Portugal is a country known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. From the charming streets of Lisbon to the breath-taking views of the westernmost point of Europe, there is something for everyone in this diverse and captivating destination. With so many incredible attractions and activities, it can be challenging to narrow down your itinerary. In this article, we have curated a list of the 7 places to visit and things to do in Portugal, ensuring that you make the most of your trip to Portugal.
1. Bairro Alto
Dubbed as the party district of Lisbon, there is a whole lot more than the crowded nights and plethora of bars to this place. Bairro Alto is your crash course in learning about Portugal’s history and quaint quality of life during the day and witnessing some of the best night scenes you have witnessed. When you are here, don’t miss out on visiting the upper part of the district in the rustic Glória funicular.
Ever since its urbanization in the 15th century, Bairro Alto has been one of the top regions in Lisbon and the country. Today, it has an array of restaurants offering everything from comforting Portuguese culinary delights like Pastel de Nata to intercontinental cuisines.
The art scene in Bairro Alto is also unmatched. Make sure you don’t miss the stunning murals as you walk around the cobbled stone streets and various parts of the district. Some places where you can check out amazing local street art would include Rua da Vinha, Rua de São Boaventura and Calçada da Glória.
Spend some time at the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint to soak in the breath-taking views of the city. In the night, don’t miss out on watching a fado performance with a glass of port wine at one of the many bars here. You can also enjoy the performances at Fado In Chiado theatre.
2. Park and National Palace of Pena
Get transported into the era of romanticism as you ascend to the top of the Sintra Hills to visit the Park and National Palace of Pena. The magnificence of the National Palace of Pena just cannot be missed if you are in Portugal.
Barely half an hour from Lisbon, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is as idyllic as it gets. While you are here, make sure to go take in the beauty of the park as well where you can enjoy this beautifully planned garden. The ticket for the park also gives you access to the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla, Valley of Lakes and Little Birds Fountain, and Temple of Columns, The Warrior Statue and the Queen’s Table. The Park and National Palace of Pena is well-connected from Lisbon via public transportation.
3. Sado Estuary
Nestled along Portugal’s west coast, the Sado Estuary unveils a natural wonder beyond the bustling cities and coastal panoramas. It is a nature reserve in Portugal protected along with 30 other areas in Portugal. As a designated natural reserve, it shelters a diverse array of plant and animal species, offering a haven for birdwatchers with its flamboyant flamingos and graceful herons. If you choose to embark on a boat tour, you may get a chance to witness the resident bottlenose dolphins leaping alongside, a thrilling encounter that makes for unforgettable memories. Nature enthusiasts can venture along the estuary’s hiking tails, winding through marshes and mudflats, or explore the traditional fishing villages like Comporta and Carrasqueira, where time seems to stand still amid colorful boats and local routines.
4. Serra de Estrela Natural Park
The Serra de Estrela is another one of the 30 areas under protection by the government and is the largest one among them all. No matter what part of the year you visit Portugal, this 101-thousand-hectare natural park is ideal to visit during all seasons. Serra de Estrela is also the highest mountain peak in mainland Portugal. You will find rustic villages, scenic lakes, granite outcrops and an immensely diverse range of flora and fauna here. Go hiking up the Torre Mountain or from Manteigas to the Poço de Inferno.
If you are visiting between November to March, go skiing in Serra de Estrela, the only place in the country where you can indulge in this sports. If physical activity is not up your alley and you are looking for something else, you can learn about cheese-making in Pêraboa. The Museu do Queijo, a cheese museum here will leave you fascinated with the history, process and the products from raw sheep’s milk.
5. UNESCO Heritage Wine Regions
The Azores and Douro Valley in Portugal are UNESCO protected wine regions which should be on your list even if you don’t drink wine! Visit these sites for its historic significance if not for the wine.
The Archipelago of Azores is home to Pico Island, which has attracted several wine enthusiasts globally. The vineyards on this volcanic island is characterized by a giant maze-like design of black lava-stone walls. These walls have been standing strong protecting the grapes.
The Douro Valley is another must-visit place in Portugal. It is one of the oldest and culturally rich wine regions in Portugal. The world famous Port Wine gets its name from winemaking practices here that are several centuries old and derived from the practice of fortifying wine with brandy to maintain its quality.
6. Jerónimos Monastery
The Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal. The monastery is situated along with the Tower of Belém. Also referred to as the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese, this is a tourist favorite built in the late Gothic style whose architecture marvels every visitor. Apart from its impressive architecture, this landmark is also important as the tomb of Vasco de Gama is housed here in the Church of Santa Maria. This church also has a unique architecture characterized by six sculpted columns that hold up the only nave in the structure.
If you are visiting Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, you can also explore the nearby Archaeology Museum.
7. Cabo Da Roca
Set foot in the westernmost point in continental Europe when you visit Cabo Da Roca. Also known as Cape Roca in English and Focinha Da Rosa, this place is close to the Sintra National Park. During the olden days, Portuguese explorers considered this place to be the end of the world. This is good place if you are looking forward to a nice and relaxed day. Here you can enjoy nice scenic views of the ocean, the sight of the Cabo Da Roca lighthouse, and explore the beaches around the place. Cabo Da Roca is often the final point or the starting point for those going hiking in the Sintra National Park.
It is a great place to relax and watch the waves crash onto the shore, especially at sunset. Time your visit perfectly and you can enjoy an unforgettable view at the edge of the continent! Along the way don’t miss the Praia Grande where tubular wave between 1 and 4 metres are not uncommon. Practice your skills or admire the pro surfers as they strut their stuff.
You can club the visit to Cabo Da Roca with your visits Sintra or Cascais.
Known as the Canggu of Europe, Ericeira has some of the most stunning beaches of Portugal. The town is extremely popular for surfing. Even if you don’t surf, you are surely going to fall in love with the charm of this Portuguese town. Visitors can expect to the eat best Portuguese seafood cuising with produce that is as fresh as it gets. Fishing is an integral part of this region and not just for its cuisine. It is an important economic activity in the region.
If surfing piques your interest but you don’t know how to, join our surf camp in Ericeira for some beginner surf lessons. Rapture Surfcamps offers lessons for every one from beginner to advanced surfers at 3 locations in Portugal. Get theory lessons, sumptuous dinner, free Wifi, airport transfers and so much more when you choose to stay with us.
Most of our guests fly into Lisbon Airport directly, where we will pick you up in our airport shuttle.
This can be added to your booking for an extra cost, but you will be taken directly from the airport to the surf camp!
It is also possible to catch a bus to Ericeira from the Campo Grande bus station in Lisbon. We will be happy to pick you up at the bus station in Ericeira, just give us a call.
After exploring the 7 best places to see and things to do in Portugal, why not add an unforgettable adventure to your journey? Join us at Rapture Surfcamps Portugal, where the sun, surf, and sea come together to create the ultimate escape.
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