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35 Portugal Bucket List Items You Must Experience & See

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Ahoy, travelers! If you’re looking to experience the best of Portugal, then this is the perfect guide for you. Enjoy cultural cities like Lisbon and Porto, explore stunning coastal towns such as Sintra and Cascais, and uncover hidden gems in Algarve’s pristine beaches. Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, a beach bum, or an adventurer, our Portugal bucket list has you covered! 

Portugal Bucket List: 35 Fun Things to Do in Portugal 

Things to do in Portugal Bucket list

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Our first trip to Portugal was in 2019, and since then we have made our way there every year (except in 2020 and you know why 🙂

From surfing the Atlantic waves to tasting local wines and delicacies in small villages – we promise, you will LOVE this beautiful European country – it is colorful, affordable, full of culture, food, and lovely people 

Streets of Lisbon Portugal

So, let’s dive into this bucket list and explore all that Portugal has to offer! 

P.S. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

1. Check off all the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal  

For culture buffs, Portugal has some amazing museums and historical attractions including 17 World Heritage Sites in total (16 are cultural sites, and 1 is a natural site). 

We love checking off UNESCO Heritage Sites (if you need a bucket list to follow all over the world, then sign up for this list here) 

Here is the full LIST 🙂

Portugal UNESCO World Heritage Sites List

  • ☐ Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores
  • ☐ Convent of Christ in Tomar
  • ☐ Monastery of Batalha
  • ☐ Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon
  • ☐ Historic Centre of Évora
  • ☐ Monastery of Alcobaça
  • ☐ Cultural Landscape of Sintra
  • ☐ Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar
  • ☐ Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde * 20
  • ☐ Laurisilva of Madeira
  • ☐ Alto Douro Wine Region
  • ☐ Historic Centre of Guimarães
  • ☐ Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture
  • ☐ Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications
  • ☐ University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia
  • ☐ Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden, and Hunting Park (Tapada)
  • ☐ Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga

Now that we are off to a great start, let’s go over the best things to see in Portugal that are worthy of adding to your bucket list.

Read: Portugal in 10 days

2. See the Carmo Convent (at night if possible)

Carmo Convent in Lisbon is one of Portugal’s most beautiful churches, boasting intricate stone carvings and Gothic-style arches. 

Carmo Convent

The convent was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, but its ruins remain as one of Lisbon’s most distinctive landmarks. 

Inside the ruin, you can explore its remaining nave and cloister while learning about the church’s history from the past 6 centuries. 

Santa Justa Lift

In the summer months, you can enjoy night shows, concerts and other events. Right outside the convent is the Santa Justa Lift, and a monumental drinking fountain from 18th century, and a breezy square where you can hang out!

3. Ride the historic Tram 28

Exploring the vibrant city of Lisbon aboard the historic Tram 28 is another must-see experience for any Portugal Bucket list. 

The iconic wooden trams, also referred to as ‘Eléctrico’, have been operating in the city since 1873 and remain a popular way of getting around for both locals and tourists alike. 

The trams wend their way through the winding streets of Lisbon, offering spectacular views of its many landmarks and attractions. Taking a ride on one of these vintage trams is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the city. 

Tram 28 is special as it takes you through Lisbon’s popular neighbourhhods like Baixa, and Alfama. 

Read: Best photo spots in Lisbon | Lisbon 2 day itinerary

4. Eat Pastel de Nata in one of the oldest cafes in the country: Portuguese Custard Tarts

A Portuguese custard tart, the pastel de nata is an absolute must-try when you’re in Portugal (especially in a centuries old cafe)! 

Pastel di Nata in Lisbon
Pastel de Nata

But you can find these delicious treats almost anywhere in Portugal and the locals love it! 

The warm, creamy custard encased in buttery puff pastry will have you coming back for more. 

Enjoy a pastel de nata with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to fully appreciate its flavour! Make sure to get some extra to take home for your friends and family. 

Read: What to buy in Portugal

5. Explore the Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery, located in Belem near Lisbon, is one of Portugal’s most iconic landmarks. Dating back to the 16th century, you will also find monuments of great explorer Vasco da Gama and poet Luís de Camões. 

Beautiful Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Belem

The monastery is considered by many to be one of the best examples of Manueline architecture in the world. 

A visit to Jerónimos Monastery will provide you with a unique and memorable experience, as you explore the complex’s majestically ornamental façade, its tranquil gardens, and its impressive gothic-style nave. 

You can also take part in a guided tour to learn more about th monastery’s fascinating history.

6. See the Belem Tower

A visit to the Belem Tower in Portugal should be at the top of any traveler’s bucket list. The iconic and well-preserved Manueline architecture was built as a fortress in 1515, making it one of Lisbon’s oldest monuments. 

Belem Tower: Portugal Bucket list

It is located on the banks of the Tagus River where explorers once set off for their voyages around the globe. The tower is an excellent place to experience history and explore its many nooks and crannies.

The tower was built as a defense structure and served as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon’s harbor. 

7. Visit the Sao Jorge Castle

Make time to explore the majestic Sao Jorge Castle, perched on a hilltop overlooking Lisbon’s cityscape. The castle has a fascinating history that dates back to the Iron Age and was later used as an important defense structure during the Middle Ages. 

Today, you can explore its magnificent grounds and learn more about its past with a guided tour. This impressive castle is composed of layers of walls and towers, as well as terraces offering stunning views of Lisbon’s skyline. 

An exciting highlight is walking around the ramparts to feel like a noble knight! Sao Jorge Castle is a must-see for anyone seeking to explore Portugal’s intriguing history.

Remember to grab online tickets here

8. Attend a cooking class in Lisbon (and learn to make pastel de nata)

Another must-have experience in Portugal is joining a cooking class in Lisbon. A great way to learn more about Portuguese culture is by cooking in a traditional kitchen and learning how to make the country’s famous pastel de nata, or custard tart. 

Cooking class in Portugal

You will get to see firsthand how this popular dessert is made, as well as pick up tips from local chefs on how to best prepare it. Not only is it a great learning experience, but the finished product tastes delicious! 

So make sure to pencil in some time for this unique activity on your Portuguese bucket list.

9. Visit Sintra and check off the Pena Palace

Take a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon to admire majestic palaces such as Pena Palace and Moorish Castle, and take in the town’s beautiful gardens and cobblestone streets.

Built in the 19th century, the Pena Palace is an architectural masterpiece – mix of several styles such as Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, New-Romanesque along with ornate turrets and colorful Neo-Moorish and Indo-Gothic decorations that transport you back in time.

Don’t forget to take a walk through its lush gardens for breathtaking views of the city below! 

Read: More palaces of Sintra

10. Check off the westernmost part of continental Europe

Visiting Cabo Da Roca in Portugal is a must-have on any bucket list! Located at the westernmost point of continental Europe, this stunning coastal destination can easily be reached by car from Lisbon or Sintra.

Cabo da Raco - Lisbon to Sintra Day trip Itinerary
Cabo da Raco – Lisbon to Sintra day trip itinerary

Cabo Da Roca offers breathtaking views of the sea and cliffs, with hundreds of species of birds soaring overhead. It’s also a great spot for photographers and adventurers, as there are many trails that lead up the cliffs, allowing visitors to take in the expansive landscape views.

Read: Lisbon itinerary 4 days

11. Explore the colorful city of Porto

Visiting Porto is a must-have on any Portugal bucket list. This vibrant city is the second largest in the country, and one that is full of stunning architecture, buzzing nightlife and delicious local cuisine will captivate your senses and make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale. 

Porto

Take a stroll through the winding cobblestone streets and admire the colorful buildings that line the Douro River. Don’t forget to sample some of Porto’s famous vinho verde! 

For panoramic views of the cityscape, take a ride on one of the cable cars and gain a bird’s-eye perspective. 

Read: 3 days in Porto Itinerary

12. Enjoy the 6 Bridges Cruise in Porto

A 6 bridges cruise in Porto is a must-have on any Portugal bucket list! Enjoy the breath-taking views of the Douro River, as you travel along its length and admire six iconic bridges that connect the city’s two banks. 

Learn more about the history of this famous river by listening to your guide, or just spend some time taking in the views and appreciating the beauty of Portugal’s second-largest city. 

For a truly memorable experience, choose to take this cruise at sunset – the views will be even more breathtaking! 

The Douro River is an important part of Portuguese culture. Its banks are lined with stunning terraced vineyards, small villages, colorful boats, and historic sites all along the way. 

As you make your way along the river, admire the iconic bridges – Dom Luis I Bridge, Luís II Bridge, Maria Pia Bridge and more.

The 6 bridges cruise is available all year round and is a great way to take in some of Porto’s incredible sights. So be sure to add this to your Portugal bucket list and have an unforgettable experience in beautiful Porto!

13. See high waves in Nazare

Surfing in Nazaré should be on every surfer’s bucket list! Located on the Atlantic Coast, this small fishing village offers some of the best big wave surfing in Europe. 

In recent years, it has also become renowned as one of the top locations for extreme sports and high adrenaline activities.

You can enjoy watching surfers challenge themselves on the incredible waves off the coast of Nazaré, or if you are a more experienced surfer, take part in the action yourself! 

It can be intimidating to begin with as some of these can reach up to 30 meters high! However, there is plenty of help and advice available from local instructors.

The best thing about Nazaré is the stunning scenery that surrounds it. You can take a break from surfing and simply admire the beautiful views of the coastline, or explore all that this charming village has to offer. 

Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a complete beginner, Nazaré is the perfect place to tick off an item on your Portugal bucket list! Make sure you come prepared and make some amazing memories in this incredible beachside destination.

14. Wander the charming alleyways of Obidos

Obidos is a charming town, located very close to Lisbon (yes you can visit by public transportation as well). Known as the wedding present town, the charming cobblestone streets are lined with colorful facades and locals selling handmade souvenirs. 

Cute lanes of Obidos

You can wander through the narrow alleyways to discover hidden gems like the Obidos Castle and walk the walls of the old town. 

Don’t forget to try cherry liquor or Ginjha while you are there!

15. Visit the religious site of Fatima

One of the must visit places in Portugal is the religious site of Fatima. Fatima holds immense cultural significance and has been visited by millions of pilgrims for centuries. 

Site of Fatima

Here, you can learn about the many miracles that occurred at this sacred place, including three shepherd children’s visions of Our Lady of Fatima during WWI. Many believe that this site holds protective powers, and it has become a symbol of faith and hope for people around the world.

At the Fatima Sanctuary, you can explore its many chapels, visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, see tombs of two of the three shepherd children, and pray at the candlelight procession. 

16. See the wonderful Batalha Monastery

If you have a unique Portugal bucket list, make sure to include the Batalha Monastery! Located in the Leiria region, this 14th-century monastery is a glorious example of Gothic architecture and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

As you walk through the grandiose cloisters and chapels, marvel at the beautiful carvings and tombs that adorn the walls.

Be sure to spend some time admiring the stained glass windows, frescoes and sculptures as well as exploring the various chapels and courtyards within the complex.

17. Watch a fado show in Portugal

If you’re looking for a truly unique and traditional cultural experience in Portugal, head to witness a Fado show. 

Fado is one of the oldest forms of Portuguese music, known as the “Portuguese blues” where the singer tells stories of life, love, and loss with emotion-filled poetic lyrics. 

Every Fado performance is a powerful experience as the performers truly pour their soul out into the music.

The best place to witness a live performance of Fado music is in one of Lisbon’s many restaurants or cafés. Coimbra and Porto also has places where you can catch a performance. 

While you enjoy traditional Portuguese dishes, let yourself be taken away by the beautiful melodies and vocals that transport you into another world. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, there are even some underground Fado clubs where the real aficionados go to hear the best in traditional Portuguese music.

A Fado show is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in one of Portugal’s most beloved traditions. Don’t miss out on this unique cultural experience – it’s a must-have on any Portugal bucket list!

18. Check off Bom Jesus Monastery in Braga 

For an awe-inspiring religious experience, make sure to check out the Bom Jesus Monastery in Braga. Located on top of a steep hill, this is one of Portugal’s most iconic Baroque landmarks and it boasts stunning views of the lush countryside all around.

Girl in Braga Bom Jesus do Monte

The 18th-century monastery complex consists of three beautiful buildings: the Sanctuary, the Church, and the old Hospital. 

When you make your way up to the monastery’s peak, don’t forget to stop by its famous zigzag staircase where each step brings you closer to a magnificent view. 

As you come down again, explore the landscaped gardens and fountains that make the complex even more beautiful. This place is a must-see for any Portugal bucket list and a truly magical experience. 

Make sure to have your camera ready for some incredible shots!

Read: Day trips from Porto

19. Go wine tasting at wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia

If you’re a fan of vino, then a visit to the wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia is an absolute must! Here you can explore and taste some of Portugal’s most famous wines. 

The cellars themselves are quite impressive with their rustic decor, interpretive centres and elaborate gateways & tours.

Burmester Wine Caves in Gaia

Wine tasting in the cellars is a great way to learn about Portuguese wines and the history behind them. 

Tour some of the oldest cellars to learn about their traditional winemaking methods, or sample some of the more modern styles that have made Portugal famous for its delicious reds and whites.

20. Visit the popular Harry Potter inspired – Livraria Lello Bookstore

Visiting the Livraria Lello Bookstore in Porto is an absolute must for any Harry Potter fan. This beautiful bookstore has been around since 1906 and was even said to have inspired J.K Rowling during her years living in Portugal. 

Its ornate interior, complete with a stunning red staircase that winds through the store, will transport any visitor into the world of Harry Potter. 

Although we must warn you, the bookstore is always busy and we recommend booking a ticket for entry (this will get you a free book as well that you can take back as a souvenir). 

21. Enjoy the wine valley of Douro & taste Port wine

The wine valley of Douro in Portugal is one of the most beautiful and well-known regions in the country. 

The terraced vineyards, rolling hills, small villages with white wash houses, and breathtaking scenery make this an absolute must-visit for anyone looking to explore Portugal. 

Wine glasses against vineyards in Douro Valley, Portugal

A trip to the Douro Valley is not only about sampling some of the best Portuguese wines, but also about soaking in the stunning landscape and experiencing peaceful moments.

From easygoing boat rides to adventurous hikes, there are plenty of ways to explore the valley. During your visit, you can take a stroll through small villages, admire ancient architecture such as castles and churches, and sample delicious local dishes made with fresh ingredients.

Head over to the Quintas (wine estates) to take part in tastings and learn about the different winemaking processes. 

You will be delighted by an array of delicious wines from Porto and Douro, as well as some lesser-known varieties like Vinho Verde. 

Graham's Port Lodge

Of course, you can also sample some of Portugal’s famous fortified wines.

To make the most of your experience, consider booking a tour with a guide who can take you to the best spots in Douro Valley and tell you more about its history and culture. 

Read: Porto Wine tours

22. Visit the birthplace of Portugal – Guimaraes 

Guimaraes, the birthplace of Portugal, is the perfect destination for exploring the rich culture and history of this beautiful country. 

Located in northern Portugal, this small city is brimming with ancient monuments such as the Guimares Castle, and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza dating back to 1420.

Girl at Largo da República do Brasil

Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of Guimaraes’s historic center or take some time to relax in the breathtakingly beautiful gardens. 

Don’t forget to sample some local cuisine at one of the many restaurants and cafes, or just enjoy a glass of port while soaking up the stunning views! 

A visit to Guimaraes is truly an unforgettable experience and a must-have on any Portugal bucket list.

23. Try cherry liquor or Ginghja 

If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the flavors of Portugal, why not try some of their traditional liqueurs? Cherry liquor or Ginghja is a popular choice! And it can be found in local stores and bars throughout the country.

Ginghja is a sweet and aromatic liqueur made from a variety of herbs. It has a velvety texture and the flavor can be quite strong, but it is typically served in small glasses so that it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. 

So if you’re looking for a classic Portuguese experience, try drinking Ginghja served in a chocolate cup! Cheers!

24. Enjoy a sunset cruise in one of the Portuguese cities

Experience the beauty of Portugal from an entirely new perspective by enjoying a sunset cruise in one of its breathtaking cities! Picture yourself sailing through iconic landmarks, with the sun setting in the horizon, creating golden hues on all sides. 

You can take in stunning views of Portugal’s picturesque coastline and get up close to some of its most famous sites such as Lisbon’s Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean, or Porto’s Douro River. 

From the comfort of your seat, you can soak in the culture and history of Portugal while feasting on delicious Portuguese snacks and drinks. A sunset cruise is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with some amazing memories of your Portugal trip!

25. Add Madeira to your bucket list

The island of Madeira is a paradise for nature lovers. With its green mountains, lush forests and crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder that this gem of Portugal is one of the most popular destinations in the country! 

There’s plenty to explore on and around the island – from stunning hikes along volcanic landscapes, to boat trips through sea caves and secret beaches. You can even go dolphin and whale watching or visit the beautiful botanical gardens. 

26. Explore the cute town of Amarante

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life with a trip to Amarante, one of Portugal’s most charming towns. Located an hour away from Porto along the banks of River Tamega, this picturesque town blends rustic charm with modern sophistication and has something for everyone. 

Amarante

Spend some time exploring its medieval streets lined with quaint shops selling local crafts, then take in some stunning views of iconic Ponte de São Gonçalo, the impressive 1790’s bridge. 

27. Visit the World’s Oldest Bookstore

Bertrand Book Shop is the oldest bookshop in the world. It is located in Chiado in Lisbon, and dates back to 1732. If you are a book lover, make sure to stop there!

28. Go surfing in Peniche

For an adrenaline-filled adventure, take a trip to Peniche and go surfing! Located on the west coast of Portugal, Peniche is a small fishing town renowned for its world-class waves and stunning views. 

With its consistent swell and diverse breaks, it’s no wonder it’s become a surfer’s paradise.

Whether you’re an experienced surfer or just starting out, you’ll find something to suit your level of expertise. 

There are plenty of surf schools in the area where you can rent a board, take private lessons, or even join a group tour. After a day on the waves, relax and enjoy some delicious fresh seafood with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

29. Soak in the sun at Costa Nova beaches

Hit the beautiful beaches of Costa Nova in Portugal. They offer the perfect setting for soaking up the sun. With its distinctive striped beach huts and golden sand, it’s a must-see on any Portuguese bucket list. 

Not only is this beach known for its natural beauty, but also for its vibrant atmosphere which makes it a great spot to relax and unwind. 

You can take a relaxing stroll along the beach, sunbathe on the silky sand, or enjoy swimming in the crystal-clear waters. 

For those wanting to explore more, there are nearby restaurants and bars to make your day even more fun! 

30. Explore the Venice of the North – Aveiro and ride a traditional moliceiro boat 

Explore the Venice of the North – Aveiro. Situated in the stunning region of northern Portugal, Aviero is considered the Venice of the North due to its beautiful canals, picturesque bridges and colorful barcos rabelos (traditional wooden boats). 

A perfect way to explore the city is to take a ride on one of these traditional moliceiro boats, which are still used by locals for fishing and leisure. 

On your journey, you will get to experience the best of Aviero’s unique culture and history – from its impressive architecture and stunning scenery, to its many cultural sites, amazing restaurants, and local markets. 

31. Explore the University town of Coimbra

If you’re looking to explore Portugal’s rich culture and history, then a visit to the university town of Coimbra is an absolute must in your itinerary

Located along the banks of the Mondego river, Coimbra has been a prominent educational centre since its foundation in 1290. Its impressive buildings, medieval streets, and bustling squares make it one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal.

View of the old city of Coimbra
View of the old city of Coimbra: Portugal bucket list

When visiting Coimbra, the first stop you must make is at the Old Cathedral, or Se Velha. Built in 1139, this cathedral was originally a mosque before being converted to a church after Portugal was reconquered from the Moors. This cathedral is a magnificent sight with its Baroque-style façade and decorative stained glass windows. 

Another must-see in Coimbra is the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest universities in the world. The university is renowned for its beautiful architecture; it has several ancient libraries, lecture halls and a stunning Baroque church, which make up part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Coimbra.

Finally, a trip to Coimbra wouldn’t be complete without visiting Sé Nova (New Cathedral). Completed in the 17th century, the Baroque church’s interiors are stunningly ornate, with an elaborate main altar and gilded wooden choir stalls. 

Read: 8 day Portugal Itinerary

32. Enjoy a road trip on the Algarve Coast

The stunning Algarve Coast in Portugal should definitely be on your bucket list. With its crystal-clear waters, picture-perfect beaches and a striking coastline boasting colorful cliffs and hidden coves, the Algarve will blow you away with its natural beauty. 

Aerial view of Olhao, Algarve, Portugal

There are so many activities to do here – from sunbathing on beautiful white sand beaches to exploring underwater caves, or even discovering the charming fishing villages. 

The Algarve is also ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and surfing too. Enjoy some delicious seafood dishes at one of the many restaurants along the coast, or explore the vibrant nightlife in nearby towns. 

33. Exploring the historic towns of Algarve

Explore Portugal’s fascinating history by visiting some of its most historic towns in the beautiful region of Algarve! Picture yourself strolling through cobblestone streets lined with azulejos, past ancient churches and palaces. 

Castle in Silves town – Algarve region – Portugal

You can also take a boat ride on the Ria Formosa lagoon to explore some of the most scenic sites in Algarve. 

Don’t forget to visit historical sites like the Castle of Silves or Sagres Fort, both great reminders of Portugal’s rich heritage and grandeur. 

34. Take a Benagil Cave tour

Experience the bucket list worthy Benagil Cave Tour in Portugal! On this guided tour, you’ll be taken by boat to explore beautiful caves of Lagos. 

The highlight of the tour is the spectacular Benagil Sea Cave – you won’t believe your eyes when you spot its dramatic entrance surrounded by cliffs. 

As you glide through the cave, you’ll be mesmerized by the magical light reflecting off of its walls. After exploring the cave, you can find other hidden beaches in the area – a perfect spot for swimming or snorkeling. 

35. Go hiking in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park

The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is the largest protected area in Portugal. Situated in the Serra da Estrela mountain range, it is known for its rugged beauty and diverse flora and fauna. 

It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and a plethora of activities for nature lovers to enjoy such as hiking, camping and wildlife spotting. 

One of the most popular activities in the park is hiking along one of its many trails, taking in spectacular scenery and wildlife along the way. The park is home to outcrops of granite, that are about 340 to 280 million years old!

No matter what you choose to do, Portugal is sure to provide you with a memorable experience. So get ready and let the adventure begin!  😉

Looking for more Portugal travel tips? Read our guides below.

Pin: Top Destinations and bucket list things to do in Portugal

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