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22 Most Beautiful Cities in Portugal (+ small towns)

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A country steeped in history, colorful cultural centres to beautiful beaches and coastline Portugal has an enchanting allure. We grew up listening to stories of Vasco da Gama, and no wonder we are so fascinated by República Portuguesa. In this post, we are sharing the top picks for the most beautiful cities in Portugal, worthy of adding to your bucket list!

22 Most Beautiful Cities in Portugal to visit

Pin for most beautiful cities in Portugal
Most Beautiful Cities in Portugal

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There are about 159 recognized cities in Portugal (2021) – some big, and some very small. City status is granted by the Portuguese Parliament. 

Some of these cities have smaller populations (about 3000 residents) as compared to the bigger metropolises around the world. (Population of Lisbon is 2,972,000 in 2021). But it is the small towns, beaches and resorts that make up the tourist landscape of Portugal. 

In this guide, wherever applicable we have included day trip ideas from the major cities, as well as possible sightseeing options to make the most of your vacation. 

If this is your first time visiting, we recommend these top 5 cities in Portugal, to add to your bucket list

  1. Lisbon
  2. Porto
  3. Aveiro
  4. Coimbra
  5. Vila Nova de Gaia
Porto is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal

Is Portugal worth visiting?

Located on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain, Portugal makes it to the list of best all-round destinations for us (and this is after multiple Europe trips over the years!). If you love history and culture, hands down Portugal cities are the place to be. Each destination opens up a page from history, particularly maritime history from the 1500’s – 1800’s.

The Algarve region pulls tourists who love to soak in sun and sand. From amazing festivals, food and wine, to affordable holidays – Portugal offers a lot for your vacation dollars! And an experience that will truly leave you enriched!

Map of Portugal: Best Cities in Portugal to Visit

Lisbon | Largest and the capital city of Portugal

Views of Alfama in Lisbon

Beautiful Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal, and also the largest metropolis in the country. When visiting Portugal from overseas, you will most likely arrive in Lisbon. It is the perfect base to explore more of the western Iberian Peninsula (including the westernmost point of the European continent at Cabo da Roca). 

The historic center of Lisbon is home to iconic landmarks and miradouros (or viewpoints). Start your sightseeing with the Baixa neighbourhood, navigating the lanes and admiring the architecture that was rebuilt after the major earthquake of 1755.

Check out Praça do Comércio and Arco da Rua Augusta, and soak in the views of the River Tagus, before making your way to Santa Justa Lift.

Hop on the lift (or if you prefer to walk) to Chiado, and visit the ruins of Carmo Convent, and the Carmo Archaeological Museum. Do stop by A Brasileira cafe, known for its history. This cafe is also the starting point of many history tours covering Alfama, and Graca neighborhoods with a ride on the Tram 26. 

Chiado is very touristy, and if you wish to listen to fado, head over to ‘Fado in Chiado’ for an evening of live music. 

At the Commerce Square Lisbon 2 day itinerary guide
Lisbon guide
Santa Justa lift from the shopping street
Santa Justa lift

At the centre, you can easily spend an entire day (or two) exploring various landmarks, eating Pastel de Natas, seafood, and Ginjinha (drink). The popular Pink Street and the Time Out Market is located here. 

Other top tourist attractions in Lisbon include the Castelo de S. Jorge, Sé Cathedral, Parque Eduardo VII, Church of São Vicente de Fora to name a few. 

Lisbon city centre is also home to many squares and transportation from here to different municipalities is very easy. Connect from Lisbon to Belem, Sintra, or other modern neighborhoods such as the Parque das Nações, which is home to the longest bridge in Europe – Vasco da Gama Bridge, and the Lisbon Oceanarium. 

READ: How to spend 3 days in Lisbon itinerary | Where to stay in Lisbon | Airbnbs in Lisbon | Best Lisbon Photo Spots

Sintra | Pena Palace: Sete Maravilhas de Portugal

Sintra Portugal Guide
Stairway in Pena Palace Sintra, one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal

Sintra – one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal. 

Located about 29 km (18 miles) from Lisbon is Sintra. Known for the iconic Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle, Sintra makes for an easy day trip from Lisbon city centre. 

Pena Palace (Palacio Nacional Da Pena) is the bright yellow and red Romanticist castle, located on top of the Sintra Mountains. The palace interiors are small, but the beauty of the site, and the park in the complex makes for a busy sightseeing day (worth spending 2-4 hours). 

It is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal (Sete Maravilhas de Portugal), and is appreciated for the mixture of Islamic, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, and Neo-Renaissance styles.

Further up from the Pena Palace is the Moorish Castle (or the Castelo dos Mouros). Dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries, this castle is in ruins today, but offers amazing views from where it is located.

The historic town center of Sintra should not be missed on your visit. Spend some time walking the Rua das Padeiras, this is where you will find restaurants, souvenir shops and transportation options to explore Sintra.

quinta da regaleira well
Quinta da Regaleira Well

Located at the centre is also the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, a well-preserved medieval royal palace. There is a museum also located at the palace. A little further away from here is the Quinta da Regaleira. It is recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site, along with the Quinta do Relógio, Pena, Monserrate and Seteais palaces in Sintra. 

Quinta da Regaleira is spread out on an expansive complex and consists of a palace with five floors, a chapel, tunnels, lakes & fountains, and a few initiation wells. 

READ: More day trips from Lisbon Portugal

Queluz | Small city, big on architecture

By Marco from Travel-Boo

View of Queluz Portugal attractions
Queluz Portugal Most Beautiful Cities

Located only a short 17-minute train ride from Lisbon, is one of Lisbon’s true hidden gems

The city of Queluz, which forms part of the Sintra municipality and also the larger Lisbon metropolitan area, is usually not top of many visitor’s bucket list when visiting Portugal. Although it should be!

Queluz itself is a small city with very few attractions or exciting things to see and do. But, its star attraction, the gorgeous Palácio Nacional de Queluz (Queluz National Palace), makes the short trip worthwhile.

The 18th century Queluz Palace, as well as the beautiful lush and manicured gardens, is perhaps one of the most beautiful palaces we have visited in all of Portugal. Work began in 1747 and managed by architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira, with the palace being built for King Pedro III and Queen Maria I.

Sadly, around a third of the palace’s interiors were destroyed in a fire in 1934 but has since been lovingly restored to its former glory. The elaborate interiors, the exquisite exteriors, as well as the peaceful gardens all add to the charm of this Rococo-style palace, believed to be one of the very last of its style to be designed in Europe. Queluz is often also referred to as the Versailles of Portugal, albeit on a much smaller scale.

You can get to Queluz from Lisbon on the train headed for Sintra and leaving from Rossio train station, then arriving at the Queluz-Belas station. From there it’s a short 11-minute walk to the palace. Alternatively, you could catch an Uber or another cab-hailing service. You would get there in under 20 minutes at a cost of roughly €10 each way.

At present, the ticket price to enter is around €9.50 for an adult ticket for the Garden & Palace. There are various discounts available for children, family tickets, and senior discounts, with children under the age of six, allowed free entry.

Fatima | Home to Holy Site

By Victoria from Guide Your Travel

Fatima: Most beautiful places in Portugal

Fatima is a small city located 144 kilometres (27.4 miles) north of the capital Lisbon. You can drive there in just over an hour and it makes a great day-trip from Lisbon or a stop on your Portugal road trip itinerary

Fatima is not at the top of most tourists’ lists when they come to Portugal. It has a lot of annual visitors but not for the purposes of tourism but rather because it is one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe. 

Thousands of Catholics visit the beautiful Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima every day. This giant plaza with multiple churches, shrines and places of worship is an impressive sight. Even if you are not Catholic or interested in religious places this is a must-see when you are in Fatima. 

The white buildings are especially beautiful during sunny days and will leave you in awe. During religious festivals, this place can get very crowded so make sure to check if there is something going on before you go.

Fatima is a holy site so always be respectful and try to dress modestly when you visit places of worship. Of course, there is more to Fatima than just the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima. There are plenty of small alleys to explore and little shops and restaurants where you can enjoy the afternoon. This tiny town is well worth a visit and a great spot to spend a few days.

Day Tour: Visit Fatima on a day tour from Lisbon

Guimarães | ‘Birthplace of Portugal’ in North Portugal

By Jorge & Cláudia from Portugal Things

Aerial view of castle of Guimaraes, first capital of Portugal
Aerial view of castle of Guimaraes, first capital of Portugal

Guimarães is a city in the north of Portugal,  known as the birthplace of the country. It was the first Capital of Portugal and where D. Afonso Henriques (Portugal’s first King) won the battle of S. Mamede against his mother, ensuring the independence of Portugal from Castilla. Thus, it is a crucial city in the History of Portugal.

The most important attractions are the Castle of Guimarães and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança. The castle was initially built in the 10th century to defend the population from attacks from the Vikings and the Moors. It is an impressive and well-preserved castle. The Palace of the Dukes of Bragança is a 15th-century imposing manor house with majestic rooms located right next to the castle.

Nevertheless, the biggest reason to visit Guimaraes lies in its extraordinarily well preserved old town, a UNESCO world heritage site, since 2001. The historic city center is filled with beautiful squares, cobbled streets, quaint alleys, and churches. 

City Hall of Guimarães is housed inside a former 16th century Baroque convent of Santa Maria. 

Guimarães is close to Porto (the second biggest city in Portugal), which you can quickly reach by train or bus. The city is also close to Braga, and Viana do Castelo. You can also easily visit Guimarães as a day trip from Porto, by train or bus.

The city is enjoyable in any season of the year, but we suggest visiting in Summer when it’s warmer and rains less. In winter it tends to rain much more. There are plenty of good hotels to spend the night in, like Hotel da Oliveira and Stay Hotel Guimaraes Centro.

Portimão | Port City in the Algarve, Southern Portugal

By Alice from Adventures of Alice

View of the city of Portimao: Portugal best cities
View of the city of Portimao: Portugal best cities

The Algarve is a great place to visit in Portugal and it’s incredibly popular with travelers from around the globe. Its signature rocky coastline is a beautiful draw and there is also a selection of gorgeous towns and delightful Portuguese cities along the coast. The second largest of these towns and cities along the Algarve is the beautiful city of Portimão. 

Located right bank of the Arade River just before it reaches the ocean, Portimão is a typical Portuguese market city, with tranquil squares, stunning beaches nearby, delicious restaurants, and great shopping opportunities for both tourists and locals.

A few of the best things to do in Portimão include taking a visit to the 17th-century church Igreja do Colégio, the Museu de Portimão if you fancy a dip into the city’s history, going for a stroll along the Ribeirinha as it follows the old docks to the Praca de Bivar and exploring the Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar, which you can see with a combined ticket from the museum.

Don’t forget to visit the beaches! 

The best ones nearby are the infamous Praia da Rocha which is one of the most popular beaches in the Algarve, the Praia do Vau is also a worthwhile choice and lastly Praia de Alvor, next to the nearby village of Alvor which is incidentally a great day trip from Portimao. 

Overall, whether you enjoy the chilled-out city life, historical monuments or relaxing on the beach, Portimao is one of the best cities in Portugal.

Coimbra | Old Capital City of Portugal

By Or from My Path in the World

Coimbra Best day trips from Lisbon
Coimbra: Portugal top cities

Situated in the region of Central Portugal, the charming Coimbra can be visited either as a weekend getaway, a day trip from Porto, or a stop on a road trip (like a drive from Lisbon to Porto). It’s the fourth-largest city in the country, and it was even the capital of Portugal in the 12th and 13th centuries. To make the most of your trip, visit in spring or fall when the weather is pleasant and there are fewer tourists.

Coimbra is particularly known for its UNESCO-listed university, which is the oldest in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe (dating back to the 13th century). You can climb its tower to get a panoramic view of the city, visit the Joanine Library, and wander around its botanical gardens and some of its courtyards. 

Other must-visit historical landmarks and cultural places in Coimbra include the Sé Velha cathedral, Santa Cruz Monastery, Machado de Castro National Museum, and Arches of Aqueduct São Sebastião (dating back to Romans times).

Coimbra is also a fantastic place to go to a fado show as it has developed its own version of it called Fado de Coimbra. If you’re a foodie, there are also plenty of incredible restaurants and cafes in the city like A Cozinha da Maria and Refeito da Baixa.

For well-located accommodation, stay at the cozy and affordable Sophia Residences. If you want to explore the city’s surroundings, nearby beautiful places you can visit include Porto, Leiria, Viseu, Aveiro, and Serra da Estrela Natural Park. 

Porto | Second largest city in Portugal

By Emma from Travel on a Time Budget

Views of city centre Porto in most beautiful cities in Portugal
Porto: Top cities in Portugal

Porto, Portugal’s second city, is not to be missed. 

Boasting a UNESCO World Heritage centre, arresting views of the River Douro with its iconic suspension bridge, and some fascinating sights, there’s no shortage of things to do.  This includes the Se do Porto cathedral and its neighbour the Episcopal Palace, the central plaza, Praça da Liberdade, and the Torre dos Clerigos tower. 

Fans of Harry Potter should visit the neo-gothic Livraria Lello bookshop, the inspiration for JK Rowling when she penned the books. There are also a range of fascinating museums and a botanical garden.  

Trips to Porto should include some time spent in the colorful riverside promenade in Ribeira. This is a bustling place with bars and restaurants, a perfect spot for dining al fresco in the warm summer sun.  It’s also a great area to stay in, with proximity to the main sights and main railway station (recommendations include Porto River and InPatio). 

View of houses in Rebeira in Porto Portugal
Porto Rebeira

Rebeira is a stone’s throw from another key area to visit: Vila Nova de Gaia. Cross the Ponte de Dom Luis I bridge, taking in the stunning views of the river, and then catch the cable car down into Gaia.  This is where the renowned port cellars are located and you can book onto tours and tastings. Old fashioned rabelo boats, used to transport port barrels from further upstream, bob up and down on the water.

Day trips outside of the city include Aveiro (said to be Portugal’s Venice), Guimaraes, or Braga, with its hilltop sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte.  For some sea air, take the vintage tram number 1 from the city out to Foz do Douro on the Atlantic coast.

BOOK: Day tour from Porto to Braga and Guimaraes | Douro Valley Wine Tour

Aveiro | ‘Venice of Portugal’

By Marie from A Life Without Borders

Aveiro called the Venice of Portugal
Aveiro: Best Portugal cities

Nicknamed the Venice of Portugal, the charming city of Aveiro, is most famous for its picturesque canals and colorful gondolas, known as Moliceiros, which ferry visitors through the maze of waterways in the city centre. 

It’s also renowned for the regional Portuguese delicacy of Ovos Moles de Aveiro – a super-sweet sugary egg-yolk treat that pairs beautifully with coffee.

Apart from its rich maritime history, Aveiro also offers stunning Art Nouveau heritage buildings, interesting museums, and traditional Portuguese tiles adorning the old train station and many of the shops, churches, and homes in the area. 

Stroll the stretch along the main waterway to discover lots of quaint cafes and restaurants, or pop into the Aveiro Fish Market for the freshest of fish cooked on the spot.

For those with more time, take a ten-minute trip to the nearby Costa Nova, a traditional Portuguese fishing village famed for its brightly striped wooden cottages. Once used to store fishing gear, these cute houses have turned the local fishing village into one of the most instagrammable places in Portugal.

Just one hour from Porto by train, Aveiro makes for an easy day trip or interesting stopover when driving between Lisbon and Porto. If staying the night, you could try the elegant four-star Hotel Moliceiro, with its impeccable service and lovely views over the central canal.

Although Aveiro can be visited year round, the best time is generally from May to October when the temperatures are mild and there is less chance of rain.

BOOK: Porto & Aveiro Half day tour combo

Braga | One of the oldest cities in Portugal 

By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog 

Braga in Portugal
Braga: Best cities to visit in Portugal

Braga is one of the best cities to visit in Portugal. As one of the oldest cities in the country and one of the largest ones, it comes as no surprise that Braga has a lot to offer. You can easily spend a couple of days exploring its charming city center and the surrounding area.  

The best time to visit Braga is during Spring and in the Fall, summers are too hot and the winter can actually get quite cold up north. 

Within Braga the number one place to visit is the Sé de Braga. This ancient Cathedral was constructed in the 11th century and a city icon. The Sé de Braga is easy on your budget as well, for a mere €2 you can enter the cathedral and admire the imposing interior. 

The cathedral is open daily from 8.30 am until 6.30 pm. This goes without saying, but please dress and behave respectfully.  

Stroll around the charming city center and admire the Arco da Porta Nova, explore the Castle of Braga and have a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants. Donna Se is a good place for lunch or dinner, especially for traveling families. Also be sure to pick up a couple of very tasty pastel de nata at Pastelaria A Ritinha.  

While Braga city center has enough to keep you occupied, there is another must-visit attraction located just outside of town: the Bom Jesus do Monte. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on top of Mount Espinho and an important pilgrimage site. 

Évora | Of historical sites, Roman columns and medieval walls

By Cath from Moving to Portugal

Roman Temple ruins in Evora Portugal
Roman Temple, Evora

One of the most beautiful cities in Portugal is Évora. Located in the region of Alentejo, Évora is the capital city of this region of Portugal and is a historically important one in the country. Although it is not very big compared to some cities, it is a must-visit.

Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to both the Roman Temple, Roman aqueducts, Sé (Cathedral of Évora) and other important buildings and monuments. 

Most of the old city is located within medieval walls and once you are inside these, you will be welcomed by narrow streets, cathedrals and churches, as well as the important cathedral and Roman Temple.

Stop at any café to enjoy an abatanado (coffee) and a pastel de nata.

The Se Cathedral is worth visiting, especially to climb to the roof of the cathedral to take in panoramic views of the Alentejo landscape. And the cloisters of the cathedral are a peaceful and tranquil place. You can also have lunch at the café at the rear of the cathedral. The bacalhau bras and prawn spaghetti are delicious.

Évora can be hot in summer due to its position inland, so if you aren’t a fan of the heat, visit in spring or autumn. A nice place for a day trip is Elvas, another town in the Alentejo which is famous for its star forts and is less than an hour from Évora. 

And just 15km from Évora are the Cromeleque dos Almendres, a megalithic monument with standing stones which are older than Stonehenge.

Évora is worth visiting if you are planning to tour parts of the country and you will be in the Alentejo region of Portugal.

Check out: Private tour of Evora

Vila Nova de Gaia | City for wine lovers in Portugal 

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Vila Nova de Gaia, on the banks of Douro river
Vila Nova de Gaia, on the banks of Douro river

Gaia is a city located on the far banks of Douro, Portugal. Despite its not-so-popular proximity from other cities, Gaia is a city of its own charm. It is one of the recommended cities to visit in Portugal because of its historical relationship with wine. 

Gaia, also known as Vila Nova de Gaia is popular all around the world for the port. Gaia is the origin of all the port wine found across the world and it has been the origin since the 17th century.

Earlier the barrel of wine was transported from the upper Douro Valley via boat. After that, the barrels were taken to one of the port lodges to process it into port. 

They still follow a similar process but the transportation is done by road. This is what still makes Gaia a remarkable city in Portugal. However, there still are a lot of other things to see there.

One of the best ones is the 17th-century monastery, the Mosteiro da Serra de Pilar. The gardens across the monastery have the charm of their own. Sitting at the calm Jardim do Morro with a landscape view is another thing that you’d love there. 

You can also go on a day trip from Gaia to Guimaraes and Braga and explore their culture.

Visiting Gaia during middle-year months is preferable as the weather is moderate. You should also add a long stay at Oporto to not miss any of the best things to do in Northern Portugal.

Viana do Castelo | Coastal city in North Portugal

By Jorge & Cláudia of Portugal Things

Colorful facades of houses on Lima riverside in Viana do Castelo in Portugal
Colorful facades of houses on Lima riverside in Viana do Castelo in Portugal

Bathed by the sea and the river Lima, Viana do Castelo is a beautiful coastal city in the north of Portugal. It has one of Portugal’s most important ports, one that had an important role in the Portuguese discoveries and the Cod fishing campaigns.

Although it isn’t the most famous Portuguese city, it is well worth visiting and has plenty of things to do and visit.

While visiting the city you shouldn’t miss the Santa Luzia Sanctuary with its panoramic views, overlooking the city of Viana do Castelo, the river lima, and the shoreline. The views are breathtaking. 

Another attraction you can’t miss is the Gil Eanes Hospital Ship, a former hospital ship converted into a museum. The ship used to support the Portuguese fleet which fished Cod. Where you will have the opportunity to learn about Portugal’s brave history in the Cod fishing campaigns. 

Plus the city has a picturesque historic city center with old beautiful buildings and cobbled streets

Viana do Castelo is also the ideal city to eat delicious fresh fish and sunbathe on the beach. Being the ideal season to visit is in Summer when it is hot.

The city is very close to Porto, only about 70 km (43.5 miles), which you can reach by train, close to Spain (60 km or 37 miles) and other famous beach cities like Caminha and Vila do Conde.

Viana do Castelo also has several good hotels but if you want to stay somewhere special you have Hotel Feel Viana by the beach is a fantastic spot to relax and to surf.

Faro | Capital city of Portugal’s Algarve region

By Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple 

Main entrance to historical downtown of Faro in beautiful Portugal.
Main entrance to historical downtown of Faro in beautiful Portugal.

Faro is the southernmost city in Portugal and the administrative capital of the Algarve region. Faro is also a perfect base to explore Algarve that is peppered with stunning beaches and hidden coves. 

Explore Faro’s historic centre, known as Cidade Velha. This is a perfect place to begin your city tour.  Explore the neoclassical arch Arco da Villa, or pay a visit to Faro Cathedral.  If you enjoy museums, head over to Maritime museum or Faro Archeological Museum that houses interesting artefacts about local history. 

For a perfect outdoor adventure, explore Ria Formosa Natural Park, a protected natural park that stretches over 60 km of the Algarve coast. It is also considered one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. The park is made of mudflat marshes and lagoons separated from the sea by five barrier islands and two peninsulas.

Ria Formosa’s unique ecosystem has paved the way for a natural habitat for flora and fauna. It is the breeding ground for birds like Ibis, egrets, and flamingoes. You can enjoy bird watching or go hiking, or kayak/snorkel in the pristine waters of Ria Formosa – the options are truly unlimited. 

Alternatively, you can take a boat trip from Faro harbour and explore the five islands of Ria Formosa. 

Faro as a city can be visited all year round. Summer is perfect for beaches and swimming, spring and autumn are good for hiking and cycling. Whereas winter is still relatively mild than the rest of Europe (low of 15 degrees) and is perfect for bird watching and coastal walks.

BOOK: A romantic sunset tour in Rio Formosa from Faro

Lagos | Beach, resort city in Algarve Portugal

By Elena from The Carry-On Chronicles

Old town in Lagos Portugal
Old Town in Lagos Portugal

Lagos is a charming city that lies in Portugal’s stunning Algarve region. It’s known for its breathtaking beaches, welcoming people, and seafaring history. 

Visitors are magnetically drawn to its historic Old Town, featuring cobblestone streets and stunning buildings with azulejos. In the heart of town, travelers gather to admire and browse Loja Obrigado, the beloved green-tiled gift shop. 

The Old Town is home to numerous restaurants known for traditional Portuguese cuisine and warm hospitality. On a summer evening, tourists can enjoy listening to live music and feel a palpable energy in the town center.

Those looking for a relaxing beach day should venture out to explore some of the area’s most incredible calling cards, such as Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Pinhão, Ponta da Piedade, and Praia do Camilo. Each of these beaches features a dramatic coastline and striking rock formations that the Algarve is famous for.

Lagos Portugal

Alternatively, for those looking to take a day trip, Lagos serves as a perfect jumping-off point to discover other Algarve cities and towns. Three popular ones include Portimão, Albufeira, and Faro. 

Faro, the region’s capital, has the most to see in terms of historic monuments.

Accommodations in Lagos tend to be in the mid-budget range and many offer waterfront views. The Carvi Beach Hotel is a beautiful beachfront option, located right on Praia Dona Ana. 

As Lagos has a Mediterranean climate, the best time to visit is between April and October. July brings the hottest temperatures, but is a popular time with tourists.

Book: Lagos Algarve Heritage Tour in a Classic VW T2 Van

Olhao | Small city with a rich fishing history

By Gabi from Under the Flowery Sky

Aerial view of Olhao, Algarve, Portugal
Aerial view of Olhao, Algarve, Portugal

Olhao is a beautiful small town located on the river Gilao between Faro and Tavira in the Algarve region. 

Olhao is a perfect place to explore rich birdlife as the boats are so easily reachable to explore national park Ria Formosa and diverse islands, even the flamingos can be seen.

Ilha da Armona with its scattered river traces and Ilha da Culatra with the wide sandy beaches are the best choices. It’s so lovely to stroll along the river promenade just enjoying coffee or view of the boats. 

Ria Formosa can also be explored by foot for free, some of the best routes include: Ilha de Faro Loop from Park Atlantico, hike around Muhle Museum either from Salinas de Coquena or from waterwheel, walk around Praia de Barril.

Olhao counts more than 40 000 citizens, once it was mostly a fishing port which still is producing tunas and canned sardines in the significant level. The town is known for its fishmarket where the various fruits can be bought beside fish.

Moorish architecture rules here with the white houses spreaded on its tiny, cobblestone streets.

The picturesque landscape of Ria Formosa can most effectively be captured from Quinta de Marim, 3 km (1.86 miles) from the centre. Environmental educational centre is also located here.

The best accommodation options near the beach include luxury Quinta do Lado Hotel or Vale do Lobo resort.

Best places to visit near Olhao are Faro which is only 10 km (6.2 miles) away and Tavira, a lovely medieval town.

As Olhao is known for its fish production, the best time to visit is during the Seafood Festival in August. Summer is most vivid in Olhao as the music can be heard everywhere so the city bursts with cultural events. Autumn and spring are also fantastic options as it’s quieter and temperatures are cooler.

BOOK: Sunset tour with dinner from Olhao

Nazaré | ‘Picturesque seaside town’ in Portugal

By De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander

Nazare: Best cities to visit in Portugal

Nazaré, situated roughly halfway between Lisbon and Porto, is a popular seaside town to visit. The city still retains much of its traditional charm, in spite of its recent rise in popularity.

The wild Atlantic beaches and the enormous waves are the main reason why people come to Nazaré. In the winter months, Nazaré is home to the largest surfing waves in the world. Adventurous travelers and photographers will love Nazaré in the cold winter months.

During the summer months, the beaches are perfect for sunbathing and swimming. The whole family will love Praia Nazaré in town, while those looking for solitude and wide open beaches should head to Praia do Norte.

Regardless of when you come to Nazaré, the seafood is sublime! Definitely try the barnacles or the crab.

For the best view over the red tiled roofs and Praia Nazaré, ride the funicular to the clifftop neighborhood of Sitio. The view from here is truly breathtaking. While you’re in Sitio, visit the baroque church of Igreja Nossa Senhora da Nazaré. This church is a major pilgrimage site, and is said to have a carving made in Nazareth by Jesus’ father. 

Nearby Obidos, a medieval town sitting on a hilltop and encircled with a fortified wall makes a good day trip if you need a break from the beach. 

Tipping Point North Beach in Sitio is a fantastic bed and breakfast with friendly hosts and a fantastic breakfast spread. It’s a short walk through the pine trees to Praia do Norte.

Tavira | City in eastern Algarve with Moorish flair, sandy beaches 

By Cath from Passports and Adventures

Tavira one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal
Tavira: Most beautiful cities in Portugal

If you are looking for a more traditional Portuguese city to visit in the Algarve, then Tavira is one to spend some time in. 

Unlike the most tourist destinations in the west Algarve that attract holidaymakers in the summer, Tavira does not have high-rise hotels and resorts. It is a much more traditional city and frequented by Portuguese themselves and tourists looking for a quieter place to visit.

Although it is not very big, Tavira still has lots to do. Aside from strolling the narrow, cobbled streets and stopping at a café or two, there are several churches to visit in Tavira, with one of the best being the Igreja da Misericórdia, located just off the main square. 

Make sure to have a coffee at the Pastelaria Veneza on the square. Just a little further away from the church are the ruins of the castle and a Camera Obscura which gives wonderful 360-degree views across the city.

During summertime there is a small tourist train that can bring you around the main points of the city and is guided. If you fancy the beach, you can take one of the ferries across to the Ilha de Tavira where you will be met by long sandy beaches. There are some facilities including toilets, cafes and restaurants there. 

For those visiting Portugal with kids, there is a small science museum and the kids will love the tourist train and beaches.

Day trips can include boat tours from the city to try and spot dolphins, and Vila Real de Santo António is only a 25-minute drive away from where you can take the ferry to visit Spain. For a central hotel location, book into the Vila Galé Tavira.

BOOK: Private Tuk-Tuk City Tour, Boat Tour and Lunch

Peniche | Seaside city in Portugal

By Milene from Surf & Unwind

Peniche: Most Beautiful towns in Portugal
Peniche: Most Beautiful towns in Portugal

Nestled on a peninsula along the Silver Coast, Peniche is a small fishing town situated about an hour north of the Portuguese capital. It’s the perfect choice for those looking for a more off-the-beaten-track destination amongst the usual day-trips departing Lisbon

Peniche’s unspoiled coastline is famed for its waves and stunning scenery and, like most places in Portugal, it has good weather for most of the year.

You can get to Peniche by joining an organised tour, taking one of the comfortable, regular-scheduled coach services from Lisbon or, if you prefer to have flexibility on your visit, opt for driving up the coast instead.

The main attractions in Peniche are within walking distance in and around the Old Town like the 16th-century São João Batista’s Fortress, Museu de Renda de Bilros, Cabo Carvoeiro and its uneven rock formations, as well as Berlengas Islands, a UNESCO’s World Biosphere Reserve. 

Baleal and Supertubos, Peniche’s main beaches, sit a few miles away on either side of the Old Town. Baleal is split between North and South beaches by a rugged headland, making the conditions on each beach completely different due to their unique geographic position with each facing opposite directions on the cape. 

Supertubos is another long stretch of a sandy, preserved coast that hosts an elite surfing competition every year and it’s where you’ll find a greater choice of accommodation and amenities in town.

Funchal | Capital city of Madeira 

By Kitti from Kitti Around the World

Funchal Portugal views
Funchal: Best cities in Portugal to visit

If you’re visiting the island of Madeira, the capital city of Funchal, is a must-see destination. Funchal is also the ideal place to be based if you’re spending a week or longer in Madeira.

The city is filled with historic sites, museums, botanic gardens, and unique activities which makes it a great place for a large variety of people.

For a magnificent view over Funchal make sure to ride the Monte Cable Car. If you love botanical gardens, then you should visit Monte Palace Tropical Garden and Madeira Botanical Garden. After strolling through the gardens head over to the 18th Century Church of Our Lady of Monte.

The ultimate unique experience in Funchal that you should try out is the Toboggan Ride. You’ll be sat in a traditional wicker basket and be sliding down the steep streets of Funchal pushed by two runners in traditional costumes.

Don’t forget to walk around Funchal’s Old Town and find the most colorful doors along with Rue de Santa Maria. For a relaxing evening, make sure to try Madeira’s sweet wine and have a stroll around the city’s beautiful waterfront.

If you’re in Madeira for longer, you can hire a car and tour around the island that’s often referred to as the Hawaii of Europe. You can hike, swim in natural volcanic pools, take more cable car rides and see waterfalls around every new corner.

Due to Madeira’s proximity to Africa, the summer months can be hot and dry. However, during spring and autumn, you can still enjoy mid-20’s temperatures and fewer tourists.

BOOK: Funchal Historical walking tour

Ponta Delgada | Capital city of the Azores archipelago

By Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker

View of the Ponta Delgada - San Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal.
View of the Ponta Delgada – San Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal.

Your introduction to the Azores will probably start in Ponta Delgada, the capital of the autonomous region of this volcanic archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

You’ll find this city on the largest island called São Miguel. Whereas Portugal’s mainland can sometimes make you feel a little dehydrated, the surroundings of Ponta Delgada are truly refreshing, green, and a joy to the eye.

The islands were uninhabited at the time of the Portuguese arrival. Ponta Delgada has been inhabited since the 15th century. 

Start your tour of the city at the city gates (portas da cidade) and check out the old buildings made with white paint and black volcanic rock. A pretty temple to visit is the hilltop Ermida da Mãe de Deus. 

Buy one of the locally-produced juicy pineapples at a veggie shop or the supermarket. There you’ll also find wines, mostly produced on neighboring islands and, of course, the mainland.

A great way to enjoy São Miguel island is by renting a scooter/car from Ponta Delgada. The scenic route to the town of Sete Cidades is out of this world and only a 40-minute drive away. The coast is full of beautiful capes and lighthouses, such as Farol do Arnel on the east coast. Don’t forget to pick up your jaw from the floor after every stop.

For accommodation, you can pick from an abundance of hostels, hotels, and comfy Airbnbs—which is what we chose. Here is our pick: Casa Hintze Ribeiro

It’s never too hot or too cold, but the best time to visit is in July when the famous blue hydrangeas are in bloom. Make sure to pack some rain-proof outfits even if you’re going in summer.

Albufeira | Most beautiful towns in the Algarve

By Anna from Big World Short Stories

Albufeira: Resort-town in Algarve
Albufeira: Resort-town in Algarve

Albufeira is a resort-town in Algarve, the southern part of Portugal. It is located about 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) away from Faro International Airport which is served by major low-cost European airlines. 

Albufeira, once a small fishing village, has become one of the best holiday destinations in southern Portugal. It is best known for its safe beaches and historic old town packed with numerous restaurants, cafes and a vivid nightlife.  

Albufeira has located a short distance from the main attractions of Algarve in Portugal. One of the best attractions in the Algarve is the Benagil Cave. This cave is the most famous cave in Algarve. Benagil Beach and its cave is located about 26 Kilometers (16 miles) from Albufeira. You can either take a guided tour directly from Albufeira Port or drive there yourself. 

Another great destination for a day trip from Albufeira is Silves, the ancient capital of the Algarve. It is best known for its castle which is the best-preserved castle in the Algarve. A 15-minute drive from Silves you can find a winery called Quinta do Francês. It is a great winery that offers a wine tour and wine tasting.

For families it is best to stay closer to the beach of Albufeira beach – Praia dos Pescadores. If you want to enjoy the bars and nightlife of this resort-town, you can also stay in the historic old town.

Albufeira is a great holiday destination all-year-round. The high season here is considered the period between June and September. On the other hand, if you go to Albufeira in October or November, you will still have warm sunny weather but much fewer tourists and lower hotel prices. 

BOOK: Guided tour of Albufeira town

So there you have it – from beaches, resorts to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Portugal makes for an amazing destination for history and culture lovers! 

Pin: Best cities to visit in Portugal

Pin for most beautiful cities in Portugal
Best cities in Portugal to visit

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One Comment

  1. What a stunning collection of cities. I love Portugal and really cannot wait to return and explore more of these beautiful cities. I’m so happy that I could contribute to this post 🙂

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