bookstore in the 1990s.

Founded in 1906 by the Lello brothers, the Livraria Lello, which is today one of the most famous Portuguese landmarks , attracts plenty of tourists thanks to its amazing design. Even before entering the bookstore, the white facade that combines Art Nouveau and neo-Gothic styles is quite stunning.

The exterior is certainly eye-catching, but it’s the store’s stunning interior to which the Livraria Lello owes its fame: the walls, lined with large bookcases from floor to ceiling, abound with volumes in all languages. The high point is definitely the iconic red spiral staircase.

This bookstore is so popular that an entrance fee is now charged (it costs €5, but the ticket price is deductible if you buy something inside). In any case, it’s a good idea to purchase your tickets in advance – otherwise you’ll have to queue twice: first at the ticket counter and then again to enter the bookstore. Try to visit in the morning to avoid the crowds on the staircase.

By Nesrine from Kevmrc Travel

Explore Tomar, Batalha and Alcobaca, the trio of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Central Portugal

Columns and arches at Alcobaca Monastery, one of Central Portugal's three UNESCO sites.

One of the best things to do in Portugal is visit the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There is a trio of monuments located in Central Portugal that can be visited in one day as they are all located within an hour of one another.

The three UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Alcobaça Monastery, and the Monastery of Batalha. The first, the Convent of Christ in Tomar was originally a 12th-century Knights Templar stronghold until its dissolution in the 14th century. The Knights of the Order of Christ, as the Templars became in the 15th-century, continued at Tomar and aided Portugal in its maritime explorations during the Age of Discoveries. The site consists of both a convent and a castle built in the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles.

The Monastery of Batalha is a Dominican monastery originating in the late 14th century. It contains examples of Gothic and Manueline architecture styles. Alcobaça Monastery is a 12th-century monastic site credited with introducing Gothic buildings to Portugal.

All three sites are rich in architecture and history. All can be visited as part of a day trip tour from Lisbon if you are travelling in Portugal without a car. There is a discounted ticket for entry to all three sites which is valid for one year.

By Cath from Passports and Adventures

Day tour option: Book a private day trip from Lisbon with transfers and skip-the-line access to the monasteries.

Walk the medieval walls of the Moorish Castle in Sintra

Old walls of the Moorish Castle in Sintra, with Pena Palace in the distance.

Castelo dos Mouros (the Moorish Castle) is located in Sintra. Like the Pena Palace, it sits high on a craggy outcrop and can be seen for miles around. It’s less touristy than Pena and a more relaxing experience. Its rich history and spectacular views earn the Moorish Castle a spot on the best Sintra tours from Lisbon .

The Moors reigned from the 8th to the 12th centuries in Portugal and during this time, the strategic location of this very large castle (directly above the town) meant that it was the defensive centre for the whole Sintra region. This was also true during the later Christian rule of Sintra.

Make sure you stroll around the formidable castle walls and see the 12th century Igreja de São Pedro Chapel. From atop the walls there are incredible views of the Sintra mountain range.

This castle is also an unforgettable sight when you see it from a distance. The Royal Tower of Sinta (Torre Real) is the best place to view the castle from afar. Walking from the Pena Palace to the Moorish Castle is a wonderful experience, but there is also a regular bus service.

By Paula from Portugal Travel Hub

Explore the old town in Obidos

White-washed houses with colourful trims in the Portugal village of Obidos.

Only an hour’s drive away from bustling Lisbon (making it a great spot on a Portugal road trip ), the sweet, fairytale village of Obidos is a must-see in Portugal. The town is still surrounded by fortified walls and was actually gifted from King Denis of Portugal to his Queen for their wedding in 1282.

Medieval cobbled streets lined with small shops and whitewashed houses are a perfect backdrop for photos. A must-do in Obidos is to try the famous sour cherry liquor, Ginjinha de Óbidos , which originated with 17th-century monks from the region who combined brandy with Morello cherries. It’s traditionally served in little edible chocolate pots to taste for only €1 – and it’s simply delicious. Trust me, you’ll want to purchase a bottle to take home with you.

After you’ve wandered the beautiful streets, don’t forget to check out the well-preserved Obidos Castle. It’s a great place to walk around and you can even stay the night  if you feel like treating yourself!

By Cazzy from Dream Big Travel Far

Explore Obidos: History tour of the village and Jewish neighbourhood with a Ginjinha tasting .

Go beach-hopping in Lagos

An old Roman bridge and rock formations at Praia dos Estudantes beach in Portugal.

Portugal’s southernmost region of Algarve is known for its golden sandy beaches, secluded swimming coves, rugged cliffs and sculptural sea caves. If you’ve come to Portugal in search of surfing, swimming or sunbathing, a tour of Lagos’s stunning beaches is something not to be missed.

The coastal city of Lagos is the ideal spot for a balance of city and surf. From lounging to exciting water sports, there is no shortage of activities to keep you entertained. Beach-hopping is indisputably the thing to do in this part of Portugal. Highlights include Praia dos Estudantes (‘Students’ Beach’), one of the most striking beaches thanks to the Roman-style bridge – once part of a now-fallen fortress – that stretches out between two rock formations over the ocean. The quiet cove here is ideal for frolicking in peaceful tides.

Meia Praia beach is an enormous stretch of sand just outside Lagos. Spanning a monumental 4 kilometres (2.5 miles), it’s never too difficult to find space to stretch out your towel here.

Visit the anchor cemetery on Tavira Island

Rusty anchors lying on the beach on Tavira Island, one of the most offbeat things to do in Portugal.

One of the quirkiest attractions in Portugal is the anchor cemetery on Tavira Island. On the sand dunes cascading into Barril beach , there are more than 200 large, rusty anchors. They were once used in tuna fishing when the island was a base for fishermen during the season. When the tuna population declined, the fishermen abandoned their anchors on the beach.

To this day, nobody really knows who collected them all and lined them up – but the truth is, whoever it was did the area a huge favour! Now, instead of being an abandoned location with old tumbledown fishing shacks, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tavira.

The fishing shacks have been transformed into busy restaurants and cafes, and the old train line that transported the tuna is now being used to ferry tourists on a small scenic train. It costs €1.50 one-way and takes you from the footbridge by Pedras d’El Rei, connecting the mainland with the island, over to the anchor cemetery.

Alternatively, you can walk a 1.3-kilometre-long trail next to the train line. There are also boats and ferries taking visitors from Tavira to the island. Unless you go on a private boat tour, you will be dropped off at Tavira beach. You then have to walk along the beach for 5 kilometres (3 miles) to reach the anchors.

By Linn from Amused by Algarve

Visit the Capela dos Ossos ‘Bone Chapels’ in Evora & Faro

Interior of the Bone Chapel at Evora in Portugal.

Many visit Portugal for the beaches, the food and the epic palaces – but there is something more off-beat that draws visitors to Portugal: a visit to the famous Capela dos Ossos or ‘Bone Chapels’.

Some will consider these unique religious sanctuaries a dark tourism destination , and while they are not for everyone, they are a very interesting (if not a bit macabre) site. The two most popular bone chapels in Portugal are at Evora and Faro. Both are very different from one another and for many visitors, places they never forget.

The Evora Bone Chapel, the larger of the pair, is located near the Igreja de São Francisco Évora Chapel (St. Francis Church). Crafted from the bones of more than 5,000 individuals, the chapel measures 18 metres long and 11 metres wide. The bones are laid out expertly, with skulls positioned in the interior as rousing decorations.

The second Capela dos Ossos, the Faro Bone Chapel, is located in the town of Faro within an unsuspecting church, the Igreja Do Carmo, in a small square. The tiny bone chapel is located at the rear of the church off a beautiful garden. This bone chapel is a complete contrast to the Evora Chapel in that it’s only 5 metres long and just over 2 metres wide.

By Bec from Wyld Family Travel

Walk part of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago

Yellow shells and arrows mark out the Portuguese Camino trail.

Walking the Portuguese Camino de Santiago is an amazing cultural experience and a great way to discover the country. The Portuguese Camino is the second most popular Camino route; about 100,000 people accomplish it every year.

Starting in Lisbon and finishing in Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the total distance of the Camino from Lisbon is 630 kilometres (391 miles). It takes 30 days to complete. Many people start walking the Portuguese route from Porto, which reduces the distance to 260 kilometres (162 miles). The way is marked with yellow shells and arrows.

Spring is the best time for walking the Portuguese Camino. The weather is nice, it’s warm and sunny, there are not too many tourists, and fields and hills along the route are covered in wildflowers.

Crossing a country on foot, visiting both well-known attractions and off-the-beaten-path places, is a truly unique way of travelling. Some of the highlights of the Portuguese Camino include Lisbon, Santarem, Fatima, Tomar, Coimbra, and Porto.

The best thing about the Camino is that anybody can do it. There are no rules or limitations – you can complete the entire Camino or walk only a section, carry your own backpack or use a luggage transfer service.

By Alya from Stingy Nomads

Learn to surf in Nazare

Nazare on the Costa da Prata is a magical place, even more so if you’re a surfer searching for the best waves on earth. Pros and novices alike have wet dreams of the legendary Nazare waves. Riding in Nazare’s cold Atlantic water and frothy white surf is about as refreshing and exhilarating as it gets.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Praia do Norte (North Beach) in Nazare is home to the world’s largest waves ever surfed. The wide beach is just the place for experienced surfers hoping to ride one of Nazare’s legendary monster waves, which often reach up to 30 metres (almost 19 miles) high.

The lighthouse on the cliff above Praia do Norte is the best vantage point to watch these giant waves and the gutsy surfers living their best lives. Inside the lighthouse is a cool surf museum with paraphernalia and quotes from famous surfers who braved the monsters and lived to tell the tale.

Nazare is a great place for beginners, too. There are several surf schools and camps in town to choose from. Instructors will ease you into things and build up your confidence on the town beach with smaller waves. When the time is right, you will join the legends of Praia do Norte.

By De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander

Go stargazing in Monsaraz

A night sky filled with stars in Alqueva, a must visit place in Portugal.

Right in the middle of the famous wine producing region of Alentejo in Portugal is an internationally certified Dark Sky Reserve, the first in the world to be recognised as a UNESCO ‘Starlight Tourism Destination’. The inky skies above Alqueva is a wonderful natural planetarium where there is almost no light pollution, making the whole area wonderful for star-gazing. It’s a must visit on any road trip of Portugal . 

On the edges of the hauntingly beautiful Alqueva Dam is the walled town of Monsaraz, home to the Observatorio do Lago Alqueva. Here you can learn about the Portuguese night skies and spend a few hours with their telescopes observing the constellations and planets of the solar system and the craters of the moon.

The quality of the Alqueva sky enables naked eye observation of a large number of celestial bodies. Your tutor for the evening will bring the sky to life. You’ll find out about the history of astronomy and how the first scientists discovered the stars and planets, how they were named, and what is known about each of them. 

On the right night, and with the right conditions, the velvety sky above Monsaraz may even show you the Milky Way, a hazy band of light seen in the night sky, formed by stars that cannot be individually distinguished with the naked eye. Make sure to bring your camera – you can take images through the telescope for an amazing reminder of your dark skies experience.

By Izzy & Phil from The Gap Decaders

Explore Portugal’s oldest and largest Natural Park, Serra da Estrela

A domed radar tower in Portugal's largest natural park, Serra da Estrela.

Located in the central part of Portugal, Serra da Estrela Natural Park is a mountainous area that contains the highest peak in continental Europe, known as the Torre. It has another claim to fame for being the first and the largest Natural Park in Portugal (though it doesn’t have the same status as Peneda-Geres National Park, the nation’s only Parque Nacional).

The Serra da Estrela is best visited by car or on a day trip with private transportation as access from the likes of Lisbon and Porto via public transport is not easy. There are several towns dotted around the foothills where you can stay.

Things to do in the Natural Park include taking the cable car down the valley to enjoy views across the Serra da Estrela mountains and beyond. There are also two towers with domed-shaped roofs that were former radar towers for the Portuguese Air Force. They make for great pictures. There is a retail building at the top of the mountain where you’ll find a restaurant and shops selling locally produced crafts and other products.

There are also walking opportunities, waterfalls to find, and a beautiful carving of the protector Saint of the Shepherds called Senhora da Boa Estrela etched into the rock face of the mountain.

If you are looking for unique things to do in Portugal outside of the main cities, jump in a car and head for the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. It is an area of stunning natural beauty and a place not to be missed.

By Cath from Travel Around Ireland

Day trip option: Excursion to Serra Da Estrela departing from Lisbon, Braga or Porto .

Join a Portuguese food tour in Lisbon

A plate of sadinhas assadas sardines, a must-try traditional dish in Lisbon.

Portugal has a lot going for it: an agreeable climate, historical cities, beautiful beaches, and excellent wines including the finest Port wine in the world. Another undeniable national treasure is delicious Portuguese food .

For food travellers, one of the best introductions to the cuisine of Portugal is a dedicated food tour. Most cities around the country offer this experience, but the best place for a culinary exploration has to be Lisbon, Portugal’s food capital.

A walking food tour is no doubt the best way to experience not just food, but also the culture and history of the city. A visit to some of Lisbon’s more traditional local neighbourhood restaurants, cafes, food markets and small shops will give you an insight into how locals live and what they eat.

Most food tours last for around four hours and are a short but tasty introduction to local food specialties that will leave you wanting more. While there are food tours in Lisbon that focus on popular venues and markets such as the Mercado da Ribeira , it’s nice to opt for a smaller tour to discover off-the-beaten-path eateries only the locals know about.

As for the food you’ll try: bacalhau (salted and dried cod fish and Portugal’s National dish) will most certainly be on the tasting menu. Don’t miss caldo verde , sausage and kale soup, or Pastel de Nata – all must-trys when visiting Portugal.

By Lori from Travlinmad

Recommended Libson food tour: 10 tastings of Lisbon with locals .

Eat cozido on Sao Miguel

A plate of Cozido, meat and vegetables cooked underground using geothermal heat in Portugal's Azores islands.

Furnas is located on the southeast side of Sao Miguel island in the Azores archipelago. The town, one of the most popular places to visit on Sao Miguel , sits in the remains of a long-extinct volcano and is the centre of the island’s geothermal activity. Home to hundreds of natural springs and streams, visitors have been coming here for centuries to try the mineral waters and thermal pools. They also come to eat cozido .

Cozido (also known as furnas ) is a traditional Portuguese stew made from beef, potatoes and vegetables including carrots and cabbage. Although you can find versions of cozido throughout Portugal, it’s only in Furnas that you will find Cozido nas Caldeiras . Literally translated as ‘cooked in the boiler’, this hearty meal is slow-cooked underground using volcanic heat.

At Furnas Lake there is a cozido cooking spot where local restaurants take their stews to be cooked. Each restaurant has a dedicated underground hole and the area is guarded by two men who are responsible for placing the pots in the ground and later removing them using long iron tongs.

It’s not only restaurants that can use the cooking spot, however – anyone can turn up with their pot and for a few euros have it placed underground. Most cozido are left overnight to cook but you can also take your homemade stew along in the morning and return to collect it 5-7 hours later. Bom apetite!

By Katja from Globe Totting

Go diving in the Algarve

Southern Portugal’s Atlantic coastline is just as breathtaking seen from underwater as from above. Naturally it’s home to some fantastic sites for scuba diving.

Diving conditions are great in the Algarve, with calm seas, good visibility, a rich biodiversity and a variety of interesting underwater attractions. Around the towns of  Albufeira, Portimão, Lagos, Faro and Sagres there are a variety of dive sites for all skill levels. The colourful rocky reefs are covered in algae, anemones, soft corals and sponges. If you love marine animals you will not be disappointed diving here. 

All dive sites are rich in fish life with sea bass, sea bream, groupers and plenty of other species on the reefs. Keep an eye out or your camera ready for interesting creatures including colourful nudibranchs, octopus, moray eels and even seahorses.

For wreck diving enthusiasts, the Algarve has plenty to offer ranging from old ships from the 1750s to a B-24 Liberator Bomber plane wreck from World War II. Several were purposely sunk to make artificial reefs. Ocean Revival Park in Portimão is a unique diving project where four Portuguese navy vessels were sunk deliberately at different depths to form a marine life sanctuary.

Most dives are done from boats, but entering from the shore at some spots, such as the beautiful Porto de Mos beach in Lagos , is also possible. The Algarve can be divided all year round, but the best conditions are in autumn and spring when the blue waters are clear and the temperatures mild.

By Campbell & Alya from The Algarve Family

What is your favourite thing to do in Portugal? Is there something else I should add to the list?

More Portugal travel inspiration

  • 17 most beautiful places to visit in Portugal
  • The best cities in Portugal
  • First timer’s guide to Lisbon
  • 24 hours in Porto
  • The best Airbnb apartments in Lisbon
  • The most unique places to stay in Portugal
  • Top Portugal souvenirs (and where to buy them)
  • Lagos beach guide

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Happy to Wander

30+ Portugal Travel Tips for First Timers & Must Knows Before You Go

Last Updated: July 20, 2023

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Take a single glance at Portugal and you’ll soon leap to the same conclusion as its millions of doting visitors: this is one of those destinations that seems to have it all.

From verdant valleys and golden beaches to fairytale castles and buzzy cities, visitors are swimming in choice as much as they are in sweet, custardy pastries.

But it’s not all custard tarts and photo opps. The truth is, Portugal often catches first time visitors off guard with random culture shocks, unexpected tourist traps and (sadly) even pickpockets and scams.

Luckily, I’ve learned all these the hard way (over 3 week-long trips) so you don’t have to.

So, from tactical tips for itinerary planning to assorted mistakes to avoid, here are my top Portugal travel tips and must knows for first time visitors. I hope you find them helpful!

portugal travel things to do

Save this list of Portugal Travel Tips for later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

1. Go beyond the most famous Portuguese destinations

We’ll start with the basics: when planning your trip to Portugal, remember that there’s a lot to see beyond the coastal hotspots of Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.

Portugal is a (satisfyingly rectangular) country composed of 18 districts and two autonomous regions, with a myriad of places to visit beyond the most frequented, from its many historic cities up North (e.g. Braga, Guimares, Lamego) and inland (e.g. Coimbra, Evora, Elvas), to its spectacular nature in Peneda-Gerês National Park and on their many islands.

SO, all that to say, if time permits, definitely expand your itinerary beyond the most famous sights, because this will allow you to experience a bit more of the country, while dodging some of the popular areas’ notorious crowds at the same time.

portugal travel things to do

2. Public transport is fine for city to city travel, but you’ll need a car for more remote areas

I’ve never rented a car in Portugal, and have found the public transport system to be simple and easy for getting from city to city.

But, truthfully, the most flexible way to get around and potentially explore off the beaten path is renting a car. Doing so will give you the best opportunities to control your own schedule, and find more remote areas like quieter nature spots or beaches (especially in the Algarve).

I did find the lack of car to be quite limiting when we wanted to get out to less popular areas, so if exploring more offbeat spots is a priority to you, then a car rental is something to consider.

This Portugal tip comes with a big disclaimer however: beware that driving in Portugal involves many tolls and a lot of close encounters with the country’s most notorious danger….. Portuguese drivers.

For a potential ‘in-between’ option then, I’d suggest looking into taxis/hiring a driver. I’ve found these services to be quite affordable in Portugal, with Uber being an especially easy option.

portugal travel things to do

3. Consider flying in/out of different airports

In terms of arriving in Portugal, there are 3 international airports: Lisbon (LIS), Faro (FAO) and Porto (OPO).

And after personal experience at each of these airports, I have the following planning tip to offer: if you are visiting multiple destinations, consider booking flights into one city and then out of another (provided the price difference isn’t eye-gougingly painful).

This is because Portugal is small, but many of its most popular destinations aren’t that close together, so getting around does still take time, hence why you’d ideally want to avoid having to double back.

In the past, I’ve flown into Porto for instance and then spent 10 days going from there down to Lisbon, then down to Lagos in the Algarve and then departing via Faro Airport.

This made for a much smoother journey than going all the way back up to Porto, which meant more time spent soaking in views like these:

portugal travel things to do

4. On a budget? Look into Europe’s low cost airlines

If you’re travelling Europe on a budget, then here’s a big Portugal travel tip: Portuguese airports are very well serviced by budget airlines like RyanAir and easyjet .

SO, if you’re planning a big Europe trip involving other countries, it may be worth looking into whether you can find cheaper flights into other European destinations, then flying into Portugal through a budget airline. This could potentially save you hundreds of euros!

You might want to check out my cheap flights to Europe guide for more.

Ryanair planes at sunset

5. Use the TAP Portugal Stopover to Save Money

Another potential money saver is looking into a TAP Portugal Stopover.

TAP Portugal is an airline that offers a really great deal where you can organize a free stopover in either Lisbon or Porto for up to ten nights en route to another destination.

So, if you plan properly, you can essentially get two destinations for the price of one!

NOTE: While this tip could potentially save you money, beware that TAP Portugal doesn’t have the best reputation, and is notorious for delays/other issues. One of my friends living in Portugal even told me that people say TAP stands for ‘Take Another Plane’ so be sure to keep these potential drawbacks in mind before booking.

portugal travel things to do

6. Avoid visiting Portugal in July and August

Now as for when to visit Portugal, a good rule of thumb is to avoid July and August. I say this in my general Europe tips post for pretty much every destination.

This is when the crowds and heat are at their worst, with hyper inflated prices to match.

The same applies for major school holidays like Easter because Portugal is a very popular family vacation spot among Europeans.

Instead, aim to visit between May – June or September – October. I’ve been to Portugal before in both March and April and found it to be quite rainy both times, so shoulder season would be more ideal for dodging both crowds and biblical downpours.

portugal travel things to do

7. Beware that there will still be crowds in shoulder season

On that note though, I don’t want you to underestimate how crowded it can get in Portugal, even in shoulder season.

Portugal may still be seen as an up and coming destination among North American travellers, but it has been a go-to vacation spot among Europeans for YEARS and years and years…

So don’t be surprised when there’s a lot of people around. Even in March. or April. Sadly, there’s no true ‘off-season’ in Portugal these days!

portugal travel things to do

8. Book popular day trip destinations as overnight stays instead

Of course, in spite of the country’s frightening popularity, there are still ways to avoid crowds and outsmart your fellow tourists.

One of my top Portugal travel tips for this is booking popular day trip destinations as an overnight stay instead.

This will allow you to wake up really early to see the busiest sites before the day trip crowds arrive, and then enjoy them properly after they leave.

I did this for instance in Sintra, opting to stay for two nights instead of going as a day trip from Lisbon as most visitors do. The result? I was able to enjoy many of Sintra’s palaces without feeling like I was in a selfie stick mosh pit.

… So, I’d highly recommend doing popular day trips as overnight stays instead. Book early enough and sometimes accommodation in these areas is cheaper than in big cities!

portugal travel things to do

9. Learn some Portuguese basics & have Google Translate handy

For first time visitors to Portugal, an immediate culture shock is often that English is not as widely spoken here as other tourist areas in Europe, especially among older residents.

And while getting with English is usually fine in larger cities, once you venture out into smaller towns, speaking no Portuguese can be a challenge… so I’d advise having Google Translate (one of my must-have Europe apps ) ready to go.

BUT more importantly: at the very least, you should learn how to say hello and thank you. So, memorize these! Tattoo them on your wrists:

  • Hello is Olá, but it’s more common to greet according to the time of day so Bom Dia (Bong Dia) for good morning, Boa Tarde (Boa Tarht) for good afternoon and Boa Noite (Boa Noit) for good night
  • Thank you in Portuguese is gendered, and the way you say it depends on if YOU are a man or woman. So men say Obrigado, women say Obrigada

portugal travel things to do

10. Note that there’s differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese

Now, if you decide to go all-out and learn some Portuguese for your trip, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re learning European Portuguese pronunciation, as opposed to Brazilian Portuguese.

Like with most languages, Portuguese has various accents/dialects/variations, but I’ve heard the difference between European vs. Brazilian Portuguese can actually be quite stark, so to maximize your chances of being understood, try to make sure you’re learning European Portuguese.

One channel I came across that was great for this was Practice Portuguese, so give them a watch.

portugal travel things to do

11. And… remember that Portuguese and Spanish aren’t the same

It feels silly that I have to say this, but I’ve anecdotally heard of many visitors busting out Spanish in Portugal, expecting to be understood.

Therefore let me clarify this most obvious Portugal travel tip: remember, in Portugal, they speak Portuguese, which may share some similarities with Spanish, but is an entirely different language of its own.

So keep in mind that while you may be somewhat understood, it’d be pretty rude to just randomly speak Spanish at people. So… let’s all just make a pact right now to not do that.

portugal travel things to do

12. Learn to pronounce destination names in Portuguese

Apart from learning the basics in Portuguese, another important Portugal language tip is to learn how to properly pronounce your destinations in Portuguese.

This will save your life when it comes to asking for directions, because many places are pronounced differently to how they may be pronounced phonetically in English.

I found this video to be super helpful for this purpose.

portugal travel things to do

13. Beware of ‘Portuguese Time’

Another cultural difference is to beware of Portuguese time.

Unlike in some central European countries like Germany , Austria or Switzerland, punctuality isn’t really a huge priority in Portugal, and things tend to be more laidback in terms of time.

As a tourist, this probably won’t impact you that much unless you’re making plans with Portuguese friends, but just know that time is definitely a bit more flexible there, and so if you have tours that start a bit later than planned, just don’t be too surprised.

portugal travel things to do

14. Be prepared to walk uphill a LOT

Now onto another Portugal travel tip that pretty photos fail to convey: prepare yourself for the leg workout of your LIFE.

Portugal is overall an incredibly hilly country, so you’ll be encountering plenty of ups and downs during your visit, especially if you visit Lisbon and Porto.

The cobblestones are also very slippery, especially when it rains so make sure you have good, solid footwear. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

portugal travel things to do

15. Consider attraction passes/cards to save money

If you plan to visit a lot of museums and paid attractions while you’re visiting Portugal, you should also look into attraction passes like the Lisbon Card and the Porto Card which offer you unlimited public transport and also admission to multiple attractions for one set price.

This can work out to a lot of savings, although to be honest, I’ve found many of the best things to do in these cities are free!

Especially if you’re not super into museums, this option may not be worth it, so just crunch the numbers and total up the price for your must-see attractions to see if the pass works out to be cheaper.

portugal travel things to do

16. Beware of tourist traps

Okay, now it’s time for me to get a little controversial. I love Portugal as a destination, but I have to concede there are a lot of tourist traps (many of which are perpetuated by online guides/influencers) so I’m going to quickly share my opinion on some to be mindful of in the country’s most popular destinations:

Here are some tourist traps in Lisbon to keep in mind:

‘The Pink Street’: In real life, it’s just a street with restaurants and bars, and the pink isn’t nearly as perfect or vibrant as the photos make it look. It’s also usually crowded in the evenings… so don’t get your hopes up too much!

Tram 28: Super congested, super busy, lots of pickpockets, and you can enjoy the views much better if you just walk along the same route.

The Santa Justa Lift: Nice to look at, with great view from the top, but the lines are insanely long and you can easily walk up to the viewpoint for free and not have to wait in line. The best part of this attraction is really just seeing it and enjoying the view, so don’t think it’s a must do to actually ride it. 

Here are some tourist traps in Porto to keep in mind:

Libreria Lello: Initially got famous because it was claimed that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter there or was inspired by it (a claim she has now publicly denied). It is of course still a very pretty bookshop but unless you get there first thing in the morning or just before they close, it will not be magical at all because it is painfully crowded and almost impossible to get these nice photos without people in them because the shop is small. There’s also a 5 euro voucher you have to purchase to get inside, which gives you 5 euros off a purchase, but it’s not free to go in to take a look.

Private Property Viewpoints: Unfortunately, irresponsible Instagrammers have made a habit of taking photos from areas that are private property, so many of the most sought after views in the city aren’t actually open to the public. So, make sure you do your research before you set out!

portugal travel things to do

17. Look beyond social media to find unique hidden gems

So, on that note, it’s important to look beyond social media to find fun places to visit and cool activities in Portugal.

Most travel content about Portugal focuses on the same spots over and over, but the flip side of that is there are TONS of cool gems just everywhere that you can kind of discover along the way for yourself.

I would recommend doing research on Portuguese language blogs or check out local Portuguese bloggers to get an inside scoop on more offbeat places because there are so many, and I can’t wait to go back and see more for myself.

portugal travel things to do

18. Seek out Miradouros everywhere you go

On that note, one really easy way to find beautiful places in Portugal is searching for Miradouros.

This is Portuguese for viewpoints and there are SO many of them especially in Lisbon.

So if you ever feel bored, just search Miradouro and go – guaranteed you’ll find a good view.

portugal travel things to do

19. Beware that free museum days aren’t free for everyone

A lot of travel guides online have been perpetuating the Portugal travel tip that many museums are free on the first Sunday of each month in Portugal…

BUT it’s important to note that actually when you look at the fine print, many of these offers are only valid for residents of Portugal (e.g. here ) so keep that in mind and double check on official websites before you head out expecting your freebie.

portugal travel things to do

20. Make sure you try Vinho Verde

Moving onto Portugal tips for food and drink – AKA the most delicious and valuable section.

My first recommendation is to try Vinho Verde or green wine. I know it sounds weird, but the ‘green’ part of the wine has less to do with the wine’s colour, and more with its age.

In short, Vinho Verde is a young drinkable wine that’s not aged, and often a little fizzy, making it THE most delicious and refreshing accompaniment for a sunny terrace. I warn you though: this is some dangerously drinkable stuff, and you’ll be swallowing it by the gallon throughout your trip.

portugal travel things to do

21. And avoid ordering Port wine with your meal

On the topic of wine, if you find yourself wanting to try the famous Portuguese Port wine, know that it’s a very sweet dessert wine that is usually enjoyed on its own after a meal (though sometimes before) and not one you sip during your meal.

… So avoid pairing your dinner with Port. That’s not the best way to enjoy it!

portugal travel things to do

22. Research regional specialties before you go

Food-wise, Portuguese cuisine is super hearty and delicious, with many regional specialties depending on where you are in Portugal so be sure to Google the particular must-tries of your destination.

Of course, I can’t resist sharing a few quintessential recommendations.

First off, if you’re by the coast, fresh seafood is abundant and delicious, especially Bacalhau or Codfish which is available in literally hundreds of ways, including Pastéis de Bacalhau which are deep fried balls of potato and cod. So good!

In Porto, one very gluttonous must-try is the incomparable Francesinha – a thick sandwich stuffed with all kinds of meat and cheese then topped with more melted cheese, a dreamy sauce and often a fried egg.

portugal travel things to do

And, a specialty of Belem and Lisbon is the almighty Pastel de Nata. These are egg custard pastries that come in a crispy crust. They are absolutely incredible, and sure to be one of the highlights of your trip (and possibly life).

portugal travel things to do

23. Consider ordering Petiscos to sample a variety of flavours

Not sure where to begin with Portugese cuisine? A great way to try a lot is by ordering Petiscos, which are small shareable bites similar to Tapas.

Of course, what is served as Petiscos can vary regionally as well, so be sure to do some research or ask for local recommendations, but overall, ordering a bunch can be a nice way to try a lot of different dishes and it can also be a more affordable alternative to getting full main dishes as well. 

portugal travel things to do

24. Prepare for late meal times

In terms of dining out, there are a few things you should know. First off – mealtimes in Portugal may be later than you’re used to.

It’s not uncommon for dinner time to be around 8 or 9pm or even later. Meals often last longer here too, taking several hours, so don’t feel any need to rush. Remember, Portuguese time is relaaaaaxed and fluid.

portugal travel things to do

25. Do not expect continual service in restaurants

Another Portugal must-know is you should not expect continual service in restaurants here.

Often smaller local restaurants (or their kitchens) will be closed in the late afternoon to early evening, so from 2 or 3pm until 7pm, during which they only have some snack items or might not be open at all.

In larger cities, you’ll probably still find some places open but often these will be the ones that cater more to tourists.

So, keep these timings in mind so you can manage your hanger accordingly.

portugal travel things to do

26. Learn how to spot tourist trap restaurants in Portugal

Speaking of restaurants that cater to tourists, there are a few easy ways to spot touristy restaurants in Portugal.

The first is if they’re in a particularly touristy area near a big attraction, you can probably expect prices to at least be a bit higher, and the value for money to be worse. A huge red flag is any place where there’s a host actively trying to get you to eat at their restaurant, as well as places with huge pictures or where the menu is a bunch of languages. 

Often you can escape these by just walking a few blocks away from the main sights so be sure to look around a bit before committing.

Or if you want to enjoy the atmosphere because sometimes these touristy restaurants do have some great views and locations, just pop in for a drink, rather than a full meal. 

portugal travel things to do

27. Know that your table snacks will probably cost extra

Another important Portugal must-know is that often when you arrive at a restaurant, there will be snacks like olives or bread put on the table.

To the surprise of many first time visitors, these aren’t actually included and come at an extra cost, known as “Couvert”, which is usually 1-2 euros per person.

Just know this isn’t a scam, it’s just a cultural difference in the way they charge for things so keep that in mind if you’re eating at a restaurant, and feel free to say ‘no thank you’ if you don’t want any, and you will not be charged for them. The price of the Couvert is also usually listed on the menu, so you can double check the cost before committing.

portugal travel things to do

28. Learn Portuguese tipping etiquette

Tips aren’t expected in Portugal to the same extent as in North America, but if you want to, usually rounding up or doing 10 percent is fine.

portugal travel things to do

29. Bring cash (in smaller denominations)

Another important Portugal must-know once you arrive is that you should make sure you have cash on you.

While many places are taking card now, paying with cash is still the norm in Portugal, especially with smaller bills. The smaller the denominations you can get the better, because I’ve found that smaller places like cafes don’t like to break large bills. Ideally, keep to ten euro bills or below.

portugal travel things to do

30. Don’t carry too much cash at once

That said, do not bring too much cash out with you at once, especially in touristy and busy areas in Lisbon, because pickpockets can be a an issue.

I’ve only been pickpocketed twice in my life and Lisbon was one of them so I’m still a bit sore about that.

So, go by my rule of thumb, which is to not carry more cash than you can stand to lose.

portugal travel things to do

31. Beware of sketchy dealers

Another scam to look out for is dealers offering to sell you ‘illicit substances’ when you’re just out and about, minding your own business on the street. 

This is of course mainly an issue in high-traffic tourist areas, as they always target silly tourists who don’t know better.

Here’s how it works: someone will come up to you and ask if you want something innocent like sunglasses, then they’ll follow up with whether or not you want said illicit substances. Apart from the fact that this already sounds sketchy, they’re also not selling real illicit substances, so no matter what, make sure the answer is no.

portugal travel things to do

32. Be mindful of later opening times

Another thing to be mindful of when visiting Portugal is opening times.

(I’m talking of course about actual shops and restaurants, not those aforementioned dealers)

Overall, things run on a later schedule in Portugal relative to most of central Europe, so you can expect supermarkets to not open until 8am and close later as well, usually at 9 or 10pm.

portugal travel things to do

33. Pack warmer layers no matter when you visit

Okay final Portugal packing tip for you, be sure to pack some warmer layers, even if you’re going in the summer because the wind in Portugal (particularly along the coast) is vicious .

No – seriously. My trauma can attest! Portuguese wind can be really biting, especially when temperatures drop at night, so having at least one warm layer in your suitcase is a must.

portugal travel things to do

I hope this list of Portugal Travel Tips was helpful!

Congratulations on making it through the longest ever list of Portuguese travel tips. I admit this was already a VERY long list of tips for Portugal, but if you have any more questions, let me know in the comments.

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 Booking.com: For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights : For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

1 thought on “30+ Portugal Travel Tips for First Timers & Must Knows Before You Go”

Thank you! I enjoyed the common sense approach. This was very helpful.

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20 Beautiful Places to Visit in Portugal — From Fairy-tale Castles to Charming Beach Towns

Take your pick of hilltop castles, sunny beaches, and time-worn villages.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

portugal travel things to do

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France and Spain have long taken center stage, with Portugal as a less-visited destination for in-the-know travelers. The tides are slowly turning and the small Iberian nation is, at long last, enjoying its well-deserved moment in the sun. The drawback to this increased attention? More tourists. Though it’s not like contending with a few crowds is going to put anyone off seeing Pena Palace or Jerónimos Monastery. And, of course, there are countless beautiful places to visit in Portugal, from the Azores and Madeira to the sun-splashed Algarve and even popular cities like Lisbon and Porto . This is to say that despite its relatively diminutive size, Portugal offers a treasure trove of natural, historical, and cultural wonders.

Cabo da Roca

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The westernmost point in continental Europe, Cabo da Roca exudes a wild, edge-of-the-Earth mystique. Waves crash against the rocks, tourists standing atop sheer cliffs stare out at nothing but blue to the horizon, and a historic lighthouse guides boats sailing along the rugged coast. 

Lagoa das Sete Cidades

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The majesty of São Miguel never ceases to amaze. Topping the list for many travelers visiting the volcanic main island in the Azores archipelago are the famous and impossibly photogenic twin crater lakes, Lagoa Azul ("blue lagoon") and Lagoa Verde ("green lagoon"). 

Pena Palace

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One of the most beautiful places in Europe , Pena Palace is a hilltop Romanticist castle and the crown jewel of Sintra. Its candy-colored facade and sweeping terraces draw shutter-happy tourists from near and far. The stately interiors are filled with antiques, while the surrounding park provides tree-shaded pathways.

Levadas da Madeira

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The Levadas da Madeira is a system of historic irrigation canals built across the island to carry water from the high-altitude slopes to sugar cane fields, farmlands, and cities. Hiking trails that run along the waterways give travelers a close-up look at the UNESCO-listed laurel forests.

Jerónimos Monastery

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One of the most-visited landmarks in Lisbon and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the late Gothic Manueline-style Jerónimos Monastery stands tall as an enduring symbol of power dating back to the Age of Discovery. The block-long complex continues to impress with its magnificent maritime details, cloisters, and tombs.

Algar de Benagil

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This fantastical seaside cave that’s reachable by boat doesn’t even look real. Sun beams in through the hole on the top, bathing the enclosed beach in light, and turquoise waters lap the sand. 

Clérigos Church

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Clérigos Church is a must-see on any trip to Porto . While the artifacts and organ concerts certainly wow, both are overshadowed by the iconic 75-meter-tall bell tower, which visitors can climb for 360-degree views of the city (and a serious workout).

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Nazaré lures fearless surfers and attracts many curious tourists thanks to the larger-than-life swells that were the subject of the documentary “100 Foot Wave.” The huge breaks mean you’re likely not going to paddle out, but it’s worth the drive to see the enormous waves crash into the rocks and grab lunch at one of the local restaurants.

Vila Franca Islet

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Located off the coast of São Miguel , the Vila Franca Islet looks otherworldly from above and just as pretty up close. The circular saltwater lagoon, which was formed by the crater of an ancient volcano, is ringed by lush vegetation. In the summer, it’s popular for swimming, snorkeling, birdwatching, and cliff diving (if you dare). 

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Situated about an hour from Lisbon, Comporta is a low-key fishing village turned in-the-know summer hotspot with cork trees, rice fields, and blissful beaches. During the warmer months, it’s well worth vying for a spot on the brilliant white sand of Praia Comporta.

Douro Valley

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The oldest demarcated wine region in the world and the birthplace of port, Douro Valley wows viticulture enthusiasts and casual sippers. A mix of rolling vineyards, historic quintas, boat rides along its namesake river, and excellent restaurants means there’s plenty to appreciate besides incredible pours. 

Peneda-Gerês National Park

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Set in northern Portugal near the Spanish border, Peneda-Gerês National Park spans yellow-tinged hills, granite peaks, high-flowing streams, mixed forests, and Roman relics. Native wildlife — including the Pyrenean desman, Iberian frog, and Barrosã cattle — also call this protected land home. 

Cachalote Natural Swimming Pools

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The north coast of Madeira brims with beautiful spots to take a dip, none more iconic than Cachalote Natural Swimming Pools . The Mother Nature-made lagoons off the shore of Porto Moniz were formed by volcanic rocks and filled with the tides of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Poço da Alagoinha

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Majestic waterfalls are one of the many enticements of the Azores. Poço da Alagoinha on the island of Flores is a stunning example with multiple cascades that gush from lush, vegetation-covered cliffs down to a pristine lagoon. 

Parque Natural da Arrábida

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Parque Natural da Arrábida shows off many of Portugal’s best assets. Fine sand beaches fade into blue waters, towering cliffs rise from the sea, verdant vegetation covers the mountain peaks, and scenic hiking trails wind through the spellbinding scenery. 

Azenhas do Mar

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Of all the charming coastal towns in Portugal, Azenhas do Mar deserves special mention. Small in size, with just 800 inhabitants, whitewashed houses, and commanding sea views, it’s a postcard-worthy setting to sip local wine, savor regional seafood dishes, and swim in the natural rock pool. 

Castelo de Guimarães

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Mystery and legend still swirl around Castelo de Guimarães. A major presence in Portuguese history, the castle was built under the orders of Mumadona Dias in the 10th century to serve as a place of refuge from and protection against attacks perpetrated by Vikings and Moors. 

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Sagres sits on a windswept headland at the western tip of southern Portugal. Sunny skies, dramatic sea cliffs, and uncrowded beaches make this tiny fishing village deserving of a detour. It’s also a surfer’s paradise that provides plenty of both beginner-friendly breaks and expert-level barrels.

Quinta do Barbusano

Tucked away in the mountains on the north side of Madeira, Quinta do Barbusano invites visitors to savor the flavors of the island with wine tastings and traditional espetada (beef skewer) meals overlooking the São Vicente Valley. It’s also possible to do a short hike to nearby Nossa Senhora Fátima Chapel for even more breathtaking vistas.

Livraria Lello

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Livraria Lello shows off opulent staircases, an ornate stained-glass ceiling, and towering shelves packed with tomes. Harry Potter fans might notice a connection between the magical interiors of the historic bookstore and some Hogwarts scenes. It’s widely known that J.K. Rowling frequented the shop during her time in Porto.

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12 Absolute Best Things to Do in Portugal: Bucket List Experiences

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: February 20, 2024

12 Absolute Best Things to Do in Portugal: Bucket List Experiences

Thinking of visiting Portugal and wondering what are the top places to see and experiences not to miss on your first trip? In this guide, we share some of the  VERY BEST things to do in Portugal for your bucket list . Find out!

Portugal is one of Western Europe’s best-kept secrets. Well, it was until recently. Nowadays, more and more international tourists discover this beautiful country and leave their hearts here.

So if you are wondering whether Portugal is worth a trip, I’d say go for it, and do it fast before the whole world realizes how much Portugal has to offer.

But what is it that makes this country so fascinating? Where to go and what to do so that you can experience the very best of Portugal?

Portugal has a rich history and has much more to offer than it looks at first sight. In addition to the mainland, you can also explore the stunning islands of the Azores and Madeira, which deserve a separate trip (or even a few).

So you can imagine that there are countless interesting places to visit and things to do in Portugal. More than any article or travel guide could cover, and many more than you could see in one or even ten trips…

The purpose of this article is to showcase some of the very best places and bucket list experiences in Portugal and inspire you to visit and discover it for yourself! Read on!

Portuguese good luck symbol - the Rooster of Barcelos

Here are some of the bucket-list experiences and best things to do in Portugal:

1. Visit the Palaces of Sintra

If there is one place that you absolutely have to see in Portugal, it’s Sintra . This little village near Lisbon is home to some of the world’s most beautiful palaces and castles.

What makes it even more special is that there are so many remarkable landmarks in a rather small area and each of them is unique. No two palaces in Sintra can be compared to each other. In fact, some are so special that there is nothing like that in the entire world.

Visiting Sintra feels like taking a trip back in time and into a real-world fairytale forest!

One of the must-sees in Sintra is the world-famous Pena Palace with its strikingly colorful exterior. The quirky Quinta da Regaleira famous for its enchanting gardens is not to be missed as well. And if you are looking for a Medieval atmosphere, be sure to check out the Moorish Castle. The views from its walls are unparalleled!

PRO TIP: Sintra is the most popular day trip destination from Lisbon, attracting big crowds. If you want to be sure to visit the most popular palaces, book your tickets well in advance! Alternatively, visit with a local guide and let them do all the planning (this is especially convenient if you are short on time and want to see several places in one day).

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Sintra & Sintra Itinerary

Best things to do in Portugal - Sintra palaces

2. Discover Europe’s Best Beaches in Algarve

Whether you are looking for a traditional beach holiday in southern Europe or are road-tripping in Portugal and want to see some beautiful landscapes, the beaches of the Algarve region are not to be missed.

Algarve has been chosen as Europe’s Best Beach Destination by the World Travel Awards 10 times in recent years. When you know that competitors include Greek, Spanish, and Italian islands and many other amazing destinations around the Mediterranean, it says a lot about how special and unique the Algarve coastline truly is!

From long and flat white-sand beaches in the east of the region and world-famous orange cliffs of the central Algarve to rugged coastlines in the west, Algarve boasts some of the most remarkable coastlines in the world . The scenery here is absolutely breathtaking!

Some of the most impressive coastal features can be found at Ponta da Piedade in Lagos and the area around the famous Benagil Cave . But there are literally hundreds of beaches scattered along the entire coastline, each more beautiful than the other.

Good to know: Algarve is a year-round destination with mild temperatures and lots of sunshine throughout the year. That said, if you are looking for a beach vacation and water activities, the best time to visit is between April and October. But if you are mostly interested in sightseeing, all seasons are great.

LEARN MORE: Most Beautiful Beaches in Algarve

Benagil Cave in Algarve - best things to do in Portugal

3. Explore the Old Town of Lisbon

No trip to Portugal would be complete without visiting its capital. One of Europe’s most charming capital cities, Lisbon has such a great, relaxing atmosphere. Plus, it has a lot to offer to any kind of traveler.

There is no better way to experience the authentic side of Lisbon than by putting on your most comfortable walking shoes, ditching the map, and getting lost in the streets of the old town. Don’t worry – you won’t literally get lost and the city center is not that big.

One of the must-see areas in Lisbon is the hilly Alfama neighborhood, with its narrow alleyways and tiny streets connected by staircases. The historic old town, Baixa, offers a great atmosphere too. Both areas have lots of nice cafes and local restaurants and some of them also organize fado concerts (more about it further below). 

Built on a hilly terrain on the shores of the River Tagus, Lisbon also has many viewpoints offering stunning views of the city and its surroundings.

TIP: If you rather limit walking, hop on the famous Lisbon Tram 28. This iconic Lisbon tramway passes many of the nicest areas in the city center. However, it’s so popular with tourists that you may not always find the authentic experience you might be looking for…

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Lisbon

Best things to do in Portugal - Lisbon

4. Taste Pastel de Nata

Pastel de Nata (aka Pastéis de Nata) are traditional Portuguese egg custard cakes. You will find them in bakeries, supermarkets, and cafés all across the country.

While there are some regional differences and each bakery adds its own special touch, there is no bad place to try pastel de nata. Still, some places are better than others… So ask your hotel (or other locals) for recommendations in the area where you are staying. Everyone in Portugal seems to have their own favorite bakery or café for pasteis .

You may have heard of Pastéis de Belém. They are baked by Antiga Pastelaria de Belem using an ancient secret recipe from Jeronimos Monastery which is located in the Belem neighborhood in Lisbon. Some people claim that this is the best pastel in Portugal and if you get the chance, definitely give it a try.

TIP: Pastel de Nata is usually eaten cold, but if you get a chance, try it warm and add some cinnamon. It took us many trips to Portugal to discover this but it’s so delicious that we hardly ever eat it cold anymore…

Pastel de Nata - must try in Portugal

5. Experience Fado

One of the must-dos in Portugal is to experience the beautiful art of Fado .

Fado is a traditional Portuguese music genre that expresses deep emotions through melancholic storytelling. The soulful melodies of a Portuguese guitar and poetic lyrics convey a profound sense of saudade , a term that encompasses feelings of longing and nostalgia.

Attending a Fado concert is a unique experience, especially if it’s your first time and you are not familiar with this genre. But even if you don’t understand the words, you’ll be touched by the performance. It’s one of those local experiences that you must do when in Portugal, just like seeing a flamenco show in Spain or riding a traditional gondola in Venice …

Fado music is often performed in intimate venues, known as Fado houses, which is best if you are looking for the most authentic experience. Often, you can also listen to Fado music at local restaurants, which can be very nice too. The only issue with this is that some people find it difficult to remain silent in a restaurant environment and that can be disturbing because Fado is best enjoyed in silence.

Good to know: You can experience Fado all over Portugal. Here you can find the best options for all the most popular cities in Portugal. Some of the best Fado houses can be found in Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra.

READ ALSO: Best Towns & Cities to Visit in Portugal

Best things to do in Portugal - fado

6. Admire the architecture of monasteries in central Portugal

Central Portugal is home to some very impressive religious landmarks.

You may already have heard about the religious pilgrimage site Fatima, but the nearby monasteries of Alcobaça, Batalha, and the Convent of Christ in Tomar are even more impressive. Not even to mention Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. These are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and deserve a place on any Portugal bucket list!

Jerónimos Monastery is located in the picturesque neighborhood of Belém in Lisbon. Built in the early 16th century it’s a wonderful example of Manueline architecture, a Portuguese late-Gothic style. In addition, the church of the monastery is also the final resting place of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões, two of the most prominent figures of the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

Alcobaça Monastery was founded in the 12th century and was one of the most important medieval monasteries in Portugal. The building is a stunning example of Gothic and Baroque architecture and is a must-see. The monastery also houses the impressive royal tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress Inês de Castro. Learning about their tragic love story makes a visit here even more special.

Batalha Monastery dates from the late 14th – early 16th centuries and was built as a thank-you to the Virgin Mary for the victory of the Portuguese over the Crown of Castile in 1385. The monastery is a true Gothic masterpiece with stunning architecture. The impressive Unfinished Chapels are worth a trip in their own right!

The Convent of Christ in Tomar is a monumental complex dating from the 12th century. Originally built as the headquarters of the Knights Templar, it later became a Christian monastery. The Convent boasts a unique blend of architectural styles and is really impressive.

TIP: Because of their proximity to each other, you can easily visit the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, and/or even the Convent of Christ on the same day. There are also day tours from Lisbon that can bring you to these monasteries, usually in combination with a few other beautiful places nearby.

Portugal bucket list - Batalha Monastery

7. Visit ‘the End of the World’ at Cape St. Vincent

Cape St Vincent (Cabo St Vincente) in Sagres, Algarve, is the southwesternmost point of the European mainland. Behind it, there is nothing but water for hundreds of miles.

Before the Age of Discoveries, Sagres was known as the end of the world. Nowadays, the Portuguese say this is where Europe starts. No matter how you look at it, this place should be high on any Portugal bucket list!

Standing at the lighthouse of Cape St Vincent surrounded by the ocean as far as the eye can see is always a special feeling. Plus, the scenery here is really impressive, with waves crashing against high rugged cliffs deep below you.

TIP: Combine a visit to Cape St Vincent with that of Sagres Fortress nearby and some of the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Sagres

Portugal bucket list - Cabo Sao Vicente (Cape St Vincent)

8. Swim in the Hot Springs of Sao Miguel Island in Azores

São Miguel Island is the largest island of the Azores archipelago nestled in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With its breathtaking landscapes and unique natural attractions, Sao Miguel is often referred to as the “Green Island”.

If you are a nature lover looking for stunning sceneries and outdoorsy things to do in Portugal, then Sao Miguel should definitely be on your radar!

Among many other things, São Miguel is also known for its geothermal activity, which gives rise to enchanting hot springs. As you explore the island, you will find plenty of opportunities to go for a swim in the warm geothermal waters.

Some of the best natural hot springs include the Terra Nostra Park and Poça da Dona Beija in Furnas, and Caldeira Velha in the middle of the island, close to Ribeira Grande.

TIP: Visit at the beginning of the summer and you will find the whole island covered in blooming hydrangeas. Summer is also a good time to see whales here, although you have even more chance in April-May or September-October.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Sao Miguel, Azores

Caldeira Velha hot springs in Sao Miguel Azores Portugal

9. Visit Port Wine Lodges in Porto

Portugal’s second largest city Porto is a vibrant town in the north of the country. Renowned for its picturesque charming old town, colorful medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, and iconic bridges, Porto has a wonderful, relaxed atmosphere and is well worth a visit.

In addition to historic sites, architecture, and cultural attractions, Porto is also the birthplace of Port wine . The city is home to an array of Port wine houses, or “lodges”, including famous names like Sandeman, Croft, Burmester, Cálem, Cockburn’s, and Graham’s to mention just a few.

These lodges offer guided tours and tastings , giving a unique insight into the production and aging of the world-famous Port wine. The historic cellars with their vast barrels and casks are really impressive and well worth seeing, even if you are not a fan of the wine itself. And if you like a good glass of wine, it’s your chance to try some of the best Port wine right where it’s made!

Port wine tasting in Croft Wine Lodge in Porto, Portugal

10. See the World’s Biggest Waves in Nazaré

Nazaré is a quaint fishing village nestled along the rugged coastline of central Portugal. It is renowned worldwide for its awe-inspiring waves, which rank among the largest surfable waves on the planet.

The unique geography of Nazaré, including an underwater canyon, creates the perfect conditions for colossal waves to form right near the coast.

During the winter months, the waves at Praia do Norte in Nazaré often reach 24-30 meters (80-100 feet). This attracts lots of thrill-seeking surfers and spectators from all over the world.

There are numerous viewpoints along the coastline providing an unforgettable opportunity to witness nature’s raw force in action.

Good to know: The best season to see giant waves in Nazaré is from October to March. But also on quiet summer days, the waves here are still very impressive. Furthermore, Nazaré has a lot more to offer and is always worth a visit.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Nazaré

Giant waves in Nazare Portugal

11. Go Hiking in Madeira

Madeira is one of the most famous Portuguese islands. If you are a football fan, then you probably already know that Christiano Ronaldo comes from here (you can even visit a museum dedicated to him!). But there are so many more reasons to visit!

Located in the Atlantic Ocean, 520 kilometers from the African coast, Madeira enjoys a mild climate and is a wonderful year-round destination. If you are looking for the best places to visit in Portugal in the low season and are not sure about the mainland, then definitely consider Madeira.

Good to know: Madeira is a large volcanic island with a mountainous interior. It’s not the best beach destination since it has just a few – and mostly rocky – beaches, but there are plenty of beach resorts with pools from where you can enjoy amazing ocean views.

The main reason to visit Madeira is for its spectacular nature. The island also offers the best hiking in all of Portugal. From coastal trails and levada walks leading to impressive waterfalls in the hilly interior, to the dazzling mountain peaks towering high above the clouds – the scenery here is breathtaking!

But there are many more reasons to visit Madeira, even if you are not interested in hiking. You will find plenty of cultural and historic sites in the capital city of Funchal and some smaller towns and villages around the island. Madeira is also known as the ‘flower island’ and has several impressive botanical gardens. Last but not least, it’s also a great place to see dolphins or even whales .

In other words, Madeira Island is a unique destination that has plenty to offer to all types of travelers.

LEARN MORE: Top Places to See & Things to Do in Madeira + Best Hikes in Madeira

Hiking in Madeira - best things to do in Portugal

12. Discover Portuguese Wines & Vineyards

Finally, no list of the best things to do in Portugal would be complete without mentioning its wines. Portugal boasts some of the finest vineyards and wines in Europe!

The most famous wine region in Portugal is the majestic Douro Valley . It’s located in the north of Portugal, not far from Porto, and is one of the most popular day trip destinations in this part of the country.

TIP: If you just want to enjoy the scenery of terraced vineyards, you can easily drive around by car. If you want to indulge in wine tastings, visit with a guided tour ! One of the nicest and most relaxing ways to visit Douro Valley is by taking a river cruise from Porto .

Equally captivating are the vineyards of the Alentejo region and also Setúbal Peninsula in the southern part of the country. Venturing further south, the Algarve surprises with its emerging wine scene as well.

There are several vineyards and wine cellars that you can visit in these regions as well. Here is one of the best wine tours from Lisbon and there are also quite a few options with departure from various popular seaside resorts in Algarve.

If you don’t have the time to visit the vineyards during your time in Portugal, you will have plenty of opportunities to taste delicious Portuguese wines in local restaurants!

TIP: Some of our personal favorites include the reds from the Douro and Algarve, the whites from Alentejo, and the famous vinho verde (green wine) from the Minho region in the far northwest of Portugal.

Douro Valley vineyards in northern Portugal

So, this is our list of some of the very best things to do in Portugal. As you can see, there are so many reasons to visit this beautiful country!

If this article inspired you to travel to Portugal, but you are not sure where to start or how to plan your trip, take a look at this 10-day itinerary that covers central Portugal . We also have a recommended first-timers itinerary for 3-5 days in the Algarve region .

Good to know: We visit Portugal several times a year and have covered many of the popular destinations on our blog, with new articles added after each trip. You can find an overview of all travel guides on our Portugal travel page . Check it out!

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Best things to do in Portugal

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The Discoveries Of

28 Cool Things to do in Portugal

After decades out of the limelight, Portugal has stepped into the spotlight as one of Europe’s hottest destinations. To help you plan your trip, I’ve chosen 28 of my favourite things to do in Portugal to inspire your travels. 

Nestling between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal combines a rich history with gorgeous modernity, from the ancient streets of Lisbon dating back to the Middle Ages to the coastal charms of the Algarve.

No matter which time of year you choose to visit, you can expect to be welcomed by plenty of sun, sea, and mild temperatures during the “winter” months, and hot balmy summers with a cooling breeze whipping off the Atlantic in the summer.

Short on time? Don’t miss my step by step guide for the perfect 7 days in Portugal .

Best Things to do in Portugal

Delve into history in belém, lisbon.

portugal travel things to do

Sitting on the outskirts of Lisbon , Belem is home to three of the city’s most famous historical sites: The Monument to the Discoveries , the Jeronimos Monastery and the Torre de Belem .

The Monument to The Discoveries

If you are spending some time in Lisbon, a day in Belem should be at the top of your list – in fact, it’s worth a trip alone.

Take your time to explore the striking architecture of all three sights: from the unbelievable scale and detail of the monastery, to the intricately carved figures on the monument – a trip to Belem is like stepping back in time.

Unmissable Things to do in Lisbon 

Go Wine and Port Tasting in the Douro Valley

Douro Valley

Portugal is really good at making tasty tipples – hands up if you’ve heard of that well-known drink called… Port. While the Portuguese are good at making all kinds of alcoholic treats, you need to go port and wine tasting in the Douro Valley during your time in the country.

The Douro’s beautifully terraced landscapes are one of the most famous sights in Portugal. 

Add to this a collection of world-famous Port houses (Graham’s, Taylors, Sandemans to name a few) and vineyards making world-class wines and you’ll start to understand why you really shouldn’t miss this on your trip.

The Douro Valley Travel Guide 

Escape to Gorgeous Sintra

Pena National Palace

UNESCO-heritage Sintra is a fairy-tale amalgamation of colourful architecture, castles, convents and palaces all in a stunning location in the foothills of the Serra Mountains. A short hop away from Lisbon, the town is a popular day trip from the capital and deservedly so.

Make like the Portuguese aristocracy of days gone by and spend your days in the lush, shady gardens, occasionally dipping into a palace or two for variety’s sake.

While a day trip to Sintra is a great use of your time, it’s even better if you can stay the night – exploring the town once all the tour buses have gone is a much more peaceful experience.

Explore the Beautiful Benagil Sea Cave

Benagil Cave Algarve

The retired expats and locals that live in the Algarve have kept pretty schtum about how beautiful it actually is to date, but now it looks like the secret’s out of the bag.

Of all the natural attractions on the rugged coast of the Algarve, the Benagil sea cave gets our vote for being the most spectacular. Swim or kayak round from the shore into one of the cave’s natural openings then look up at the huge domed ceiling leading up to an almost perfectly circular spot of blue sky.

What’s better? There’s a beach of perfectly soft fine sand for you to relax on before heading back to the real world.

Soak up the Sun on Praia do Camilo

Praia do Camilho

Mainland Portugal has an impressive 586 miles of coastline, so isn’t short of a beach or two. It would be impossible to write a piece about the best things to see in Portugal without including at least one beach.

While the Atlantic coast is good for watersports and long beaches as far as the eye can see, the Algarve is home to calmer waters and some gorgeous places to catch a spot of sunshine.

Praia do Camilo is one such beach – accessed via a wooden staircase, the praia is tucked between the golden yellow cliffs for which the coastline is famed.

Get there early enough, or on a weekday and it can feel like your own private paradise – or grab a spot with the other sun-worshippers and soak up the rays. 

The Best Beaches in the Algarve

Hike Along the Fisherman’s Trail in the Alentejo

Azenha do Mar - Secret spots in the Alentejo, Portugal #portugal #travelphotography #traveldestinations

If Portugal’s southern coastline is all about small coves and hidden beaches, the Atlantic coast is a much wilder and more forceful affair.

Sparkling azure waters, fierce riptides and a dramatic coastline await those who choose to hike the Fisherman’s Trail along the Costa Vicentina.

The Alentejo is less well-known than some other regions in the country, meaning that the hike winds through small villages and untouched seashore – dipping into a few stunning coastal towns along its 120 km stretch.

Walk the Historical Way from Santiago do Cacém

Santiago de Cacem, Alentejo, Portugal #portugal #travel #traveldestinations

If you’re looking for a completely different hike through Portugal, opt for the Rota Vicentina’s other long-distance route, the Historical Way. It’s the perfect option for seeing a less-explored part of the country.

Starting in the charming town of Santiago de Cacém, the path wends its way down to Cabo de San Vincente on Portugal’s southernmost tip.

As the name suggests, walking the Historical Way takes you back in time. The route passes through rural hamlets, dusty cork groves, scented Eucalyptus forests and mountain valleys as it makes its way south.

The trail’s foundation has also created a range of immersive experiences, where you can learn about the unique history and culture of the region from the locals themselves

Take a Trip to the Ilha Deserta (and splash out on an amazing meal while you’re there)

Ilha Deserta Beach

We’ve already established that Portugal has no shortage of beautiful beaches, but a trip to the Ilha Deserta in the Algarve is much more than a flop and drop affair.

So what makes it different?

Firstly, the Ilha Deserta sits in the middle of the Ria Formosa Nature Park – a 60km-long nature haven on the Portuguese coast.

Ria Formosa

The island can be reached via a short speedboat ride from Faro, but those in the know book onto one of the wildlife boat tours run by local experts Animaris .

Guides point out the bird and wildlife prevalent in the nature park, briefing you on the history and delicate ecosystem of the reserve before dropping you off on the deserted island for a day’s fun.

Once you’ve landed, there are two things to concern yourself on the island (which really is as deserted as the name says): the beach and the restaurant. 13 miles of golden sandy beach to be exact.

Ilha Deserta

Swim, surf, sunbathe and work up an appetite before going to the island’s largely self-sufficient restaurant, Estamine , which serves up some of the best seafood you can find in the country – no kidding.

Lunch at Estamine Restaurant

All that’s left for you to do is jump onto the speedboat back to the mainland… 

Wander Around the Cobbled Streets of Picture-Perfect Tavira

Tavira

For a low-key visit to somewhere a little different, say hello to Tavira . 

Whitewashed buildings, brightly-coloured doors, hidden gardens and a ridiculous number of beautiful churches – it’s almost like someone thought of the quintessential Portuguese town and then made Tavira to suit.

This small town might not have a lot of big-name attractions other than the medieval Castello but so much of its appeal is in walking around the narrow, cobbled streets. 

Oh, and stopping off for a coffee here, a pasteis de nata there and soaking up its laid-back atmosphere of course.

See the Anchor Cemetery in Praia do Barril

The Anchor Cemetery

Just around the corner from Tavira, Praia do Barril is best-known for the rather quirky anchor cemetery set back from the main beach.

The cemetery, a collection of large anchors set into the sand, dates back to the time when tuna fishing was one of the biggest industries in the Algarve.

When the stocks declined, the local fishermen left their anchors on the beach and they’re still there decades later.

Sure, it’s one of the more offbeat things to see in Portugal, but very much worth a visit.

Gobble up Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon 

Pasteis da Nata at Mantegeira

Delightfully tasty and unexplainably moreish, the Portuguese custard tart is a display of true culinary genius. Layers of flaky pastry, filled with a nutmeg-scented egg-custard filling – it all sounds so simple. 

The fact is, that you haven’t had a pasteis de nata unless you’ve had one in Portugal.

While locals disagree who actually makes the best in the country (the general consensus is Pasteis de Belem , whose long-guarded secret recipe was created by Hieronymite monks in medieval times). 

PS. You are totally justified in trying as many as possible in order to make up your own mind on the matter.

Soak Up the Vibes at Vila Nova de Milfontes 

Secret spots in the Alentejo, Portugal #alentejo #portugal #beaches #travel

The Alentejo might not be the first thing you think of when you conjure images of a beach escape in Portugal – that tends to be the province of The Algarve. 

However, The Alentejo boasts a wealth of gorgeous beaches (if a little more windswept than some on the Algarve thanks to their position facing the Atlantic Ocean) that are just waiting to be discovered.

Case in point? Vila Nova de Milfontes. 

The most popular resort in the Alentejo is framed by a thick ribbon of sandy beach running in both directions – walk a little away from the main drag and don’t be surprised if you get a stretch all to yourself. 

Away from the sand, the small town brims with traditional Portuguese restaurants, whitewashed houses and the rather curious Forte de São Clemente – built to protect the town from the pirates who roamed the Alentejan coasts in the 16th century. 

Take the Thermal Waters at Vidago Palace

portugal travel things to do

Back in the day, taking the thermal waters at Vidago Palace used to be all the rage. Anyone who was anyone in Portugal would spend some time each year “improving their constitution” with a long stay in the gorgeous belle-epoque style hotel.

Who can blame them? The gorgeous property (less than an hour from Porto) boasts several thermal springs, from which you can take a sip or (in our humble opinion, far more preferable) have a spa treatment in their indulgent spa.

Venture to Madeira

Madeira

Madeira is more than just the namesake for a tasty, tawny tipple and a brightly-coloured cake – this cluster of volcanic islands in the Atlantic ocean will blow you away with its spectacular scenery and memorable (if difficult) hikes.

The capital, Funchal is a quiet haven of charming architecture and friendly locals.

Elsewhere on the island you can hike the steep, volcanic terrain, take a dip in the natural seawater swimming pools, go paragliding and parasailing and go dolphin and whale watching. 

Don’t miss Sao Vincente off your list either – this hidden gem is one of Madeira’s most beguiling spots. 

Not bad for an island that’s only 800km squared.

Strike Out to The Azores

Azores

The Azores , an archipelago of nine main islands set in the mid-Atlantic, is Portugal’s answer to the Lost World.

Big on sustainability and preserving their natural environment, Azoreans are proud of the otherworldly setting that they call their home. Not surprising when you have a chance to explore the densely vegetated islands – dotted with all kinds of natural wonders – for yourself.

Climb Portugal’s highest peak, Pico for stellar views of the islands and hurl yourself into the seemingly endless number of outdoor activities on offer. When you’re all worn out, chill in towns seemingly lost in time, and dial onto the relaxed pace of life typical of the islands.

See the Street Art and Party at LX Factory, Lisbon

Street Art in LX Factory

Lisbon is a city of stark contrasts – centuries of history rub comfortably alongside the city’s reputation as one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in Europe.

Of all of Lisbon’s contemporary hotspots, LX Factory is the jewel in the crown: a welcoming mishmash of cool street art, weekend markets, independent restaurants, bars, boutiques and parties that guarantees to entertain you pretty much any time and any day of the week.

Discover the Beauty of Historical Aveiro 

Crisscrossed by canals, it’s not hard to see where Aveiro’s nickname “The Venice of Portugal ” comes from – and most visitors hop onto one of the colourful barcos moliceros that ply the waterways. 

That said, Aveiro’s charm goes far beyond just water. A wealth of Art Nouveau architecture and pastel-hued houses complete the picture. 

Strike out by boat across the lagoon and you’ll find the beautiful nature reserve of Sāo Jacinto – complete with wooden walkways picking their way through the long grass. 

How to Discover: Molicero Boat Tour

Wind Your Way through Porto’s Historic Streets

Ribera Porto

There’s a friendly rivalry between Lisbon and Porto for the title of the country’s most-loved city. With its UNESCO World Heritage city centre and cavernous Port houses, there’s a good argument for Porto to win the title. 

Spend at least a few days taking in the city’s highlights: the Cathedral Se, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Casa da Música and Jardim do Morro to name a few.

The city is also riding the wave of contemporary Portuguese cuisine, with some of the country’s most famous (and whizzy) chefs calling it their home.

Top Things to do in Porto

Listen to Fado in Alfama, Lisbon

Inside Alfama, Lisbon

Listening to the sorrowful, bittersweet tunes typical of Fado , Portugal’s long-loved music genre is one of the experiences you shouldn’t miss when visiting the country.

Where better to go and listen to some Fado than in Lisbon’s Alfama neighbourhood, from which it hails?

Sip on a Ginjinha (a Portuguese liqueur made using ginja berries steeped in alcohol) and soak up the melancholy sounds in a traditional Fado restaurant.

Sr. Fado de Alfama and Clube de Fado are two of the best spots.

Go on an Indulgent Weekend in the Algarve

The-Algarve-6.jpg

If you’re looking for a laid-back luxury getaway with plenty of spa and sunshine, the Algarve is the place to be.

There’s no shortage of high-end hideaways for you to escape to, but The Anantara Vilamoura is a real gem.

This new hotel in plush Vilamoura is the perfect destination for a weekend escape – complete with an outstanding spa and an adults-only pool, surrounded by Veuve Clicquot cabanas for the ultimate treat.

Visit Tomar, The Home of the Knights Templar

Close enough to Lisbon that you could easily do it on a day trip, the compact town of Tomar is a pretty escape from the city. Stroll around the cobbled streets to discover its traditional Portuguese charm.

Most visitors come here with a purpose – to check out the Convento do Cristo – sitting high above the town and best-known as the base of the Order of the Knights Templar, who sought to defend Portugal from the Moors. 

The Unesco World Heritage site straddles the line between religious haven and military base – but also functioned as a palace in its history, which dates all the way back to 1160. Allow at least half a day to explore. 

Past Meets Present in Braga

Braga

Braga , one of Portugal’s oldest cities, sits in the northeast of the country, luring visitors in with the promise of remarkable architecture, delicious food and old-world charm.

Although it’s a small city, Braga boasts over thirty churches and Portugal’s oldest cathedral – a testament to its longstanding religious importance.

You could be forgiven for thinking it will be sleepy and staid – it’s not. Underground bars and clubs, small cafes and contemporary restaurants keep the city firmly in the present.

Visit Monsanto – The Most Portuguese Town in Portugal

Monsanto won the quaint title of being the “most Portuguese town in Portugal” in 1938, reason enough to pique your curiosity.

What does that even mean?

Well, in Monsanto’s case, a village that has barely changed for hundreds of years, a living museum of days gone by.

The town’s architects weren’t remotely fazed by the huge granite boulders occupying the space in which they wanted to build – they simply built around them.

The result? An unusual design where the boulders form part of the walls, roofs and floors or many of the village’s buildings.

Setting aside its charisma, Monsanto should go straight to the top of your list of must-visit spots in Portugal for the picture opportunities alone.

Hiking in the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês 

Butting up against the Spanish border, the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês is Portugal’s only national park – which would be reason enough to visit. 

Add to that 700 square kilometres of verdant valleys, wooded hills and tiny stone-built villages to see why it’s a hiker’s delight. This is Portugal at its wildest – go for some of the country’s best hikes and no crowds. 

Step back in Time at the Historic Village of Sortelha

The small village of Sortelha is one of the most historically striking places in Portugal, almost untouched since the Middle Ages. Renowned for its Hispano-Arabic founding, it was once a Moorish stronghold until the 12th century when they were driven out.

The centrepiece of the village is the huge castle that towers over the village that nestles upon a hill top, and this is an absolute must-visit if you have any interest in history. 

Inside the 13th-century castle walls, built by King Sancho I to guard against attack from Spain, you can still find picture-perfect granite-built dwellings with stonework marked with Arabic script and patterns.

Other joyous sights to see in the gorgeously preserved villages, apart from the orange-roofed houses outside the castle walls, are the 16th-century pillbox and the old parish church that has some incredible ornate features.

There’s a lot of walking to be done on uneven ground here, so make sure you’ve got your comfy shoes on!

Explore the Stunning Fishing Town of Cascais

Only a short way down the coast from Lisbon, Cascais is one of Portugal’s finest fishing towns, and one of its most beautiful.

Another small town where you can wind down away from the tourist crowds, and is the perfect spot for you to enjoy the freshest, finest seafood. I recommend Lota de Esquina near the historic town centre, owned by the famous chef Vitor Sobral. If you can’t get in here – it does fill up despite its cavernous size – you can’t really go wrong at any of the other lovely fish restaurants.

Historically the summer retreat for Portuguese nobility, the town now combines gorgeous cobbled streets surrounded by imposing, lavish villas, a proper old-school fort, museums, and a quality nightlife once the sun goes down. 

In addition, there’s plenty of awesome sandy beaches where you can kick back for an hour or two, perhaps to let your fabulous lunch settle.

Ride Lisbon’s Famous Tram 28

There are fewer better ways to be introduced to the wonderful city of Lisbon than by travelling on Tram 28. Think of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, only on a tram, where your only guide is yourself (and any guidebook you might have with you).

Electric trams first entered service in Lisbon in 1901 and I think they remain the best way to navigate Lisbon’s seven hills without getting endless blisters on your feet. 

Tram 28 takes in many of Lisbon’s great sights and views, taking in Lisbon Cathedral, Sao Jorge Castle, Arco da Rua Augusta, the National Pantheon, the Thieves Market – and that’s merely scratching the surface.

The tram carriages themselves are vintage Remodelado carriages dating back to the 1930s, which makes them worth travelling alone. Settle in on the wooden benches and let yourself enjoy the city as it was meant to be enjoyed.

Visit Sagres, Jewel of the Algarve

Sagres is a small town on the southwestern tip of Portugal where the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic Ocean meet and shake hands.

While many tourists flock to the better-known beaches along Portugal’s southern coastline, the slightly ramshackle, shabby-chic town of Sagres is becoming a popular spot for tourists looking for something a little different from their Portuguese trip.

There’s still plenty of opportunity to relax on some gorgeous golden beaches, just rather quieter than further along the coast, and if you’re into surfing, the Atlantic waves will be perfect.

Visit the Cape of Saint Vincent, which people once believed was the end of the world, a rocky outcrop jutting into the Atlantic and topped by the gorgeous lighthouse. Also make time to check out the 15th century fortress where the views are arguably even better than at the lighthouse.

For food, you can’t visit Sagres and not have some of their amazing seafood and A Tasca is the perfect spot with its Atlantic-side outdoor terrace.

Cool things to do in Portugal: Map 

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Things To Do In Portuga

I’m Julianna Barnaby - a professional travel writer and geek extraordinaire. I started The Discoveries Of to help you to discover the best of new destinations from around the world.

Discovering new places is a thrill - whether it’s close to home, a new country or continent, I write to help you explore more and explore differently.

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I also suggest Obidos, a medieval town surrounded by a wall

Thanks for the suggestion Iris – I haven’t been but have always wanted to. Definitely one for the next trip!

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Portugal Travel Tips

Last Updated: September 1, 2023

beachfront views and villages in Portugal

I’ve been to Portugal many times over the years and I never tire of it . It’s one of the most unappreciated countries in Europe and sees a fraction of the tourists that its neighbors do.

Sure, in recent years Lisbon has become a hub for digital nomads, expats, and retirees thanks to its low cost of living. But, in the rest of the country, not much has changed.

Best of all, fewer crowds mean a better, more local experience that won’t break the bank.

This Portugal travel guide can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this stunning and underrated European gem!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Portugal

Click Here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in portugal.

Sao George castle overlooking the colorful city of Lisbon, Portugal

1. Admire Lisbon

Lisbon is gorgeous. I instantly fell in love with it. It has mystique, history, and great food. Take a trip to the Castle of St. George, see the 16th-century UNESCO Belem Tower, admire the churches (specifically the Sé de Lisboa Cathedral), listen to some traditional Fado music, and enjoy the delicious cuisine. It’s one of the most affordable and underrated capitals in Europe!

2. Visit Batalha Monastery

Batalha is a town located just 90 minutes by car from Lisbon. The town is home to Batalha Monastery, officially known as the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory. Built in 1388, it’s one of Europe’s greatest Gothic masterpieces and makes for a popular day trip from Lisbon. The monastery took 131 years to build and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the gigantic gothic doorway and seeing the towering interior (which is lined with 16th-century stained-glass windows) is absolutely breathtaking. Admission is 6 EUR, but you can also purchase a combo ticket to see The Convent of Christ in Tomar and The Abbey of Santa Maria for 15 EUR.

3. Explore the Azores

These 9 islands lie 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean. Each of the islands offers a slow-paced way of life, unique wildlife, and stunning beaches. These islands are very off the beaten track and a good “out of the way” place to go. São Miguel is great for hiking and road trips, Pico has great wine, and São Jorge has incredible nature, but you can’t go wrong with any of the islands here!

4. Party in Lagos

Lagos is the place people go to party in Portugal. It’s an excellent destination to soak up the sun. During the summer, this is one of Europe’s premier party destinations for young travelers. there are also incredible beaches, great surfing, and lots of historic churches here. The city is also home to Europe’s first slave market, a sobering sight that dates back to 1444.

5. Enjoy Porto

Porto is one of Portugal’s most colorful cities. Spend some time getting lost and meandering the narrow alleyways and steep staircases that lead to the scenic Douro River. Hop on a river cruise, visit the iconic Lello & Irmão bookstore, tour the museums, and visit the surrounding Duoro Valley and its many vineyards (this is the region where port wine comes from, hence the name). It’s also one of the main launching points for the famous Camino Portugues hike that leads to Santiago de Compostella in Spain (which takes 10-14 days, though you can definitely just do a day hike or a smaller section of the trail).

Other Things to See and Do in Portugal

1. journey to evora.

One of Portugal’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Evora is a small town that offers an array of beautiful and historic buildings. Located 90 minutes east of Lisbon, Evora’s most famous landmark is the Temple of Diana, a Roman temple and UNESCO site from the 1st century. But there is also the Praça do Giraldo, the town’s main square, which is a charming spot to people-watch and embrace the local pace of life. This is small-town Portugal at its best.

2. See the Religious Monuments in Braga

Located one hour north of Porto, the beautiful city of Braga boasts numerous Baroque monuments, including one of the country’s best-known sights: the Bom Jesus Sanctuary (a Catholic shrine and pilgrimage site). The old and the new city are connected by the main square, Praça da Republica, which is a great place for a stroll. The city’s cathedral is also very much worth a visit, as it is the country’s oldest (construction started in 1509).

3. See the Abbey of Santa Maria

Located between Lisbon and Porto, the Abbey of Santa Maria is Europe’s largest Cistercian building (the Cistercians are a Catholic order of monks and nuns, founded in 1098). You can wander around the abbey at your leisure to learn more about its cloisters, dormitories, library, and more. The church is free to enter but the monastery costs 6 EUR. You can save money by purchasing a combo ticket to the Convent of Christ in Tomar and the Batalha Monastery for 15 EUR.

4. Head to Sintra

Lord Byron, an English poet writing in the 18th century, said that Sintra was “perhaps in every respect the most delightful [place] in Europe.” If you are visiting Lisbon, you should definitely make an effort to come here to see its palaces, wonderful views, and museum collections. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the entire country. The train takes about an hour from Lisbon and costs under 5 EUR.

5. Learn about the Knights Templar in Tomar

The big attraction in the town of Tomar is the Templar Castle and Convent of Christ. It was the headquarters for the Knights Templar in the 12th century (they were a Catholic military order founded in 1118 that fought in the Crusades). The castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was an important defensive stronghold against the encroaching Moors (Muslims from North Africa who eventually conquered parts of Spain and Portugal). Admission is 6 EUR or 15 EUR with a combo ticket.

6. Hit the water

Aveiro, located 72 kilometers (45 miles) south of Porto, lies on what’s known as the Silver Coast. This small university town has a historic center built on canals, giving rise to its nickname “the Venice of Portugal.” The winds here create good opportunities for windsurfing and surfing too. You can rent surfboards for as little as 15 EUR per day, while kitesurfing and windsurfing rentals around 50 EUR. If you want lessons, most two-day courses cost around 130 EUR.

7. Get lost in Coimbra

Another university city, Coimbra is located between Lisbon and Portugal and is home to one of the world’s oldest universities (the university was founded in 1290 and moved to Coimbra in 1537). There is a famous and beautiful old library that you can tour, but the real thing to do in Coimbra is just wander through its many historic streets. There are plenty of churches and gardens to take in as you stroll around soaking up the history. It’s a postcard-perfect destination.

8. Attend a Fado performance

Fado is a local type of music that originated in Lisbon. It’s a rather haunting, mournful style often focused on the hardships of the poor or life at sea. The music first appeared in the 19th century and was popular with the working class (especially sailors). The word “fado” likely stems from the Latin word for fate, which is why many of the songs focus on the inevitability of misfortune and suffering. While melancholic, the music is also beautiful and poetic.

9. Check out Faro

Faro is a common starting point for tours of the Algarve region, a southern region brimming with great beaches, tasty seafood, and plenty of tourists. Faro itself isn’t a beach city, but has a lovely old town and is a great place to spend a day before you explore the coast. Don’t miss the cathedral and the municipal museum to learn more about the city.

10. Stand at the edge of Europe

Cape Sagres is the most southwestern point on the European continent. It was here that Henry the Navigator, one of Portugal’s most revered figures during its empire, had his famous navigation school. He was one of the central figures to kick start the Age of Discovery in the 15th century that put Portugal on the map (literally). His development of lighter caravel ships allowed explorations in West Africa, which also launched the slave trade.

11. Try a Pastéis de nata

This pastry is a Portuguese staple. You’ll find these delicious custard-filled tarts at every bakery. They’re a must for an authentic food experience and cost around 1 EUR.

12. Walk the Templar Stairs

Located in Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site composed of several historic buildings, including a huge palace and chapel. But the highlight is the Initiation Wells, two massive wells that stretch far underground. They were built by the Templars for their initiation rituals. Would-be knights would have to travel down a winding staircase into the massive wells blindfolded and navigate a labyrinth before coming back to the light. Today, you can tour the wells and explore them yourself. Admission is 10 EUR.

The Camino Portugues (The Portuguese Way) is a pilgrimage trail that stretches from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It’s the second most popular Camino, after the main French Way, though it sees a fraction of pilgrims compared to the main route. Most hikers start in Porto, with the 280 kilometers (173 miles) journey taking around 10-14 days, though it’s also possible to start in Lisbon for a longer trek.

For more information on other destinations in Portugal, check out these guides:

  • Lagos Travel Guide
  • Lisbon Travel Guide
  • Porto Travel Guide

Portugal Travel Costs

A towering historic building perched on a mountain in Sintra, Portugal

For those traveling with a tent, camping is available around the country for 10-20 EUR per night for a basic tent plot without electricity.

A room in a two-star budget hotel costs between 40-75 EUR per night. Expect basic amenities like free Wi-Fi and TV. Free breakfast is sometimes included as well.

On Airbnb, private rooms start at 30-50 EUR per night while entire homes/apartments average around 100 EUR.

Food – Fish and seafood form the backbone of Portuguese cuisine (Portugal eats the most seafood per capita in Europe). Cod, sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines), sea bass, and shellfish are some of the most common staples. Other popular dishes include cozido à portuguesa (boiled stew), peixinhos da horta (breaded and fried vegetables), and cured ham. Be sure to also try the prego (beef sandwich) or the bifana (pork sandwich). You can find them at local cafes for just 5 EUR.

You can find snacks in bakeries for 2 EUR or less, light meals and sandwiches for around 8-10 EUR, and fast food for around the same price.

If you want a three-course meal with drinks, you’re looking at spending closer to 20 EUR. After that, the sky is the limit!

For a casual restaurant meal, expect to pay around 10 EUR.

Beer is around 3 EUR while a latte/cappuccino costs around 2.50 EUR. Bottled water is less than 1 EUR.

If you’re cooking, groceries cost around 35-45 EUR for a week’s worth of food. This includes staples like pasta, rice, produce, and some meat or seafood.

Backpacking Portugal Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker budget, you can visit Lisbon for around 45 EUR per day. On this budget, you’ll be staying in a hostel dorm room, cooking all of your meals, limiting your drinking, using public transportation to get around, and sticking to free activities like free walking tours, enjoying the beaches, and exploring the Old Town. If you plan on drinking, add 5-15 EUR per day to your budget.

On a mid-range budget of 125 EUR per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb or private hostel room, eat at cheap local restaurants and cook some meals, use public transportation and take the occasional taxi, visit paid attractions like the botanic gardens and Belem Tower, and enjoy some drinks at the bar.

On a “luxury” budget of 235 EUR or more a day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for every meal, drink what you want, rent a car to explore the region, and visit as many museums and attractions as you’d like. This is just the ground floor for luxury though — you can easily spend more if you really want to splash out!

You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you spend more, some days you spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Portugal Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

For the most part, Portugal is an incredibly affordable destination. Food, accommodation, wine – it’s all very cheap (especially when compared to other EU countries). As long as you’re not splurging on a ton of booze or eating at the overpriced tourist restaurants, you’ll find it easy to save big while still enjoying yourself. Here are a few more ways to save money in Portugal:

  • Look for free museum visits – Some museums are free on Sundays. Check with the local tourism board or the museum’s website for more information on free/discounted hours.
  • Skip the taxis – Taxis add up so if you’re on a budget, skip the taxis and use the metro or bus system to go where you need to.
  • Say “no” to bread – When eating out, a selection of bread and olives may be brought to your table before your meal. These aren’t free, so just say no if you’re on a budget.
  • Stay at a pensão – These family-run inns offer decent lodgings for very little money and are a great alternative to hotels.
  • Get a tourist card – Certain cities, like Porto and Lisbon, offer tourist cards that provide unlimited access to public transportation (normally for one, two, or three days) and free or discounted access to museums and monuments. If you plan to see lots of sites, be sure to go to the local tourism office and pick up one of these cards!
  • Stay with a local – If you plan ahead, you can usually find Couchsurfing hosts all throughout the country. This way, you not only have a free place to stay but you can connect with a local who can share their insider tips and advice. Just send your requests early in the summer.
  • Cook your meals – Restaurants here are cheap, but eating out all the time adds up. Visit the local market to stock up on groceries and cook a few meals. You’ll save a ton!
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Portugal

Budget accommodation is plentiful in Portugal. Here are my suggested places to stay:

  • Lookout! Lisbon Hostel (Lisbon)
  • Lisboa Central Hostel (Lisbon)
  • Yes! Lisbon Hostel (Lisbon)
  • Rising Cock Party Hostel (Lagos)
  • Gold Coast Calm Hostel (Lagos)
  • Casa D’Alagao (Faro)
  • HI Hostel Faro (Faro)
  • Rivoli Cinema Hostel (Porto)
  • Gallery Hostel (Porto)
  • Pilot Design Hostel & Bar (Porto)

How to Get Around Portugal

A quiet and narrow stone street in Faro, Portugal

Train – Portugal has a great rail system. Tickets are affordable, with a ride from Porto to Lisbon costing around 25 EUR. Even the high-speed rail is affordable (unlike in many other European countries); it’s about the same price between Porto and Lisbon as the regular train. A train trip between Braga (in the far north) to Faro (at the southern tip) costs between 65-75 EUR.

Bus – Buses are the cheapest way to explore, and they’re also not super time-consuming since Portugal isn’t a huge country. A cross-country bus from Lisbon to Lagos costs between 15-20 EUR, while an eight-hour journey from Braga to Faro costs around 30 EUR.

Lisbon is the main hub for budget-friendly Flixbus routes around the country. It’s the cheapest way to get from Portugal and into the rest of Europe. A bus to Madrid, Spain costs around 30 EUR.

Flying – Flying is the best way to get to the Azores, though it’s likely not worth it for getting around the mainland. A flight from Lisbon to the Azores costs as little as 50 EUR, while Lisbon to Madeira starts at about 40 EUR. TAP Air is Portugal’s official airline.

Taxis – Taxis start at 3.50 EUR and go up by about .80 EUR per kilometer. Skip them if you can as they add up fast!

Ridesharing – Uber is available in Portugal’s larger cities but it’s not much cheaper than taxis. I’d still skip ridesharing altogether if you’re on a budget.

Bike rental – Locals like to get around by bike and bike rentals are available in all the major cities. You can rent a basic city bike for around 10-15 EUR per day.

Car rental – Car rentals cost as little as 25 EUR per day for a multi-day rental. It’s a super affordable way to explore if you have someone to split the cost with (especially in the Azores). Drivers need to be at least 18. For the best rental car deals, use Discover Cars

When to Go to Portugal

Peak season in Portugal is during the summer months of June-August. Temperatures hover around 23°C (74°F) and popular destinations like Porto and Lisbon experience an influx of visitors. Prices increase during this time as well. But the overall atmosphere and weather are great, so it’s still worth visiting during peak season.

Personally, I think the best time to visit Portugal is the shoulder season in the spring and fall (April-May and September-October). Temperatures range from 18-22°C (65-71°F) so it’s still warm enough to explore and enjoy the outdoors. There aren’t as many crowds and prices are cheaper, making it an ideal time for budget travelers.

Winter is from November to February. It gets cold and tourist crowds thin out considerably. Temperatures vary quite a bit from place to place, but overall, the temperature averages around 12°C (53°F). I’d avoid visiting in the winter if you can, however, if you’re on the continent already Portugal is one of the warmer places to spend the winter.

How to Stay Safe in Portugal

Portugal is very safe for backpacking and solo travel as violent attacks are uncommon. Pickpocketing is the most common crime and can occur in touristy areas and on public transportation. Be aware of your surroundings when you’re in markets, on busy streets, and when using the metro. Always keep your valuables secure and out of sight just to be safe.

Drugs here have been decriminalized, but it’s best to avoid them as selling drugs is still illegal. If approached and offered drugs, politely decline and continue on your way

You won’t find a lot of travel scams in the country but read this article on common travel scams to avoid just to be safe.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, don’t walk home alone at night if intoxicated, etc.).

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Remember: always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. You have every right to remove yourself from the situation. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Portugal Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
  • BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!

Portugal Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Portugal travel and continue planning your trip:

The 4 Best Hostels in Lagos, Portugal

The 4 Best Hostels in Lagos, Portugal

The Best Walking Tours in Lisbon

The Best Walking Tours in Lisbon

Where to Stay in Lisbon: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Lisbon: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

The 9 Best Hostels in Lisbon

The 9 Best Hostels in Lisbon

When Three Days Is Not Enough Time

When Three Days Is Not Enough Time

Lisbon: Even Better the Second Time

Lisbon: Even Better the Second Time

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  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

The Packable Life

20 Top Things to Do in Portugal (Recommended by a Local)

View of the Lisbon skyline and famous castle

I’m here today to share the best things you can do in Portugal, that little rectangle in the southwest corner of Europe. I’m a local, so you’ll get the inside scoop, not just generic tour advice. This post will be a bit of a love letter to an extraordinary place that once was a vast empire that ruled the world.

It’s easy to think of Portugal as a seaside country, stretching from Lisbon and Porto in the north to the stunning beaches of the Algarve down south. But there’s so much more to it — pristine national parks, bustling cities, rolling countrysides, and many world heritage sites.

This post features highlights and activities from every Portuguese district for all types of travelers, from those looking for a relaxing fortnight to those craving an immersive experience.

So let me guide you from the mountain ranges to the quaint little villages, with a few extra hops to explore the archipelagos. There’s so much to see in Portugal that you might just rethink your three days in Lisbon and consider expanding them into an entire month here.

Visit Gerês, Portugal’s Only National Park

Gerês National Park in Portugal

“This corner of the Earth, the great serene lake, smooth as a polished mirror, the high hills containing the huge body of water give the traveler an impression of peace such as he had not yet experienced.” -Nobel prize winner José Saramago, describing Gerês.

These highlands remain pristine in the highlands that mark the border between Portugal and Galicia. Its distinctive fauna and flora flourish here, and the wolves and bears that once roamed the land centuries ago are making a slow comeback.

Gerês has something for everyone: For pure relaxation, stay at one of the many hot spring villages. Adrenaline junkies can kayak down rivers, bike, climb mountains, or bungee jump. And for quiet communion with nature, hike through stunningly beautiful landscapes.

Experience Winter Traditions, from Podence to Penamacor

Three Portugese men dressed up in costumes during the Carnaval de Podence

Portugal’s winter traditions may surprise you because the country is better known for its warm summers. But unique and charming ancient winter traditions live on throughout the country. If you’re traveling nearby in winter, don’t miss these off-season delights.

One of my favorites is the Podence Carnival, in the northeast corner of Portugal. Every year, the local boys dress up in colorful handmade costumes and intimidating masks — the Caretos> — and take to the streets in mock courtship rituals for the local women.

For Christmas, head to Penamacor, where teams of young men cut and haul logs from the forests. These are collected at a local churchyard and ignited in a bonfire the night of December 23rd and will be replenished and kept burning for days.

Time-Travel in Historic Minho

Bridge over a river near the UNESCO heritage town of Minho

UNESCO, the U.N.’s agency for peace and security, designates significant historical sites worldwide. The city of Braga is one such site, founded in 16 B.C. and home to the oldest Archdiocesis in Portugal. Roman ruins linger on, a testament to a bygone era.

Next is Guimarães, another world heritage site and one of the most well-preserved in Portugal. And in a neighboring town, you’ll find souvenirs everywhere featuring the Rooster of Barcelos to honor the town’s past as a pilgrimage outpost.

But my favorite places in the Minho region are two small towns: Ponte de Lima and Ponte da Barca, both known for their handsome bridges over the de Lima River. These are places where the atmosphere is heavy with history and the spirit of nature.

Feast in Oporto, Where Food & Wine Reign Supreme

Bridge over a river in Porto, Portugal at night

If you visit both Oporto and Lisbon, you’ll quickly discover how different the north and south are. The people from Oporto often say that they work while the Southerners rest. And they do have a point, given how dynamic and bustling the bigger city is.

Avoid the Lello Bookstore. It’s an alluring tourist trap, but a trap nonetheless. Save your money and instead stick close to the Douro River and take in the scenic views of Oporto while overlooking the beautiful Dom Luís bridge.

And be sure to savor francesinha , a non-traditional sandwich made with ham, sausage, cheese, and steak. It’s a delightful cholesterol bomb, so sneak one on your cheat day. Wash it all down with the local Port wine and wander over the bridge to explore the wine cellars of Gaia.

Stroll Far from the Crowds on the Paiva Walkway

Wooden bridge walkway near a river in the countryside of Portugal

This is a recent entry on my list of unique experiences in Portugal. The Paiva Walkways opened in 2015 and quickly became a smashing success. A stroll here shines a much-deserved spotlight on the local culture and the many sights of the entire Arouca region.

The wooden walkways stretch five miles along the Paiva River. And if you’re there on a hot summer day — like those we’re experiencing now, in 2023 — climb down to the river beaches and join others in diving into the cool, soothing waters.

Also, be sure to visit the memorable neighboring cities of Lamego and Viseu. According to legend, Lamego is where the first Portuguese Cortes took place. Every August, Viseu hosts the São Mateus fair, a uniquely Portuguese event and the oldest fair in the country.

Visit Aveiro, the Portuguese Venice

Colorful boats on a canal with colonial buildings in the background

No one would blame you if you initially mistake Aveiro for Italy — it has the canals, bridges, colorful houses, historic buildings, and, of course, the gondolas (known locally as moliceiros ). But even though Aveiro isn’t Venice, it’s well worth a visit.

Start by visiting the Costa Nova, a beachside stretch of the city and perhaps the most Instagramable place in Portugal, including its Wes Anderson-esque striped houses. And for another fantasy landscape in Aveiro, visit the local salt flats that mirror the sky.

Last, don’t miss the opportunity to roam around the art nouveau buildings of the city center while eating Ovos Moles , a local delicacy made of egg yolks and sugar. They combine a wafer-like crunch with a tasty stringy sweetness.

Visit Serra da Estrela —  The Land of Snow & Cheese

Snowy mountains with winding roads and blue skies in the background

“ Estrela ” means “star,” and “Serra” means “mountain range.” Here’s the legend — A solitary shepherd yearned to explore beyond his snowy mountains. One night, a childlike star descended, granting his wish. Guided by this celestial companion, he embarked on a long journey.

After years of exploration, the shepherd and the star merged and became this snowy mountain range that now delights aficionados of winter sports. Après ski, enjoy the area’s delicious, creamy cheeses, and browse the finely crafted local wool products.

That was a time when everything felt vast and mysterious. Today’s world has lost that sense of wonder and can feel small. Alas, technology, convenience, and instant gratification have taken their toll, and legends like Serra da Estrela are fading memories of a far simpler time.

Follow in the Footsteps of Portuguese Exemplars

Small town on a hillside with pine trees and blue skies in the background

If your eyesight is sharp, you can spot a few peculiar villages south of the Serra da Estrela. They seem to disappear into the landscape as if camouflaged. These are the Aldeias de Xisto — literally the Schist Villages.

Close by is the Aldeias Históricas , where the village of Monsanto makes its bid to be the most Portuguese enclave in the country, a national exemplar. Nestled atop a rocky peak, this well-preserved spot feels like an open-air museum.

Piódão might be my favorite of all these. It’s a gem so well hidden that you’ll need GPS to find it. Once you do, you’ll fall in love with its stone houses and colorful doors, both of which are dazzling, even at night.

Visit Monasteries and go Apple Picking in the Oeste Region

Medieval Portuguese Monastery with blue skies in the background

Alcobaça is known for two things: its delicious apples and its world heritage monastery. The monastery was the first completely gothic building in Portugal, and its sheer scale and beauty will make your jaw drop.

Then there’s Batalha, home to another world heritage monastery. Officially, it’s the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory, built to celebrate the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 A.D., where 7,000 Portuguese men defeated 30,000 invading Spanish soldiers from Castile.

Wrap up your visit at the Convent of Christ in Tomar. It was once a Templar stronghold, and walking its corridors will leave you in awe at this exquisite example of the Manueline style that marked the era of Portuguese maritime exploration.

Surf (or Don’t Surf) the Big Waves at Nazaré

Gigantic waves crash in the ocean and a red lighthouse near Nazaré

By “big,” I mean it’s the home of “one of the three tallest waves ever surfed.” Once a small fishing village, Nazaré has catapulted into worldwide surfing fame thanks to the unique conditions created by its geography and climate. It’s heaven for big-wave enthusiasts.

The town’s lighthouse sits atop a cliff, serving as a backdrop to this legendary place. Once, a Portuguese nobleman almost fell off the cliff to his death while chasing deer — but a vision of Saint Mary appeared and froze his horse at the cliff’s edge just in the nick of time.

For relaxation, Nazaré also has you covered. The village’s beach has smaller waves for tamer and safer surfing. And the town’s fishing heritage means you’ll be able to order some of the freshest fish and seafood at low prices that you can brag about back home.

Hop Aboard a Ferry to Berlengas, the Offshore Gem

Stone castle in the ocean near Berlengas archipelago

As a kid, I was fascinated by the Berlengas islands after reading it was a place of foggy mystery and wonder. A few years later, when my family celebrated a cousin’s birthday there, I felt that magic hanging in the air, which remains vivid in my mind.

To get there, you’ll need to catch the ferry at Peniche, another city well worth a visit. The ferry takes about 30 minutes to reach the main island. As its shape emerges on the hazy horizon, you’ll realize why it’s so often described as “a wonder.”

If you’re staying overnight, camp either at a designated campsite or in the nearby 16th-century fortress. Be sure to get up early and hike when it’s cool and foggy. While the other humans slumber on, you’ll catch glimpses of the elusive local wildlife.

Marvel at Sintra, the Fairytale Town

Colorful castle in Sintra, Portugal

UNESCO praised Sintra’s “micro-landscapes of exotic and luxuriant beauty” and its enchanting mix of castles, palaces, villas, and monasteries. It’s a rocky landscape filled with exotic vegetation, and the overall effect would have captured Walt Disney’s imagination.

The village of Sintra is in a mountain range with a unique microclimate where exotic fauna thrive in a quasi-permanent fog. Sintra is nestled in this mysterious, fairytale-like mist and makes a big impression.

Sintra has many villas, but none more grand than the Quinta da Regaleira with its signature masonry well. Other highlights include the Pena National Palace (often misidentified as a castle) and the Castle of the Moors (an actual castle), all located within a natural park.

Walk Lisbon’s Streets for Breathtaking Views

Skyline of Portugal with bridge in the background at sunset

Lisbon is on many lists of the world’s most scenic cities and has earned numerous tourism awards. That’s triggered a flood of visitors and worries about saturation. But the traditional places still outnumber the tourists and outshine fickle ‘must-see’ travel fads.

For one, Lisbon is the birthplace of Fado , Portugal’s national music genre. Walking down the narrow streets of Madragoa and Alfama on your way to Saint George Castle, you’ll hear impromptu street concerts that never appear in any tourist guide itinerary.

The extended Tagus neighborhoods are flat-out beautiful. Be sure to visit the Tower of Belém and the Monastery of the Hieronymites, the country’s most famous landmarks. Other essential stops include the Baixa and Chiado, with their incredible grid architecture.

Soak in the Unique Flora of the Southwestern Coast

Bright shoreline on the southwestern coast of Portugal

Although technically part of the Alentejo, this region has an identity and charm all its own — not as slow-paced as the Alentejo, but not as touristy as the Algarve. Spend relaxing days at the beach and dine nightly in quaint countryside villages.

The Sudoeste starts just beyond the port town of Sines. Ten minutes down the road, you’ll find the picturesque village of Porto Covo and Pessegueiro Island. The long, uncrowded stretch of beaches makes this area perfect for those wanting an invigorating swim in cooler Atlantic waters.

Milfontes and Zambujeira do Mar are classic fishing villages, but the region’s highlight is Odeceixe. It has two parts: the village itself and the beach. Divers can choose their preferred temperature because the warm river waters mix offshore with the cooler Atlantic.

Road Trip Portugal’s Lighthouses

Traditional Portuguese red and white lighthouse during sunset

I love lighthouses. They remind me of pirates and explorers from a bygone era. To me, the concept is a mix of safety and discovery. There’s nothing else like a rhythmically choreographed ray of light flashing across an infinite ocean to guide distant ships.

Portugal has 15 lighthouses you can visit. And it’s a delightful coincidence that a road trip down the coast to visit them also takes you close to many of the other must-sees mentioned in this post… so explore Portugal by using lighthouses as your trail markers!

My favorite lighthouses include the Cape Carvoeiro (built in 1758) in Peniche; the Cape Roca (1772) at the westernmost point of continental Europe; the Espichel Cape (1790) with its church and sanctuary; and the Cape Saint Vincent (1846), in Sagres.

Visit the Alqueva Dam for Wonderful Views

Bridge across reservoir against a hazy sky

For fishing and watersports, it’s hard to beat the Alqueva Dam. It looks out of place in the hot, remote Alentejo countryside, but it’s an oasis that has completely changed the region’s fortunes. Travelers are drawn here, which is the whole point of an oasis.

Close to the dam is the Dark Sky Observatory, a science shrine for stargazing. The observatory’s cutting-edge telescopes and expert astronomers can show & teach you the beauty of our universe, all while you sip a delicious glass of the local Alentejo wine.

Down the road is Moura, the birthplace of your humble narrator. Climb to the top of the medieval castle for a panoramic view of the rolling hills, visit Portugal’s first Carmelite Monastery, and discover why “ as fine as Moura’s olive oil ” is a typical Portuguese saying.

Wander the White Streets of Southern Portugal

Small village of white houses in a Portuguese countryside

Moura is also an excellent town for experiencing the narrow streets of its Mouraria — the old Moorish quarters. Layers and layers of bright white paint make these houses a perfect backdrop for the pots of colorful flowers that residents hang outside their doors and windows.

The Alentejo and Algarve regions of southern Portugal are known for this style of architecture, a legacy of Moorish occupation. Towns like Marvão and Monsaraz are built atop huge mountains, making them impenetrable fortresses while adding to their historic charm.

Visit in the summer and enjoy the numerous festivals celebrating local patron saints. These perfectly represent Portugal’s national character, hospitality, and rich cultural heritage. Évora, another world heritage site, has a noteworthy annual fair.

Sunbathe on the Beaches of the Algarve

Stone arch on a beach during a blue-sky day

For northern Europeans, the Algarve needs no introduction. It’s been a favorite vacation and retirement destination for decades. During the summer, the area’s population more than doubles, but the winter off-season is temperate, quiet, and offers an overlooked respite.

Western Algarve is the windiest and coolest part of the region, but Sagres is the sweet spot. The town was an icon of 15th-century Portuguese maritime exploration when the country became one of the world’s most powerful empires.

I recommend visiting Lagos, Portimão, and Albufeira to the west of Faro, the capital city. To the east, Olhão and Tavira are also memorable, especially if you crave fresh fish and seafood. The restaurants and meals there are to die for! Don’t miss it.

Cruise Around the Subtropical Forests of Madeira

White a-frame houses in a countryside village

As your plane approaches Funchal, you’ll likely be terrified when glimpsing the short runway. But the pilots are skilled and familiar with the approach, and soon, you’ll be safe on the tarmac, ready to explore this bustling city, a favorite among expats.

One of the best things to do in Funchal is to catch the gondola up the Monte and then ride down in a toboggan. The city center is an excellent example of Portuguese architecture, and if you’re into boats, you can catch a ferry to the neighboring island of Porto Santo.

Funchal’s New Year’s fireworks are world-renowned, but the natural world’s highlight of the archipelago is the Laurisilva forest. Any of its trail hikes will take you past beautiful lagoons, waterfalls, and lush, green hills of unique vegetation exclusive to the island.

Visit Atlantis, er, I mean the Azores

Lake in a crater in the Azores region

The Azores consist of nine islands, and the legendary submerged city of Atlantis may lurk nearby. Visit the cosmopolitan city of Angra do Heroísmo, on the island of Terceira, and the remote island of Corvo. Then there’s Faial, home to Portugal’s highest peak.

If you visit multiple islands, you’ll travel mostly by boat, so having proven sea legs is good. And don’t miss a chance to watch the whales and dolphins cavort in the white-capped waves. It’s an exhilarating and joyful experience.

These volcanic islands have numerous hot springs, so consider a long soak after your hike around the Sete Cidades lagoon on São Miguel island. Or, if you prefer cool baths, slip into one of the many natural cool water pools scattered throughout the archipelago.

Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Portugal

Colorful traditional boats in the water near Oporto, Portugal

I could easily write another article about the best things to do in Portugal and not repeat any of the above. There’s much more to see than just the big cities, so here’s advice from someone born and raised here — go beyond the city limits and into the countryside.

Portugal is exceptionally diverse, so I hope this list has been a good introduction for your needs. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, energetic activities, or cultural immersion, Portugal could be your perfect destination.

Set your own itinerary — visit Berlengas Island, the fairytale town of Sintra, or knock out this entire list. Or go freestyling to places I didn’t mention. You’ll still have a great time. And call on us, the locals, because we want you to enjoy our beloved country.

Now it’s your turn to share. Have you ever been to Portugal? How was it? Have we helped you plan an upcoming trip? Share your feedback and ask questions in the Comments section below. We’ll all learn something.

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Last Updated on March 19, 2024

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Ze Eduardo Penedo

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bePortugal

Top 20 Portugal Travel Tips Every Visitor Should Know

Travelling to Portugal is exciting and intriguing because the culture and the language might not be what you are used to.

Here you will find the 20 most useful tips for planning your trip to Portugal.

I’ll give you tips on moving around the country or the city, what to do and what to eat, staying safe and what to do when you have to sadly leave the country.

Top 20 Portugal travel tips

Do's and Don'ts when visiting Portugal

When and where to go

1. avoid july and august.

Due to Portugal’s mild climate and proximity to the ocean, the summer vacation season is by far the most popular among travellers. You can clearly witness this in July and August, especially in Lisbon and in the Algarve, as the city centres get packed to the point that it is almost impossible to pass through the narrow Portuguese sidewalks (“calçadas”).

A good time to travel to Portugal is around May, June, September and October, when the sun is not excessively hot, but the weather is warm enough to go to the beach or simply visit the historical sites without overheating.

Moreover, the amount of tourists will be significantly lower and you will be able to enjoy the sights without having to queue up for ages.

queue Belem tower Lisbon

2. Book accommodation and flights in advance

Partially due to the previously discussed reasons, but also due to the size of the main attraction points, such as Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, the number of accommodation options is rather limited compared to the amount of visitors, especially during the peak season.

Therefore, we highly recommend you to arrange a place as much in advance as possible. You will also save money by booking a rare and affordable find which is usually occupied throughout the year.

The same go for long-distance transport and international flights to Portugal .

Momondo , the travel comparison website, offers an insight tool that indicates the cheapest periods to travel to Lisbon (or any other worldwide destination), how many days in advance you should book and what’s the best day of the week to travel.

The website is available in several languages and from different destinations by changing the settings on the bottom right corner of the page.

3. Ask for a ventilator (fan) in the summer and a heater in the winter

While this might seem like an obvious add-on for any tourist accommodation, don’t take this for granted when visiting Portugal! Most of the houses were built to stay cool in the summer and keep the heat in the winter, therefore it’s not customary to have central heating or air-conditioning installed in most buildings.

Usually modern hotels will include this service, though if you’re staying in a rented apartment it is best to double-check with the landlords if air-conditioning or a ventilator are provided during the hot months and a heater is available during the winter months. This way you will avoid unpleasant stays in overly hot or cold apartments!

4. There is more to Portugal than Lisbon

We know, we know… Lisbon is highly spoken of on many media channels and strongly recommended by almost anyone who visits it. However, it is not the only great place that Portugal has to offer.

Other very worthwhile destinations in the north of Portugal are:

  • Guimarães ;
  • Vila Real ;
  • Bragança ; and

For the south, you should try:

  • Costa Vicentina; and

And of course not forgetting the stunning archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean.

Since these alternatives are usually smaller cities compared to Lisbon, you could opt for organising a multi-city trip with one day stays, rather than spending an entire week in the same place.

Continental Portugal is well-connected with smooth highways as well as long-distance train and bus routes.

However, there are some hard to reach places such as Gerês and Costa Vicentina, for which we suggest renting a car or a van .

The same goes for the archipelagos, which do not have a well developed public transport system, though would require at least three days for visiting.

Azores Portugal

5. If you still decide to go to Lisbon…

…then be prepared for massive amounts of people in the city centre and the tourist attractions especially in the warmer months and peak season. Lisbon is definitely a must-visit place in Portugal and in recent years it has gone through a lot of changes due to increased tourism, which has also contributed greatly to the local economy.

However, the streets and houses weren’t built to host such large crowds, so you will very likely find yourself queuing just to cross the street.

How do you escape the tourist crowds?

Here are some not so well-known areas where you can enjoy the same cultural spirit of Lisbon.

Start from the area called Avenidas Novas with its wide avenues and neoclassical architecture style until you reach Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian , where you can enjoy a beautiful garden and fascinating art galleries; continue walking westbound until you reach the top of the vast Parque Eduardo VII, from where you can admire an endless viewpoint across the city, the river and Almada .

Then take the yellow (“amarela”) Metro line from Marquês de Pombal to Rato and walk up to Jardim da Estrela, a lovely oasis in the middle of old Lisbon, and then go to the nearby Basílica da Estrela, one of the most beautiful churches in Lisbon.

The next stop is the lookout (“miradouro”) at Panorâmico de Monsanto, a restaurant built in the 1960s on top of a large green hill, then abandoned due to bankruptcy and recently reopened to the public. We recommend taking a taxi up there, the view is really worth it.

When you head back down, finish off the day by visiting the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda , which stands at the foot of the hill and is the former residence of the Portuguese royal family.

Bonus tip for the tireless ones is the Museu Nacional do Azulejo , also known as the National Tile Museum. It is surprisingly one of the most interesting and beautiful museums in Lisbon, which tells the story of the traditional Portuguese tiles, their production and style over the centuries.

Getting around the country or the cities

6. rent a car if you’re planning a multi-city trip.

This tip is partially related to visiting more than just Lisbon, but it’s also valid if you want to want to organise a road trip across continental Portugal.

Those who live here will know that having a car can unlock many hidden gems that would otherwise be hard to reach with public transport.

Some of the suggested routes are:

A southbound journey along the coast from Lisbon all the way until the Algarve .

A city-hopping trip among the northern Portugal cities like the ones mentioned in tip number four.

A tour through one of the several natural parks, such as:

  • Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês ;
  • Parque Natural do Douro Internacional;
  • Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela ;
  • Parque Natural da Serra de S. Mamede; and
  • Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana.

Visiting a vineyard for a day in the Setúbal, Alentejo or Douro region. You may need to find a designated driver for this trip if you plan to taste some of the sumptuous Portuguese wines .

You can easily rent a car directly from any Portuguese airport, however there are some restrictions which you can check in our article:  Car Rentals in Portugal: Expert Advice to Save You Time and Money

Geres waterfall Portugal

7. Get a rechargeable Metro card if in Lisbon or Porto

If you’re visiting Lisbon or Porto, which happen to be the only two cities in Portugal with a Metro system, we highly advise that you to use local public transport to move around the city rather than driving a car, as traffic can get pretty intense and finding parking may turn into an Odyssey.

The main advantage of the rechargeable Metro card is that you can use the same one on the Metro, local trains, buses, trams and even the ferry in Lisbon.

The disadvantage is that you can only charge it in specific authorised points, such as newspaper kiosks and Metro stations.

However, if you know someone in Portugal, they can charge your card at a Multibanco machine or for Lisbon’s Viva cards, they can charge it at home via the  Viva website.

So make sure to top it up with some extra cash or simply pick the daily pass. Just keep in mind that you can use only one card per person and ticket controls are rather frequent.

In Lisbon, it is worth buying a  7 Colinas or a Viva Viagem  card, which can be bought in any Metro station. The reusable 7 Colinas card can be purchased for one or five days. Both of these cards are valid for a whole year so hang on to it if you are planning on coming back to Lisbon. Each trip is about Є1.45 by using these cards and an average price per day would be about Є3.15.

8. Relax and learn how to be patient

This might sounds strange to some of you, but it actually is a very important tip: be patient and do not put other people in a rush. Portuguese people like to take things easy (especially in the countryside) and do not have an elaborate concept of doing things in a fast manner, which might be irritating for some people at first.

Instead try to embrace the slow pace of the Portuguese culture and use it as an excuse to unwind from the fast city life rhythm.

You’ll find yourself slowly strolling through the streets while embracing the magical light of Portugal, spending three hours at the restaurant finishing off a delicious meal with a glass of Port wine or a brandy (“aguardente”), or simply enjoying an espresso at a viewpoint while gazing into the horizon.

One thing is guaranteed: going back to work will be very, very hard upon your return.

9. Pack comfortable shoes

We previously mentioned the sidewalks in Portugal (“calçada portuguêsa”), so here’s a little tip related to it: it’s not the most friendly type of pavement, so pack your sneakers and leave your high heels at home.

Pavements in Portugal are usually made of small square cobblestones. The streets are covered in beautiful mosaic patterns symbolising the elements of nature and history of the country.

This type of construction has the purpose of being highly resistant to direct sunlight and heat, however, they get extremely slippery when wet or just on a steep hill.

We recommend you watch your step and wear your most comfortable pair of shoes while in Portugal.

10. Be careful of the strong sun

This tip is especially directed to the fair skinned traveller, like myself, who easily burn in the sun. Be prepared: the Portuguese sun can be very strong even in the winter!

So if you’re one of those who become red as lobsters after five minutes in direct sunlight, we suggest to stay in the shadows, use sunscreen with protection 50+ in the summer, and wear a hat and sunglasses especially if you’re spending the entire day out.

You can usually buy sunscreen at any pharmacy, supermarket or night shop, however a flask of 200 ml can cost more than €10, so it might be better to bring some from home in your checked in luggage.

Cascais beach Portugal

What to do and what to eat

11. museums are free on the first sunday of the month.

Many Portuguese cities have great museums with unique collections of art from ancient history to modern art. We recommend you to check their schedules beforehand as they’re often closed on Mondays and stop admitting visitors between 5 and 7pm.

What’s good to know is that many of them are free on the first Sunday of the month, though you should still check this information per museum as they do have exceptions.

For visitors to Lisbon, you might like:  Top 15 Museums in Lisbon: For Lovers of History and Art

12. Avoid the tourist trap restaurants

This is particularly true for bigger tourist destinations, such as Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, however with the increasing amount of visitors, you can notice the prices rising in many parts of Portugal.

How do you recognise a tourist trap restaurant?

They will usually have a very insistent host who will chase you down the street just to get you to eat at their restaurant, they will have a poorly translated menu with pictures of the food hanging at the door and completely inflated prices for drinks and side dishes or no prices displayed at all.

If you’re not sure whether the restaurant that you want to go is a tourist trap or not, always ask the price of anything that you order or is brought to your table and thoroughly check the bill at the end of the meal.

Tourists traps are easily spotted in the city centres and crowded streets and squares.

13. Couverts are not for free

As a continuation to the previous tip, you should know that the bread, cheese and olives waiting for you at the table at not for free. Ever!

If you decide to touch any of it, it counts as a consumption, so if you don’t want to pay for them, kindly ask the waiter to take them back. Some restaurants will count the couvert per person, so make sure to check the prices on the menu in case you can’t keep your hands away from these tasty little appetisers.

couverts Portugal

14. Tascas are a lifestyle

Tasca is a Portuguese word for “tavern” or “bar” which is very specific to our country due its distinguishing traits. For example, a Tasca is usually a small family run business with a grumpy, yet charming older lady as the cook and a seemingly rude but caring husband running the front bar.

The type of food you can expect is what a Portuguese person eats at their grandmother’s house in a small setting that resembles a living room.

Another recognisable element of a Tasca are the incredibly cheap prices. In Lisbon you can easily find a Tasca with a lunch menu for €7 including a main dish, a drink and a coffee!

While in Porto and other cities, the price can get as low as €5.

Disclaimer: if you’re not a meat or fish lover, then you’re probably going to have to settle with an omelette or a salad!

15. Vegetarians be careful!

As mentioned in the last point, unfortunately there aren’t that many options when it comes to vegetarian (not to mention vegan) food. While this type of cuisine is gradually evolving more and more in the bigger cities, don’t expect to find any vegetarian options in the countryside or small towns.

Moreover, be sure to ask for the ingredients of any dish that you order, because even vegetable soups are sometimes made with “chouriço”, a traditional Portuguese sausage used to give flavour.

Great vegetarian and vegan options can be found in the supermarket/cafeteria chain “Celeiro” in the main cities.

For more on vegan food, you might like:  Being Vegan in Lisbon, Your Plant-based Food Guide for Portugal’s Capital

16. Enjoy the fresh fish and seafood

If you’re ok eating fish and seafood , don’t miss the chance to try them in Portugal! It’s the paradise for foodies thanks to the ample choice of products freshly delivered on the day even to the smallest Lisbon restaurants .

The most commonly known dish is “Bacalhau à Brás”, made from shredded salted cod, which is ironically imported from Norway yet considered to be the national Portuguese dish eaten throughout the year and especially on Christmas Eve.

Other options include:

  • Creamy seafood risotto, usually made with the catch of the day such as shrimps and varieties of fish;
  • Orata or bream, known in Portuguese as “dourada”; and
  • Snook, called “robalo” by the locals.

If you happen to be in Lisbon around June, you must try grilled sardines, the symbol of the city and typically consumed on a piece of bread during the Popular Saints festivals (“Festas dos Santos Populares”).

Staying safe in Portugal

17. beware of pickpockets.

This is strongly notable in Lisbon, but can also happen elsewhere, that pickpockets are wherever the tourist goes. In order to avoid unpleasant situations, make sure you do not put any valuables in the pockets of your pants or jacket, avoid using open handbags, and keep an eye on your backpack.

Pickpockets in Portugal are not likely to be aggressive, but in case you catch one during the act, the best thing to do is not to fight them and simply call for help.

In the unfortunate event of losing a valuable belonging, immediately go to the local police. In some cases they might be able to retrieve a stolen wallet with your documents inside (though it will be cashless).

18. Parking helpers expect money

So you decided to rent a car in the city and now you’re on the Odyssey of finding a parking spot.

First of all, we wish you the best of luck!

Secondly, be careful of the people who volunteer to help you park. They are expecting money in return for their kind gesture. Unless you really can’t find any other place where to park, our personal advice is to give them some coins to avoid any bad reaction from their side, such as a scratched car or a broken window.

When you are leaving Portugal

19. avoid long queues at the airports.

It’s the end of your stay and you’re already starting to miss your vacation in Portugal. Oh, how much “saudade”!

Be prepared though, the airport controls are still ahead. Many flights connecting to the Lisbon , Porto and Faro airports are operated by low-fare airlines, which means they’re located in small and not so efficient terminals.

If you’re travelling during the high season, make sure to arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance as the queues for the security check in might be extremely long.

It often happens that visitors do miss their flight because of this and you definitely don’t want to be one of them (unless you’re subconsciously trying to remain in the county, in which case we totally get you).

check in Porto airport

20. The best souvenirs are cheese, wine and olive oil

Forget about fridge magnets and bottle openers, the best souvenirs you can bring back home are food and drinks!

We strongly recommend you to spend a little extra on the checked-in luggage and go crazy on your food shopping in a local market, rather than buying the same products at the airport for double the price.

Make sure, though, that the cheese is vacuum packed as it can be confiscated at the security check. Portugal produces great creamy and curated cheeses. A must-try is Queijo da Serra and Queijo da Ilha, both commonly available in the supermarkets.

Bonus tip: Learn some survival Portuguese

You’ll be positively surprised at the level of English the younger generations of Portuguese people speak. In fact, TV shows in Portugal are not dubbed and therefore their English language education starts at an early age, so you’ll have no problem communicating with the locals.

However, they will really appreciate it if you could say at least a few words in their language as it shows an effort of understanding the Portuguese culture.

Here are some useful words and sentences for your stay in Portugal:

Hello = Olá Good morning = Bom dia Good afternoon = Boa tarde Good evening/night = Boa noite How are you? = Tudo bem? Goodbye = Adeus or Tchau! See you later = Até já Thank you = Obrigado if you are a man or Obrigada if you are a woman You’re welcome = De nada Help me = Ajuda-me Please = Por favor Sorry = Desculpe Excuse me/Pardon me (to ask to pass by someone) = Com licença I don’t speak Portuguese well = Eu não falo bem português I don’t understand = Eu não percebo Do you speak English? = Fala inglês? How much is it? = Quanto custa? Where is…? = Onde é…? Today = Hoje Tomorrow = Amanhã Yes = Sim No = Não One = Um for a masculine object and Uma for a feminine object Two= Dois for masculine objects and Duas for feminine objects Three = Três Breakfast = Pequeno-almoço Lunch = Almoço Dinner = Jantar The bill please = A conta por favor

If you would like to learn a few more Portuguese phrases, check out:  Learning Essential Phrases in Portuguese for Your Visit to Portugal

Portugal is a top European destination

Portugal has become one of the most popular European destinations in the last years thanks to its favourable climate, affordable prices and timeless beauty. With over 23 million visitors in 2017, the main cities have quickly started to adapt for welcoming an increasing amounts of travellers.

That’s it for the 20 tips of travelling in Portugal! We truly hope that you will find them useful and enjoy your stay in this beautiful country.

Did this article help you plan for your trip to Portugal? Let us know in the comments below if you have any more tips for fellow readers.

Be sure to catch all the latest tips and advice from bePortugal for your visit to Portugal by subscribing to our FREE newsletter .

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

30 Best Things To Do in Portugal in 2024

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

Updated On: February 14, 2024

Planning a trip to Portugal can be overwhelming. It’s a big country with so much to see and do, but a perfect itinerary can exist for everyone. This guide to the best things to do in Portugal will help you plan the trip of your dreams!

Lisbon , Porto , and the Algarve are the three obvious destinations in Portugal, especially for first-timers. But what about Penede-Geres, the country’s only designated national park with tall mountains and spectacular landscapes, or Guimaraes, the birthplace of the nation? From strolling historic cobbled streets in historic villages and visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites to wine tasting or lazing on beautiful beaches, these are some of the best things to do in Portugal from North to South.

top things to do in portugal

What I like the most about Portugal is that it’s a country for everyone. Whether you want to explore the culinary tradition, ancient landmarks, or the best beaches , you will have everything you need at your fingertips.

The country’s history is as rich and diverse as its architecture and culture, and you can get a glimpse of this in every city, town, and village. So, let’s explore some of the best things to do in Portugal. 

Best of Portugal Quick Guide

  • Must See: Sintra, Porto , Guimaraes, Algarve, Alcocaba Monastery, Bucacao National Forest, Alfama ( Lisbon ), Obidos Castle, Belem Tower 
  • Where To Stay: Pousada Castelo de Obidos , Lisbon Art Stay Apartments Baixa , Se Catedral Hotel Porto , Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve
  • Fun To Do: Benagil Cav e, Algarve International Circuit, Peneda-Geres National Park, Douro Valley 
  • Day Trips: Coimbra, Cascais, Sortelha, Aveira, Read Best Day Trips from Lisbon
  • Must-Try Foods: Pasteis de Nata, Bacalhau, Arroz de pato, Piri Piri chicken. Read more: Portuguese Food

Table of Contents

Best Things To Do In Portugal

fun things to do in portugal

With tall mountains, big cities, and spectacular sandy beaches, Portugal is a country that can appeal to anyone. No matter what you like doing, you’ll find at least one city or town in Portugal that can cater to your every need. 

From the best hikes in the north to the best resorts in the south, and all the best historic landmarks in between – here are all the best things to do in Portugal! 

1. Listen To Fado Music in Lisbon

things to do in portugal fado

Fado is a type of traditional Portuguese music inseparable from the country’s culture. The earliest traces of Fado date back to 1820s Lisbon, but it is believed that the genre originated much earlier. We booked this Fado Show in Porto.

For the best bars and cafes with live Fado music in Lisbon, head to Alfama, the historic neighborhood with some of the capital’s oldest restaurants and bars. Bairro Alto is also home to many places to watch a live Fado performance. Just try to avoid the tourist traps, which you can spot by their overpriced menus. We booked this Fado Show in Lisbon that includes guided tours of Alfama and a traditional dinner.

  • Practical Information: Fado performances usually start at 8-9 PM and last for 2-3 hours, with breaks. 

2. Discover the History of Belem Tower

things to do in portugal belem tower lisbon

Belem Tower is one of the country’s most important landmarks. With UNESCO World Heritage status, the historic tower is one of the best examples of the Portuguese Manueline architectural style. 

The landmark tower is approximately 40 minutes outside Lisbon by bus or an easy and affordable 20 minute Uber ride. It is located in the same part of the town where the Jerónimos Monastery is. It’s best to visit both landmarks in the same afternoon if possible. We took an Uber out to Belem Tower and then walked to Jeronimos Monastery. Afterward, we followed the waterfront path to explore more top Lisbon attractions.

You can tour the Belem Tower to admire the beautiful architecture and fabulous panoramic views from the top. A cafe is located close to the tower where you can sit down for drinks with the best view in Lisbon. Read more: Where To Stay in Lisbon: A Complete Guide For Your First Visit

  • Practical Information: Belem Tower is accessible by bus from Lisbon. Tickets for the tower are 8 Euros. 

3. Pena Palace in Sintra

things to do in portugal pena palace

Pena Palace is one of two famous palaces in Portugal. Located in Sintra, it is perched atop a high rock and surrounded by a large park, on the site of a former monastery. The palace is famous for its colorful exterior, which is considered a major expression of the 19th-century Romantic movement. Read more: 14 Best Things to Do in Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is one of the best landmarks to visit in the country. You can visit it on a day trip from Lisbon, but we suggest staying in Sintra for at least two nights. Sintra is located just an hour outside the capital.

Practical Information: Full-priced tickets for adults are 20€. It’s possible to pay for a bus service (3€) to take you from the park entrance to the palace entrance.  You need to purchase timed tickets ahead of time. You can do that here.

4. Quinta da Regaleira

things to do in portugal quinta da regaleira

If you are interested in the Knights Templar, make sure to visit Quinta da Regaleira. Its underground tunnels and caves were once used for initiation rites by secret societies such as the Knights Templar, and their secrets still remain hidden to this day. Visitors can explore the tunnels and caves, discovering hidden chambers and hidden passageways as they go. Book your skip the line entry tickets here.

5. Walk Under The Arco Da Rua Augusta

best things to do in portugal arco da rua agusta

Arco Da Rua Augusta is one of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks. Pass under the arch while making your way to Praça do Comércio, the historic city square on the shore of the Tagus River. 

The arch dates back to the 18th century. It was constructed as a memorial to Lisbon’s reconstruction after the devastating 1755 earthquake that destroyed 85% of the city’s buildings. 

For a small entrance fee, you can take a lift to an exhibition space behind the clock in the arch. An observation deck is also available here, and it offers beautiful views of Lisbon’s rooftops and the waterfront plaza. 

Practical Information: The Rua Augusta Arch can be visited at any time. The observation deck at the top of the arch is open from 10 AM to 7 PM and has a €3,50 entrance fee. 

6. Prance Around Porto 

things to do in portugal porto

Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, right after Lisbon. Although it doesn’t get quite as many tourists as the capital, it’s just as good a destination for a city break in Portugal. The city has it all – a rich history, vast beaches, and the best local port wine. Read more: 30 Best Things to Do in Porto, Portugal

Porto’s old town has UNESCO World Heritage Status because it is one of the oldest historic centers in Europe. Bolsa Palace, Porto Cathedral, Rua das Flores, and Torre dos Clérigos are just a few of the iconic landmarks not to be missed in the charming town. 

Venture west of the old town and you’ll find all of Porto’s beaches. Stunning views paired with a glass of local port wine – named after this city – is a recipe for a classic Porto afternoon. Plan your trip to porto with this guide on Where to Stay in Porto: A Complete Guide For Your First Visit

Practical Information: Porto is serviced by the Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport which is 25 minutes outside the city center. Lisbon and Porto are three hours apart (by public transport). 

7. Lie on the Beach in the Azores

Things to do in Portugal Azores Beach

The Azores are an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean accessible only by flight. A few days in this stunning region are a must if you’re planning a longer stay in Portugal. Read more about the Azores at Top 10 Things to do in Sao Miguel, The Azores

The good news is that flights to the Azores start at 40€ for a round trip from Lisbon, so you can visit the archipelago for very little money. Book a flight to one of the islands to experience the gorgeous beaches and breathtaking nature characteristic of these Portuguese islands. 

Azores islands are also great for scuba diving. Pico Island is particularly popular among divers, while Terceira Island is the perfect playground for hikers and outdoor adventurers. 

Practical Information : The Azores Islands are accessible only by plane. Return flights from Lisbon to Terceira start at 35-40€. 

8. Discover Nature of Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês

Things to do in Portugal Parque Nacional Peneda Geres

Peneda-Gerês National Park is a vast nature reserve in Northern Portugal. Featuring tall mountains, a plethora of hiking trails, and prehistoric remains, the park is a great place to discover stunning landscapes. 

This is one of the best destinations in Portugal for outdoor lovers. If you want to go hiking or ride in quads, you can do so here, while uncovering Neolithic remains. Camping is allowed at  Peneda-Gerês , which is great because the park cannot be done in a day. 

If you’re considering a more alternative Portugal itinerary, I would recommend focusing on this national park for a while and then visiting the other places that interest you. Guided day trips to the park exist, but they cover only small portions of this magical place. 

Practical Information:   Peneda-Gerês National Park is approximately an hour and a half by car from Porto.  

9. Roam Around the Historical Streets of Évora

Things to do in Portugal Evora

Evora is a medieval town in the Alentejo region whose old town serves as one of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal. It’s best known for whitewashed houses and Templo Romano Évora, the historic Roman temple that dominates its center.

This quaint town is truly a wonderful destination in Portugal, and perfect for travelers who want to escape the big city crowds and spend a day somewhere more historic.

The Cathedral of Évora is another special building in the small town. It’s the tallest building with the absolute best views of Evora’s rooftops and surroundings. You must climb the church’s tower to experience this wonderful view. 

Practical Information: Evora is an hour and a half outside Lisbon by bus. 

10. Road Trip Through the Algarve Region

things to do in portugal algarve

The Algarve region of Portugal is known for its vast sandy beaches, golf resorts, and fishing villages. The Algarve is one of our favourite places in Portugal. While many tourists only visit it for a short stay, we recommend at least 3 days in the Algarve to truly appreciate it. Rent a car to explore all the little towns and villages.  Read more: 3 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

Lagos, Portimao, Sagres, Vilamoura, Faro, and Cacela Velha are towns to visit on this road trip. Each offers historic landmarks, gorgeous beaches, and some of Portugal’s best resorts. Silves and Tavira are also worth checking out, especially if you’re into historic villages with fewer tourists. 

Practical Information: The Algarve Region is in southern Portugal, stretching from the Spanish border to the Atlantic Ocean. 

11. Hiking in The Douro Valley

Things to do in Portugal Douro Valley

Douro River flowers through Spain and Portugal, until it meets the Atlantic Ocean in Porto. The river valley stretches horizontally through northern Portugal, from the International Douro Natural Park on the border with Spain to Porto city. 

Douro Valley offers a myriad of hiking trails, the best of which can be found in the natural park. From easy trails that can be completed in a couple of hours to challenging, multi-day adventures, the River Valley is ideal for travelers who enjoy exploring the great outdoors. 

Douro is also a prominent wine region in Portugal. As such, it offers a variety of wine trails and vineyard tours, making it suitable even for a slightly more relaxed vacation. 

Practical Information: Public transport from Porto to International Douro Natural Park is scarce. Rent a car and drive there or arrange a guided tour for the best experience. 

12. Visit Portugal dos Pequenitos

Things to do in Portugal Portugal dos Pequenitos

Portugal dos Pequenitos is a theme park in Coimbra, a city in central Portugal. Situated approximately halfway between Lisbon and Porto, Coimbra is a great destination for a day trip or even a short stay in the country. 

The theme park boasts miniature replicas of the works of the best Portuguese architects. There’s everything from miniature villages to replicas of iconic Portuguese-made landmarks from other countries. A tour of the park is an excellent experience, one that will help you learn more about this fascinating country. 

Practical Information : Portugal dos Pequenitos is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM. Tickets are 15€ for adults.  

13. Drive a Racing Car Around the Algarve International Circuit

Things to do in Portugal Algarve International Circuit

Algarve International Circuit remains the most important race track in Portugal. It’s home to all the races in the Formula 1 and Moto GP series, and an excellent destination for all motorsport and car enthusiasts in Portugal. 

Come here to watch a race if you’re lucky enough, or to drive a super fast car on the track for a couple of laps. You can even have the experience of driving a Formula 1 car on this track, but I reckon that’s more expensive than first-class plane tickets to Portugal. 

Practical Information: Algarve International Circuit is a 30-minute drive from Lagos. 

14. Get Lost in The Buçaco National Forest

Things to do in Portugal Bucaco National Forest

Have you ever visited a forest encased by an ancient wall? You can do so in Portugal if you head to Buçaco National Forest, just 40 minutes outside Coimbra. 

The forest was first inhabited by monks in the 6th century, and the ownership of the land was passed around between various monasteries in the region. It was the monks who built the walls surrounding the arboretum and planted many of the trees inside the forest. 

Buçaco National Forest is famous for its dendrological collection, which is believed to be one of the best in Europe. Boasting more than 2,500 plant species from five different continents, little is left to the imagination at this spectacular place. 

Practical Information: Buçaco National Forest is accessible by public transport from Coimbra. Entrance to the forest is free for passengers on foot. 

15. Visit Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary 

Things to do in Portugal Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary

Bom Jesus do Monte is a religious sanctuary close to Braga in northern Portugal. With stunning gardens, a neoclassical church, and a world-famous stairway, it’s a must-visit for anyone traveling in the north of the country. 

You can reach the sanctuary in a funicular, which will take you up the hill for just 2 €. From there, walk around the beautiful gardens, and stand on the terrace in front of the church, to soak in the panoramic sights. Descend the famous staircase for even more epic views. 

Practical Information: Bom Jesus do Monte is open daily from 9 AM to 7 PM, with free admission. 

16. Spend a Day in Coimbra

Things to do in Portugal Coimbra

Coimbra is a city in Central Portugal, approximately halfway between Porto and Lisbon. It is mostly known for its university, which is one of the oldest on the continent. The University of Coimbra was founded in the late 13th century, and its main buildings boast a diversity of architectural styles. 

Other noteworthy attractions in Coimbra are the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, the Joanine Library, the New Cathedral of Coimbra, Quinta das Lágrimas Gardens, and Portugal dos Pequenitos, which has its own entry on this list. A day is enough to discover the top sights in the city, but you might want to stay longer for the proximity to other excellent Portuguese destinations. 

Practical Information: Coimbra is accessible by train from Lisbon (1 hour 45 minutes) and Porto (1 hour 10 minutes). 

17. Witness The Magic of Benagil Cave

things to do in portugal benagil cave

Benagil Cave is one of Portugal’s most famous natural landmarks. Set on a beach in the Algarve, the cave remains one of the best places for a boat excursion in southern Portugal. The ceiling of the cave is accessible via hiking trails and offers an aerial view of the Benagil Cave interior. 

The cave has been Algarve’s most famous landmark for years, which ultimately resulted in many accidents and overcrowding. The local authorities had to step in and suspend access to the cave. It was previously possible to visit Benagil cave on a SUP and hang out inside for a couple of hours, but that’s no longer to case. 

Rental of SUPs and kayaks is now prohibited on the beaches near the cave, and visitors who attempt to swim in the cave will be fined up to 2,500€. You must arrange a guided boat tour to see the cave, and you won’t be allowed to go inside. But you might see dolphins from the boat, which is just as exciting in my book. 

Practical Information: Arrange a guided hiking tour to Benagil Cave to peek inside it from above. Visitors are not allowed inside the cave. 

18. Climb the Mountains of Serra da Estrela Nature Park

Things to do in Portugal Serra da Estrela Nature Park

Serra da Estrela Nature Park is a top destination for travelers who enjoy discovering new landscapes. The natural park is in the northern area of central Portugal and features roads to its tallest summits. It is the car road-trip alternative to hiking, where you get to discover some fascinating natural landmarks, but needn’t climb a mountain on your own two feet. 

And there’s plenty to do here once you’re out of the car. With spectacular rock formations, observation platforms that offer sprawling panoramic views, and rewarding hiking trails, the national park leaves no one indifferent. 

Practical Information: Admission to the nature park is free of charge. 

19. Peek Inside a Walled Town

Things to do in Portugal Walled Town Obidos

Óbidos is a tiny walled town in central Portugal. Best known for the hilltop Castle of Óbidos, the town serves as one of the best examples of medieval architecture. The castle dates back to the 9th century and even has a hotel within its medieval walls. 

Set just two hours outside the capital city, Óbidos is the best destination for day trips from Lisbon . The village is absolutely charming and offers unique architecture, ancient cobbled streets, and mesmerizing art inside the castle. 

Practical Information : Óbidos is accessible by public transport from Lisbon (2 and a half hours) and Porto (almost 4 hours). 

20. Admire the Complexity of Lisbon Cathedral

things to do in portugal lisbon cathedral

The Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in the capital. It is one of few that have managed to survive the devastating 18th-century earthquake, although not without great damage. The cathedral’s royal pantheon and Gothic main chapel were entirely destroyed, and many of the cloisters and chapels were heavily damaged. 

It took many years of reconstruction for the church to appear as it does today. And because of so many reconstructions, the cathedral is architecturally diverse, incorporating elements from Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque styles. If you stay in Lisbon for even just a day, a visit to Sé de Lisboa is a must. 

Practical Information: The Cathedral in Lisbon is open from 10 AM to 6 PM every day except Sunday. The entrance is 5€.

21. Take it Slow at Cascais

Things to do in Portugal Cascais

Cascais is a resort town in the Lisbon District, easily accessible from the capital city. It’s an important tourist destination in Central Portugal because it’s home to some of the best resorts. For relaxed beach vacations, Cascais remains at the top of most travelers’ lists. 

With sandy beaches, historic architecture, and vast golf courses, the town can offer something to nearly anyone. Whether you want to spend your days in Portugal relaxing, playing sports, or discovering the local history and traditions, you’ll be right at home in Cascais.

Practical Information: Cascais is situated west of Lisbon City, just an hour away by bus.  

22. Indulge in Portuguese Cuisine

things to do in portugal portuguese food

Portuguese food is diverse and layered, just like the country’s rich history. The cuisine is influenced by Portugal’s geographic location as well as history and includes a blend of seafood, hearty meats, and stews. 

Some of the most famous dishes you should try are Bacalhau, Arroz de pato, Piri Piri chicken, and Caldeirada de peixe. They’re all main courses with either seafood or other meat. Pastéis de nata have long been the snack of choice for the locals, and who can blame them? I couldn’t resist a flaky custard tart either. 

Practical Information: Get recommendations from locals to avoid tourist traps and find the best local restaurants in every Portuguese city you visit.  

23. Time Travel to Sortelha

Things to do in Portugal Sortelha

Sortelha is a medieval village close to Serra da Estrela Nature Park. Combine a trip to the village with a visit to the nature park, otherwise, it will likely be too far out of the way. 

The village is approximately a three-hour drive from both Porto and Lisbon, without the option of traveling by public transport. It’s best known for the hilltop castle, which offers sprawling views of the landscapes of eastern Portugal. 

Visiting Sortlha is like traveling back in time. It is surreal how ancient everything about this village is, and if you want to have a unique experience in Portugal, this is by far one of the best destinations. 

Practical Information: Sortelha is most easily accessible in a personal vehicle. The closest bus stop is 20 km outside the village.  

24. Venture Into Monsanto

Things to do in Portugal Monsanto

Monsanto is a hidden gem off the beaten path, perfect for travelers who want to stay away from the tourist areas in Portugal. The village is close to the border with Spain, and it’s best known for the hilltop ruins of the Castle of Monsanto. 

Rocks are what mostly remains of the former castle, chapels, and churches. The views from the site of the castle ruins are incredible and some of the best in Portugal. The village is at the foot of the hill with castle ruins and offers the opportunity to spend the night in a medieval house built from stone. 

Practical Information: There is no public transport to Monsanto and driving is the best way to reach the village. 

25. Tour Sintra National Palace

things to do in portugal sintra national palace

Sintra National Palace is one of two important palaces in Sintra. It can be visited on the same day as the National Palace of Pena, provided you get up early enough. 

The Moorish palace originates from the 11th century and it’s the oldest palace in Portugal. With gorgeous rooms, period furnishings, and exceptional artwork, touring the palace is like going on a journey throughout history. 

The Swan Room, Arab Room, and Magpie Room are the three most famous areas of the palace. But all the other rooms are also worth visiting, so you should set apart several hours at least for this landmark. 

Practical Information: Sintra National Palace is open from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Tickets are 13€ for adults. 

26. Fly to Madeira 

Things to do in Portugal Madeira

Madeira is another Portuguese archipelago accessible only by airplane. The upside is that low-cost carriers operate flights to the island, and you can get there from Lisbon for less than 30€ if you can pack in a small backpack. 

Madeira Island is known for its gorgeous beaches, tall mountains, excellent hiking trails, and scenic vistas. Come here for hikes in the mountains that reward you with incredible views, but also for picturesque coastal towns with friendly locals. 

Practical Information: Madeira is approximately a 2-hour flight from Lisbon. Return tickets start at 30€.

27. Hike a Section of Camino de Santiago

Things to do in Portugal Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago, also known as the Portuguese Way, is a network of pilgrimage routes in Portugal. The path starts in either Lisbon or Porto and leads the pilgrims to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain. 

The route is also called the Way of St. James, and it has many iterations throughout Western Europe. Hiking even a small section in the hills north of Porto is great for understanding the difficulty of this pilgrimage. Just imagine covering 25 kilometers every day, for 35 days straight. 

Practical Information: The Portuguese Way can be hiked from Porto or Lisbon. The shortest route begins at the Cathedral of Porto and goes on for 227 km. 

28. Explore Braga

Things to do in Portugal Braga

Braga is the first stop for anyone planning a thorough discovery trip through Portugal. Set in the north of the country, Braga is a city famous for its religious heritage. It is best known for Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary, which attracts travelers from all over the world. 

It’s a picturesque town with historic houses, ancient churches, and Roman ruins. Braga boasts gorgeous arcthiecture, which includes Baroque, Romanesque, Neoclassical, and Gothic elements. Also, Braga offers easy access to the only designated national park in Portugal (Peneda-Geres).

Practical Information: Braga is easily accessible by bus from Porto (1 hour 10 minutes). 

29. Boat Rides in Aveiro Canals

Things to do in Portugal Aveiro Canals

Aveiro is a town in the west of the country known as the Venice of Portugal because of its canals. Colorful boats locally called barcos moliceiros run through the canals, and jumping on one of these for a tour is the top thing to do in Aveiro. 

The small boats are primarily intended for harvesting seaweed, but they’ve become the best tourist attraction in town. Aveiro is also known for Art Nouveau architecture in its historic center, as well as the Aveiro Museum with impeccable religious art. 

Practical Information: Aveiro is accessible by train from Lisbon (two and a half hours) and Porto (40 minutes). 

30. Marvel at Alcobaça Monastery

things to do in portugal alcobaca monastery

Set 120 kilometers north of Lisbon in Central Portugal, Alcobaça Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was constructed in the 13th century as the first Gothic building in the country, it was originally a Knights Templar stronghold. Baroque elements were added to the church in the 18th century, making it appear even more spectacular. 

The church has free entrance and visitors must buy tickets to enter the monastery. They’re worth the money; the complex is massive and it takes hours to explore the entire grounds. See the stunning decorations inside, the tombs of Kind Pedro I and his mistress Ines, and the beautifully landscaped monastery gardens. 

Practical Information: Alcobaça Monastery is open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM. Tickets are 10€. 

FAQ for Visiting Portugal

things to do in portugal faq

What Is The Main Thing Portugal Is Known For? 

Food is the main thing Portugal is known for around the world. The country’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean and seafood is widely eaten in Portugal. 

How Many Days Do You Need In Portugal?

You need at least 10 days to travel the country from north to south. Two weeks should give you plenty of time to explore most of Portugal’s famous landmarks. 

Is It Cheap To Travel In Portugal? 

Yes, it’s mostly cheap to travel in Portugal. It’s considered one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe, and more affordable than the neighboring Spain. 

What Is The Nicest Part of Portugal To Visit? 

The Algarve Region is the nicest part of Portugal to visit. With vast sandy beaches, excellent resorts, and plenty of historic villages, it showcases all the best of Portugal. 

Tips And Information For Visiting Portugal

portugal travel things to do

Best Time To Visit

Portugal can be enjoyed any time of the year. I’d even say it’s best to visit Portugal in the winter, especially if you live in a place where it snows. Escape the cold by going to Lisbon for a while, where it’s a balmy 16 degrees Celsius even in January. 

Summer is the most popular season in the country, and there’s a huge influx of tourists from all over the world. Avoid summer if you’re interested more in tourist attractions than resorts and beaches. 

Late spring and early fall are good seasons for warm weather and smaller crowds. 

Getting There

The top three largest airports in Portugal are the ones in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Chances are you’ll be arriving at one of those airports, and if you can choose, I would choose Porto and start exploring Portugal from the north down. 

But most people land in Lisbon, which is approximately half an hour outside the city center by public transport. Trains and buses can take you from Lisbon to other cities in Portugal. 

Getting Around

things to do in portugal getting around

Portugal has a decent network of public transportation, but car rental is the best solution for exploring the country. Buses take much longer and are not available at nature parks outside the cities. 

Train travel is good for getting from one major tourist center to another. The Algarve is connected to the north with trains, which travel much quicker than the buses. But they can’t take you to all the smaller towns worth your time in Portugal, and they’re still slower than driving. 

How Much Time Do You Need

You can explore Portugal a little in five days as easily as you could spend a month wandering around the country and discovering all of its beauty. Plan a stay of 3-5 days if you’re mostly focused on staying in one city and touring its attractions, with an optional day trip. But consider a vacation of at least two weeks, if you want to explore as much of Portugal as possible. 

The Algarve region alone takes at least a week, and I would reckon it’s even more time for all the spectacular destinations in Central and North Portugal. 

Where To Stay In Portugal

things to do in portugal where to stay

Stay in Lisbon to explore the capital city and for easy access to the south of Portugal. Alternatively, stay in Porto for a more relaxed vibe, and better access to attractions in the north of the country. Some of the best hotels in Portugal for all budgets are: 

  • Lisbon Art Stay Apartments Baixa is a popular boutique hotel in the heart of historic Lisbon. 
  • Óbidos Castle is a personal favorite. The medieval town is a must-stop on the way from Lisbon to Porto, and a night at the castle might just be the highlight of the trip. 
  • Se Catedral Hotel Porto is an excellent four-star hotel right next to Porto Cathedral. 
  • Tivoli Carvoeiro – Is a five star hotel in the Algarve with the best views of the sea. It is our favorite hotel.

Plan your trip to Portugal with these valuable resources

  • 30 Best Things to Do in Porto, Portugal In 2024
  • 18 Best Beaches in Portugal to Visit in 2024
  • Where To Stay in Lisbon: A Complete Guide For Your First Visit
  • 22 Best Day Trips From Lisbon in 2024
  • 3 Days in the Algarve Itinerary
  • 14 Best Things to Do in Sintra, Portugal in 2024
  • 7 Reasons You Should Visit Obidos, Portugal

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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Home » Travel Guides » Portugal » 25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal)

25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal)

Touted as a modern metropolis to rival London and packed with places of interest, Lisbon is a city that is really going places. There is a plethora of history here, with tales of everything from Roman imperialists to exotic Berber pirates, Moorish builders to fierce Reconquista knights, all wrapped up in the grand palaces and heritage districts. But there is also an atmosphere of bohemianism and the surprise of the new here too.

You won’t have to look far for nightlife as you can just dive into the medley of Fado joints and swish coffee shops in the Bairro Alto district. Then, perhaps, you can take in the latest in digital installation art at the Berardo Collection Museum, or go nose to nose with a grimacing shark at the Lisbon Aquarium.

Meanwhile, the mysticism of much-vaunted Sintra hides in the nearby hills, while endless stretches of pristine beachfront abound in the peninsulas around the Tagus Estuary and the Atlantic Coast.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Lisbon :

1. Wonder at the Torre de Belém

Torre de Belém

If there is just one landmark you visit when touring through the Portuguese capital, make it this one.

Soaring high above the seafront of the Lisbon quays, this great tower displays a veritable fusion of architectural styles from the Mudejar to the Moorish, the Gothic to the Romanesque.

It has stood watch over the mouth of the Tagus River since its construction under the patronage of Saint John back in the 16th century.

Since then, it has risen to become perhaps the most iconic feature of the city, famed as the last sight adventurers like the prodigal Vasco da Gama would have seen as they drifted out into the vast Atlantic Ocean.

2. Ride Tram 28

Tram 28

Like San Francisco in the United States, Lisbon is a city famed for its historic, rattling tram lines.

None are more iconic than Tram 28 which has been working its way up the steep, cobbled roads and into the old Alfama district for decades.

The journey starts below the palm-spotted hills of Graça, and weaves toward the hair-pin alleys of Escolas Gerais, before pulling up to a halt beneath the gorgeous domes of the Estrela Basilica.

The people-watching opportunities from the windows are second-to-none, and you’re bound to discover decades of history as you pass the various majestic palaces and castles along the route.

Recommended tour : 2-Hour Historic Tram 28 Tour by Eco Tuk-Tuk

3. Get lost in the Alfama District

Alfama District

The compact little Alfama District is Lisbon’s answer to the old town centers of Europe’s other ancient capitals.

Like the Forum of Rome, it’s hailed as the oldest part of the city, although this one dates back to the Moors of Africa instead of the kings of Latium.

Delving into the warren of winding streets and alleys that forms the district is one of the top activities for visitors to Portugal’s capital.

As you stroll, great cathedrals like the Lisbon Cathedral and tile-fronted chapels reveal themselves on the corners.

There are also the remains of old city walls and hidden squares with al fresco cafes aplenty.

Available tour : Alfama District 2.5-Hour Walking Tour

4. Make a trip to Sintra

sintra

‘Did you go to Sintra?’ is the usual question asked by veterans of Portugal’s capital.

Despite being a totally different city and situated more than half an hour away from Lisbon by car, the glorious town of Sintra remains one of the major attractions here.

Daytrips are common, while others will want to spend a couple of days exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It sits high up amidst the mythical Mountains of the Moon, displaying elegant baroque churches, colorful mansions and the grand palaces of former Portuguese kings and queens.

Suggested tour : Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril: Full-Day Tour from Lisbon

5. Enjoy the azulejos in the National Tile Museum

National Tile Museum

Ask any ceramic aficionado and they will tell you that Portugal is the place to go for tiles.

Cue Lisbon’s great National Tile Museum, which is dedicated to everything fired in a kiln.

The institution traces the important history of tile making and its associated technologies from the days when the Moors first brought it to Iberia.

Of course, the best part of all the exhibitions is the blue-hued azulejos.

These famous ceramic works of art gave the country its reputation for craftsmanship in ceramics.

You’ll get to see all types, sizes and designs, and learn about the development of the enchanting motifs that adorn their cobalt surfaces.

Included in the Lisbon Card

6. Conquer the bulwarks of St George’s Castle

St George's Castle

St George’s Castle is unquestionably the most visible landmark of Lisbon’s historic center.

Standing tall and firm above the streets of the old Alfama District, the great citadel was first built more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans.

Since then, it has been developed by subsequent rulers of the city, from the Berbers to the Reconquista knights.

Today it has mighty palisades and crenulated towers to admire, along with an encircling dry moat and other anti-siege features.

Pass beneath the large gate here and notice the Portuguese royal seal, marking the country’s monarchic strength.

Fast entry : Sao Jorge Castle Skip-the-Line Ticket with Escort

7. Trace glorious history in the Monastery of Jerónimos

Monastery of Jerónimos

Just a glance at the ornate spires and grand carvings of the great Monastery of Jerónimos should be enough to deduce the raison d’être for this massive landmark which is nestled close to the banks of the Tagus River.

It was built to mark Portugal’s most glorious age which was called ‘The Age of Exploration’. The fusion of architectural designs, known as the Manueline style, stands as testimony to the cultures encountered by Lisbon’s explorers, while the money used to build the structure came from Portugal’s international trade in cloves, cumin and exotic spices.

It is also another of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Book online : Jerónimos Monastery Entrance Ticket

8. Go underwater in the Lisbon Oceanarium

Lisbon Oceanarium

Located out in the blue waters of the Tagus Estuary, the huge Lisbon Oceanarium rises like a hulking aircraft carrier.

Inside, the structure houses countless exhibits related to marine life, which together pull in over one million visitors each year.

You can get up close to colorful puffer fish as well as watch the marauding sharks.

You’ll see curious moray eels and meet cuddly penguins.

There are also interesting collections of sea anemones and corals, not to mention an artificial boating lagoon out front where you can rent a pedalo if it is sunny.

Ticket available online : Oceanário de Lisboa Entrance Ticket

9. Wonder at the master works of the National Museum of Ancient Art

National Museum of Ancient Art

The National Museum of Ancient Art is the home of Portugal’s prestigious national art collection.

Pieces here range from pious saintly depictions by Nuno Gonçalves to chiaroscuro portraiture by Josefa de Óbidos.

Most of the canvasses date from between the 16th and 19th centuries, and came into public ownership following the Liberal Wars that rocked the country in the early modern age.

Patrons here can also enjoy countless traveling exhibitions, with past collections reflecting Lisbon in the Renaissance period as well as featuring historical paintings from the Age of Discovery.

10. Get a taste of the East in Museu do Oriente

Museu do Oriente

You only need to set foot in places like Sri Lanka and Goa to realize how far the reach of Portugal’s great Renaissance Empire stretched.

These far-flung eastern corners of the realm are the subject of Lisbon’s Museu do Oriente and the space itself is huge.

It is housed in a colossal former fish processing factory, which now enjoys up-to-date exhibition rooms.

The focus here is on all things Asian, with stories of Chinese rituals and seafaring across the South China Sea all part of the tour.

11. Hop aboard the Funiculars

Funicular in Lisbon

Like Rome, Lisbon was built on seven hills.

Unlike Rome, the city planners here developed a series of funicular railways to help with transport to and from the neighborhoods above the city.

It’s a real joy to ride on some of the tracks such as the old Ascensor do Lavra which dates all the way back to the late 1800s and has been honored with a national heritage tag.

There is also the Ascensor da Bica, which winds up the tight-knit cobbled lanes off Largo do Calhariz.

Let’s also not forget the soaring Santa Justa Elevator which lifts people from Baixa to Carmo and offers sweeping views of the Lisbon downtown area along the way.

12. Enjoy the Mercado da Ribeira

Mercado da Ribeira

There are two distinct sides to Lisbon’s most famous food market.

First of all there is the downstairs part, which throbs with local fruit and vegetable sellers touting succulent legumes and Mediterranean fruits every morning of the week, so make sure to get there early if you want to get the best deals.

Then there is the upstairs section which comes packed with more modern, often quirky food stalls and cutting-edge eateries.

It is there that you will be able to taste the local specialty of custard tarts, sip fine Portuguese wines, and even attempt to conquer a massive francesinha sandwich which is one of the treats to come out of Porto in the north.

Available tour : Local Market, Food, and Culture Walking Tour

13. People watch on the Rossio

Rossio

The plane tree peppered Rossio Square is where Lisbon’s local life ticks over each day.

Officially titled Pedro IV Square, the spot marks the very heart of the Pombaline Lower Town, which spreads out in wide boulevards between the Tagus and Baixa rivers.

The site of the plaza itself has been famous since the medieval age, when public beheadings and bullfighting showdowns were held on its cobbles.

Today, it’s a fine place to stroll and people watch.

You can relax on the shady benches, watch the locals play dominos in the park, and enjoy elaborate Baroque fountains babbling under the sun.

Related tour : Best of Lisbon Walking Tour: Rossio, Chiado & Alfama

14. Enjoy the modern Berardo Collection Museum

Berardo Collection Museum

Bringing up the more modern side of Lisbon’s already formidable array of world class museums and exhibition spaces is the acclaimed Berardo Collection Museum.

This massive institution now pulls in excess of 2.5 million visitors each year.

They come to wonder at the smorgasbord of eclectic artworks, which range from abstract expressionism to digital art installations or neo-realism and photography.

Curators are dedicated to maintaining the cutting-edge aspect of the collections, which means there are also regular touring collections so you can expect the likes of French avant-garde pieces and European cubism to be on display.

15. Eat and drink in the Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto

Apart from being the premier touristic district of Lisbon, packed with al fresco cafes and international restaurants, the Bairro Alto is also the city’s top nightlife spot.

You’ll typically have to wait until early evening for the establishments to really get started, but when they do, it’s all about the authentic pastelaria bakeries and the bohemian drinking joints.

There’s a smattering of old Fado music holes if you fancy a night full of artistic passion, all interspersed with cool new breweries and beatnik style bars.

16. Ride the waves at Caxias

Caxias

Grab a board, wax it down, and don some board shorts or preferably a wetsuit, because the waters where the Tagus Estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean can get pretty chilly.

Nestled just to the west of Lisbon central, this pretty enclave of sand and sea is where most of the capital’s wave riders will retreat at the weekend.

It’s got some challenging left-to-right breaks, and there are plenty of tour outfitters offering surf lessons on the swells which are perfect if you’re a total beginner looking to escape the city for its beaches.

17. Find your inner explorer at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Now something of a historical monument in its own right, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos marks the shore of the Tagus Estuary with its grand architecture and beige stone.

It’s been here since the early 1960s and is an ornate testimony to the successes of Portuguese exploration during the Age of Discovery.

You can reach the towering landmark by strolling along the waterside of Santa Maria de Belém.

Once you spot it, be sure to pick out the legendary figures of Vasco da Gama (an explorer of India and Arabia) and Prince Henry the Navigator (an adventurer of the Great Sand Sea).

18. Unravel the city’s past at Lisboa Story Centre

Lisboa Story Centre

Once you’re done wandering the wonderful districts of the Bairro Alto and old Alfama, it’s time to get some background on the sights.

For that, there is arguably nowhere better in town than the Lisboa Story Centre.

The institution, which boasts free entry to all holders of a Lisbon city card, unravels the past of Portugal’s capital from its earliest years until the present.

There are special sections dedicated to the Age of Exploration and the great seafarers who departed from the city.

Not to be missed is also a particularly illuminating piece on the ravaging earthquake of 1755.

19. Regal gardens at the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira

 Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira

Dating all the way back to 1681 and standing at the outer reaches of Lisbon, on its far north-western edge, the grand Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira is one of the more off-the-beaten-track remnants of the city’s former glory.

Despite its remote location it is still easy to get to and offers a glimpse of the majestic architecture that came to the fore in the 1600s and 1700s in Portugal.

The home was once that of the Marquis of Fronteira, who received his land and wealth after staying loyal to the Portuguese royal name during the Restoration War of the mid-17th century.

20. Wallow in the natural beauty of Tróia

Tróia Peninsula

You’ll have to hop, skip and jump over both the Tagus River Estuary and the Sado River Estuary to reach the sparkling beaches of the Tróia Peninsula.

But the approximately two-hour journey is definitely worth it.

Running for mile upon mile down the Atlantic Coast, the region has some of the top beachfronts in the entire Lower Alentejo.

The sands glow a soft yellow under the sun and the seas are surprisingly calm for this western section of the country.

The beautiful Parque Natural da Arrábida can be seen on the headlands opposite, while regular tours depart from Tróia to spot bottlenose dolphins out at sea.

21. Go beach hopping on the Costa da Caparica

Costa da Caparica

Talking of beaches, it’s just a short drive across the Ponte de Abril on the Tagus River to reach the acclaimed and popular summer resort of Costa da Caparica.

This sits on the northern fringes of the Sétubal district, and offers unrivaled access to some of the best sandy spots close to the capital.

Here you are bound to discover empty stretches of acacia-backed dunes and swaying sea grasses, all washed over by some challenging surf.

Closest to the town are the more visited beaches, while a narrow-gauge railway takes travelers to the secluded coves and sunbathing spots further along the coast.

22. Enjoy the seafood and sun in Cascais

Cascais

If you are in need of a dose of idyllic scenery after the hustle and bustle of downtown Lisbon, then there is arguably nowhere better to go than picture-perfect Cascais.

This old fishing hamlet on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean sits to the west of the city, and has been transformed over the years by an influx of upscale Lisboans looking for sun, sea and sand.

There are no fewer than three cliff-backed golden bays along with a peppering of some of the best seafood restaurants in the region.

For wave riding, consider making a beeline for swell-packed Guincho along the headland.

Available tour : Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais Full-Day Tour

23. Haggle at the Feira da Ladra

Feira da Ladra

Polish your haggling skills for a trip to Feira da Ladra, because this sprawling midweek and weekend market is the place to go for quirky, curious and often downright weird trinkets and antiques.

Believe it or not, the history of the buzzing bazaar goes all the way back to the 12th century, when you can almost imagine a similar array of gypsy traders and motley talisman dealers assembling on the sidewalks of Campo de Santa Clara.

You will need to arrive early if you want to be in with a chance of grabbing anything worthwhile, and you can even travel to the market on historic Tram 28.

24. Marvel at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres

Aqueduto das Águas Livres

Another of the great visual landmarks of Lisbon is the Aqueduto das Águas Livres.

This eye-popping stretch of stone arches and Italianesque architecture was first created in the middle of the 18th century.

It was conceived to relieve Lisbon’s perpetual summertime water shortages, and was built to fit in seamlessly with the Gothic revivalism of the city proper.

Be sure to check out the section of aqueduct which rolls directly over the rooftops of the Amoreiras district, and then make a beeline for the Water Museum, which chronicles the development of this masterpiece.

25. Discover the Basílica da Estrela

Basílica da Estrela

You will almost certainly have glimpsed the gorgeous domes and spires of the Basílica da Estrela as you alighted from the rattling carriages of Tram 28. It’s worth lingering below the whitewashed facades of this iconic church and convent for some time as many visitors consider it to be one of the most beautiful in Lisbon.

Late Baroque design dominates the exterior, with a duo of carved spires piercing the skies overhead.

The interior, meanwhile, reveals a kaleidoscope of colored stone inlays and even the tomb of Queen Mary I of Portugal.

25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal):

  • Wonder at the Torre de Belém
  • Ride Tram 28
  • Get lost in the Alfama District
  • Make a trip to Sintra
  • Enjoy the azulejos in the National Tile Museum
  • Conquer the bulwarks of St George's Castle
  • Trace glorious history in the Monastery of Jerónimos
  • Go underwater in the Lisbon Oceanarium
  • Wonder at the master works of the National Museum of Ancient Art
  • Get a taste of the East in Museu do Oriente
  • Hop aboard the Funiculars
  • Enjoy the Mercado da Ribeira
  • People watch on the Rossio
  • Enjoy the modern Berardo Collection Museum
  • Eat and drink in the Bairro Alto
  • Ride the waves at Caxias
  • Find your inner explorer at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos
  • Unravel the city's past at Lisboa Story Centre
  • Regal gardens at the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira
  • Wallow in the natural beauty of Tróia
  • Go beach hopping on the Costa da Caparica
  • Enjoy the seafood and sun in Cascais
  • Haggle at the Feira da Ladra
  • Marvel at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres
  • Discover the Basílica da Estrela

9 Bucket List Things To Do in Algarve, Portugal

9 Bucket List Things To Do in Algarve, Portugal

The southern Algarve region is the jewel of Portugal , boasting a breathtaking coastline, epic caves and archways, year-round great weather, and waves that make it a surfers paradise. The surrounding nature will steal your heart, and the charming whitewashed villages are no exception. Spend your days hiking, at the countless beaches, and wandering the cobbled streets in the balmy afternoon sun. Discover our bucket list of things to do in the Algarve.

1. Cliff walk at Praia da Marinha

Arguably the most picturesque beach in Portugal; Marinha Beach and its surrounding cliffs are one of the things you must do in the Algarve. The beach is a stretch of soft sand surrounded by limestone cliffs and turquoise waters.

Here are all your hotel options in Algarve.

best things to do algarve portugal cliff walk

But the real highlight here is the path along the cliffsides giving you jaw-dropping views. Follow a 1.5-kilometer walk where you pass the Arco Natural, the so-called heart-shaped rock, which is actually an optical illusion towards the popular Benagil Cave. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a kayak to discover Marinha Beach and the Benagil Caves.

Book a kayaking tour in advance

best things to do algarve portugal saltinourhair

2. Algarve’s beautiful beaches

The main reason for visiting the Algarve is the endless number of beautiful beaches. There’s something for every kind of beach lover, from protected coves with limestone caves to long sweeping white-sand bays. The beaches that lie close to Lagos are beautiful for swimming and relaxing, but for excellent surfing, head a bit further out of town.

Also see: Complete 3-week Portugal Travel Guide

algarve portugal most beautiful beaches

Praia de Dona Ana

One of the closest beaches to Lagos town, Praia de Dona Ana, is popular with locals and travelers. It’s a medium-sized yellow sand beach with beautiful calm turquoise waters shadowed by the Algarves’ token limestone cliffs.

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Because the beach is sheltered and the water is calm, it’s perfect for snorkeling and swimming. What’s more, it’s described as one of the best beaches in the Algarve!

Portugal road trip

Portugal road trip

Praia do Camilo

A bit further up the coast from Dona Ana is the sandy paradise of Praia do Camilo. Discover its crystal clear emerald and turquoise ocean and the incredible rock formations that surround the beach. Over time, the weather has created holes in the cliffs, forming natural tunnels and archways through other beaches.

Did you know? That most sunscreens are harmful to the corals? Read all about reef-safe sunscreen here.

algarve portugal things to do Praia do Camilo

Praia do Vau

The city of Portimão owns its own set of incredible beaches. Mostly occupied by locals instead of tourists with many secluded hidden beaches to be found.

algarve portugal lagos best things to do

Albufeira Beach

Besides Albufeira’s good party scene and charming old town, it also has beautiful beaches to offer. Wide beaches with relatively calm waters make for a lovely swim. However, you might want to avoid the high season (June – Aug) as these beaches will be packed with people.

albufeira beach

3. A Day Trip to Ferragudo and Carvoeiro 

Ferragudo is a charming fishing village that has kept its traditional charm with its whitewashed houses, narrow streets covered with flowers, and a fishing boat-filled harbor. Bring your camera because the town is very picturesque. It also is a great place to sit in the sun and enjoy some pastries. Ferragudo is a 40-minute drive east of Lagos.

Also visit: The fairytale palaces and castles of Sintra

portugal travel things to do

The picture-perfect village named Carvoeiro lies 10 minutes away from Ferragudo. Carvoeiro’s small beach and its traditional houses are tucked away between two towering cliffs. Different from Ferragudo, Carvoeiro is very lively, with a lot of good restaurants and shops. Tip: Get a fantastic lunch at Organic .

algarve portugal village Carvoeiro

4. Benagil Caves

The otherworldly Benagil Cave is one of the unique places in the Algarve. The cave is created by natural erosion, with a worn circle in the ceiling providing a unique light incidence.

Benagil Cave algarve

Visiting the cave is only advisable by SUP to rent at the beach or join a boat tour. Although it’s a very short distance from Benagil Beach, swimming is inadvisable due to quickly changing tides.

Book a boat tour to explore the Benagil Caves

9 Bucket List Things To Do in Algarve, Portugal

5. Algarve’s rough West Coast

The fresh breeze and rough coastline of the West Coast of the Algarve are something not to miss. The enormous sand beaches are rougher and often much quieter!

algarve portugal lagos Bordeiras Beach

Estrada da Praia

Follow the scenic loop named Estrada da Praia. The dirt road takes you along 10 different viewpoints indicated by letters ranging from A to J. The road is only accessible by regular cars and not allowed to access with a motorhome. We’ve added the exact loop to our Google Maps Locations .

algarve portugal sunset

Praia do Amado

Praia do Amado is a huge sweeping bay backed by rolling green hills and earthy red cliffs. The high winds here make it a very popular spot for water sports fanatics, particularly for surfers, with many international surf competitions.

Best of all, its west-facing position means you are in for a spectacular sunset!

portugal algarve things to do Praia do Amado

Bordeira’s Beach

Not far away from Praia do Amado lies the stunning 3km long beach of Bordeira. Follow the wooden walkways across the flat cliffs and down to the wide, open beach. Because of its huge size, the beach always feels quiet and secluded.

How to get there: 30 minutes drive from Lagos or 10-minute drive north up the coast from Praia do Amado. You can also walk between the two beaches in under an hour, along the coast path.

portugal travel things to do

6. Discover the Algarve’s surfing culture

Incredible beaches, high winds, and waves of the Algarve make it a hub for all kinds of watersports. The most popular are surfing and kitesurfing, and there are a ton of schools to choose from.

Book a surf lesson in advance

best surfing cascais portugal

On the other hand, the smaller, more protected coves around Lagos have beautiful calm water, perfect for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. This is a popular way to discover the caves and cliffs that make the Algarve famous. Not only that but there is also the chance of seeing some amazing marine life, like dolphins!  

Tip: Whichever watersport you try, please make sure to wear a reef-safe sunscreen .

best things to do algarve guide

7. Visit Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade is one of the most well-known things to do in the Algarve. These rocky cliffs offer breathtaking views across both sides of the coastline, all the way down to Sagres. Enjoy the views, or descend the many steep stairs down to the water’s edge. However, the best way to admire the rock formations and caves is to see them from the water by joining a boat or kayak tour .

This tiny but charming surfers’ village Sagres is home to the most southwestern point of Europe. Sagres has a handful of sunbathing beaches, but it has rougher waves at most times of the year due to its location. At this same location stands the impressive Cabo de São Vicente lighthouse. You will also experience some of the most spectacular sunset locations here ( book a sunset tour here ).

Also read: Lisbon City Trip – Best Things To Do

road trip algarve portugal

9. Shop Ceramics

If you don’t know Portuguese ceramics yet, they are beautiful. The designs are a blend of traditional and modern crafts and are available in any kind of color and design. Take gifts or, even better: tableware for your own house. Our favorite place is Ceramica Paraiso . Note: Take cash with you as there is no option to pay by card. (Jan 2021)

portugal algarve ceramics

How to visit the Algarve

Faro is the main airport in the Algarve. This is where you will arrive from any international flight to the Algarve.

To move around the Algarve easily, we highly recommend renting a car or a campervan! A campervan is a great option if you want to save on accommodation and have surfboards or other equipment to carry with you. Read more about how to travel through Portugal by campervan .

We recommend to rent a car in Portugal through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here .

how to travel algarve portugal

Where to Stay

The Algarve is a traveler’s paradise, especially for the ones who love to surf or spend time at the beach in the European summer. Because of this, there are lots of hostels and guesthouses for a very reasonable price throughout the entire south coast. However, you’ll also find lots of beautiful hotels and resorts with stunning ocean views.

Hotels in the Algarve 😴

Lagos Atlantic Hotel

If you have a campervan in Portugal , there are lots of great spots to park up on the clifftops outside. Use the park4night app to find all campsites, including reviews and amenities.

campsite portugal

Salema Eco Camp

An absolute campsite gem where we personally spend way longer than intended was Salema Eco Camp. It’s a stunning hill and forest area with a relaxed atmosphere and a fantastic trendy restaurant on site. It’s advisable to book this campsite in advance as they are usually fully booked throughout the entire year!

campsite

Best Time to Visit the Algarve

September/October is the best time to visit the Algarve. It’s at the end of the main tourist summer season, so things are much quieter and cheaper. This means you can enjoy the beauty of the coastline with few tourists but still have nice warm sunny days.

Alternatively, April and May are great months to visit too. Be aware, though, that the water in Portugal is pretty cold all year round! 

Also read: Best Places to visit in Portugal

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10 Great Things To Do in Porto, Portugal

9 things to do in cascais, portugal, obidos: one of portugal’s most beautiful villages.

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portugal travel things to do

HELPING YOU PLAN YOUR PERFECT TRIP TO PORTUGAL

The 23 best things to do in matosinhos.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure policy  for further information.

The Castelo do Queijo with Matosinhos in the background

The town of Matosinhos lies just north of Porto and although it’s considerably smaller and quieter than its more famous neighbour, you’ll find several things to do in Matosinhos, especially if you like low-key destinations.

Connection from Porto to Matosinhos is by a metro line that takes just over 30 minutes. You could even use Matosinhos as a base (see my accommodation suggestions below) and take day trips into Porto.

Matosinhos started life as a fishing village and you can still see parts of the older neighbourhood if you wander through the back streets near the parish church. The industry has since expanded and it is currently the country’s main fishing port, benefiting from related industries that have sprouted alongside it, such as canning, metalworking and wood processing.

Lacking any major monuments beyond the swirly Leixões cruise terminal, the local tourism board market their small city as having the “World’s Best Fish”. It’s a bold claim, and one that I’m not qualified to dispute or confirm! True or not, Matosinhos is, however, a great place to find an abundance of restaurants grilling fresh fare from the ocean, and a vast array of seafood at the local Mercado de Matosinhos.

If you’re curious about what other activities and attractions Matosinhos has to offer, this guide is for you.

1. Spend time at Praia de Matosinhos / Matosinhos Beach

The huge expanse of sand between the fortress and the port has attracted the people of Porto for many years and it’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of space for relaxing and it’s also very popular for activities such as surfing, bodyboarding and volleyball to name just a few.

Matosinhos beach with climbing frames, Portugal

There are several other beaches as you head north from Matosinhos but this is the easiest one to get to by public transport.

See this Matosinhos beach guide for other options.

2. Learn to surf in Matosinhos

One of the best things to do in Matosinhos is to take to the water.

Because of the shelter provided by the port, the waves at Matosinhos beach are relatively gentle, making it a great place to learn to surf.

You can put your trust in one of the first surfing schools implemented in Portugal with this 90 minute surfing lesson , adjustable for all levels.

You can also get individual attention from your very own tutor on this private surf lesson .

3. Contemplate the Tragedy of the Sea ( Tragédia do Mar ) sculpture

Tragédia do Mar sculptures, consisting of 6 figures, Matosinhos, Portugal

As you walk along the beach look out for this thought-provoking sculpture, a remider of the perils faced by the town’s fishing community. 

December 1st, 1947, was one of the saddest dates for the fishing community of Matosinhos when four fishing trawlers sank, killing 152 fishermen. The Tragedy of the Sea sculpture by José João Brito, inspired by a painting by another Portuguese artist, Augusto Gomes, was inaugurated in 2005 as a tribute to the families and victims of this shipwreck.

4. Admire the architecture of Leixões cruise terminal

Architectural swirling lines of Porto de Leixos, Matsinhos

If contemporary architecture floats your boat, at the far end of Praia de Matosinhos you’ll see the iconic Leixões cruise terminal, a purpose built terminal for ocean-going passenger ships that opened in 2015.

This is where cruise ship passengers disembark for their excursion into Porto (or just to relax on the beach).

Even if you’re not on a cruise, you may wish to spend some time gazing at the pearlescent tiles, swirls and curves of this impressive award-winning building. 

Guided visits take place on Sundays and must be booked in advance by email. See this website for more details.

5. Watch the She Changes , or “ Anêmona ” sculpture

She Changes moving net sculpture, Matosinhos, Portugal

Look along Matosinhos beach to the south and you’ll see this majestic sculpture. Suspended above the roundabout are red nets which symbolise the local area’s fishing heritage.

She Changes was designed by the American artist Janet Echelman in 2005 and has received international awards. It’s affectionately known by the locals as Anêmona because its pulsating form resembles an anemone.

I found it quite mesmerising so do take a little while to watch the way the nets billow in the breeze.

6. Visit a working sardine factory

As the “World’s Best Fish” destination, Matosinhos goes hand-in-hand with the fishing industry, including canning. Not only can you see the fresh catches at the market and taste divine fish in restaurants, you can also learn how important sardines are for the local community by visiting one of the most iconic canning factories.

On this guided tour you’ll be taken around the Conservas Pinhais factory and offered detailed explanations of the cooking and canning processes. Unlike other canning factories that have been turned into museums, this is still very much in operation so you’ll get to see live action as well as taste some of the delicious fish.

7. Discover the area by bike

Besides walking, another alternative to keeping fit is to explore the area on two wheels. Because Porto and Matosinhos are so close to each other, many tours cover both areas.

One is this cycle tour of Porto , which includes a visit to Praia de Matosinhos and Castelo do Queijo as well as the usual Porto sights.

To make things even easier, try this 3-hour electric bike tour which covers the same places.

8. Visit the Sanctuary of Senhor Bom Jesus

Senhor do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos

The Sanctuary of Senhor Bom Jesus is the city’s main monument of architectural, historical and religious significance, although it’s not as impressive as the Bom Jesus sanctuary in Braga .

The original site had a temple and monastery on it but it wasn’t until the 16th century that instructions were given to build a church, with further expansion in the 18th century.

That’s when Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, whose works include Clérigos Tower and Porto Cathedral got involved. He raised the side walls and produced a completely Baroque façade, with the nave and main chapel covered in gilded carvings by the Porto carver Luis Pereira da Costa, some of the best to be seen to this day in Portugal.

The origin of the sanctuary is linked to an intriguing story. According to the legend, a wooden figure of the Senhor do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos was thrown into the sea by Nicodemos in Palestine and turned up Matosinhos in the year 124. However, during its journey it lost an arm and no matter how many skilled craftsmen tried to make a replacement limb, all failed. The figure was placed in the nearby Bouças Monastery under protection. Later, an old lady was busy lighting a fire on the beach close to where the figure was found and was surprised to see a dry branch that kept popping out of the fire. She then realised that the fire-resistant branch was actually the figure’s missing arm.

9. See the Senhor do Padrão monument

Senhor do Padrão monument surrounded by grass, Matosinhos

Standing in a small park close to the corner of the beach is the Senhor do Padrão monument. The arched stone construction marks the spot where, the above-mentioned statue of Senhor do Bom Jesus allegedly washed up on the shore.

This commemorative monument was built in 1758 and was originally completely isolated in the middle of a vast sandy beach, which just goes to show how the land has been reclaimed since then.

10. Go to a fish restaurant

You can find plenty of restaurants dotted all over Matosinhos but I particularly like strolling along Rua Hérois de França, a street full of tempting grilled fish and seafood restaurants.

Choose whichever takes your fancy, although O Lusitano is among the most popular and traditional.

11. Indulge your senses at Mercado de Matosinhos

If you want to experience a local market, the one in Matosinhos is far more authentic than the tourist-oriented Bolhão Market in Porto. It’s full of colour and life, including live animals and a fantastic fish section as well as fruit and veg.

12. Cross the bridge over the Leça River

As you come out of the market you can cross the River Leça via Ponte Móvel de Leça , a movable bridge. This connects Matosinhos with Leça da Palmeira, where you’ll find more beaches and a small marina. There are other attractions on this side of the river, including seawater swimming pools and pretty gardens (see below).

13. Chill out at Praia de Leça / Leça Beach

This is another large beach with a big expanse of sand but with a different vibe to its cousin in Matosinhos. Its stronger waves are ideal for surfing and bodyboarding and it’s very popular amongst young people thanks to various entertainment and late night bars.

There’s plenty of room for everyone but if you’d prefer somewhere to swim calmly and safely, try the adjoining Piscinas de Marés seawater pools.

14. Go for a dip at Piscinas de Marés

Piscina das Marés seawater swimming pools, Leça da Palmeira, Porto. Photography by Julie Dawn Fox

The Piscinas de Marés are a set of saltwater pools that date back to the 1960s. Designed by renowned Portuguese architect, Álvaro Siza Vieira, they have recently undergone renovation to bring them up to date.

It’s a safe place to swim with the added benefit of the Atlantic Ocean just a few feet away, making it a good option for a day trip from Porto .

15. Check out the Boa-Nova Lighthouse (Farol da Boa Nova)

Farol da Boa Nova with buildings at side, in Leça da Palmeira, Matosinhos

Further along the coast you’ll find this fine lighthouse standing 46 metres high and the second highest in Portugal at 57 metres above sea level. Built in 1927, the Boa Nova Lighthouse naturally has fantastic views if you can manage the 225 steps!

There’s also a small museum where you can see various exhibits concerning parts and mechanisms associated with the workings of lighthouses.

Open for visits on Wednesday afternoons.

As you approach the lighthouse you may want to avert your gaze from the defunct oil refinery to the right, an ugly but important part of the industrialisation evident in the area, which is currently being dismantled.

16. Discover little beaches

Sunbathers on the sands and the wooden boardwalk and rocks at Praia Azul, Matosinhos, Portugal

A little further along the coast are two beaches worth visiting, Praia da Senhora da Boa Nova and Praia Azul.

Praia da Senhora da Boa Nova is closest to the lighthouse and small and sheltered, ideal if it’s a little windy.

Praia Azul is a small cove on the other side of the rocky promontory. Its small sandy beach is about 50 m and shaped like a shell. If you fancy a walk beside the ocean, follow the wooden boardwalk north from here to find other, larger beaches.

17. Admire Capela da Boa Nova

Capela da Boa Nova, a small chapel on a rocky promontory near Matosinhos, Portugal

This quaint little chapel occupies the site of an old Franciscan Monastery on the promontory. It was once a hermitage for Franciscan friars who, due to the harsh conditions of the place, relocated to Quinta da Conceição (see below) in 1478.

The grassy area around the chapel enables you to take some quite dramatic photos of the rock formations leading down to the sea.

18. Treat yourself to a meal at Casa de Chá de Boa Nova 

A perfect place for a special lunch or dinner would be this outstanding restaurant designed by the award-winning Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. Built around the rocks, offering amazing views of the ocean, this Michelin-starred restaurant has been classified as a National Monument since 2011.

19. Explore the gardens at Quinta da Conceição & Quinta de Santiago 

Garden of Quinta da Conceição with stone fountain in Matosinhos

Quinta da Conceição has been transformed into a lovely park with shady trees and grassy areas. If you wander around you’ll find porticoes, figures, columns and a small chapel. Once upon a time it was a hermitage for the Franciscan friars who moved from the more challenging location at Boa Nova (see Capela da Boa Nova). These days it’s the perfect place for a relaxing stroll.

A short walk along Rua Vila Franca will bring you to Quinta de Santiago, built originally as a summer house, now a local history museum. You can tour the various floors and get a feel of life in bye-gone eras and a walk around the gardens offers sculptures from various artists. 

Opening times: From April to September Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm

From October to March Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 3pm to 6pm

20. Contemplate the architecture at Nossa Senhora das Neves Fort

This fortress, sometimes known as Leça da Palmeira Fort or Matosinhos Castle, is a well maintained fortification and looks pretty impenetrable. It was part of the defensive line of the city of Porto and, while you can’t visit, its angular lines make for good photos, even though I don’t have any!

21. Take a walk through Parque da Cidade

Winding path through leafy trees, Parque da Cidade, Porto

The famous Parque da Cidade, the largest city park in Portugal, is so big it’s shared between Porto and Matosinhos. It’s a great place to wander through and because of its many entrances it’s easy to explore. You can walk, bike or even park your car nearby if you want to keep your transport options open.

22. Hang out with locals at Fort Castelo do Queijo

Local men playing cards near Castelo do Queijo fortress, Matosinhos

Just off the huge roundabout after leaving the park is Fort Castelo do Queijo or “The Cheese Castle”. The fortress gets its name from the rounded granite rock it was built on, which apparently looks a little like Portuguese cheese.

Officially called the Fortress of São Francisco Xavier, it was originally built to defend Matosinhos from Spanish invaders in the mid-1600s.  You can find a military-historical museum there and a program of cultural and entertainment events, which is open to the general public.

It’s quite a striking building and you get some fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean. On an afternoon, you may also encounter local men playing cards nearby.

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 to 5 pm. Closed Mondays.

23. Explore the underwater world at Sea Life Porto

Sea Life is one of those places where time seems to disappear. Whether it’s walking through an underwater tunnel, discovering thousands of different creatures or learning about sea conservation, this aquatic centre is really well set out and ideal for families.

Ticket prices start from just under €18. Opening times: Monday to Friday 10 am – 6 pm, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 10 am -7 pm.

Where to stay in Matosinhos

Matosinhos hotels.

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

Eurostars Matosinhos

This 4-star hotel with pool, fitness center and sauna is just a few minutes walk from Matosinhos beach. The rooms are bright and spacious and you can start the day with a very good breakfast. You’ll find the staff very friendly and helpful, too. See availability .

Ocean Porto – Beach House

This recently renovated small boutique hotel set in a historical building close to Matosinhos Beach has an outdoor pool and garden. Rooms are nicely designed and warmly decorated and the staff will make you feel welcomed. Book your room now .

Guesthouses in Matosinhos

Mytrip porto.

You can select a room with a garden view or a studio with a terrace at this lovely centrally located guesthouse. Everything is clean with good communication with the hosts. Check for dates .

Brito Capelo 183

The rooms at this stylish and modern guesthouse may be a little on the small side but everything is spotless, with comfy beds and easy check-in. There’s a well equipped kitchen shared with other guests. See availability .

Matosinhos Apartments

Porto sea apartments  .

You get some great sea-views from these apartments, just a stone throw from the beach. Apartments are modern, stylish and spacious and free parking is available onsite. Select your apartment now .

Search Booking.com for other places to stay in Matosinhos.

Over to you. Please share your thoughts in a comment. Cancel reply

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portugal travel things to do

Top 25 Adventurous Things to Do in Portugal for 2024

  • Updated on: April 9, 2022

This article may contain affiliate.  For more information, please see our disclaimer  here.

Table of Contents

Although Portugal exudes elegance like other western European countries, it’s a mecca for adventure. Prized for its rocky coastline and tropical islands, Portugal beckons thrill-seekers from around the world. And we experienced Portugal’s adventures on a life-changing road trip through the country. 

Not only does Portugal have sunny beaches and fantastic hikes, but it’s a thrilling spot for kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling as well. Whether you prefer land or sea excursions, Portugal has plenty of options for adrenaline junkies. 

To get you started, we’ve gathered our favorite 25 adventurous things to do in Portugal. From the craggy cliffs of the Algarve to the volcanic Azores, find the perfect activities to include on your Portugal adventures bucket list. 

Video: Best Things To Do In Portugal

Things to do in Algarve & Faro

Benagil Portugal

Famous for its rugged cliffs, sandy coves, and hidden caves, the Algarve attracts lovers of the sea. Kayaking, stand-up paddling, and boat tours are the only ways to access breathtaking sections of the Algarve coast. But don’t underestimate the raw beauty of the inland mountainous landscapes and rural villages, as they offer a beautiful setting for plenty of things to do in Portugal. 

1. Benagil: Benagil Caves Kayaking Experience

  • Duration – 2 hours
  • Important – This is the only experience to get out of your kayak inside Benagil Cave

Kayak along the rugged Algarve coast to explore the mysterious caves of Benagil. The excursion takes you inside multiple big and small caves and makes a pit stop at Golden Beach of Marinha. As you enter Benagil Cave, your guide explains its formation and life inside the ancient natural wonder. 

2. Half-Day Jeep Safari of the Algarve

  • Duration – 4 hours 
  • Important – If you’re staying between Praia da Luz and Quinta do Lago, your booking includes hotel pickup and drop-off. 

Buckle up and discover the Algarve by land on this epic jeep safari. Travel around the countryside in a 4WD vehicle to view mountainous landscapes and rural villages. Cross streams, meander down narrow roads and taste local products that include jams, liquors, and organic produce. 

3. From Albufeira: Half-Day Off-Road Quad Tour

  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Important – A security deposit of €100 is required for the booking. 

The off-road adventures continue, and this quad tour tackles the rugged terrain of the Algarve countryside. Swerve along rural trails, immerse yourself in the scenic beauty, and visit historic sights on the way. With your guide’s help, you’ll see the 12th-century Paderne Castle and the village’s still-functioning windmills.

4. 2-Hour Dolphin Watching and Cave Tour: Algarve Coast

  • Important – Dolphin sightings aren’t guaranteed since they’re in their natural environment. 

Watching dolphins is a unique thing to do in Portugal. So, board a luxury boat to explore the Algarve coast from the high seas and attempt to spot playful dolphins. Your vessel sails through caves, around jagged rock formations, and offers spectacular views of the Algarve. When you get the chance to swim, keep your eyes peeled for the dolphins who live in these waters. 

Must Read: The Perfect 10 Day Road Trip Itinerary from Lisbon to Porto

5. Algarve 3-Hour Windsurfing Lesson

  • Duration – 4 hours
  • Important – June, July, and August are the windiest months for the best conditions. 

Learning to windsurf is one of the most exciting things to do in Portugal, and this lesson with qualified instructors helps you master the basics. From the lagoon in Alvor, you’ll learn windsurfing exercises and riding downwind and upwind. Whether it’s your first time or have previous experience, the instructors tailor the lesson to your skills.   

6. Algarve: Stand-Up Paddleboard Adventure from Sagres

Stand up paddle Algarve - Portugal

  • Duration – 3.5 hours
  • Important – The tour isn’t suitable for those who can’t swim. 
  • Book your tour here

Head to the hidden grottos of the southwest Algarve and learn how to stand-up paddleboard from a certified instructor. Boats are unable to access these secret beaches, and it’s a fantastic spot to see wildlife. Leap from craggy cliffs, paddle inside caves, or swim with fish in this idyllic setting.

7. Carvoeiro: Benagil Caves Paddle-Boarding Tour

  • Important – Drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen before departure since you’ll be on the water for 2 hours. 

If you’ve mastered the SUP basics, return to the Benagil Caves via your stand-up paddleboard. With instructors by your side, you’ll meander down the coast to view its immense cliffs, eerie caves, and spotless beaches. The tour makes several stops inside the Algar of Benagil to marvel at the breathtaking landscapes. 

Things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon - Things to do Portugal

As the proud capital of Portugal, Lisbon boasts many of the country’s most historic attractions. But for thrill-seekers, the beauty lies in the sandy coastline and verdant hills just outside the city. Lisbon provides a perfect base many things to do in Portugal, like boat cruises, surfing trips, and hiking expeditions. 

Check out: 25 Incredible Things to Do in Lisbon for Outdoor Lovers

8. Lisbon: 2-Hour Sunset Cruise by Vintage Sailboat

  • Important – The meeting point for the cruise is at Gate 2 of the Belém Dock.

Board a gorgeous sailboat and view Lisbon’s top sights while cruising the Tagus River. Beneath a dreamy sunset, your vessel sails past the Jeronimos Monastery, Belém Tower, São Jorge Castle, and other historic structures. To complement your cruise, the crew offers Portuguese snacks and a glass of wine.

9. Sesimbra: Coasteering Adventure in Arrábida Natural Park

  • Duration – 4 to 5 hours
  • Important – Make sure you bring waterproof athletic shoes, a towel, and change of clothes. 

Arrábida Natural Park is the place to be for adrenaline junkies, and this coasteering tour offers a bag of thrills. From the Sesimbra coast, the activity requires walking, swimming, rappelling, and rock climbing. The emerald waters, protected coves, and rocky embankments make this the perfect spot for a coasteering adventure. 

Check out: The Absolute Must Read Cycling in Portugal Guide

10. Costa da Caparica: Surf Experience

Arrábida Natural Park - Portugal things to do

  • Duration – 2 to 4 hours
  • Important – Meet your guide at the Praia da Mata restaurant in Costa da Caparica.

We can’t list adventurous things to do in Portugal without surfing, and this tour helps you discover the best surf spots near Lisbon. With the stunning Caparica coastline as your backdrop, ride the roaring Atlantic Ocean waves. An expert instructor is available to help you find the right surfboard and the swells suitable for your skill level. 

11. From Lisbon: Hiking Tour Along the West Coastline

  • Duration – 7 hours
  • Important – The average length of the hike is 14 km (8.7 miles). 

Lace up your hiking boots and climb the rugged cliffs near Lisbon for dramatic views of the sea. As you trek along the coastline, spot golden beaches, rock pools, and fossilized dinosaur footprints. The well-marked path on the Lisbon coast is full of wildlife, colorful wildflowers, and heart-racing vistas. 

Things to do in Porto

Porto - Portugal things to do

While Porto is renowned for its port wine, the coastal city sits near one of Portugal’s grandest national parks. Peneda-Gerês National Park boasts crystal-clear lagoons, forested valleys, and dreamy lakes for unforgettable adventures. The diverse landscapes host off-road tours, kayaking excursions, and canyoning trips for the ages, so get ready for some adventurous things to do in Portugal! 

12. From Porto: Off-Road Buggy Adventure

  • Important – Bring your driver’s license and Passport/ID Card. 

Drive through the majestic mountains of Serras do Porto Natural Park in this off-road expedition. Your journey transports you to Castromil’s gold mines and the Castro Mozinho Roman ruins for a Portuguese history lesson. Before exploring the rural Quintandona Village, you’ll taste delicious local snacks to recharge. 

Must Read: The Best Portugal Hiking Guide

13. From Porto: Peneda-Gerês Park 4×4 Tour with Lunch

  • Duration – 11 hours
  • Important – Bring swimwear and adequate hiking shoes for 2-4 easy/moderate hikes. 

An off-road adventure in a 4×4 vehicle is the perfect thing to do in the Peneda-Gerês national park of Portugal. This Park is the largest national park of the country and paradise for nature lovers. After a 90-minute drive from Porto, you’ll be moments away from green lagoons, cascading waterfalls, and rugged mountains. 

14. Peneda-Gerês National Park: Kayak & Waterfall Trek w/ Lunch

Peneda-Gerês Hike - Portugal

  • Duration – 10 hours
  • Important – Pack your sunscreen, swimwear, a towel, and comfortable walking shoes. 

Sticking with Peneda-Gerês National Park, this kayaking excursion lets you paddle the park’s serene waters. After lounging on a sandy beach, sample Portuguese cuisine and wine while gazing at Rio Cavado. Cap off your adventure by chasing waterfalls, soaking in a crystal-clear lagoon, and wandering a rural village. 

15. From Oporto: Gerês National Park Canyoning Tour

  • Duration – 6 hours
  • Important – You must pass the Tobogã Canyoning Middle-Level course to advance to the next difficulty level. 

If you have limited time in Gerês National Park, get your adrenaline pumping by rappelling through rocky canyons and rushing river channels of Portugal. Make daring leaps into swimming holes, race through chutes, and feel crashing waterfalls around you. Some of the rappels reach heights of 60 meters (197 feet), and this challenge will push any thrill-seeker to the brink. 

Things to do in Madeira

Madeira - Portugal

Situated on the northwest coast of Africa, Madeira is a four-island archipelago with immense diversity. From its rocky coastline and sandy beaches to rare laurel forests, Madeira enchants each visitor. There are plenty of things to do on this Portuguese island. Off-road tours tackle its mountainous terrain, while canyoning trips help you navigate cascading waterfalls.

16. Quinta do Lorde: Swimming with Dolphins

  • Duration – 2.5 hours
  • Important – Bring swimwear, a towel, and change of clothes. 

Madeira Island boasts a playground of waterfalls, swimming pools, and natural water slides for canyoners. Before you reach the canyoning spot, hike through the untouched beauty of Madeira’s forested mountains. After rappelling down plunging waterfalls, go for a refreshing swim in its sparkling pools.

17. Madeira Island: 5-Hour Guided Mountain Bike Tour

  • Duration – 5 hours
  • Important – The difficulty of the tour will vary based on your technical skills and average daily distance. 

One of the things to do in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira is to explore the island on two wheels by racing down mountain slopes and through laurel forests. As you ride towards the sea, admire the subtropical flora carpeting the landscape. If you’re a skilled rider, you can choose a single-track path for a more challenging thrill. 

18. Madeira: Level-1 Canyoning Adventure

Canyoning Adventure Madeira

  • Important – It will be at the guide’s discretion if the sea conditions and dolphins’ behavior let you swim safely. 

Head to Ponta se Sao Lourenco for the rare chance to swim with dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. You’ll remain connected to your vessel as you jump into the water with these adorable creatures. And for a memory to place in your scrapbook, the guide will snap photos of you swimming with the dolphins.

Check out: Best Travel Insurance for Adventure and Extreme Sports

19. Madeira: Half-Day Off-Road Buggy Tour

  • Important – Since the tour takes place rain or shine, bring waterproof shoes for the ride. 

Explore Madeira’s mountainous terrain by going on a 4×4 adventure with a trained guide. With a GoPro handy, snap epic photos and videos of Madeira’s most scenic viewpoints and majestic birds. The highlight will be the 580-meter (1,903ft) Cabo Girão Seacliff, the tallest in Europe. 

20. Porto Santo: Private Snorkeling Tour

  • Important – Bring swimwear and a towel for your snorkeling excursion. 

Wander the depths of Porto Santo and discover fascinating underwater species in this Marine Protected Area. The natural pool showcases a bevy of creatures at low tide, including starfish, octopus, and moray eel. Your guide will educate you about the ecosystem as you get up close and personal with marine life. 

Things to do in the Azores

Azores - Portugal

The Azores sit in the mid-Atlantic, but those who venture to this isolated archipelago of Portugal will witness unbelievable volcanic landscapes. São Miguel features some of the most dramatic sights with its crater lakes, sea cliffs, and colorful wildflowers. From scuba diving to crater rim hikes, the Azores provide plenty of things to do to top your Portugal bucket list.

21. From Ponta Delgada: Sete Cidades Kayak & Bike Adventure

  • Important – The tour operates with a four person minimum, so bring a group of friends or family on this excursion. 

Explore Lagoa das Sete Cidades from the land and water on this combined kayaking and cycling trip. Whether you want a guide or go by yourself, appreciate the stunning beauty of the emerald lake. Start by kayaking across the sparkling waters, then hop on your bike to pedal around the crater. 

22. São Miguel: Sete Cidades and Crater Lakes Hike

  • Duration – 8 hours
  • Important – Bring rain gear and a waterproof backpack in case of showers. 

If you prefer a hike, this guided trek escorts you across the crater for remarkable vistas of the crater lakes. The hike makes pit stops at the Grota do Inferno and Vista do Rei viewpoints before you overlook the crater at Miradouro das Cumeeiras. After a filling lunch at Sete Cidades, you can soak in thermal pools or swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

Must Read: 8 Incredible Road Trips in Europe – Especially for Adventurers

23. Sao Miguel: Vila Franca Do Campo Islet Scuba Diving

  • Important – Pickup and drop-off isn’t included with the tour. 

Scuba diving inside this volcanic crater is sure to be among the most epic things to do in Portugal. After a brief tutorial from your divemaster, plunge into the crater and find cannons from the 16th century. As you explore the deep-blue waters, discover the colorful marine life living amongst the wreckage.

24. Ponta Delgada: Full-Day Hiking Tour to Sete Cidades

Portugal - Azores

  • Important – If rough waters prevent you from the post-hike swim, the thermal spa is an alternative for a separate cost. 

On this 11 km (6.8 miles) hike, explore the rim of the Sete Cidades volcanic crater for sensational views of the lake. Marvel at the lush landscapes of São Miguel, wander into the peaceful Sete Cidades Village and view colorful wildflowers. After your hike, enjoy a relaxing soak in the volcanic waters in Ferraria to ease your legs. 

25. São Miguel: Caldeirões Canyoning Experience

  • Duration – 3 to 5 hours
  • Important – Pickup service is available from Ponta Delgada, Capelas, Lagoa and Ribeira Grande.

Head to Parque da Ribeira dos Caldeirões for the exhilarating thrill of canyoning through untouched Azorean landscapes. As you navigate the rushing streams, you’ll perform jumps, slides, and rappels to navigate the terrain. It’s a 20-35 minute hike to reach the starting point, and you have the option of including a picnic. 

What is the best month to go to Portugal?

Each season offers different experiences and things to see, so there’s really no wrong time to go cycling. 

While winter is the coldest time of the year, you can still expect clear skies and mild temperatures, especially in the south. The Algarve is generally much warmer and drier compared to areas in the north, so it’s a great place to start your bike tour if you’re planning a winter getaway.

Depending on the region, summers can be very warm. Central Portugal tends to be hot and humid, while the coast is generally cooler and perfect for biking or hiking. 

Autumn is also a great time to visit Portugal. Not only have the crowds and tourists returned back home from summer break, but the weather is still pleasantly warm. On the other hand, this is the start of the rainy season (especially in the north), and unpredictable weather can put a damper on your trip.

Weather Lisbon all year around

How much does it cost to travel around portugal.

I would say the prices are lower if you compare them with countries like the Netherlands and Scandinavia, so it’s not expensive! However you know there are always ways to keep the costs as low as possible, to give you and idea here some examples.

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Things to do Portugal (1)

These were our choices for the top 25 adventurous things to do in Portugal. Are you ready to discover more about Portugal? Check out our Portugal Travel Guide for more travel inspiration!

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14 things Portugal locals want you to know before you visit

Regis St. Louis

Feb 25, 2024 • 7 min read

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Learn how to act like a local in Portugal by following these key tips © AnnaTamila / Shutterstock

Many years ago, as a young backpacker, I made plenty of mistakes when traveling around Portugal – from trying to see everything on one trip to indulging in free appetizers that weren’t really free. 

Since becoming both an honorary Lisboeta (Lisbon resident) and Tripeiro (Porto dweller), I have learned some essentials about the country. From the best methods for getting around to wardrobe essentials. Here are the key tips to help you make the most out of your trip to Portugal.

Don’t try to see it all in one trip

Portugal is a small country – roughly the size of the state of Indiana in North America and slightly larger than Scotland. But there’s a lot to see here , from hilltop villages in the Alentejo to remote UNESCO World Heritage sites , not to mention over 100 beaches in the Algarve. A rookie mistake is trying to see all of Portugal during one visit. Even if you have a few weeks to spare, you won’t be able to visit everything in this diverse country. Instead, pick one or two regions and focus your trip there, allowing yourself time to see both highlights as well as local markets, vineyards and other less-visited attractions. 

Famous arch at the Praca do Comercio, Lisbon, Portugal

Decide where to go

The mountains, the seaside, cobblestone-lined city streets? Portugal has plenty of options when it comes to travel. With a week at your disposal, you can combine a bit of urban adventure with scenic getaways nearby. If you have Lisbon in mind, you can spend several days there, along with day trips to Cascais , Sintra and the beach-dotted Setúbal Peninsula , or spend a couple of days in Évora or on the lovely Alentejo coastline. 

A great northern itinerary combines Porto with some vineyard visits along the picturesque Douro River . Beach lovers might skip city life altogether and spend their time in the Algarve , checking out cliff-backed beaches, hidden coves and quiet fishing villages. If you have something more active in mind, plan a hiking outing in the mountains of the Serra da Estrela , which you can pair with time spent exploring craggy villages like Manteigas and Linhares, as well as the university town of Coimbra . 

Book your accommodation well in advance 

Portugal’s growing popularity means some of the best places to stay get booked up months in advance. This is especially true if you’re traveling in the peak months of June through August .  Once you have your itinerary organized, reserve your lodging. If you’re traveling off-season (November through March), you’ll have much more flexibility – so you can book your first few nights and plan your other nights on the go. 

Lower your carbon footprint by traveling on trains and buses

You can go green by ditching the car and getting around by public transportation. Portugal has a decent train network that connects major cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and Faro. Buses help fill in the gaps to smaller towns across the country. Service has expanded in recent years, particularly in the south, where the new Vamus Algarve covers just about every part of the Algarve, from tiny beach villages on the central coast to the soaring sea cliffs near Sagres . Skipping the car rental also means you won't have to hassle with parking, toll roads and heavy traffic, among other things.     

Bica Funcilar on the street of Lisbon old town, Portugal

Don’t bother taking a taxi from the airport

Speaking of trains and buses, as soon as you arrive, you can save money and cut down on CO2 emissions by hopping on public transport from the airport. Portugal’s three international airports all have good options for whisking you into town. The Lisbon metro’s linha vermelha (red line) can get you into the center, as can the speedy Aerobus, while Porto’s metro (violet line E) runs from the airport to the heart of town. From Faro airport in the south, you can take the Vamus Algarve Aerobus, which shuttles into Faro and also to the key towns of Albufeira , Lagoa, Portimão and Lagos .

Remember the cardinal rule of dining in Portugal: nothing is free 

Servers often bring bread, butter, olives and even cheese or other appetizers to diners before their meal. Keep in mind that these unordered items will always be added to your bill if you choose to partake. If you don’t want them, just send them away – a polite "no thank you" ( não obrigado/a ) will do the job. Prices for couvert range from €2 per person and upwards. 

Bring a few smart-casual outfits 

Shorts are fine on the beach, but if you wear them around the city, you’ll quickly brand yourself as a tourist. At nicer restaurants, bars and nightclubs, you’ll want to follow the local lead and dress things up a bit.

Old city houses over Douro river and many tourists having lunch at outdoor restaurant

Become an expert on tipping etiquette

At restaurants in Portugal, many locals don’t tip at all or simply round up when paying for a meal. In more tourist-oriented establishments, a tip is more common – usually around 10% – and may even be added as a service charge. Tipping is not expected in cafes or bars. However, if you’re in a fancy high-end place, you should plan on tipping (along the lines of €1 for a specialty cocktail). Rounding up the fare is also common practice when taking a taxi or rideshare. 

Bring your own bag to the market 

Portugal has huge markets where you can see stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as charcuterie, cheeses, olives, bakery items and other fare. Amid such culinary largesse, you can assemble a first-rate picnic, just be sure to bring your own bag to the market. You might want to throw in a corkscrew so you’re always prepared to pop open a bottle of vinho verde , an Alentejo red and other good-value Portuguese wines. 

Rear View Of  Woman On Railing By Sea

Pack sturdy shoes

Even if you limit your travels to the city, you’ll want to have good shoes. You’ll find steep streets, loose cobblestones and uneven sidewalks in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and many other towns. Save the heels and dress shoes for nicer restaurants and nightclubs. Good shoes will also come in handy when you want to take a walk beyond the town. Across the country, Portugal has some magnificent hikes , like the stunning clifftop trail of Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos – not difficult to do, but you need proper footwear. 

Dress modestly when visiting churches

Save the shorts, short skirts and tank tops for the beach – keep things covered up when visiting the cathedrals ( Sés ) and monasteries of Portugal.

And don’t forget to throw in the swimsuit 

No matter where you roam in Portugal, you’re never far from the beach or a sparkling inland lake or river. Porto and Lisbon both have lovely beaches within easy reach of the city center, while remote corners of Portugal – like Peneda-Gerês National Park have waterfalls and natural pools. It would be a mistake not to bring your swimsuit, even if you think you won’t need it.   

Learn some Portuguese and use it

Outside of Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, you might encounter people with limited English. For smooth sailing, it helps to learn some Portuguese. If nothing else, locals appreciate the effort to speak their language, however rudimentary your accent. When entering a room, it’s polite to say " bom dia " (good day) or " boa tarde " (good afternoon) to those around you.

Be mindful of petty crime 

Portugal is generally a safe country to visit with a low overall crime rate – violent crime is extremely rare. Pickpocketing and bag-snatching are the main concerns to keep in mind, especially when traveling on the trams and metro in Lisbon or Porto. Avoid moving around during the crowded peak times, and don’t zone out on your phone. At night, be cautious walking around empty streets wherever you are: you’re better off taking a taxi. 

Car break-ins can also happen, and rental vehicles are sometimes targeted. Don’t leave anything of value in your car, and it's best not to leave luggage or other items in the trunk/boot of your vehicle (yet another good reason to embrace public transportation). 

This article was first published August 2022 and updated February 2024

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Portugal

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portugal travel things to do

Moving to Portugal from the US requires a lot of planning and logistics. One important question to consider before you go is whether you will ship some of your belongings to Portugal via a shipping container. The answer for many people is a resounding YES! But then the next question is: how am I going to do it? And how much will it cost? We’ve created a guide below that will walk you through the basics of what to consider when shipping your things from the US to Portugal.

portugal travel things to do

What should I bring to Portugal?

The short answer here is that shipping your things abroad is expensive and requires detailed planning and coordination. You could hire someone to do all of this for you. Maybe you have a family member that you trust to go through all of your things. But a key piece of advice is to first go through your things and take the Marie Kondo approach. If something you own does not spark joy, you should seriously consider giving it away, donating it, or getting rid of it instead of paying to ship it to Portugal. Downsize, downsize, downsize before moving on to the shipping part of the equation. Do you really still need these things in your life?

Which shipping company should I use?

There are a number of shipping companies to consider when sending your stuff over to Portugal. Some of these include BRLogistics , Schumacher Cargo Logistics , PSS International Removals . Due to its high-quality reviews, specialization in self-pack international moving and shipping, and strong presence in the US, Canada, and the UK, we will focus on a company called UPakWeShip for the purposes of our guiding you through the shipping process.   

How long will it take for my stuff to get to Portugal?

Many shipping companies will quote 2-6 weeks, but it can actually take much longer. With all of the disruptions to shipping routes and issues with supply chains these days, your container may take as long as 3-4 months to arrive. Given this, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure that you bring your most important possessions with you on the flight over to Portugal. What do you absolutely need for those first couple of months and will it be enough to be comfortable while you wait?  

Please note that this is never a one-size-fits-all approach, and you will need to do some of your own research to ensure that your shipment reaches your new home in Portugal safely and securely.   

The shipping process

1. get your shipping quote.

Head to the UPakWeShip homepage and click “Ship to the US” at the top. You will need to get your quote based on the US State that you want to ship from.

Let’s use NY as an example. Please note that if your address is greater than 31 miles from the UPakWeShip transit center, you will need to pay about $300 more. You will also need to choose between two different services: U-Crate or Pallet.

  • With U-Crate services, you will be sent a crate in advance. When you are ready, UPakWeShip will collect it and ship it to your curbside overseas. With pallet services, you will provide your own pallet.
  • For an idea about the price differential between crate vs. pallet, we selected the U-CRATE 50, which has a total shipment volume of 50 cubic feet, dimensions of Length: 45 ”/Width: 45 ”/Height: 44,” and a maximum weight of 500 lbs per U-CRATE 50. We received a quote for the U-CRATE 50 of $2,453.

portugal travel things to do

  • For a small pallet, the cubic feet and maximum weight are the same as the U-CRATE 50 but with dimensions of Length: 48 ”/Width: 40 ”/Height: Up To  45.” We received a quote for the small pallet of $2,103 – $350 cheaper than the U-CRATE.

portugal travel things to do

If you don’t know your shipping address in Portugal, you can just put in XXX and update your address later. Please note that UPakWeShip will also need a minimum of two weeks in advance to arrange everything for a move.

Once you order your crate or pallet, you will be asked to pay a refundable deposit and sign a contract. You will also be asked to create an account and be assigned a booking number that you will use throughout the process when you have questions for the company and fill out your labels. UPakWeShip will also provide you with a dedicated shipping coordinator that will help you with everything from customs document preparation to packing tips.

2. Stage your crate

Before your crate gets picked up, you’re going to need to carefully prepare for the pick-up by “staging” your crate. In other words, you’re going to need to measure the dimensions of the crate or pallet and pretend that it is already in your home. We recommend drawing a rectangle on the floor and wall using masking tape to give you an idea of the space that you will have for your things. Even if your bins are empty at the beginning, you can still practice packing within the dimensions to make sure that you have space for everything. Watch packing videos from UPakWeShip to help you see the best way to pack your things.

3. Prepare your packing list

You will need to prepare a detailed packing list for shipping. Here is a tutorial on how to do this. There is also an app that will help, but please speak with your shipping coordinator to ensure that you are using the latest version.

Keep in mind that there are many items that are not allowed for international shipping .

If you have doubts, please contact your shipping coordinator. Also, keep in mind that any last-minute items will need to be added to an existing bin or box. Once you have submitted your packing list, you cannot add any new bins/boxes/items.

There are also weight limits for each pallet or crate, as mentioned earlier in the “Get your shipping quote” section. Excess weight fees of $2.00/lb will be incurred. Check with your UPakWeShip representative if you are unsure. We recommend estimating the approximate of each bin and then multiplying it by the number of bins, or alternatively weighing everything as you go.  

Should I take photos of my stuff?

Finally, take photos of everything you pack per bin. This could be a lifesaver later if you need to file an insurance claim. Also, keep all email correspondence from UPackWeShip. You never know when you will need it along the way.

4. Prepare your labels

For the U-CRATE 50, you will receive a pallet box top and bottom, metal straps, fabric cinch straps, heavy-duty cardboard sides, and a plastic sleeve. Now, you can start packing!

Once you know how many total bins and boxes you will need, you will also need to prepare your labels. UPakWeShip will provide a label-generator template to help you label all of your single items and bins/boxes.

Before you even start creating these labels, get the grand total of how many pieces (single items that need labels + bins/boxes) you have. This should only be done after you have staged your crate and are confident in exactly how your pieces are going to fit into your crate/pallet. After you determine the grand total of pieces, label each item as follows: Box 1 of [Grand Total # You Have].

Attach one label per item, but we recommend putting one label on each side of each box/bin so that customs can see the label from any side of an item if they want to inspect it. You may also want to use stretch film to keep all boxes together and ensure as little movement as possible for your items once they have been packed

It is crucial to state here that the numbers on your labels for each item MUST correspond to the numbers on your packing list. Double- and triple-check this so that you make it as easy as possible for customs. The last thing you want is for further delays in your shipping process. Imagine planning a trip outside of Portugal only to be told that your crate has been rescheduled to be delivered right in the middle of your trip.  

Your packing list and label templates will only be provided once you create an account and become an official customer of UPakWeShip by signing a contract. You will not be able to find these items online.

portugal travel things to do

Do I need insurance?

It is important to mention shipping insurance here. UPakWeShip can provide you with insurance. It is also possible to add insurance after you book to make sure that you get the proper coverage for the specific items in your shipment.  

5. Loading the final crate/pallet for pick-up day

When your crate/pallet is picked up, it must be on hard ground so it can be collected with a pallet jack and tail lift truck. A garage, driveway, or curbside is usually the best location to use as your packing location rather than inside the house since pallets and crates are larger than the doors of typical homes.  

6. Tracking your shipment’s progress

You can track your progress through UPakWeShip’s online portal. You will also receive an email once your shipment is on its way including the name of the shipping line. Your shipment will go through customs in Rotterdam, Netherlands and then a local company will contact you to arrange for delivery to your Portuguese residence.

A Certificado de Bagagem (Baggage Certificate) is not needed for your shipment. Once your crate clears customs, it will be delivered via truck to Portugal.

portugal travel things to do

7. Your shipment finally arrives in Portugal

You do not have to be physically present to receive your shipment in Portugal. However, if you arrange for someone to accept the delivery on your behalf, they must be at least 18 years old and be able to provide a Portuguese phone number, as the delivery company will only phone a Portuguese number to arrange the delivery date. You also need to give the name of this person to your UPakWeShip customer service representative in advance.

Before your crate/pallet arrives, it is a good idea to hire someone in advance to help with unloading if you think you’ll need it. The driver may not want to help you beyond opening the back of the truck. It may be ideal to hire at least one person, or even a crew, to help you unload once your crate arrives. Of course, this depends on the size of your shipment.

What do I do with all of those moving boxes and bins?

Last but not least, you must properly dispose of the pallet and any related cardboard on your own. You may also not want to keep all of your bins and boxes that came in your shipment. The easiest way to get rid of these when you are still new to a community is to either contact the local disposal company or try to get rid of your bins using local expat groups on Facebook.

Final Thoughts

To truly make your new place in Portugal feel like a home, it’s important to bring your most cherished possessions from the US. Having that special piece of artwork or antique furniture as part of your new life in Portugal will make a world of difference in making you feel comfortable—and it’s certainly not all going to fit in your suitcase. We hope that this brief guide will ease some of the pain that making a big move can incur. Remember, this is one of the hardest parts of the move. Once you get set up with all of your treasured belongings, your Portuguese adventure can truly begin!

portugal travel things to do

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Travel | Travel: Alaska is ready for another…

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Travel | travel: alaska is ready for another record-breaking cruise season.

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Alaska is home to more than 30,000 grizzlies, but the state’s cruise industry is experiencing anything but a bear market as momentum of last year’s record-breaking season is expected to continue in 2024.

Looking at the most-visited Alaskan port as a proxy for the ship-shape southeastern side of the state, Juneau set a new mark a year ago with 1.65 million passengers descending on the capital city during cruise season, which generally runs from early April to late October. That figure from the Juneau Chamber of Commerce is a Danali-sized jump of 30% compared to the previous mark set in pre-pandemic 2019.

Coinciding with Alaska’s 65th anniversary of statehood, the upcoming cruise season appears to be just as robust with 19 cruise lines sending 43 ships to the Last Frontier. Kicking things off for the second straight year is the 4,008-passenger Norwegian Bliss, which is scheduled to dock in rustic Skagway on April 8. With four mainstream-category ships homeported in either Seattle or Vancouver, Norwegian Cruise Line ( ncl.com ) has nearly 100 more after that. Impressive, but two competing companies have staked out larger claims in this modern-day, maritime Alaskan gold rush; Holland America Line ( hollandamerica.com ) is sending seven premium-class ships for 141 total cruises, and at the top of the totem pole is Princess Cruises ( princess.com ), which is celebrating its 55th year in these waters with seven premium ships sharing 158 departures.

Rafting alongside Mendenhall Glacier is a chance-of-a-lifetime adventure for many. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Not counting grand voyages with itineraries so rich that they make a visit to Alaska seem more like a pitstop, this cruise season will see more than 800 trips of mostly seven to 10 days starting or ending on this side of the Pacific. Where they’re all going is a destination rich in unparallel wilderness, wildlife and native culture. In other words, bucket list stuff.

“Alaska is one of those places that draws you in and sets the hook right away,” said Kristi Switzer, destination marketing manager for Travel Juneau ( traveljuneau.com ). “Visitors come for the otherworldly experience of being in the presence of glaciers and fjords, seeing whales and bears, and finding the balance of Alaska Native cultural heritage with the rustic sophistication found in the capital city and other places within this magnificent state.”

Sometimes just seeing a whale's tail is a win when on an Alaskan tour. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Although Switzer recommends visits lasting several days instead of several hours, the city’s destination evangelist hopes that a partial day in Juneau and each major Alaskan cruise port has over 1.5 million passengers wanting more.

“This magical corner of the world has so much to offer beyond being a checkmark on people’s bucket lists,” she said. “Make time to enjoy the fascinating culture, spectacular outdoor recreation, unique shopping, amazing restaurants and artist galleries that Juneau and all of Southeast Alaska have to offer.”

Walking on a glacier is one of the more exciting shore excursions Alaska has to offer. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Alaska is a checkmark for about three-quarters of all passengers headed there, according to the Alaska Tourism Industry Association, and the same can be said for two ships this season.

Starting with a six-day sail out of Vancouver on May 11, the namesake of Celebrity Cruises’ ( celebritycruises.com ) popular Edge class will make her Alaskan debut with weeklong roundtrips from Seattle through Sept. 13. The 2,918-passenger vessel features a unique “outside-in” architecture that provides more floor-to-ceiling glass on the exterior and expanded outdoor spaces to soak up the Alaskan coastlines.

Skagway, a popular cruise port, is the northernmost point in Alaska's Inside Passage. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Edge will be joined by a pair of fleet mates for the season, albeit Summit’s seven-day roundtrips are turnarounds out of Anchorage or Vancouver and Solstice’s weeklong jaunts are solely based in the British Columbian seaport. Celebrity, a premier-category cruise line, meaning it’s between the economical mainstream class and pricy luxury level, has 57 departures to Alaska scheduled this year.

The other new recruit is Silver Nova, the youngest Silversea Cruises ( silversea.com ) ship in the luxury fleet to ever service Alaska. Capped at 728 guests, Silver Nova was launched last year and has the goods to do justice to a dreamlike place that captures the imagination of wilderness lovers and history buffs.

“Silver Nova is the ideal ship for Alaska cruising,” said company spokesman Brad Ball. “Her innovative design, which prizes openness over symmetry and incorporates an unprecedented use of approximately 4,000 square meters of glass, immerses guests into the incredible scenery of Alaska from virtually all venues and suites, with far-reaching views at every turn.”

While in Skagway, let happy and hard-working sled dogs take you on a spin around Musher's Camp. (Photo by David Dickstein)

The ship’s reimagined pool deck, which overlooks the water on her starboard side, and all-new outdoor venues — the Dusk Bar and the Marquee — allows unique openness to view spectacular Alaskan glaciers and wildlife. Those who want to experience an older and smaller Evolution-class Silversea vessel can book the Silver Muse, which also will sail mostly seven- to 14-day trips between Anchorage and Vancouver.

Because nearly every Alaskan cruise includes the staples — Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, and Denali with a land add-on — some cruise lines like to shake things up with unique itineraries.

Holland America has a roundtrip that makes it easy to visit the 49th and 50th states without a long flight. A new “Glaciers & Volcanos: Alaska to Hawaii” cruise, part of the premium line’s Legendary Voyages collection of journeys from 25 to 59 days, departs on Aug. 31 from Seattle or Sept. 1 from Vancouver aboard the 1,916-passenger Westerdam. The near-four-week-long itinerary includes seldomly visited Kodiak and Dutch Harbor before heading down to the tropics to make four calls to three Hawaiian islands.

Seabourn ( seabourn.com ) strives to offer a more tasteful Alaskan cruise and not only because it’s an ultra-luxury cruise line. “Caviar on the Ice” is a savory and swanky soiree on every Alaskan voyage, and when the 450-passenger Odyssey is in Sitka, a town originally built by Russian traders in the early 1800s, Seabourn guests can enjoy a culinary adventure that includes a scenic drive to a taproom for a sampling of local brews and a few eateries to try Siberian-rooted pelmeni dumplings and a hot dog made with caribou that the locals call “reindeer dawgs.” Sorry, vegetarians and friends of Santa, but Blitzen on a bun is da bomb.

Red Onion Saloon, a former bordello built in 1898, is a top attraction in historic Skagway. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Carnival Cruise Line ( carnival.com ) is staying with a three-ship deployment in Alaska this season. Sharing the workload of 55 roundtrips generally lasting seven to 11 days are Carnival Spirit (2,610 passengers) and Carnival Luminosa (2,260) out of Seattle, and Carnival Miracle (2,667) from San Francisco. Another mainstream cruise line, Royal Caribbean ( royalcaribbean.com ), has four ships making 85 runs to Alaska from Seattle, Vancouver and Anchorage: Ovation of the Seas, (4,905) and older sister Quantum of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas (2,543) and Radiance of the Seas (2,466).

Disney Cruise Line ( disneycruise.com ) is sending its 2,700-passenger Disney Wonder out of Vancouver for 15 week-long roundtrips, one five-day spin leaving on July 24 and an extended nine-day voyage on July 15.

Other cruise lines showing passengers a whale of a time in Alaska include Crystal, Cunard, Hurtigruten, Lindblad/National Geographic, Oceania, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas and Viking.

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24 top things to do in las vegas with kids.

Keep kids happy and entertained with these activities in and around Las Vegas.

24 Things to Do in Las Vegas With Kids

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

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From circus shows to roller coasters, Las Vegas is full of attractions and entertainment for the whole family.

" Sin City " may not be at the top of your list for a family vacation, yet there's more family entertainment in Las Vegas than most realize.

Families who visit can admire an array of wildlife and sea creatures, as well as exquisite botanical gardens with thousands of plants. Of course, Las Vegas is also home to one-of-a-kind theme parks and water parks that can keep little ones busy for days.

Read on to see our list of fun things do in Las Vegas with kids, as well as which Vegas hotels offer the best amenities for children.

Adventuredome at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

Debuting in 1968, Circus Circus is one of the older properties on the Las Vegas Strip , but it remains popular thanks to its plethora of on-site amenities, including its family-friendly attractions. The property's indoor amusement park , The Adventuredome, is home to roller coasters, arcades and family rides, along with mini golf and free circus acts. Older kids can take part in indoor rock climbing or virtual reality games, while younger children ride the carousel or play bumper cars.

Mandalay Bay Beach

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

Courtesy of MGM Resorts International

When it comes to things to do in Las Vegas with kids, it's hard to beat the pool and beach area at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino . This world-famous aquatic playground features 11 acres of amenities, including a 1.6 million-gallon wave pool, a meandering lazy river and a lagoon for swimming. Families can rent a private cabana and have food and drinks delivered poolside throughout the day.

Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve , which sits less than 10 miles north of the Strip, is a 180-acre cultural institution that aims to showcase Las Vegas history in a family-friendly environment. It's home to the Origen Museum, which details the historic evolution of Las Vegas, the Nevada State Museum, children's playgrounds, galleries and a sprawling botanical garden that's worth a visit on its own, according to travelers. Regular events are also held here, such as fossil digs and guided garden tours.

View & Book Tickets .

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

Whether you have teens or tweens in tow or you're looking for things to do for toddlers in Las Vegas, a stop at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden is worth it. This 14,000-square-foot indoor and climate-controlled botanical garden at the Bellagio is transformed and reimagined every season to ensure there's always something new to see. Considering a horticulture staff of more than 100 workers maintains the botanical garden and the grounds of the hotel, you're bound to be impressed by the flora and fauna found inside.

Discovery Children's Museum

The Discovery Children's Museum aims to teach kids about science, technology, engineering and art through interactive learning experiences. Exhibits include "Water World," which features interactive models of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Bypass Bridge to help youngsters understand the power of water, and "Fantasy Festival," which encourages little ones to use their imaginations with its life-size pirate ship and medieval castle.

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Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

High Roller Las Vegas Strip Observation Wheel

Located adjacent to The LINQ Hotel & Casino , the High Roller invites families to soar 550 feet above the Las Vegas Strip for stunning 360-degree views of Sin City. The observation wheel – the largest in North America – takes a half-hour to complete a revolution, and families can relax in safety within a fully enclosed cabin. The High Roller also offers a "STEM Family Field Trip Guide" that helps parents teach kids about topics like engineering, velocity and speed.

Shark Reef Aquarium

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

Kids who enjoy thrills and marine life may also love the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. This glass-enclosed water feature is home to more than 2,000 animals, including giant rays, sharks, green sea turtles and a Komodo dragon. Children can even see flesh-eating piranha, which are known for how quickly they devour their prey.

Hershey's Chocolate World

Hershey, Pennsylvania, isn't the only destination with this beloved attraction . Chocolate lovers of all ages can also enjoy Hershey's Chocolate World in Las Vegas. Bring the kids for a few hours of chocolate tasting and shopping within the New York-New York Hotel & Casino . Notable attractions include an 800-pound chocolate sculpture of the Statue of Liberty and a station that lets you customize your own chocolate bars.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

This interactive Las Vegas exhibit at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino is the perfect place to take youngsters who love Marvel characters like Captain America, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man. Kids can spend the day exploring the history, genetic profiles and technology of their favorite characters before assembling case files on each one. The end goal is to become a qualified member of the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. – a feat accomplished by only the biggest Marvel fans.

Bellagio Fountains

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

If you're on the Las Vegas Strip and looking for a way to break up the day, head to the exterior of the Bellagio to wait for the famous fountains to shoot water up to 460 feet in the air. The Bellagio Water Show, which is accompanied by music and lights, takes place every 30 minutes from 3 to 7 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 7 p.m. to midnight on Monday through Friday. On weekends and holidays, this free show takes place every 30 minutes from noon to 7 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Fun Dungeon at Excalibur Hotel & Casino

Excalibur Hotel & Casino looks like a giant castle, so it's not surprising there are kid-friendly activities inside. One attraction for kids is the Fun Dungeon, an arcade with more than 200 games for children of all ages. Highlights include the world's biggest Pac-Man game, 60 arcade games and 10 different sports games. An area called Kiddie Land also features 10 different rides for the little ones in your crew.

Las Vegas Helicopter Tour

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

If you really want to wow your kids in Las Vegas, take them on a helicopter tour for unbelievable views of the Las Vegas Strip . While Las Vegas helicopter tours vary in terms of time and scope, most fly directly over the dazzling lights of the city for a new perspective on landmarks, such as the Bellagio Fountains, Caesars Palace and downtown Fremont Street .

M&M's World Las Vegas

Shopping for chocolate is always fun, but that's especially true in the 28,000-square-foot, four-level M&M's store location in Las Vegas. Visitors can create their own M&M's with the help of a personal printer and a selection of colors and logos. Race fans will also love the on-site replica of Kyle Busch's M&M's sponsored NASCAR.

Las Vegas Shows for Kids

Look for family-friendly shows that might work for your kids based on their ages and interests. Some of the most popular Las Vegas shows for kids include Jabbawockeez at the MGM Grand and the Blue Man Group and America's Got Talent Las Vegas Live, both of which can be found at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.

Read: The Top Vegas Shows

The Big Apple Roller Coaster

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

New York-New York Hotel & Casino has its own thrilling roller coaster that travels more than 67 mph with a 180-degree "heartline" twist and a drop of 203 feet. More than 1.4 million people ride this coaster in any given year, and it's worth a visit for teens and tweens that love heart racing excitement. Keep in mind: Individuals must be at least 54 inches without footwear to ride.

SeaQuest Las Vegas

Seaquest lets kids get up close and personal with an array of land and sea creatures, ranging from sharks to Asian otters and kinkajou – a small monkey-like animal that uses its giant tail to glide through the forest canopies of Central and South America. You can even snorkel with stingrays, sharks and tropical fish in a giant aquarium.

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

The Hoover Dam is just a 40-minute drive southeast of Las Vegas, yet the dramatic change in scenery makes it seem a world away. You can drive the family to Hoover Dam yourself, or you can book a guided tour with transportation from Las Vegas. Either way, the Hoover Dam is a sight to behold thanks to its history as a modern marvel of engineering and its views of Lake Mead and the Colorado River.

Vegas Indoor Skydiving

For the daredevils in your family, there's the adrenaline-pumping Vegas Indoor Skydiving. With the help of a vertical wind tunnel, participants will feel like they're skydiving, but with safety features like a mesh trampoline floor and foam padded walls. The basic package includes training, all the equipment you need and plenty of wind tunnel time. Your kids will love the thrill of soaring through the air without a parachute and the feeling of free-falling with wind speeds of up to 120 mph. Note that height and weight limits apply.

Tournament of Kings

Kids of all ages will love the Tournament of Kings, a Las Vegas dinner and show experience that's held at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino. This performance explains the tale of King Arthur with the help of knights, horses and exceptional storytelling. The swords used during the show are even made of real titanium, and they often create sparks during battle sequences.

Lion Habitat Ranch

Located in nearby Henderson, Nevada, about a 15-minute drive south of the Strip, the Lion Habitat Ranch provides the perfect backdrop for experiential learning. This ranch is home to all kinds of animals, ranging from lions to tigers and a giraffe. Guests can take a tour behind the scenes to learn about the feeding, bathing and watering of the property's magnificent creatures. Select tours also let you feed the animals by hand.

Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas

Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas is a water park with rides and slides to suit kids of all ages. Attractions include tube slides, a wave pool, body water slides, a lazy river and a collection of slides for the park's youngest visitors. The park is only 20 minutes southwest of the Las Vegas Strip, and it's open seasonally during warm weather months.

Downtown Container Park

Located on Fremont Street, Downtown Container Park is an open-air center that offers dining, shopping and live entertainment. You can enjoy some family fun on a large climbing structure with several winding slides known as The Treehouse, or during a free concert or movie on the park main stage. Dining options also abound, with restaurants that offer everything from sandwiches to tacos to bubble tea.

Madame Tussauds Las Vegas

Fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas

Courtesy of Madame Tussauds Las Vegas

A visit to the Madame Tussauds wax museum could easily blow your kid's minds. Museum visitors can see lifelike wax figures of sports and music icons, such as Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O'Neal, Tupac, Aaliyah and Miley Cyrus. A virtual reality experience and a Marvel Universe 4D movie are also available. You'll find the museum inside The Venetian .

The STRAT Hotel SkyPod

High atop the Las Vegas skyline, you'll find the SkyPod at The STRAT . The SkyPod is located on top of the STRAT's 1,149-foot-tall resort tower, which is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. The SkyPod features several restaurants and an observation deck that was remodeled in 2019. Visitors can also book three different over-the-top rides, all of which propel thrill-seekers over the edge of the tower.

You might also be interested in:

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Tags: Travel , US Vacations , Family Vacations , Nevada Vacations

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10 very Tallahassee things to do, places to eat, adventures to take

“Thank you for inspiring me to get out and see Tallahassee through different eyes,” said my friend Erin when I shared my book, "100 Things to Do in Tallahassee Before You Die ."

I wanted to share my love for this community and for people to get curious once again, rediscover and enjoy some of the hidden gems our community and surrounding areas offer, and start doing things they have never done before.

I wanted them to stop saying there was nothing to do in Tallahassee and enter a world they never knew existed.

What follows are some of my favorite things to do in Tally.

1. Walk FSU Campus

Most of us have driven by campus, graduated, worked, or seen parts of it. But have you taken the time to take a walking tour of the Florida State University campus ? The energy is different. There is a sense of peace, history, and beauty all around you, and you begin to wonder how you had never seen it before. It is especially so when all the students are gone. Park your car, walk from one end of campus to another, and explore the magic within.

This weekend: Looking for fun events? Top 5 things to do around Tallahassee

2. Dine at Bella Bella

It is one of my favorite places to enjoy fantastic food, have great conversations, and be surrounded by family. Nestled in the heart of Midtown, Bella Bella is one of those places that makes you feel relaxed as soon as you walk in, and it's the best restaurant for homemade fresh Italian food.

3. Hang at Fish Camp

It’s a bit of a drive, but the dirt parking lot, an alluring lake view, and live music will let you know you have arrived. Fish Camp is a true North Florida hangout frequented only by locals. A hidden treasure with a casual, inviting atmosphere and an unbelievable view. Grab a seat, order food and drinks, sit by the fire, and be ready to chill.

4. Hike Alford Greenway

There’s never a day you can’t hike, bike, or horseback ride the trails at J.R. Alford Greenway . Almost 20 miles of hidden yet well-marked trails loop around open fields filled with wildflowers. This is the perfect place to lose yourself and not be worried about time.

5. Tree to Tree Adventure

If you are ready to get off the ground, stop by the Tallahassee Museum Tree to Tree Adventure to explore 52 acres up to 60 feet in the air on a tree trail adventure filled with wobbly bridges, tightropes, nets, crab walks, jungle bridges and an unforgettable glide over Lake Bradford.

6. Latin dance lessons

There is a special place where the Latin community can unite, move their hips, feel the music, and learn how to dance with friends. Studio D is the only place in Tallahassee with monthly socials, Salsa night, and Bachata Fever. No one would ever know you learn to dance in Tallahassee; it will be our little secret.

7. Beach day getaway

Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are a quick adventures-and-escapes ride away from Tallahassee. Get in the car and drive without high rises, strip malls, or tourist traps, and step into the Forgotten Coast Beaches .

8. Bradley's Country Store

Step into almost 100 years of history and tradition in one humble, small, unforgettable place, Bradley’s Country Store . The delicious smell of homemade sausage will welcome you, while the uniqueness of the place will enchant you. You will find seasonings, raw and cooked meats, drinks, and souvenirs. Around the corner is Old Centerville Road, a beautiful unpaved road that ends in Georgia and is loved by runners.

9. Blue Tavern

It is a place to connect, be surrounded by good company, and enjoy a night filled with art, music, and no TV. Blue Tavern is a hole-in-the-wall pub with live music nightly, from bluegrass to jazz and even open mic night. You can eat, drink coffee, or find a drink that lifts your soul in a calming vibe.

10. Mimi's Table Bistro

Be ready for a flavorful and exquisite experience at Mimi’s Table Bistro and Wine Bar . European technique and cuisine meet Southern roots to create an exceptional dining experience. Stay on the lookout for their coveted monthly Chef’s Meals, and know that the best seat in the house is by the window.

Exhibit: Mystical imagination of Tallahassee artist takes vivid form in new exhibition

Life is an epic quest, and I hope your adventurer’s spirit is alive and kicking as you Explore Tallahassee with me!

Find Ely Rosario, the author of "100 Things to do in Tallahassee Before You Die," on Instagram - @elyrunslife; Facebook - Elizabeth Rosario (Ely) and [email protected].

Upcoming Book Events

When and where: 3 p.m. Dec. 9, Midtown Reader, 1122 Thomasville Road

Where the book ($18, Reedy Press) is available : Midtown Reader, Hearth & Soul, Alumni Hall, Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and online retailers like Target and Walmart.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: 10 very Tallahassee things to do, places to eat, adventures to take

Individuals take a salsa dance class with Miriam Watkins, owner of Studio D, Sunday, April 18, 2021.

  • Entertainment

14 things to do in the Seattle area this weekend

Welcome to the weekend! From a buzzy new restaurant to one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest Festival of Colors celebrations, here’s the latest on local things to do.

Eats and drinks

  • Head north for a foodie day trip . From doughnuts shaped like chicken drumsticks to a cozy cocktail den, Edmonds has culinary delights aplenty, our food writer finds.
  • On Beacon Hill, people are lining up for seats at familyfriend , where the latest Seattle smash burger is all the rage. Our critic’s tip? Explore the whole menu.
  • To cook something sweet at home, try this Holi-inspired tiramisu or this almond biscotti recipe shared by a Skagit Valley bakery.

Outdoors and travel

  • The University of Washington cherry blossoms are reaching peak bloom after a warmer-than-usual start to spring. Here’s what to know about this season as you continue enjoying the blossoms .
  • Head to Walla Walla for some “seriously good” wine with fun backstories. These three Washington wineries are run by celebrities: a “Twin Peaks” actor and two former NFL players.
  • Pickleball at this Green Lake court is a great way to meet new friends, our writer finds. You don’t have to be a pro or have fancy equipment — but a little patience will come in handy.
  • As it celebrates its 20th anniversary season, Seattle’s Moisture Festival has become the longest-running vaudeville festival in the U.S., organizers say. This year, it runs March 21 to April 14, with tickets ranging from $10 to $60.
  • Pacific Northwest Ballet planned to perform Alejandro Cerrudo’s “One Thousand Pieces” in 2020, but shows were canceled amid COVID shutdowns. Now it’s finally on stage, showing through March 24.
  • Our arts writer recommends seeing these food-related art exhibits , from holographic ice cream to creative looks at how our bodies deal with food.
  • ACT Contemporary Theatre’s “Stew” features a stellar array of Seattle talent and reveals patterns and secrets passed down between generations. The play runs through March 31.

Related latest concert news

  • Chateau Ste. Michelle announces full 2024 concert lineup
  • 5 buzzy Seattle concerts coming to local clubs and theaters this spring

Community events

  • The Hindu festival Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, celebrates the arrival of spring and falls on March 25 this year. Here’s how to celebrate it the Puget Sound area — including a Redmond event dubbed as the Pacific Northwest’s largest color festival.

Movies and TV

  • Heading to the theaters? Check out what our critics thought of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” “Tótem,” “Road House” and other recent releases .
  • Local writer Ross McMeekin features the Pacific Northwest in his debut short story collection, “Below the Falls.”
  • Check out the latest shop featured in Neighborhood Reads . Even after a recent pipe burst damaged the Kent bookstore, Page Turner Books is a nerdy book-lover’s destination, our writer finds.

Most Read Entertainment Stories

  • Tomb Raider Experience escape room coming to Seattle late 2024
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  • Seattle-raised Nick Robinson on 'Damsel': A fantasy film with a twist WATCH
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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

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  1. 28 Unforgettable Things to Do in Portugal: The Ultimate List

    Cruise the Douro River in Porto. Take a day trip to the splendid Pena Palace. Listen to Fado music in Chiado, one of the best things to do in Portugal for local culture. Tour one of the world's oldest universities in Coimbra. Take a stroll in the enchanting Bucaco National Forest. Drink Port wine in the Douro Valley.

  2. The Ultimate Portugal Travel Guide

    Portugal Travel Guide. Nestled along the sun-drenched Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is home to historic cities and photogenic towns, rolling hills covered with vines and cork trees, and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Start your journey in Lisbon, wandering the narrow streets in Alfama, visiting the iconic Belém Tower, and day ...

  3. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Portugal

    1. Oceanário de Lisboa. 40,630. Aquariums. The Oceanário de Lisboa is a world-renowned public aquarium, an inspiring "window" into the ocean, establishing an emotional connection with the public, and encouraging positive personal relationships with the ocean. Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the largest aquariums in Europe -featuring over ...

  4. 11 best places to visit in Portugal

    Best for hiking and alpine activities in winter. The Serra da Estrela - Portugal's highest mountain range - is the place to come for rugged scenery, outdoor adventures, and glimpses of a vanishing traditional way of life. Hikers can choose from an expansive network of high-country trails with stupendous vistas, and the region's ...

  5. 25 Best Things to Do in Portugal

    Another signature area of the convent is the Manueline window which was designed by one of the most famous sculptors in Portugal. 8. Tour Bom Jesus do Monte. Bom Jesus do Monte is said to be the grandest of all the religious buildings in Portugal and sits on a slope amidst lush woodlands.

  6. 30+ Portugal Travel Tips for First Timers & Must Knows Before You Go

    20. Make sure you try Vinho Verde. Moving onto Portugal tips for food and drink - AKA the most delicious and valuable section. My first recommendation is to try Vinho Verde or green wine. I know it sounds weird, but the 'green' part of the wine has less to do with the wine's colour, and more with its age.

  7. 20 Best Places to Visit in Portugal

    Lagoa das Sete Cidades. dangrytsku/Getty Images. The majesty of São Miguel never ceases to amaze. Topping the list for many travelers visiting the volcanic main island in the Azores archipelago ...

  8. 12 Absolute Best Things to Do in Portugal: Bucket List Experiences

    Here are some of the bucket-list experiences and best things to do in Portugal: 1. Visit the Palaces of Sintra. If there is one place that you absolutely have to see in Portugal, it's Sintra. This little village near Lisbon is home to some of the world's most beautiful palaces and castles.

  9. 10 of the best things to do in Portugal

    10. Road trip on Estrada Nacional 2. Connecting Chaves in the north to Faro in the south, the picturesque Estrada Nacional 2 is a 740km (460-mile) stretch of road that shows road-trippers the kind of Portugal they'd miss if they stuck to highways and freeways. Dubbed the "Portuguese Route 66," the secondary N2 road is seeing a touristic revival ...

  10. Portugal travel

    Best Things to Do. From wine tasting to stargazing, experience the best of Portugal with this guide to the top things to do. Read article. ... 14 things Portugal locals want you to know before you visit. Feb 25, 2024 • 7 min read. From what to wear to restaurants to the best way to get around, our Porto resident gives you the lowdown on ...

  11. 24 Brilliant Things To Do In Portugal

    Soak up the Sun on Praia do Camilo. Hike Along the Fisherman's Trail in the Alentejo. Walk the Historical Way from Santiago do Cacém. Take a Trip to the Ilha Deserta (and splash out on an amazing meal while you're there) Wander Around the Cobbled Streets of Picture-Perfect Tavira.

  12. 27 Things to Do in Portugal (That Aren't Overrated)

    Go up to the Sintra mountaintops to see a multi-colored palace known for being a Wonder of Portugal. The colorful Pena Palace is a great day trip from Lisbon. 📍 Google Maps | Phone: (219)-237-300 | Website | Hours: 9 am - 6 pm daily | Entrance: $14.27 | 👉 Browse Pena Palace Tours on Viator.

  13. Portugal Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Public transportation - Larger cities like Porto and Lisbon have comprehensive public transit, including trains, trams, and buses. Tickets generally cost 1.20-1.50 EUR. Train - Portugal has a great rail system. Tickets are affordable, with a ride from Porto to Lisbon costing around 25 EUR.

  14. 20 Top Things to Do in Portugal (Recommended by a Local)

    Visit Monasteries and go Apple Picking in the Oeste Region. Batalha Monastery. Alcobaça is known for two things: its delicious apples and its world heritage monastery. The monastery was the first completely gothic building in Portugal, and its sheer scale and beauty will make your jaw drop.

  15. Top 20 Portugal Travel Tips Every Visitor Should Know

    Top 20 Portugal travel tips. When and where to go 1. Avoid July and August. Due to Portugal's mild climate and proximity to the ocean, the summer vacation season is by far the most popular among travellers. You can clearly witness this in July and August, especially in Lisbon and in the Algarve, as the city centres get packed to the point ...

  16. 30 Best Things To Do in Portugal in 2024

    15. Visit Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. Bom Jesus do Monte is a religious sanctuary close to Braga in northern Portugal. With stunning gardens, a neoclassical church, and a world-famous stairway, it's a must-visit for anyone traveling in the north of the country.

  17. 25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal)

    It sits high up amidst the mythical Mountains of the Moon, displaying elegant baroque churches, colorful mansions and the grand palaces of former Portuguese kings and queens. Suggested tour: Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril: Full-Day Tour from Lisbon. 5. Enjoy the azulejos in the National Tile Museum.

  18. 9 Bucket List Things To Do in Algarve, Portugal

    1. Cliff walk at Praia da Marinha. Arguably the most picturesque beach in Portugal; Marinha Beach and its surrounding cliffs are one of the things you must do in the Algarve. The beach is a stretch of soft sand surrounded by limestone cliffs and turquoise waters. Here are all your hotel options in Algarve.

  19. Portugal Travel Guides

    Portugal actually ranks as one of the top 5 safest countries in Europe as of 2022. While Portugal is a very safe destination, visitors should still be careful. Use good judgment, do your research, and stay aware of your surroundings. Even in a safe country, tourists can become a target if they don't use common sense.

  20. Porto Bucket List: 30 Amazing Things to Do in Porto, Portugal

    3. Miradouro da Serra do Pilar. This panoramic viewpoint is located in Gaia, near the Luís I bridge and Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, a monastery that dates back to the 1500s. It's free to visit, open all day, and from here you get one of the best views of Porto, Gaia, and the Douro River.

  21. 11 Best Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal

    2. Get a bird's-eye view of red-tile rooftops at Castelo de São Jorge. The hilltop Castelo de São Jorgeis a beacon for the city, visible from most pockets of central Lisbon. Historically, it's ...

  22. The 23 Best Things To Do In Matosinhos

    3. Contemplate the Tragedy of the Sea ( Tragédia do Mar) sculpture. Tragédia do Mar sculptures, Matosinhos, Portugal. As you walk along the beach look out for this thought-provoking sculpture, a remider of the perils faced by the town's fishing community.

  23. 20 Things to Do In Madeira, Portugal: A Madeira Travel Guide For ...

    20 Things to Do In Madeira, Portugal: Madeira Island Travel Guide For The Semi-Adventurous Traveler. From what I gather, the primary differences between Madeira Island and the Azores Islands are ...

  24. 25 Adventurous Things to do in Portugal

    Video: Best Things To Do In Portugal. Things to do in Algarve & Faro. 1. Benagil: Benagil Caves Kayaking Experience. 2. Half-Day Jeep Safari of the Algarve. 3. From Albufeira: Half-Day Off-Road Quad Tour. 4. 2-Hour Dolphin Watching and Cave Tour: Algarve Coast.

  25. 14 things to know before going to Portugal

    Portugal is generally a safe country to visit with a low overall crime rate - violent crime is extremely rare. Pickpocketing and bag-snatching are the main concerns to keep in mind, especially when traveling on the trams and metro in Lisbon or Porto. Avoid moving around during the crowded peak times, and don't zone out on your phone.

  26. Shipping your stuff from the US to Portugal

    For a small pallet, the cubic feet and maximum weight are the same as the U-CRATE 50 but with dimensions of Length: 48 "/Width: 40 "/Height: Up To 45.". We received a quote for the small pallet of $2,103 - $350 cheaper than the U-CRATE. If you don't know your shipping address in Portugal, you can just put in XXX and update your ...

  27. Travel: Alaska is ready for another record-breaking cruise season

    Holland America has a roundtrip that makes it easy to visit the 49th and 50th states without a long flight. A new "Glaciers & Volcanos: Alaska to Hawaii" cruise, part of the premium line's ...

  28. 24 Top Things to Do in Las Vegas With Kids

    One attraction for kids is the Fun Dungeon, an arcade with more than 200 games for children of all ages. Highlights include the world's biggest Pac-Man game, 60 arcade games and 10 different ...

  29. 10 very Tallahassee things to do, places to eat, adventures to take

    10 very Tallahassee things to do, places to eat, adventures to take. Story by Ely Rosario. • 4mo • 4 min read. Author Ely Rosario shares some of her favorite places from her book '100 Thing to ...

  30. 14 things to do in the Seattle area this weekend

    Arts. As it celebrates its 20th anniversary season, Seattle's Moisture Festival has become the longest-running vaudeville festival in the U.S., organizers say. This year, it runs March 21 to ...