Ever wonder what the most beautiful places in Portugal are? Wonder no more, I’m sharing the top 14!
It wasn’t long ago that Portugal was recording the highest tourism and travel growth in Europe and it’s been increasingly topping people’s travel bucket lists ever since. And having seen firsthand how beautiful Portugal is, it’s no wonder why!
Abounding in ancient history, incredible architecture, rich culture, amazing wine, gorgeous beaches—all while being an affordable place to travel—what’s not to love about Portugal?
It’s hard to pinpoint the best of Portugal because it just has so much to explore, but I’ve given it a go here by compiling my list of the 14 most beautiful places in Portugal to visit.
Let’s get into it, shall we??
Pssst, heading to Portugal? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
14 Most Beautiful Places in Portugal
Whatever you do, make sure you add Porto to your Portugal itinerary. There’s a reason Porto’s historic center was designated a UNESCO world heritage site—it’s such a beautiful cultural gem! And it’s #1 on my most beautiful places in Portugal list.
When in Porto, you’ll find yourself in this perfect mix of the old world and the new—with a 16th-century church on one corner and the hippest, most modern cafe on the next. Gardens, cathedrals, museums, bars, and local eateries are all part of the experience.
One of Porto’s most beautiful parts is the waterfront along the Douro River where you’ll see rows of classic azulejos tile homes, cafes, restaurants, and gorgeous views of the surrounding wine region landscapes. You can also take a leisurely river cruise for an on-the-water view.
Another highlight is strolling along with Porto’s famous Rua das Flores, a lively pedestrianized street filled with upscale shops, boutiques, renovated cafes, and bars—the perfect place to stop and enjoy a glass of Port wine while soaking in the local vibe!
Porto is one of the most beautiful European cities I’ve ever visited. You’ll absolutely love it!
More old-world-meets-new-world charm awaits in Portugal’s magical capital city of Lisbon. Even though it’s the country’s largest city, it manages to preserve a small-town feel with its narrow paved roads, Gothic cathedrals, and vintage trams. But there are also plenty of hip bars, trendy restaurants, and modern sights to be found!
Everything about Lisbon is picturesque—it’s built on a series of steep hills, so you’re essentially set up for an amazing view no matter what part of the city you venture out to.
You’ll fall in love with Alfama, one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods, where you’ll stroll along narrow cobblestone streets and have the chance to browse through small artisan shops and stop at historic cafes.
Other popular tourist attractions include the Tower of Belem—which is one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites—and St. George’s Castle, located on the top of a hill near Alfama overlooking the city.
One thing’s for sure—you won’t want things to do in Lisbon!
3. The Algarve
Is Portugal’s Algarve region as touristy and crowded in the summer as you’ve heard? Yes! Is the Algarve region as gorgeous as you’ve heard and totally worth it? Again, yes!
The truth is that you’re going to find some of the most stunning beaches you’ve ever seen when you visit the Algarve and you’ll agree that it makes the list of the most beautiful places in Portugal for good reason.
Endless stretches of golden sand, surreal rock formations, and Instagramable no-filter-needed Atlantic Ocean views are just some of the highlights.
Other highly recommended Algarve highlights include cave and grotto exploring, going on a dolphin-watching boat tour, wine tasting, or just relaxing on the idyllic beaches.
Praia de Marinha Falesia Beach, Praia dos Tres and Praia Da Cordoama are among the most beautiful beaches in the area and will surely not disappoint!
If you’re starting to think that untouched, pristine pieces of natural paradise don’t exist here on earth, just one minute in Portugal’s Azores will change your mind.
The Azores is an archipelago made up of nine islands right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Crystal clear blue water lakes, emerald green forests, and pastures, hot springs, and fumaroles are all part of what you’ll find when you fly into this secluded wonderland.
To give you an idea of how precious this place is, UNESCO designated Corvo, Flores, and Graciosa (three of Azores’ islands) as biospheres and only 5% of the archipelago’s land has developments—the other 95% is all designated as marine reserves and protected areas.
This place is a dream for marine life lovers—the Azores archipelago boasts some of the world’s best whale and dolphin watching with year-round locals that include bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales with migrations from other fascinating marine giants like blue whales.
The clean, clear waters also make the Azores one of the very best diving spots in the Atlantic Ocean—if not the best!
Other popular water sports include surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking. Not to mention the amazing land activities to do here like hiking and mountain biking.
If you’re enchanted by the idea of castles tucked away in tree-covered hills and lush gardens with hidden grottos, then Sintra is your spot! It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
Sintra is a magical town nestled in the foothills of the Serra de Sintra Mountains northwest of Lisbon. Tourists flock there to explore the amazing architecture and historic landmarks—most notably the Pena Palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena).
This colorful Romanticist palace was built in the mid-1800s and is another one of Portugal’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Sintra offers other cool attractions, like taking a scenic tour on the Sintra Tram, exploring the massive gothic house and gardens of Quinta de Regaleira. A definite highlight is exploring the Sintra town and stopping for lunch at a quaint restaurant and indulging in a tasty Portuguese pastry at one of the several old town cafes.
Sintra is only a half-hour drive away from Lisbon, so you can absolutely visit as a half-day trip if you’re staying in Lisbon!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this past summer I went on a press trip to the amazing Vinho Verde wine region!
Vinho Verde is part of the Minho province located in the far north of Portugal. If you happen to be both a nature and a wine lover (like me) then you’ll agree that this is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal you must see.
The wines of the Vinho Verde region were initially given this name because of the area’s fresh, green-colored landscape. Vinho Verde wines are usually white and known for being light, young and crisp, but some of their Alvarinhos are more complex and can also be aged. I also adore their rosés—they’re my favorite!
Obviously, wine tasting is one of the best things to do here but the entire area is gorgeous and well worth exploring. You’ll find the Peneda Geres National Park in this region, which is a perfect spot for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
A visit to Vinho Verde is also a great opportunity to try some of Portugal’s best dishes paired with Vinho Verde wine at amazing local restaurants. And if you’re looking for an incredible place to stay, the Monverde Hotel is it!
Aveiro’s alias, “the Venice of Portugal,” was enough to get me excited about visiting this place! Like its Italian counterpart, Aveiro is a maritime city with an intricate network of canals that serve as transportation waterways for barcos moliceiros, traditional Portuguese boats.
The main body of water is a lagoon called Ria de Aveiro and the rainbow-colored Art Nouveau buildings that line around it and equally colorful boats navigating the water paint a gorgeous picture.
While in Aveiro you’ll want to visit Moseiro de Jesus, a famous Portuguese convent from the 17th century. The nearby fisherman village nestled between the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean—called Costa Nova—is also a real treat!
The multi-story clapboard cottages painted in bright vertical stripes are a sight to behold and their fresh seafood is top-notch.
West of Lisbon, you’ll find the upscale, glamourous coastal resort of Cascais. It has gorgeous beaches (at least 17 of them) and, on top of that, offers one of Portugal’s most chic nightlife scenes with hot spots that range from cool lounge bars to nightclubs.
You’ll feel the cool, artsy vibe of the area from the get-go. Cascais attracts its fair share of writers and artists that flock to its cosmopolitan shores and can be seen meandering around its posh yacht-lined marina.
When not sunbathing, partaking in water sports, or sipping on a cocktail with your toes in the sand, you’ll want to spend time strolling Cascais’ historic center to take in the beautiful architecture and enjoying the wide variety of boutique shops, restaurants, bakeries, and cafes.
Don’t be surprised if you end up spending more time here than you planned—the place has a way of sucking you in!
If you’re outdoorsy—or just really appreciate the beauty of natural parks—you should make time for a visit to Serra da Estrela Natural Park. It’s the largest natural park in Portugal and is well-known among hiking enthusiasts worldwide.
The isolated park comprises 100,000 hectares filled with rich plants and wildlife so rich and bountiful that it’s even been designated Biogenetic Reserve status.
Hikers of all levels can enjoy the beauty of this natural gem with lots of trail choices, every one offering stunning views that won’t leave you disappointed.
Because of Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela’s isolated location and high elevation—which keeps it nice and cool for any strenuous activity—the terrain includes a medley of landscapes including lush green meadows, glacial valleys, and massive rock formations.
If you plan on doing some intense hiking, it’s a good idea to hire a local guide as not all trails are clearly marked.
10. Douro Valley
If one of the main attractions of Portugal that got you excited about your trip is their wineries, I’m with you! I love wine tasting and spending a day or weekend discovering local vineyards and sipping on local wine varietals is one of my favorite things to do.
That’s why visiting the vineyards and wine-production Quintas in the Douro Valley region from which port wine originates is a must. And the landscapes are surreal!
There are several ways to experience the beauty of the Douro Valley region. For wine lovers, the best way is by booking a wine tasting tour where you’ll not only sample delicious food and wine but you’ll learn about the history of the region with guided transportation.
Cruising along the Douro River on a boat or cruise tour is also a fun way!
For the ultra-romantic way, there’s the train. The ride from Porto through the Douro Valley is said to be Portugal’s most scenic train route.
Want the best of both worlds? How about a wine tour via historic train! Doesn’t get much better than that.
Surfers, this one is for you! This secluded, quiet beach is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal and one of the best you’ll find for surfers of all levels.
So, if you’re not an experienced surfer, this would be a great spot to give it a go!
Sages are located on the southwest tip of the Algarves without the crowded, bustling feel of many of the other Algarves’ beaches.
The vibe here is laid back and relaxed and much less developed, making it ideal for when you want to get away and have a stretch of sandy beach to yourself.
Obidos, a charming little village fit for a queen! The cute backstory is that Portugal’s Queen Isabel—back in the 13th century—was so taken by this picturesque town that King Denis gave it to her as a gift.
This eventually became a tradition and Portuguese kings bought Obidos as presents for their wives for centuries after!
Once you visit, you’d wish that you were a Portuguese Queen just so you could call the place your own. The historic village is made up of narrow cobbled streets with quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants that you’ll want to take time to explore.
There’s also a medieval castle, Castelo de Obidos, that offers views that are as majestic as the castle itself. For another chance to step back in time, add an Obidos day trip to your itinerary of cute towns to visit.
Did you know that there’s a village in Portugal that’s been officially deemed “the most Portuguese in Portugal? Well, there is—and its name is Monsanto.
And while this description might make you think that this is a typical town you’d find in Portugal, Monsanto is anything but. Nowhere in the entire country (or the world?) will you find homes surrounded and seemingly built into enormous boulders.
This unique Monsanto feature alone makes for some unbeatable Instagram selfies for sure!
You can count on getting other great photos with the incredible panoramic views Monsanto’s mountaintop location provides.
There are also some interesting remains of a historic Templar castle that was partially demolished in the 19th century.
And it seems like Monsanto won’t be changing any time soon—being recognized as a “living museum,” the town actually can’t be changed.
This is a good thing because this mountainous village has a charm that would be devastating to lose.
14. Tavira Island
For a perfect beach experience in Portugal, make your way over to Tavira Island. It’s just a 20-minute boat ride that departs every 30-60 minutes along the Rio Formosa from the city of Tavira. Don’t be surprised if you catch a sighting of dolphins and flamingos along the way!
Once you get to the island, you’ll be taken along a path past several tantalizing cafes, bars, and restaurants serving fresh seafood and local Portuguese delicacies. Whether you want a tasty lunch or just a quick snack, there are plenty of food options for everyone.
Tavira Island is a nature reserve, so you’ll find nothing but clean conditions when you arrive with clear, turquoise waters. The beach itself is an endless stretch of pristine, golden sand.
There are tons of sunbeds and lounging options to make your beach time totally relaxing. It’s everything you need for a picture-perfect beach day!
I hope you’ve found this list of the 14 most beautiful places in Portugal helpful! As you can see, Portugal is full of incredible destinations, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover your own gems along the way.
As always, if you decide to hit up any of these spots be sure to tag me on insta @wtfab.
Psst, planning a trip to Portugal? Pin this Most Beautiful Places in Portugal post for later!
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Which part of Portugal is best?
The best parts of Portugal are:
– Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
It is recommended to spend at least a week in Portugal to really experience everything the cities have to offer.
The best time to visit Portugal is during the springtime when the weather will be at its best and it’ll be less crowded.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.