Portugal is such a beautiful country to visit. Located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe, Portugal has a rich history with beautiful architecture, stunning castles and plenty of museums. I spent a month in this country and barely touched the surface of the best parts of Portugal and what there is to see. If you are planning a trip to Portugal, I share 20 beautiful places in Portugal to visit to inspire you to visit this charming country. This list of Portugal beautiful places is in alphabetical order.
Beautiful Places in Portugal
Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – History GatG
Located in the Porto District in north Portugal, Amarante is a picturesque town with a rich history. It may be small but this little town on the River Tanega offers some breathtaking views from the Goncalo Bridge. See the beautiful Church of Sao Gonca and Church of Saint Dominic (a museum of religious art) or visit Solar dos Magalhaes, ruins of a manor house which was destroyed in 1809. For museum lovers, a good collection of medieval and contemporary art is displayed at Municipal Museum of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso. Or you may prefer to try some of the country’s wine at the Quinta de Silvaso.
If you visit Amarante in the morning, you may see the atmospheric mist that makes it even more beautiful. I stopped here on the way to the Douro Valley (one of the best places in Portugal to visit and included in this list!)
Types of GatG – Arty & Museum GatG, Canals GatG
If it’s the beauty of canals that you want to see, head to Aveiro. Aveiro lies on the western coast of Portugal along a lagoon called Rio De Aveiro. It is aptly named the ‘Venice of Portugal,’ due to its numerous canals but there are more than just canals here. Aveiro has some beautiful buildings and landmarks including the Aveiro Congress building with its imposing structure, and Cathedral of Aveiro with its bell tower. But the highlight here are the colourful Molicerio sailing boats that you can hop aboard and sail on. * Check prices and dates for a boat tour
Museum lovers will love the Museum of Art Nouveau and Museum de Aveiro, but with so many canals and sailing boats, make sure to visit Aveiro’s fish market for some fresh seafood. If you're not into fish, try Ovos Moles, their pastry delicacy instead.
Types of GatG – History GatG
Referred to as the Portuguese Rome, Braga is 2000 years old and one of the oldest cities of Portugal. The biggest attraction here is Bom Jesus Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Situated on a hillside, this complex has a cathedral and gardens and breathtaking views of Braga. Make sure to see the Grand Braga Cathedral, the oldest building in all of Portugal, and the Raio Palace located in the city’s centre. Another important place in Braga is the Arco da Porta Nova.
Braga has a vibrant nightlife, and if you have a couple of hours in the evening, you can’t miss the Theatre Circo. Built in 1915, the interiors are breathtaking and will transport you to another era.
Types of GatG – Arty & Museum GatG, Ocean GatG
If you’re in Lisbon, Cascais is only a 30 minute train ride away. This former Portuguese fishing village was once a popular summer retreat of Portuguese nobility. Today, it’s a city buzzing with tourists all year round and attracts those who come to kite or windsurf.
The Museum Quarter houses several museums including the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum where you can learn the life of the lighthouse keepers along Portugal’s coast. The location of this lighthouse is really picturesque and walkable from the town. Cascais has some lovely beaches including Boca do Inferno which offers stunning views of the sea with beautiful sea cliffs in the background. One of the most well-known spots here is Cape Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe located between Cascais and Sintra.
5. Costa Nova
Types of GatG – Architecture GatG, Beach GatG
Just a 10 minute drive from downtown Aveiro is Costa Nova, another place for the bucket list Portugal. Not only is it known for its long sandy beach that stretches along the west side of the Costa Nova peninsula, it’s also known for its colourful wooden houses. These cute houses in a line were built by the fisherman for shelter and storage for their equipment. As well as the houses here, Costa Nova church is another endearing structure due to its unusual design.
Other things to do in Costa Nova and nearby include spotting birds and protected species such as the white stork or purple heron at Ria de Aveiro lagoon, and seeing the daily catch at the fish market.
6. Douro Valley
Types of GatG – Nature GatG, Wine GatG
Think Douro, think wine! Douro valley is one of world’s oldest wine producing regions and is one of the best places to go in Portugal for wine lovers. Named after the River Douro, Douro’s wine terraces are a paradise for photographers and nature lovers. I loved this area and it definitely delivers the ‘wow factor.’
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, there are some beautiful hiking trails for the active solo and the Douro Museums and Lamego Museum are also worth the visit.
This region is known for its port and wine so make sure to visit a winery whilst you’re here (especially to try the different ports). Taking a Douro river cruise is a great way to see the wineries along the river and feel the serenity of this area. * Here's the Douro Valley tour that I took.
Types of GatG – History GatG
For a beautiful place with a chilled-out vibe, head to Estoi, one of the municipalities of the Algarve, located in Faro. The influence of the Romans is very visible in Estoi and it’s easily walkable in a few hours. It’s easy to walk around Estoi in a few hours and marvel at the Roman influence here. The main attractions in Estoi are the Estoi Palace with its ornamental gardens and the Roman Villa of Milreu.
Milreu is an ancient Roman complex with worn-out columns, a temple and beautiful mosaics that has been well preserved. This old agricultural complex dates back to the 1st century AD and is reachable by bus from Faro.
Types of GatG – History GatG, Yoga GatG
For a charming Portugal city with historical monuments and Medieval palaces, visit the UNESCO Heritage city of Evora. It is one of the destinations in Portugal for Gothic architecture and the two main iconic buildings here are The Cathedral of Evora and Temple Romano Evora. The Cathedral is the largest Medieval cathedral in Portugal. Built in the 13th and 14th Century and situated in the heart of the old city, its Gothic features has two towers and looks similar to a fortress. Inside is one of the oldest Renaissance organs in Europe.
The ancient Temple Romano Evora is another important landmark here. Near the cathedral, the temple was constructed in the1st century, to pay tribute to Emperor Augustus.
Stroll around the plazas and cobbled streets and visit the intriguing attraction of the Chapel of Bones, home to thousands of skeletons, skulls and bones from the 15th century. It’s not exactly beautiful but it is unique.
Evora is surrounded by the Alentego, a region of sun baked olive groves. The surrounding region is popular with those wanting to unwind at one of the yoga retreats.
Types of GatG – Digital Nomad GatG, Music GatG
If you’re unsure of which places to go in Portugal, start with the country’s capital, Lisbon. It may not have the rugged nature of other places on this list but it does have some beautiful architecture. The Belem Tower is one of the most stunning monuments here. Initially constructed in the 16th century to defend Lisbon, the tower is now a World Heritage Site. What makes the tower special is its position on the Tagus River. Nearby is the Jeronimos Monastery, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited places here.
Part of Portugal’s beauty are the blue tiles that you can see throughout the country on the exterior and interior of the buildings. The Azulejo Tile Museum has some incredible murals where you can see even more of these traditional azulejo tiles. Make sure to see The Castelo de Sao Jorge when you’re in the capital too.
Types of GatG – Beach GatG, Nature GatG
For me, the best part of Portugal is its islands, especially Madeira. This Portuguese island with black volcanic beaches is stunning. As well as being a beautiful Portugal destination, this island feels magical. Ponta Do Sol is my favourite area of the island and one of the most spectacular villages. Another beautiful place here is Porto Moniz which has volcanic rock pools with a view.
Head to the north to see the wild nature of Sao Vincente or hike to Pico de Areerio, for stunning scenery that makes you feel as though you are above the clouds. Madeira is known for its hiking routes so you can take your time on foot and take in the beauty of this island.
* Related Post: Solo Travel in Madeira
Types of GatG – Castle GatG, Nature GatG
Marvao is a village in the Alentejo region of Portugal, located approximately 10 km from the Spanish border. Marvao is Portugal’s countryside at its best and this quiet village is unspoiled and a good place to relax and unwind.
The top attraction of Marvao is the Moorish castle of Marvao which stands on a hillside more than 840 metres above sea level. This dramatic castle is one of the things to see in Portugal. Climb to the castle’s keep to enjoy beautiful Portugal views and the Spanish mountain ranges from a distance. If you are lucky you might get to see a cultural event which takes place in the castle.
Whilst you’re here, visit the Santa Maria church which also houses the Marvao museum to learn all about the local side of Marvao. Ponte Quinhentista de Marvão is a lovely little bridge that has major historical importance and is one of the attractions too.
Types of GatG – Castle GatG, Literature GatG
About an hour ride away from Lisbon is the beautiful Portuguese town of Obidos. Obidos is the Portugal place to visit for literature lovers. The town has earned itself the title of ‘UNESCO Creativity Centre of Literature’ due to the number of books the town has. But it’s not just books here.
As soon as you arrive at the town, you’re welcomed through the Porta da Vila, a double door with the traditional blue azulejos tiles that acts as the entrance to Obidos. You can then visit the town’s main attraction, the Medieval Obidos Castle which was built by the Moors. Spend time at the Municipal Museum of Obidos which displays a good collection of religious art, artefacts and old weapons.
Stroll down Rua Direita, lined with shops selling traditional Portuguese home decor items before seeing the pretty local church of Santa Maria in the main village square. One very traditional thing to do in Obidos is to taste the local drink called Ginjinha. This cherry flavour appetiser is definitely unmissable.
Types of GatG – Architecture GatG, River GatG, Wine GatG
Another of the top places to visit in Portugal and for good reason is Porto. This 900-year-old coastal city is so beautiful that its historic centre has been declared UNESCO World Heritage. Situated in the northwest of the country, what adds to Porto’s beauty is its hilly location overlooking the River Douro. As Portugal’s second-largest city and the birthplace of Port wine, the city has a picturesque riverfront that you can walk along and cross the bridge to the other side to sample port in the wineries on the banks of the river.
Beautiful places of interest here are the Church of Sao Francisco for its Gothic architecture, the historical Bolsa Palace for its Neoclassical style, and the three-storey high Hall of Nations within its grounds.
Visit Parque de Serralves for beautiful gardens, and some amazing artwork in the Contemporary Art Museum. National Museum Soares dos Reis is one of the finest Museums in Portugal and the oldest public museum in the country.
And when you have seen all the beautiful places during the day, head to Casa da Musica at night to enjoy a cultural event on an evening out in Porto.
14. Porto Santo
Types of GatG – Beach GatG, Golf GatG
There’s a reason that Porto Santo has been dubbed the Golden Island. It’s gorgeous! Reachable from Madeira by boat or plane, this small island in the Madeira archipelago? The island is 11 km by 6 km wide and 9 km of that is a long sandy beach that adds to its beauty. Climb to Pico do Facho, the highest point or visit Portela which is surrounded by windmills. The island is also popular for its golf course.
The capital is Vila Baleira, which has a resort of the same name. This area is one of the most beautiful on the island and I loved staying here. Porto Santo is just a 25-minute flight from Madeira and well worth visiting if you’re there.
Types of GatG – Surfing GatG
A dream town and one of the top places in Portugal for surfers, Sagres is in the Algarve and offers great waves and great views of the Atlantic. If you love the ocean, Sagres has many beautiful beaches and tons of water sports to choose from.
Apart from surfing and sunbathing you can visit the Fortaleza Sagres Fort, an open museum situated on top of a cliff with a small church, lighthouse and views of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Compared to other towns in Portugal, Sagres is rather rustic and plain but despite that, it is a popular summer destination. If you are in Sagres, don’t forget to drive 5 miles to Cape St. Vincent, which is the southwesternmost point of mainland Europe. Close by also lies the Fortress of Beliche.
16. Serra da Estrela
Types of GatG – Active GatG, Winter Sports GatG
Serra da Estrela is the highest point in Portugal and the only destination in the country where you can go sledging and skiing. Located 300 km from Lisbon, Serra Da Estrella is 1193 metres above sea level and a beautiful place to discover whether you choose to visit in the winter months for winter sports or the summer. In the summer months, you can swim in the beautiful lakes of Serra da Estrela or pamper yourself in the thermal spas.
Climb the Torro tower to enjoy one of the best views of Portugal. Or hike along one of the trails in the National Park avoiding the herds of sheep. There are some wonderful local villages here where you can shop in the village market and enjoy the cheese that Serra Da Estrela is known for. It’s a fantastic destination for nature lovers.
Types of GatG – Architecture GatG, History GatG, Surfing GatG
Sintra lies just half an hour away from Lisbon and is one of the best places to visit in Portugal. It’s simply magical and being located on hills, means that it has a relatively cooler climate compared to Lisbon. It is picturesque and known for its fairytale castles: Pena castle and Monserrate Palace. If you’ve ever seen beautiful pictures of Portugal, it usually features Sintra National Park and Pena Palace.
The cultural landscape of Sintra is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but is popularly known as the capital of Portugal's romanticism.
Make sure to visit the whacky and uniquely beautiful Pena Palace with its colourful design. Quinta da Regaleira is another World Heritage Site here. This Renaissance-style manor houses the Regaleira Palace, gardens and fountains. In Quinta da Regaleira is the Initiation well with a spiral staircase which goes nine storeys down. Other main attractions within its grounds are the caves and secret alleyways with stone carvings.
While in Sintra, make sure to try queijadas, a sweet-tart and travesseiros, a crumbly almond pastry. Sintra also has beautiful beaches with good surfing options or you can paraglide over this beautiful landscape instead. From the Portugal locations that I’ve visited before, in my opinion, this is the most beautiful place in Portugal. There’s something magical about Sintra.
18. The Algarve
Types of GatG – Beach GatG, Wellness GatG
The Algarve is a region divided into 16 municipalities, each with a different vibe and beautiful in its own way. With many pristine beaches and nearly perfect weather conditions all year round, Algarve thrives on tourism and it’s easy to see why so many visit this region. For nature lovers, the appeal is its mountains, river and cave formations.
The Rio Formosa Natural Park is home to protected wildlife and saltwater lagoons, or you can take a river cruise to see the much-talked about lemon and orange groves. See artefacts from the Stone Age to the 17th century at Albufeira’s Archeological Museum.
The white walls and traditional blue glazed tiles of the Church of Sao Lourenco is breathtaking and dates back to the early 18th century. And for those just looking for a relaxing destination to lay on the beach and then cool off in a water park, Algarve is the perfect beautiful region.
Types of GatG – History GatG
One of the places to see in Portugal for history is the ancient village of Sortelha. As one of the twelve historical villages of Portugal, Sortelha is dominated by the Castle of Sortelha, a national monument that was built in the 13th century. Though the castle is named after Sortelha, it is actually in a different municipality called Sabugal, just 35 minutes from Sortelha.
Sortelha itself is old but well preserved and if you climb the castle tower, you’ll see one of the best views in Portugal. Another sight to see here is the charming 14th-century Parish church, with a magnificent altar and Spanish-Arab style ceilings.
20. The Azores
Types of GatG – Island GatG, Wildlife GatG
Green and beautiful with a volcanic past makes the Azores, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. The only downfall is that it isn’t on the mainland. Instead, it’s an archipelago of nine islands in the Atlantic with each island different from the other. People here care for the environment and work towards sustainable living, and three of the islands have even been labelled by UNESCO as ‘biospheres.’
As one of the Portugal beautiful places, the Azores is no less than a paradise with rich flora and fauna and some amazing wildlife. The island is bursting with nature and is known for hot springs, fumaroles, mud springs and geysers. Tour the tea plantations and tea tasting rooms or spot some whales and dolphins in their natural surroundings. If you love trying the cuisine, a must-eat in the Azores is a local stew called Cozido.
This list is really comprehensive and unless you have weeks or even months to spare, it’s difficult to see all these Portugal sites. There are many more too, such as the open-air Coa Valley Archaeological Park, another of the Portugal best places to visit where you can see some amazing artefacts from the Neolithic age through to the 17th century.
If you’re short on time and are unsure of what to see in Portugal, the must visit places in Portugal are Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra, Porto, Douro Valley and The Algarve.
But wherever you decide to go, with so many beautiful places in Portugal to see, you’ll definitely want to return to explore the Portugal beauty even more. To help you travel here, I've put together a guide on solo travel in Portugal below.
* Related Post: Solo Travel in Portugal