Discover The Top Attractions Of Portugal

When it comes to a relaxing break in Portugal, you will be spoilt for choice. Despite being a relatively small country, there are treasures inherent here that you will remember for a lifetime! The country features cities with ancient attractions, castles and palaces, wonderful scenery with a diverse landscape from mountainous regions to river valleys, and of course not forgetting the coastline including the warm and wonderful paradise that is the Algarve. Add in the fact that prices are lower here compared to other European nations and that the people are warm and welcoming, and you have two valid reasons to holiday in Portugal. Another major draw is the many attractions of course!

Check out our guide to the top attractions of Portugal…

The Algarve
The Algarve is one of the jewels in Portugal’s tourist crown – and is one of the many reasons why people travel to this fabulous country. The Algarve boasts some of the most welcoming holiday resorts in Europe, offering warm sandy beaches, pleasant waters lapping the rugged coastline, and charming architecture. Located to the south of the country, all of the main resorts are easily accessed from Faro Airport. If you are interested in just relaxing on the beach and enjoying the marvellous nightlife, or perhaps heading on a pleasant golfing vacation, then the Algarve is the place for you! Some of the main resort locations in the Algarve are Albufeira, Praia de Rocha, Alvor, Lagos, Sagres, Carvoeiro and Vilamoura.

The capital city of Portugal, and long regarded as the arts and culture centre point of the country, Lisbon is a wonderful city with some marvellous architectural delights. Some of the most important architectural buildings to discover include Mosteiro dos Jerónimos which is a two storey monastery with excellent designs. The Castelo de São Jorge (São Jorge Castle) offers amazing vista of the city and has been inhabited since Roman and Moorish times.The National Tile Musueum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) has tiles from Portugal and the rest of the world dating from the 15th century to the present day. The Botanical Gardens Jardim Botanico are a perfect place to unwind after a busy day’s shopping and exploration! For some exuberant Lisbon nightlife, then the Bairro Alto District is the place to go!

For a truly memorable experience, visit the renowned religious site of Fatima. Fatima came to the attention of the world, as it was the place where the Virgin Mary appeared in 1917 to three peasant children. Nowadays people visit the sacred site of Fatima seeking miracle cures for their ailments and mass ceremonies take place from May to October on the 13th of each of these months.

The western coastal city of Porto has its roots in ancient times. It is mooted that the ancient name for Porto was ‘Portucale’ which in time passed on its name to the country. The city was founded on the slopes of the high ground that towers above the Douro River. The city offers much to do and see for the tourist – why not take a tram ride around the city or a boat ride under the majestically constructed bridges of the city. The buildings and dwelling houses in the city are made out of granite. Some of the attractions to watch out for are the Cedofeita Church, which was first used by the Romans. In Porto you will find the home of celebrated explorer Henry The Navigator. Indeed, an impressive city to base yourself in – Porto is a world heritage site as classified by UNESCO.

Another world heritage site that Portugal has been afforded to by UNESCO, Sintra is a charming fairytale town. The hills that permeate the area are dotted with marvellous castles surrounded by woodlands. Both the Roman and Moorish peoples were enchanted with this stunning region, and built castle and palace residences there. Sintra is only a 30-minute drive from the capital city Lisbon along the IC19 highway. The National Palace in the main square of the town dates from the 14th century and is a good place to start of your tour of the town! The tallest point in the Sintra region is marked by the presence of an 8th century castle. Nothing however compares to the wonderful Palacio Nacional de Pena. Prince Ferdinand of Saxe Coburg-Gotha in Germany commissioned this in 1840. All in all, Sintra is one of the best places around to savour European Romantic Architecture.

Dating from the 12th century, this town has the oldest University in Portugal, which was founded in 1290. There is much to see here – from the Baroque Library, the famous Sculpture Museum (Museu Machado de Castro), and plenty of Roman ruins. There are plenty of impressive cathedrals and the wonderful botanic gardens.

A town that also possesses renowned World Heritage status by UNESCO, it is testimony to the many ages that Portugal has experienced. The ‘Temple of Diana’, one of the major landmarks of Evora was constructed by the Romans. The Sé Cathedral houses some wonderful treasures. A trip to the City Museum will give you an insight into the different eras that Evora has experienced. The Church of São Francisco is not for the faint hearted – one of the areas called the Chapel of Bones is decorated with the bones of 5,000 people. Creepy it may be, but unique it certainly is!  Evora is definitely a place that represents a good day trip from Lisbon.

The Azores Islands
The Azores consist of nine volcanic islands located in the Atlantic Ocean. Perfect for a day trip from Lisbon, to explore these remote and slightly populated islands.

Madeira Island
Madeira has a history as having had both British and Portuguese ownership, and is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year. It is surrounded by the waters of the Gulf Stream and has warm summers and very mild winters. It is known by many as being a ‘Garden on the Sea’ due to the extensive flowers that grow here.

Hope you enjoyed our guide to the top attractions of Portugal. Interested in taking a relaxing and memorable holiday to Portugal? For the best deals available in vehicle rental, check out our Car Hire Portugal page.

Have you been on vacation to Portugal? What would you advise your fellow readers as some of the best things to do and visit there? If you have some Portuguese travel tips please let us know – as always we welcome your comments.