22+ Best Cities in Portugal to Visit in Your Lifetime

Wondering what are the best cities in Portugal to visit at least once in your life? Whether you’re looking for weekend breaks or places to add to your road trip through Portugal, you’re in the right place.

Portugal is one of my most favorite countries, and there’s so much to see there that choosing which places to visit is an impossible mission.

But as much as I hate having to prioritize when planning a trip, I want to at least know about as many visit-worthy spots as possible, which is exactly why I think this list will be very useful.

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Portugal travel guide: Looking for amazing places in Portugal? Here are the best cities in Portugal to visit in your lifetime!



It’s not for nothing that Portugal’s capital city has become one of the most popular destinations in Europe.

From its landmarks and museums to its culinary scene to its beautiful “wanderable” neighborhoods to the nearby beaches and natural landscapes, anyone can find something to love about Lisbon. It’s a vibrant, exciting, and inviting city where it’s just impossible to get bored.

A few of Lisbon’s highlights include the São Jorge Castle, UNESCO-listed Belem Tower, National Tile Museum, and the stunning European square Praça do Comércio.

That said, there are honestly dozens of incredible things to do and see in the city that will easily fill up your Lisbon itinerary.

You can also visit Lisbon with kids, and another huge plus is that this city is a fantastic base for a road trip (I had the best time on my road trip from Lisbon to Porto) or day trips like Cabo da Roca (Europe’s westernmost point), Obidos, and many others.

Read more: What to pack for Lisbon.



Sintra, oh, Sintra. No one can resist the beauty of this UNESCO city, and that’s mostly because of its fairytale palaces and castles.

The most visited one is, of course, the insta-famous Pena Palace – the mesmerizing 19th-century royal palace that is also one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

But fear not, because it is not the only place that makes Sintra one of the prettiest cities in Portugal.

From its historic center to the Quinta da Regaleira palace to the Castle of the Moors to the Convent of the Capuchos, Sintra is packed with photogenic landmarks that should be on anyone’s Portugal bucket list.

Within a short drive away from the city center, you can also reach amazing beaches like Ursa and Adraga or take a hike in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

Pena Palace Sintra
One of the most famous cities in Portugal – Sintra


Tomar was by far one of my most favorite places to see in Portugal.

Its crowning glory is, without a doubt, the UNESCO site of the Convent of Christ, but the city’s charm goes way beyond one landmark. It’s the kind of place you can’t help but fall in love with.

The complex of the Convent of Christ was founded by the Templar Knights in the 12th century and expanded by the Knights of the Order of Christ a couple of centuries later. If you love history and architecture, this impressive landmark will be right up your alley.

But Tomar is also a great place to just wander around, and it has a few other points of interest like the Museu dos Fósforos (Match Museum), Mouchão Park, and Synagogue of Tomar.

It even has a special local sweet called Beija-me Depressa (“kiss me quick”), which you can only find in the Estrelas de Tomar bakery.

Convent of Christ, Tomar


Dating back to Roman times and lying on the Mondego River, Coimbra is a charming city packed with historical landmarks.

It’s home to one of the oldest and most beautiful universities in Europe, as well as the 16th-century São Sebastião aqueduct, the majestic 13th-century Se Velha cathedral, and many other churches and cathedrals.

Coimbra is also a fantastic city to enjoy Fado concerts. Although this Portuguese music genre originates in Lisbon, Coimbra developed its own version – Fado de Coimbra (sometimes known as Student Fado).

If you’re looking for some green scenery, you’ll also find plenty of visit-worthy parks and gardens in Coimbra like the jaw-dropping botanical gardens, Manuel Braga Park, and Quinta das Lágrimas gardens.

This is just the tip of the iceberg because there are so many more things to do in Coimbra. From beautiful cobbled streets to museums to amazing restaurants, this city doesn’t disappoint.

Coimbra. Photo: Stories by Soumya


By Daria from The Discovery Nut

Nicknamed the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is a town most known for its network of canals.

One of the top things to do is to take a ride in a moliceiro (a colorful boat that was originally used to harvest seaweed in the lagoons around town) through the network of Aveiro’s beautiful canals.

However, there’s a lot more to this city: it boasts a rich history and architecture, so don’t forget to wander the streets of Aveiro when you come here.

You’ll also find small cafes and restaurants dotting the town, which sell delicious pastries, coffee, and other Portuguese delicacies.

Some of the most prominent landmarks in Aveiro include Igreja de São Domingos (Church of St Dominic – a Roman Catholic church that was built in Portuguese baroque style), Aveiro’s Old Train Station with traditional Portuguese Azulejos that show scenes from everyday life of the Portuguese people, and the Museum of Aveiro.

If you have extra time, take a quick trip to Costa Nova, a quaint fishing village with wooden waterfront cottages painted in vertical stripes.

A canal in Aveiro Portugal
Aveiro. Photo 12687577 © Kukuruxa | Dreamstime.com


By De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander

While it’s quite possible to visit Nazare on a day trip from either Lisbon or Porto, you’ll kick yourself for doing that. To really enjoy the seaside Nazare, you will want a few days to properly enjoy this lovely city on the Atlantic coast.

Nazare is best known for the gigantic waves that storm onto the coast here. In fact, Nazare holds the record for the largest waves ever surfed in the world.

While surfers flock to the expansive Praia do Norte to ride these monsters, holidaymakers and families sun themselves on the beach in town, simply known as Praia. The calmer waves of Praia also make it a good place to take a few surf lessons.

To get the best view over the red tile roofs of Nazare, take the funicular up to the neighborhood of Sitio. The views over the city below, the beach, and the Atlantic are spectacular.

While in Sitio, also visit the church of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, which is said to house a carving of the Virgin Mary made by Joseph, Jesus’ father of Nazareth. This is how the city got its name.

There is no train station in Nazare, so it’s best to drive here yourself or get a bus. Regular, direct buses connect Nazare with Lisbon and Porto several times a day.

Must-visit cities in Portugal - Nazare
Nazare. Photo: Museum of Wander


By Mariana from A Ticket to Take Off

Portalegre is quite often one of those forgotten cities in Portugal and, more specifically, in Alentejo. However, that is totally unfair, and it’s actually a city you shouldn’t miss when visiting the Alentejo region.

Once you are there, you should definitely visit its Castle, which was built in the 13th century. From there, you’ll have some of the best views of the city. Then, a visit to Portalegre is not complete without Portalegre’s Cathedral, which was built during the 16th century.

Even though there are many other places of great interest to visit, you can also check out José Régio Museum. José Régio was born in Portalegre and was one of the most well-known Portuguese writers.

Finally, Alentejo is one of the best places for you to try Portuguese food (trust me with this one tip!!). Go for some “secretos”, “migas” and “sericaia” for dessert.

A house in Portalegre
Portalegre. Photo: A Ticket to Take Off
A street in Portalegre
Portalegre. Photo: A Ticket to Take Off


One of the oldest cities in Portugal, Viseu is definitely a visit-worthy gem for history, art, and wine lovers.

Surrounded by forested mountains, rivers, and vineyards, it’s an intriguing destination that can easily make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

When in Viseu, don’t miss the full-of-charm old town streets, 12th-century Viseu Cathedral, and Grão Vasco National Museum of art (named after one of the most important Portuguese Renaissance painters).

Viseu is located in the Dão wine region, so it is also a fantastic place to learn about the local wine and have some tastings. You can head to Solar Do Dao Wine in the city itself or rent a car and visit some wineries in the surrounding areas.

Best cities to visit in Portugal - Viseu
Viseu. Photo: A World to Travel


A small Portuguese city that’s worth visiting for its medieval castle and walls is Leiria. Both were constructed in the 12th century by the order of Afonso I (the first king of Portugal), and today, the castle hosts different cultural events.

Other nearby points of interest are the Cathedral of Leiria and the Museum of the Moving Image.

Next, head to the city’s main square, Praça Rodrigues Lobo. The entire area is filled with beautiful streets and buildings, shops, and restaurants, so it makes a perfect spot for an afternoon stroll. Be sure to walk all the way south to see the unique building of Sant’Ana Market.

Leiria is located right between Lisbon and Porto, and the fastest (and easiest) way to get there is by car.

Leiria. Photo: Stories by Soumya. Read her Portugal itinerary by train


By Cath from Passports and Adventures

Elvas is a city located approximately 200 km (124 miles) east of Lisbon and just 8 km from the Spanish fortress town of Badajoz.

This relatively small, traditional Portuguese city with narrow cobbled streets is the easternmost frontier fortress city of Central Portugal and is located in the province of Alentejo.

Elvas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the fine examples of star forts, or Trace Italienne, still standing on the outer edges of the city. The Santa Luzia and the Nossa Senhora da Graça Forts are the star forts which earned Elvas its place on the list with UNESCO.

It is these, the Amoreira Aqueduct, and the castle in town that are the main reasons visitors flock to this otherwise remote city in Portugal.

Elvas also has museums, cathedrals, and churches to visit, as well as a market to satisfy any foodie.

Simply wandering the cobbled streets and popping into the shops selling Portuguese cork and linen products is an enjoyable thing to do in Elvas before stopping for a coffee and pastel de nata.

If you are visiting Central Portugal with kids, make sure to visit Elvas. Take the kids to the castle to pretend they are a knight on a dragon quest while you enjoy the views.

Elvas. Photo: Passports and Adventures



Perfect for a weekend getaway and a great base for a northern Portugal road trip, Porto will steal your heart with its abundance of colorful buildings, historical landmarks, museums, food scene, and the Douro River running alongside it.

Its historic center, as well as the Dom Luis I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you love wandering freely through a city’s neighborhoods as much as I do, don’t miss Ribeira and Baixa, two of the most enchanting districts in Porto. For scenic views over the city, head to lookout points like the Clérigos Tower and the Virtudes Garden.

Other amazing places to visit in Porto include the Carmo Church (and its iconic Azulejo tiles), Bolhão Market, Soares dos Reis National Museum, and Crystal Palace gardens, but the second-largest city in Portugal has many more surprises up its sleeve you’ll have to discover on your own.

The most beautiful cities in Portugal - Porto


You might think that Porto is the best city for port wine tasting, but on the other side of the Douro River, you’ll find Vila Nova de Gaia – the queen city of port wine cellars.

Most of them offer a tour inside the cellars with some wine tastings at the end, which is a must-have experience even if you’re not a big wine lover.

You can visit the different wineries on your own (but be sure to make a reservation in advance) or book a wine walking tour with a local guide.

I personally recommend visiting Graham’s Port Lodge, but there are plenty of other incredible wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia like Sandeman, Ramos Pinto, Churchill’s Lodge, and Calem.

Other places to see in the city are the Garden of Moro, the art museum Casa-Museu Teixeira Lopes, and the UNESCO-listed 16th-century Monastery of Serra do Pilar (from where you can also feast on scenic views of Porto and the river).

Vila Nova de Gaia Portugal
Vila Nova de Gaia


By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

Braga is the third-largest city in Portugal and a must-visit on any Portugal campervan trip. As one of the oldest cities in the country, it’s no surprise the historic center is home to many beautiful old buildings and churches.  

Braga Cathedral, known as Sé de Braga in Portuguese, dates back to the 11th century and is a must-visit during your time in the city. Other sites of interest are the Arco da Porta Nova and the Castle of Braga.

Go for a stroll through the pedestrian street Rua do Souto, Braga’s main shopping street. You will also find many restaurants in this area, from traditional Portuguese cuisine to Thai and Indian restaurants.

Another highlight in Braga, or actually a few kilometers outside of Braga’s city center, is Bom Jesus do Monte. Easily reached by bus (#2 departs from Braga train station) or by Uber, this amazing structure is well worth a visit.

If you are up for it, climb up the 577 steps of the zig-zag stairs. Pilgrims used to climb the seemingly endless staircases on their knees as penitence for their sins. However, there is also a cable car going up if you don’t want to or cannot walk up the stairs.

Must see cities in Portugal - Braga
Braga. Photo: Phenomenal Globe


Situated near the northern border with Spain, Bragança is one of the best cities to see in Portugal, famous for its medieval castle and walls that surround its charming old town.

Climbing up to the castle, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the city and the nearby Montesinho Natural Park (which is also worth a visit).

Inside the wall-protected old town, you can wander the narrow streets, visit the Church of Santa Maria, and see the Domus Municipalis – the building where the city senate would meet and one of the few examples of Romanesque architecture in Portugal.

Outside the walls, be sure to stroll through the gorgeous streets surrounding the São Vicente Church, visit the Abade de Baçal Museum and Graça Morais Center for Contemporary Art, and have a hearty meal at one of the local restaurants.

Bragança. Photo: Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal


Vila Real is a small yet lovely city that you can add to your northern Portugal road trip itinerary or visit as a day trip from Porto.

Even though it’s a not big place, it has several adorable shopping streets, and it’s home to quite a few visit-worthy churches and museums like the Cathedral of Vila Real, Saint Peter Church, Calvário Church, and Archaeology and Numismatic Museum.

But the biggest reason to visit Vila Real is the stunning Casa de Mateus. Located only a few miles away from the city center (and reachable by car or by bus), this 18th-century baroque palace and its gardens are so photogenic that you’ll never want to leave.

It’s recommended to book your ticket in advance, and you can even add a wine tasting to your visit.

Top cities in Portugal - Vila Real
Casa de Mateus. Photo 110645898 © Antonio Ribeiro | Dreamstime.com


By Alexandrina from Earthosea

Guimarães is the birthplace of Portugal and is rich in historical monuments. It is one of the most charming and historically and culturally abundant cities in Portugal.

Guimarães is known for its beauty and authenticity, which can be seen by walking through its narrow hilly streets or exploring its castles.

Some of the most historically important sites in the city are the Castle of Guimarães and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (two of the most famous landmarks in Portugal).

The Castle of Guimarães was built around the 10th century on top of the hill and is surrounded by thick tall defensive walls.

Its main purpose was to protect the people of the city from the numerous attacks by the Moorish people. It is also the founding castle of Portugal and is the place where everything started.

The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is a huge palace known for being home to Portuguese royalties. It was built around the 14th century by the Count of Barcelos, which was another founding Portuguese city (connected to an interesting European legend).

The palace is a great example of how the people of Portugal have been living back in the day. It has unique architecture, fascinating wooden artworks, and lots of artifacts from that period.

The best way to get to Guimarães is by catching a train from Porto at either of its train stations – Sao Bento or Campanha. The ticket is around 3 Euros, and it takes around an hour to get to the founding city of Portugal.

Guimarães. Photo: Earthosea


By Bilyana from Owl Over The World

Amarante is situated in the Minho region, in the North of the country.

This region is known as the center of the production of the Vinho Verde, the young green wine unique to Portugal. This makes Amarante worth visiting on your day trip from Porto to the Douro Valley, but not just because of the wine… 

The name of Amarante comes from the Portuguese word ”Amar”, which can be translated as love. In the town, they have quite an odd tradition to show love to each other.

To show their feelings, young and unmarried boys and girls exchange penis-shaped cakes (yep, you’ve read it correctly). You can see those cakes being sold all over the town. The cakes are coated in a glaze of white icing and filled with sweet cream. 

But that’s far not the only reason why you should visit Amarante. Take a stroll around town and browse the traditional shops, visit the Amadeo de Souza Cardoso Museum, and take a walk beside the Tamega River. 

Last but not least, don’t miss checking out the biggest historic site in Amarante – the Roman bridge of São Gonçalo. The bridge helped the town to survive the French attacks in the 19th century. 

Amarante. Photo: Owl Over The World

Do you love European city breaks? Read:



By Marco from Travel-Boo

Set in the heart of the Alentejo countryside lies the beautiful and historic city of Évora, still very much a hidden gem in Portugal.

Today, the city center, which is still surrounded by the old city walls, is classed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is jam-packed with incredible architecture and history.

Whilst compact and easy to explore on foot, Évora has a surprising number of fascinating sights and attractions to visit.

Giraldo Square forms the epicenter of the town with nearby attractions such as the Roman Temple (dating back to the 1st century A.D.), the eery Capela dos Ossos (translated as the Chapel of Bones), and the Évora Cathedral only a short walk away.

Of course, a trip to Évora is not complete without sampling some of Alentejo’s finest cuisine. The region is known for its incredible wines and delicious foods.

Head over to Cozinha da Catarina, a restaurant set just across a quaint park at the Nova Porta de Aviz gate, and try a local favorite – Bochechas de Porco Preto.

A visit to Évora is a fantastic day trip option from Lisbon, given that it’s only a 1.5-hours drive by car.

Even though you can see most sights in one day, staying overnight is a great idea too! Consider booking a room at the beautiful Evora Olive Hotel located in the heart of the city center.

Evora. Photo: Travel-Boo


By Diana from Travels in Poland

Faro is a great city on the coast of the Algarve that also has an airport that serves the entire region.

The city is very lively with a great central walking district and some amazing ice cream places and seafood restaurants. This district has numerous quaint shops with unique items specific to the Algarve region.

The region is a great European spring destination, but it’s more popular in summer (it can be a great girls’ trip destination).

While there aren’t dozens of beaches, there are a few that are worth visiting, including Praia de Faro, which can be reached easily by car. Nearby are many bars and restaurants that you can visit after a day at the beach.

In central Faro, it is also worth visiting the Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones. It is a small chapel located in the back of the Igreja do Carmo and is composed of hundreds of monk skulls.

It is a well-preserved chapel and quite a unique experience for visitors. Elsewhere inside the church is beautiful artwork and architecture that showcases baroque styles within the interior.

You can try Faro’s seafood and Portuguese cuisine in some of the city’s best restaurants, including Ria Formosa and Dois Irmaos, Faro’s oldest restaurant.

A cathedral in Faro Portugal
Faro. Photo 104537283 © Rosshelen | Dreamstime.com


By Trijit from BudgetTravelBuff

Located in the Algarve region, Lagos is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal.

This historical town is popular for its rugged coastlines, turquoise waters, golden rock formation beaches, seafood, and vibrant nightlife. People from all over the world come to visit Lagos to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation.

It is a safe Portuguese city with an easy transport system that makes it one of the best places in Europe for solo travelers.

You can also visit Lagos at any time of the year, though July and August are the busiest months. That’s why I recommend visiting Lagos from September to November when the crowds disappear, and hotels and flights can be found at a reasonable rate.

There are plenty of things and outdoor activities that will keep you busy in Lagos. Visit Ponta da Piedade, a popular tourist attraction.

This natural landmark has cliffs, outcrops, and yellow limestone with transparent water below. You can also enjoy the beautiful sunrise from here.

If you want to swim or just go for a beach walk, Meia Praia can be the perfect place for you. If you are an adventure enthusiast, don’t miss the kayak tour along the coast to get close views of cliffs and hidden caves.

Lastly, you must explore this historic city on foot and experience the local seafood and nightlife.

Lagos. Photo: BudgetTravelBuff


By Cath from Travel Around Ireland

One of the top must-see cities in Portugal is Tavira, located in the East Algarve. This small traditional Portuguese city has a laid-back feel without the craziness of the more bustling cities and towns in the west Algarve.

Located just 38 km (about 23.6 miles) from Faro, Tavira straddles the River Gilão and the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Its history dates back to the Bronze Age and has seen Romans and Moors alike occupy it.

At the center of Tavira lies a central square adjacent to the Roman Bridge, which connects the two sides of the city. Tavira has a ruined Moorish castle and no less than 37 churches.

The most important of these is the church of Santa Maria do Castelo, which houses the tombs of 7 knights killed by Moors in the 13th century.

There are some small museums and a seasonal tourist train which will give you a short introduction to the city and its points of interest.

Tavira also has a beautiful beach, accessible by ferry, called the Ilha de Tavira. It is popular during summer with visiting Portuguese families and foreigners alike, with a long sandy beach and a few cafes and restaurants to enjoy lunch in.

Tavira. Photo: Travel Around Ireland



By Clotilde from A Princess Travelling With Twins

Reaching Funchal requires a little extra effort, as it is located in Madeira, a Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Those who decide, however, to go the extra mile will be compensated by breathtaking scenery, welcoming people, and glorious food.

Funchal, since shortly after its birth almost 600 years ago, became an important trading hub for merchants en route to the Americas or the Indies. Today, on top of that, Funchal’s port is a key stop for many cruise ships.

The old town, recently redeveloped, fascinates with alleys full of restaurants, craft shops, and bars, but there are plenty of other places to visit and things to do in Funchal.

In search of something different, you can take the funicular up to Monte and then slide down into the valley in large wicker baskets (toboggan) in 10 adrenaline-pumping minutes.

Located on the south coast of Madeira, it is the perfect base for exploring the island and also to visit some of the vineyards producing the famous Madeira wine (although in Funchal, you will have countless opportunities for a wine tasting tour).

Prettiest cities in Portugal - Funchal
Funchal’s Botanical Gardens. Photo 123250711 © Marius Dorin Balate | Dreamstime.com


By Megan from Megan & Aram

One of the top cities to visit in Portugal is the capital of Ponta Delgada, a city of nearly 69,000 people located on the main island of Sao Miguel, the Azores.

Ponta Delgada may not pack much of a punch in comparison to other Portuguese cities in terms of population, but there is enough to do there to keep visitors satisfied and occupied.

If you’re visiting Sao Miguel, you will likely be flying into Ponta Delgada and perhaps using it as a base for some of your trip. There are plenty of amazing hotels, resorts, and flats there to call home during your trip.

You can embark on day trips around the island like Furnas, Capelas, or Sete Cidades, and nothing is too far out of reach given Ponta Delgada’s central location on Sao Miguel.

However, if you’re looking for a bit of city life, add the city to your Azores itinerary for a day or two and explore it!

Some of the most famous attractions in Ponta Delgada are the Gruta do Carvao lava tube, Portas da Cidade (city gates), Museu Carlos Machado, Igreja de Sao Sebastiao (church), and many parks and botanical gardens.

Ponta Delgada Azores
Ponta Delgada. Photo: Megan & Aram

Do you love city breaks? Check out this roundup of travel sneakers that are perfect exactly for that!

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About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). Obsessed with anything Spain-related, I'm always planning my next trip (and the excitement alone can bring tears to my eyes, not that it's difficult to make me cry).

18 thoughts on “22+ Best Cities in Portugal to Visit in Your Lifetime”

    • Haha I’m with you. It’s one of those places that keep surprising you, and it’s definitely a difficult choice because there’s so much to see!

  1. I actually did a speedy 3 day trip to Portugal for an audition back when i used to dance professionally! I hardly saw anything, and ended up leaving deflated! Its one of the countries i am keen to revisit with a ”travelers eye” and explore in depth! saving this!

    • Thanks, Nisha! You can have a fun 4-day city break or you can go on a 2-week road trip. There are so many places to see, so it really comes down to what you like to see and how much time you have.

  2. What a great collab post! I’ve been hearing more about Portugal as one of the best digital nomad destinations in Europe and would love to visit soon! This gives me inspiration about where to visit specifically. Thanks for sharing!


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