It may be small in size but as a travel destination Portugal is definitely big in potential. This oft-overlooked slice of land has the advantage of miles of coastline, temperate weather, natural beauty and ancient history. The only problem is getting time to see it all.
Below, we’ve singled out some of the best holiday destinations to see in Portugal right now.
Lisbon is small enough to be charming but big enough to be buzzing with life. Built along the banks of the Tagus River, the Portuguese capital lures visitors with its historic sites, colourful buildings and relaxed vibe. Built famously across the “seven hills” of Lisbon, be sure to find your way to the miradouros (viewpoints) and rooftop bars for stunning views across the city.
In summer, the southernmost region of Portugal draws tourists to its coastline like moths to a flame. All with good reason: the area is comprised of a string of gorgeous beaches, surf hotspots and white-washed fishing villages. For days spent relaxing, swimming and feasting on seafood, this is the place.
The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto has its own particular character and mood. It may be smaller than Lisbon and a little colder due to its northern location, but it also has an elegance and refinement that makes it well worth a visit. Famous for being the home of Port wine, you can easily pass the days here wining and dining to your heart’s content.
Along the banks of the Douro River – which extends from Porto all the way east to the border of Spain – sprawl countless vineyards. Tour the Douro Valley’s wine estates and rustic villages for equal parts natural beauty, history, and of course, wine.
Alentejo is a large region covering the south-central and south-east portion of Portugal. The area may be slightly lesser known, but it has unique elements of culture and cuisine that are worth experiencing – like Cante, a polyphonic choral music style that was named as an item of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Main towns to visit are Évora, Mértola and Beja, with many other smaller villages in between.
Far out west in the North Atlantic Ocean lie nine volcanic islands which, together, make up The Azores – an autonomous region of Portugal. These islands have an untouched natural beauty rarely found on any mainland. Some of their highlights are volcanic black sand beaches, dramatic landscapes, natural hot springs, picturesque fishing villages, and mountain roads lined by bursts of blue hydrangeas.