Blog, Destinations, Portugal

September 20, 2023

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Visiting a country you’ve never been to before can be an incredibly exciting yet daunting thing to do. After all, you want to make sure your time there is put to best use – there’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere to find there’s nothing really worth doing there.

If you’ve never been to Portugal before, have no fear – we’ve asked our contributor and a travel expert, Dakota Murphey, to help you find the best place to visit. Our definitive list breaks down the best towns, villages, and cities the European country has to offer, including the most instagrammable travel destination of the year and medieval castle just like straight out of Game of Thrones. Let’s delve into it!

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1. Azores

We start with a cracker. Located just off the coast of Portugal, the Azores is comprised of nine different islands, each as stunning as the next. The islands are the ideal place for people looking for an adventure, packed with an abundance of awe-inspiring scenery and places to see.

If you like vineyards, dramatic landscapes, fishing villages, lake-filled calderas, and majestic hikes, you’re in for a treat. Just don’t forget to bring your walking boots – you’ll be needing them.

2. Évora

If you enjoy visiting areas with a unique history, then look no further than the capital of Portugal’s south-central Alentejo region, Évora. This beautifully preserved historic town is classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and – when you see its 2000-year-old temple, white-washed houses and
16th -century aqueduct – you’ll quickly understand why.

In fact, walking five miles down from this aqueduct will take you to the famed Capela da Ossos – a sinister monk-made crypt displaying the full skeletons of more than 5,000 Évora residents. Certainly one of the country’s more unique attractions, the chapel is not a place for the faint of heart.

3. The Algarve

Portugal is famed for its stunning beaches, scenery, and coastlines, and there is no better place to see all three than in the Algarve region. Lagos – one of the Algarve’s most popular resort towns – is a particular favorite of locals and tourists alike, featuring some of the most magical rock formations you will ever see.

What’s more, down the road in Faro is one of Portugal’s most popular attractions – the Ria Formosa Natural Park. This beautiful coastal lagoon was voted one of Portugal’s Seven Natural Wonders and is the perfect place to watch wildlife like flamingos and other rare birds. It’s also super easy to get to, located only a 10-minute drive from Faro airport.

4. Porto

Portugal’s second-biggest city is becoming more and more popular and was recently announced as 2019’s Most Instagrammable Destination. Featuring charming cobbled streets, striking Gothic architecture and picturesque colored houses, it’s not too hard to see why.

Whether you watch the boats go by from under the arches of Placa da Ribeira or head on over to the 19th -century Palácio de Bolsa, Porto has an abundance of sights to see. It might not have quite the history of Lisbon or the magical feel of Sintra, but it’s certainly one of Portugal’s best places to visit.

5. Lisbon

Lisbon may not have the same reputation as some of Europe’s other capital cities, but it certainly rivals them in terms of beauty and charm. In fact, being Europe’s fourth oldest city, the Portuguese capital features a beautiful mix of old and new architecture – from stunning Gothic cathedrals and historic cafés to vibrant cocktail bars and shopping centers.

The city is also built on a series of hills, meaning that gorgeous views are never far away when you’re traveling around. Whether you take the rickety historic tram, visit the narrow lanes of its backstreets, or head on up the Belém Tower, Lisbon is jam-packed with things to do.

6. Sintra

Our top place to visit in Portugal is Sintra – the former home of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Anderson. The village is like a fairy tale in its own right, with a huge selection of magical places to visit – from the romantic 19th -century Pena Palace to the medieval Castle of the Moors (à la Game of Thrones). There’s even a misty dense forest and an abundance of exotic vegetation to look at as well, due to having its very own microclimate there.

Located only 30 kilometers away from Lisbon, Sintra is a fantastic day trip away from the Portugal capital. Easily one of Portugal’s best attractions and a worthy winner of our number one place to visit, traveling there will certainly live long in the memory.

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