Beaches, rivers, mountains and architecture: Portugal is full of charms and, therefore, owns some of the most beautiful cities in Europe
When it comes to Portugal , certainly, the first things that come to people’s minds are: a place full of culture, history and incredible landscapes . Because of this, it is not always an easy job to list the most beautiful cities to visit in the country , but we have separated some that are certainly worth visiting.
One of the most beautiful cities in Portugal , Coimbra is well known for the renowned University of Coimbra – the oldest in Portugal and one of the oldest in all of Europe -, which leaves the place with a lot of university atmosphere. But it is not only students who seek the region, no! Its privileged location, close to the sea and the mountains, added to its quality of life makes the city one of the most sought after cities in Portugal .
Of course, the tour does not leave the university out; those who visit the campus and on-site facilities will be delighted with students dressed in their traditional black capes. And since the subject is historical points of the city, walking through Baixa – as the historical part of Coimbra is known – and its narrow streets, full of old mansions, is one of the things that the tourist must do . In addition to being a great place to buy good wines and crafts, it is also an option to enjoy regional cuisine and understand a little more about Portuguese culture.
The Schist Villages, a network of 27 villages, are an attraction that cannot be left out of the script. The first thing that the traveler must know before venturing is: to reach the villages you need a car or a motorcycle; as they are small and are located close to each other, in a few days it is possible to visit and feel what life was like a few centuries ago. These treasures, full of history and tradition, can be found in Serra da Lousã – just 40 km from Coimbra -, in Serra da Freita, Serra da Estrela and Serra do Açor.
Owner of a historical, cultural legacy and a unique natural beauty, Chaves is one of the oldest cities in Portugal . This way, whoever visits the region guarantees that it is a trip full of surprises – always good, of course.
One of the best tourist spots in the city is Rua Direita, a place with several rustic houses full of colors and squares that attract the attention of tourists. Another important place is the Castelo de Chaves, responsible for a long time for defending the border; there, the tourist has the opportunity to climb to its top and get a spectacular view of the city, with panoramic views of the castle gardens, the mountains, the historic center and the Tâmega river .
A visit to the Igreja da Misericórdia de Chaves cannot be left out of a “what to do in Chaves” list, a beautiful baroque church whose interior walls are lined with blue and white 13th century tile panels that tell the story of biblical passages. It is important for the tourist to pay attention to all the details, as it is not allowed to take pictures, so it is important to record this complete visit in memory.
Most travelers do not stay many days in Évora , but what many do not know is that, in addition to being a city full of churches and historic monuments , there is also a lot to do in the region, so it is a place that deserves enter the itinerary of beautiful cities in Portugal .
A historic center that has the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site , certainly, cannot be left out of the itinerary of the trip. Surrounded by walls that are more than 500 years old, the place is very conserved and full of tourist spots, such as the Avis gate, one of the entrance gates of the wall that has survived over the years, for example.
With a perfect location to enjoy the city, Jardim de Diana is a place that makes the traveler feel truly in the capital of Alentejo . Beside the site, there is a viewpoint with views of the city and also of the Aqueduto da Prata , a work created in the 16th century and used until today to bring water to the local population. The Cathedral of Évora, a Gothic-style cathedral, is also among the city’s must-see attractions. Those who visit do not fail to climb up on their terrace to contemplate the whole city.
Located in the middle of the Serra da Estrela , the city is the perfect destination for tourists who enjoy places with good structure, but also air backwoods of Portugal . As it is a region that can be described as a “mountain village”, you can already understand why it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country.
The Poço do Inferno , for sure, is an attraction that needs to be visited. The place, marked by the variety of its vegetation, forms a natural cascade of about 10 meters that, during the winter days, turns to ice, which makes the landscape even more beautiful. Nature lovers will fall in love with everything Manteigas has to offer, such as hiking on various trails and even ski slopes at certain times of the year
Well known for being one of the largest centers of Catholic pilgrimage in the world, Fátima is one of the most popular tourist destinations for those who visit Portugal, whether religious or not.
The Basilica of the Holy Trinity , the largest Catholic temple on the planet with more than eight thousand places, certainly, must be the first place to be visited in the city. The Byzantine style basilica is very modern and was built in 2007, as the Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Fátima , built in 1953, was no longer able to receive the number and the number of faithful who passed by the place.
For those who want to get to know the place calmly, the tip is not to travel on the 13th of each month, because as the date marks the first appearance of the saint (which happened on May 13, 1917), there is a large concentration of faithful these days around the city, increasing the movement. In fact, the place where this apparition took place, the Sanctuary of Fátima , is a mandatory stop for tourists due to its architectural beauty and, of course, religious value – it is important to inform that the place is considered sacred and intended exclusively for prayers.
The Ourém Castle , built during the Middle Ages, is another postcard of the city, so that is considered one of the most beautiful in Portugal . Located just 11 km from Fátima, the place allows tourists to get an idea of what architecture was like at the time of its construction.
The third largest city in Portugal, Braga draws the attention of travelers due to its rich history, architectural beauty, unique cuisine, nature and unforgettable tours . An example of this is the Cathedral of Sé de Braga , the oldest in the country, which draws attention due to the different styles of its construction – which leave its architecture so rich and exclusive.
But it is at the top of a hill where you can find the main attraction of the region: the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary . Tourists face a staircase with 670 steps to take a closer look at the beauty of the place and enjoy the view of the city.
When thinking about Portuguese sweets, it is impossible not to remember sweets with eggs, after all, these delicacies are a tradition in the country. The Abade de Priscos pudding , one of the best known recipes, is a typical dish from Braga , whose recipe secret has nothing to do with sweets, but with bacon, which makes its confection unique.
A mix between tradition and modernity: this is how Guimarães , known as the cradle of Portugal , can be summed up , as it was where the first king of the country was born. Despite being a small city, it is full of churches, monuments, museums, squares, medieval streets and tours for tourists, which makes the destination very popular with all visitors.
As almost all attractions are concentrated in the historic city center, the traveler has the possibility to know everything on foot, without worrying about renting a vehicle or needing public transport. The Castle of Guimarães , an iconic building for the city and the whole country, can be a great starting point for the tour because to get to the center, you can also know the Palace of the Dukes .
The cobbled streets, the tiles, the Gothic buildings and the traditional houses make tourists travel through history. For those who want to enjoy a few days of rest in the region, but still enjoying it, you must visit the Multipurpose Pavilion , a place where shows, concerts and popular events take place, or enjoy the end of the day in a square, perhaps rolling some festival with artists from the region. As for tourists who like adventures, it is possible to practice rappelling , trekking or, simply, taking a cable car ride in the Penha Mountain .
Angra do Heroísmo
Although many people have never heard much about Angra do Heroísmo , the city was extremely important for the history of Portugal, so much so that it was even the capital of the country. Like other Portuguese cities, the location is the result of its exuberant nature, but also for its contrast with the dark stone used in the buildings.
The historic center of the region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, houses the beautiful Igreja da Misericórdia , a Baroque style building that stands out in the region. Another place that stands out is the Church of Santíssimo Salvador da Sé , considered the largest church in the entire Azores archipelago, where Angra do Heroísmo is located.
For those who do not give up a direct contact with nature in their travels, they must visit Prainha de Angra , where it is possible to swim and contemplate Monte Brasil.
The Portuguese capital is, in fact, a passionate destination that should be on the list of “places to meet” for all people, especially Brazilians because of the link with the country, after all, the Portuguese tell part of the history of Brazil .
One of the most famous symbols of the city, the Torre de Belém , is one of the most visited places by tourists because of its beauty – both exterior and interior – and history – because, it was from the place that Portuguese navigators left in search of new sea routes. Those who go up to the tower’s terrace can enjoy a privileged view of the Belém district and also of the famous Tagus river .
Another major attraction of Lisbon is Praça do Comércio , or Terreiro do Paço, as it is also known by many; simply, one of the largest squares in all of Europe, it houses a variety of charming buildings and the Arc de Triomphe on Rua Augusta, one of the postcards of the region. Anyone who wants to feel like a “true Portuguese” just have an afternoon to have a coffee, watch the sunset and, of course, take some pictures of this unforgettable trip. To have a privileged view, just go up the Arch and, ready, close the visit with a flourish.
In fact, Rua Augusta is a great place to walk for travelers who want to buy gifts and souvenirs to take home or simply eat a delicious dish typical of the region. And since the subject is cooking, don’t leave the capital of Portugal without first trying some typical snacks, such as pipis (delicious chicken kids in tomato sauce), baits with potatoes (a dish of pork liver sauteed with garlic and white wine) and, of course, snails.
Anyone who knows Porto guarantees that traveling to the city can be considered love at first sight and it is not for less, as the second largest city in Portugal is full of tourist attractions and the right destination for those visiting the country.
Although the city is full of steep streets, tourists always like to take walks, after all, you can get to know the region a lot and appreciate a little of its architecture with buildings in various styles (ranging from baroque to belle époque ). Right in the heart of the city, the Catedral da Sé is a mandatory stop, since besides being one of the main and oldest monuments in Portugal, it is also one of the most beautiful and unique buildings in all of Europe .
The Torre dos Clérigos , one of the most emblematic monuments in the city, cannot be left out of the script, do you know why? After the traveler faces the entire climb of the tower, which is 76 meters long, and is surprised by the 49 bells that form a large carillon, he will be faced with a magnificent view of the entire city. Quite a reward!
And, of course, as it could not be otherwise, one of the essential tours in Porto is to visit a cellar, or better, a warehouse to understand the entire production process of one of the most famous wines in the world, Port wine and taste some glasses to know the taste of the place.
It is impossible to talk about this city without mentioning the gastronomy, one of the reasons that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Among the regional and truly Portuguese dishes, Gomes de Sá cod (a recipe prepared with black olives, potatoes, onions and eggs), angel chat (a delicious dessert made traditionally in convents in the city with sugar, egg yolks and a delicious syrup) and francesinha (a savory dish that contains various meats, bread, cheese and is known, especially, for the flavor of its sauce).
Imagine a medieval city? So is Óbidos . The historic center, surrounded by the walls, is full of charm and, certainly, this is one of the reasons that attracts so many travelers to the region. Whether in spring, summer, autumn or winter, strolling through the old streets of the region is a unique experience at any time of the year, as it is like traveling through time and knowing a little more about what life was like in the ancient Portuguese civilizations.
The Óbidos Castle , built in the 13th century, is the main tourist attraction in the city. Currently, the place has become one of the most luxurious inns in the country and aims to make its guests have the experience of living a true night of king and queen.
Another place that cannot be left out of the itinerary is the Church of Santa Maria . The city’s main church, the Renaissance-style building has been restored several times since its construction – in the 12th century – and draws attention, mainly due to the oil paintings that decorate its walls and the hand painted tiles with floral motifs.
The historic downtown buildings, colorful boats and regional cuisine make Aveiro one of the most authentic regions in Portugal! As the city is small, it is even easier to explore everything it has to offer, whether by public transport, car or even on foot.
Have you heard of “moliceiro boats”? That is how the boats that circulate in the Ria de Aveiro are known . And one thing is certain: no one can visit the city without experiencing the moliceiro. The route with the boats is made through four channels and it is possible to enjoy the whole beautiful view of the city and, of course, relax a lot; this is one of the reasons why the region is considered the “Portuguese Venice”.
In Aveiro, tourists have the opportunity to taste the best flavors of Portuguese gastronomy, so they must try some traditional dishes, such as the eel stew, the famous Aveiro soft eggs and the classic cod – which can be found in the region also with some variations, such as roast, grilled, with potatoes, among others.
Capital of Madeira Island , Funchal is a city that deserves to be visited not only for its regional beauty and warm residents who love to receive tourists, but mainly because it is the ideal place to start the visit in the region.
For those who do not need a walk in the middle of nature, Ponta do São Lourenço is a great starting point to start this adventure. In addition to taking a tour of a region that has one of the most incredible views in Europe, the traveler can contemplate the landscape and the sunrise from the Ponta do Rosto viewpoint , one of the places of mandatory stop for those who visit this island.
Whoever arrives in Funchal , quickly falls in love with the local nature and, of course, all the gardens. The Palheiro Gardens is among the most famous because of its location – in the hills – and the wide variety of plants.
Although they are the best known cities in Portugal, the country’s charms go far beyond Lisbon and Porto , so it is important that tourists venture to discover some of the treasures of Portuguese lands, such as Sintra . The city is full of history, architectural monuments and natural beauty, so much so that it is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Pena National Palace built at the top of the Serra de Sintra is an example of Portuguese romantic architecture. As the region is visited at different times of the year, the tip is to avoid this tour on rainy days, since the palace is located in an upper part of the city, so winds and heavy rains can harm visitors.
Considered the most westerly point not only in Portugal , but in the whole of Europe, Cabo do Roca attracts, especially, travelers looking for natural landscapes; in addition to all the magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean, visiting the site also helps to better understand the whole history of the Portuguese and their skills as navigators.
Local cuisine is an attraction in itself! After a walk, it is worth trying a delicious Sintra cheese (egg pastries with curd). Certainly, a new world will open before your eyes with each bite. Did you like these suggestions about Portugal? Access our guides and find other tips to enjoy your trip around the country even more.