The 10 Best Places to Visit in Portugal in 2023
If you're planning a trip to Portugal in 2023, you're in for a treat! Portugal is a beautiful country with a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. Still trying to figure out where to start? Let's tave a look at the 10 best places to visit in Portugal in 2023!
Lisbon, the vibrant capital city of Portugal, is a beautiful destination with many amazing sights to explore. The city is known for its picturesque streets, colourful buildings with azulejo tiles, and historical landmarks. Some of the top things to do in Lisbon include visiting the Belém Tower, exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Jerónimos Monastery, and strolling through Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood in the city. Lisbon is built on seven hills, and one of the best views is from São Jorge Castle. This medieval castle sits atop a hill in Alfama and offers stunning views of the city and the Tagus River. It's a fantastic place to see the sun go down, but you can also enjoy a boat tour on the river. Don't forget that country has a fascinating cuisine too.
Sintra is a picturesque town located just a short distance from Lisbon and is known for its stunning palaces, castles, and natural beauty. One of the most popular things to do in Sintra is to visit the Pena Palace, a colourful castle perched high on a hilltop, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Another must-see attraction is the Castle of the Moors, a medieval fortress with a rich history and breathtaking views. For nature lovers, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park offers many hiking trails, including a path that leads to the stunning Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe. The town is also full of charming streets, traditional shops, and restaurants serving delicious local cuisine. Other famous sights include the Quinta da Regaleira, the National Palace of Sintra, and the Palace and Park of Monserrate.
In central Portugal, you'll discover the city of Coimbra. It's known for its beautiful architecture, rich culture, and, especially, its prestigious university. For that reason, one of the top things to do in the city is to visit the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The university is home to stunning buildings, libraries, museums, and a beautiful botanical garden. Another must-see attraction is the Biblioteca Joanina, a magnificent baroque library with ornate decorations and a vast collection of books. Afterwards, you can explore the city's historic centre, which is full of charming streets, traditional shops, and cafes. The Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha is another popular attraction, offering a glimpse into the city's rich religious history. Do you like nature and hiking? The Mata Nacional do Choupal forest is a beautiful park with walking trails, picnic areas, and stunning views of the Mondego River.
Known as the "Venice of Portugal," Aveiro is a charming town located on the west coast of Portugal. It's a very popular day trip from Porto. The city is known for its colourful boats called a moliceiro. So it is no surprise that a boat tour over the river is one of the popular things to do in Aveiro! And from the moliceiro, you'll have a perfect view over the historic bridges, the city's canals and Art Nouveau-style houses. Some other top sights in Aveiro are the Aveiro Cathedral, a beautiful baroque-style church that dates back to the 15th century. Or enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Praia da Costa Nova. The beach is home to some of the cutest beach houses you've ever seen!
Porto, a charming city in northern Portugal, is famous for its stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and world-renowned wine. It's the second largest city in Portugal with plenty of sights to fill a few days! One of the top things to do in Porto is to visit the Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site with picturesque streets, colourful buildings, and views of the Douro River. Another popular attraction is the Dom Luis I Bridge, which spans the river and offers incredible city views. You can also tour the historic Port wine cellars, where you can learn about the wine-making process and sample some famous local wines. Don't forget to book a tour to the Douro Valley if you're into wine! For those interested in history, the Sé Cathedral and the São Bento train station are must-see sights, both boasting impressive architecture and stunning details. The city also offers plenty of dining opportunities, with traditional markets and lively streets full of restaurants and cafes. Tip: try the local Francesinha!
Another city in northern Portugal is Braga, a vibrant city known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and religious significance. Bom Jesus do Monte is the sight most people travel to Braga for. It's a baroque-style sanctuary on top of a hill and offers stunning city views. You can climb up or take a funicular to make life a bit easier. Another must-see attraction is the Braga Cathedral, a beautiful Romanesque church that dates back to the 11th century and houses impressive works of art. The Santa Barbara Garden is a lovely park with fountains, statues, and walking paths, perfect for a relaxing afternoon. For those interested in history, the D. Diogo de Sousa Archaeological Museum offers a fascinating look into the city's past. The city has an extremely rich history worth exploring!
Known as the birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães is another historic town that any history buff would love! You'll enjoy the medieval architecture, including Guimarães Castle, a 10th-century castle that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is a must-see attraction, offering a fascinating glimpse into the city's noble history. Inside you'll discover porcelain and gorgeous tapestries. And with palaces and castles, Guimarães makes a great city to explore with kids! After visiting the two main sights, it's time to discover the historical centre. The streets are small and colourful, and you'll find plenty of places to enjoy a Portuguese meal. Are you curious to see what Guimarães looks like from above? Then you can take the cable car to the Sanctuary of Penha. It's located on top of a hill, providing you with a stunning view of the area.
Time to move south! Lagos is located in the Algarve region of Portugal, famous for its beaches and colourful rock formations. Lagos is, therefore, perfect for a beach holiday, but there is also a lot to do. One of the most beautiful sights is the Ponta da Piedade cliffs! Venture out to surf the sunset and enjoy the spectacular view. Or set your alarm early and take a kayak tour along the coast. Remember to take a stroll through the historic centre, which is full of charming streets and vibrant nightlife! Do you prefer a beach day? Head over to Praia Dona Ana or Praia dos Estudantes and take a fresh dip in the sea. From Lagos, there are many other towns and sights you can visit. Examples are the Sagres Fortress, the Benagil Caves and the city of Silves. If you like a chill beach holiday with some cultural sights, Lagos is the place to be!
Located in the Alentejo region of Portugal, Évora is mainly known for its wine! Around the town are many wineries where you can taste some of the best wines in the country! But the city itself also has some stunning sights. One of the oldest is Templo Romano de Évora, from the 1st century AD. Next to it, you can visit the Évora Cathedral. You can take a look inside, but also climb the roof of the church. Stunning views are guaranteed! Chapel of Bones might be a little eerie, but it's a must-see in town. The chapel is decorated with the bones of more than 5,000 monks! If you have time left, it's worth making another trip outside the city. The area around Évora is known for the many Megalith sights, such as Almendres Cromlech, Menhir dos Almendres, and Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro.
Another skull chapel can be found in Faro, another favourite town in the Algarve region. Capela do Ossos is decorated with bones and skulls of over 1000 monks! Very macabre but a much-visited site in Faro. And your visit won't be complete without visiting its Old Town. The city has a 2,000-year-old history and was once occupied by the Phoenicians but also by the Romans and Moors. The town is great to walk around, and you'll discover sights such as the Sé Catedral and the Municipal Museum. If you love nature, then Faro is also a perfect location. You'll reach the natural park Ria Formosa from the city in minutes. It's a bird-watchers paradise with many hiking trails. There is also an option to discover the area by boat. You can visit several islands at Ria Formosa, such as Ilha da Barreta and Ilha do Farol. Combining a day in nature with time on the beach will give you that ultimate holiday feeling!
Bio: Meet Marga, a travel writer and photographer who used to be a flight attendant and travelled extensively for many years. After settling in Portugal, she started the Discover Portugal blog with insightful and engaging travel stories.