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Discover the hidden gems of Portugal with our comprehensive travel guide, your ultimate companion for exploring this breathtaking country. Portugal’s diverse landscapes and rich culture have captivated travelers worldwide for centuries. From the sun-drenched beaches of the Algarve Region to the historic districts of Lisbon and Porto, our guide will take you on an exciting journey through each unique region.
Whether you’re a foodie seeking a fascinating place to indulge in Portugal’s culinary delights or an adventurous soul looking for uncharted trails, we’ve got you covered in this full Portugal travel guide. Unlike many other European countries, Portugal features affordability, beautiful beaches, and incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean from the furthest part of the Western Coast of Europe.
Explore Portugal’s beauty, traditions, and attractions with us and experience why it’s a must-visit destination on every traveler’s list.
- Best Things to Do in Portugal
- 1. Visit Batalha Monastery
- 2. Admire Lisbon
- 3. Enjoy Porto
- 4. Explore the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary
- 5. Peniche & Berlengas Islands
- 6. Learn about the Knights Templar in Tomar
- 7. Douro Valley
- Where to Stay in Portugal
- How to Get Around in Portugal
- Travel Tips for Visiting Portugal
- Stick to the Locals
- Embrace the Unexpected
- Trust the Tastes
- Dress the Part
- Learn the Lingo
Best Things to Do in Portugal
1. Visit Batalha Monastery
Batalha is approximately a 90-minute drive from Lisbon, home to the official monastic site, St. Mary of Victory. Established around 1388, it has evolved into one of Europe’s most significant Gothic sites and has become a popular day trip from Lisbon.
The monastery’s construction took more than three thousand hours, and it is now recognized as one of the world’s oldest ruins by UNESCO and is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Walking through gigantic Gothic doorways into a vast interior decorated with 16th-century stained-glass windows is breathtaking. Admission costs six euros, and combination tickets are available for the Convent of Christ in Tomar and Santa Maria Abbey.
2. Admire Lisbon
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a beautiful and charming city that captures the hearts of visitors. There are many historical landmarks to see, such as St. George’s Castle and Belem Tower, as well as impressive churches like the Sé de Lisboa Cathedral.
Lisbon also has a rich cultural heritage with the soul-stirring Fado music genre and delicious local cuisine, including fresh seafood and traditional Portuguese desserts. Moreover, Lisbon is an affordable destination compared to other European cities, making it an excellent destination and a hidden gem for travelers seeking an authentic cultural experience.
3. Enjoy Porto
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, don’t miss out on the lively city of Porto. Take your time to explore the narrow alleys and steps of the old town leading to the breathtaking Douro River, and hop aboard the river cruises for a unique experience.
A visit to Lello and Irmo’s famous bookshop is also a must-do activity, as well as taking time to visit touring the surrounding Duoro Valley with its enchanting vineyards. The park is an ideal starting point for the renowned Camino Português walk leading to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Make the most of your trip to Porto and indulge in all this city offers.
4. Explore the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary
Nestled outside the bustling city of Braga lies the serene and tranquil spiritual haven of the Church of Christ do Monte. This magnificent sanctuary is amidst picturesque mountains and boasts a stunningly beautiful garden and an awe-inspiring church.
Whether you ascend the magnificent staircase step by step with anticipation or opt for a more adventurous approach by taking the thrilling funicular ride, reaching the peak season this divine destination on foot is both effortless and enjoyable. As you ascend to the top via the enchanting funicular, immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings and prepare to be captivated by the grandeur of the majestic staircase leading to this sacred place upon taking your very first step.
5. Peniche & Berlengas Islands
Peniche is a collection of quaint coastal towns in Portugal’s silver coast along the Atlantic Ocean. These towns boast a small fortress and several fascinating sites to explore. Moreover, Peniche is an excellent surf destination for experienced and novice surfers.
Sometimes, waves can be particularly strong on the island’s far north opposite end due to their size. The area is teeming with surfing camps, hotels, and schools in Peniche and neighboring Baleal. Berlengas Island, which can be reached by boat in 30 minutes, feels like something straight out of a pirate movie.
6. Learn about the Knights Templar in Tomar
Tomar boasts two of its most significant landmarks, the Templar Castle and the Christ’s Reformed church. The former was once the stronghold of the Knights Templar, a Catholic military organization established in 1118 to fight during the Crusades.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it served as a crucial defensive base in the battle against the Moors. You can purchase a single ticket for 15 euros or a combo ticket for 6 euros.
7. Douro Valley
The Douro River runs from Porto in the west to the Spanish border in the east, making it an incredibly fertile region for vineyards within the Douro Valley. There are various ways to experience the area, including a road trip, the popular N222 route, or even splurging on a luxurious, all-inclusive river cruise departing from Porto.
Another great option is to take the breathtaking train ride through the Linhas da Douro, which boasts train stations and 20 tunnels. For a unique stay in Douro Valley, visitors can opt for a rural Quinta, a traditional farm converted into a charming Bed & Breakfast or boutique hotel. A must-see attraction in the Douro region is the variety of wine-terraced gardens, where you can witness the beauty and abundance of the vineyards up close.
Where to Stay in Portugal
Venturing into the Portugal territory, one finds their senses bombarded by a heady blend of modern vibrance and time-hued grace. Simply stepping into Portugal is like diving head-first into a vibrant canvas splashed generously with colors of culture, history, and remarkable natural beauty.
Your dwelling significantly impacts the immersion into Portuguese charm. Here are a few accommodations, including boutique hotels, budget hotels, and luxury options that will find accommodation seamlessly merge comfort with a deep contact with the essence of Portugal:
- Pestana Palace Lisboa
- Olissippo Lapa Palace
- Pousada de Lisboa
- Pestana Porto
- InterContinental Porto
- Vila Vita Parc
- Pine Cliffs Hotel
- Rio Douro Hotel & Spa
- Myriad by SANA Hotels
- Praia Verde Boutique Hotel
How to Get Around in Portugal
When exploring Portugal, every route you take tells a unique story. Each intersection holds a hidden narrative waiting to be discovered. Discovering the enchanting layers of this country becomes effortless when you fully embrace the experience of traveling on its roads. RentalCars.com provides an extensive selection of options catering to your specific needs and budget, ensuring you can explore Portugal at your own pace and rhythm.
With their wide range of vehicles available, you can easily find the perfect mode of public transportation, to embark on your Portuguese adventure. Whether you prefer the freedom of a car or the convenience of a rental, RentalCars.com has covered you. So go ahead, journey through Portugal’s captivating landscapes, and uncover its untold tales.
Travel Tips for Visiting Portugal
Being in Portugal is dining at the banquet of cultural hedonism. A realm where ancient cobbled paths make way to ultramodern cities, where rock-hard cliffs disappear into rhythmically pulsating oceans.
When you visit Portugal, it’s not about ticking off checklists; it’s about immersion, about experiencing the textures, the tastes, and the sounds. Ensuring you a dreamy and hassle-free journey, one must not overlook obtaining the right travel insurance via VisitorsCoverage.com.
Stick to the Locals
When you “visit” Portugal, you’re not merely sightseeing but engaging in a tango with the country’s heart and soul. A heart that beats in the chest of its locals. The people of Portugal hold within their hearts the key to experiences untold, tastes unheard.
Embrace the Unexpected
Tossing the itinerary and opening your doors to welcome the unplanned is the best way of visiting Portugal. Let the country take you by hand, leading you to hidden beaches, wildflower-crowned meadows, or underground speakeasies playing soulful Fado.
Trust the Tastes
Your journey across Portugal isn’t complete without indulging in a culinary extravaganza. From the luscious Vinho Verde to the golden pastéis de nata, Portugal’s hefty table is draped with a constellation of tastes that electrify your senses.
Dress the Part
When dressing for different occasions, it’s important to balance feeling at ease and being mindful of the setting. For instance, when basking under the sun on a sandy beach, opting for lightweight clothing that allows unrestricted movement is critical.
On the other hand, when exploring majestic churches adorned with breathtaking architecture, it’s crucial to consider the need for more modest attire that respects the sacredness of these spaces. By considering both comfort and context sensitivity, one can ensure that their clothing choices harmonize with their surroundings while allowing them to feel their best.
Learn the Lingo
Portuguese is a beautiful language that holds great importance in the world. It is the 6th most spoken language globally, which makes it even more fascinating. When traveling to Portugal, it’s always appreciated when foreigners try to learn and speak a few phrases in Portuguese.
This enhances your travel experience and shows respect and appreciation for the local culture. Why not dive into the enchanting world of Portuguese and add a touch of depth to your Portugal travel guide adventure?
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.