24 best things to do in Portugal

written by Mani Ramaswamy
updated 7/29/2021
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What are the best things to do in Portugal? Take a look at 24 Portugal attractions. We think they're the best of all. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Portugal, your essential guide for visiting Portugal.

01 - Chill out on Algarve beaches

The Algarve has some of Europe’s finest beaches. But few are more impressive than Praia da Bordeira. Discover Algarve as an all-year travel destination. Then see our roundup of best beaches in Portugal.

Chilling on Algarve beaches is one of the best things to do in Portugal

02 - Stay overnight in medieval Monsaraz

Many medieval houses in Monsaraz are now guesthouses. For an atmospheric stay try Dom Nuno. It's in the heart of the fortified hill town.

Hilltop Monsaraz is one of Alentejo's fortified medieval towns

03 - Cruise canals in Aveiro

Canals and lagoons define Aveiro. Sail them on a colourful moliceiro boat. Or book a moliceiro tour with local guides.

04 - Stroll through ancient Évora

Take a stroll round Évora. It's Portugal's golden-stoned university town. Don't miss the Roman temple, Moorish alleys and medieval walls. Or catch everything on a private walking tour.

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05 - Go mountain biking in the Algarve

You can cycle just about all of the Algarve coast. Alternatively, take a guided Ria Formosa tour by bike.

The Algarve coast is an undeniable Portugal attraction

06 - Gift yourself a trip to Óbidos

Visit the walled town of Obidos. It was once the traditional bridal gift of Portuguese kings. Gift yourself an overnight stay at Pousada Castelo de Obidos.

Walled Obidos was once the gift of Portuguese kings

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07 - Journey along the Rio Douro valley

Catch a boat or train from Peso da Régua up the Douro valley. It's one of Portugal's loveliest journeys. Or take a Douro Valley wine trip with experts.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. Both Complete Portugal or Portugal Itineraries offer inspiration. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday. Click 'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Portugal expert.

08 - Visit Velha Universidade in Coimbra

Historic Coimbra boasts Portugal’s most famous university. It's also known for lively student nightlife. Check into Tivoli Coimbra at the heart of everything.

Estremadura is home to some of Portugal's most famous buildings

09 - See Mosteiro da Batalha in Estremadura

Explore extraordinary “Battle Abbey” Mosteiro da Batalha. It's one of Portugal's greatest architectural works. Book Mosteiro da Batalha tickets and skip the line.

10 - Kayak on the Mondego river

Kayak novice? The Mondego river is gentle enough for beginners. It's also enchanting. Still not sure? Take a guided Mondego River kayaking tour.

Even beginners can kayak on the gentle Mondego River © Techtonic/Shutterstock

11 - Get lost in the narrow streets of Alfama

Alfama is a village at the heart of Lisbon. And its steep, narrow streets deter most cars. Stay at Old Fence Studios for Alfama atmosphere.

Exploring Alfama, one of the best things to do in Portugal © S-F/Shutterstock

12 - Soak up the atmosphere of scenic Sintra

Hilltop Sintra is one of the most scenic towns in Portugal. Find it close to Lisbon and even closer to the west coast. Take a day trip to Sintra for the full effect.

13 - Immerse in nature at the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês

Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês is Portugal's only national park. Expect alluring trails, gushing streams and alpine scenery. Pousada Mosteiro de Amares sits on the park's southern edge.

Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês © Armando Frazao/Shutterstock

14 - Don't resist Pastéis de nata

Pastéis de nata are irresistible. And one of Portugal's traditional delicacies. They're flaky custard tartlets. Best served warm, dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar. Try them at Lisbon's Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. They've been baked here for over a century.

15 - Marvel at the Mosteiro Palácio Nacional de Mafra

Gigantic monument to religious devotion? Obscene royal frippery? Visit João V’s mighty monastery in Mafra and decide. Or indulge in a private tour of the Palace instead.

The royal extravagance of Mosteiro Palácio Nacional de Mafra

16 - Visit Guimaraes

Portugal's first capital, Guimaraes is still beguiling. Look forward to cobbled streets and historic buildings. Or book EMAJ Boutique Hotel for an historic sleep.

Quaint Guimaraes, Portugal's original capital

17 - Watch dolphins in the Sado Estuary

Take a boat trip on the Sado Estuary. It's near Setúbal and prime dolphin spotting territory.

See dolphins up close in the Sado Estuary near Lisbon © Granadeiro/Shutterstock

18 - Stay up late to party in Lisbon

Legendary Lisbon’s nightlife begins in Bairro Alto. Stay at Akicity Bairro Alto Night and indulge.

Lisbon's party until dawn reputation is alive and well in Bairro Alto

19 - Take a walk to the Rota Vicentina

Walk to the Rota Vicentina. It's one of Portugal's best long distance paths. Look out for pretty villages, wild beaches and tall cliffs.

Rota Vicentina is one of Portugal's best long distance walks

20 - Experience the Knights Templar history at Convento de Cristo

Discover the Convent of Christ at Tomar. Once a stronghold of the Knights Templar, it's extraordinary. Want more depth? Take a Knights Templar day tour from Lisbon.

21 - Hit the surf in Peniche

For consistently good surfing, hit Peniche. It's blessed with the greatest Atlantic waves. Stay awhile at Urban Art Camping close to the beach.

Peniche waves are major Portugal attractions for surfers © Sergey Furtaev/Shutterstock

22 - Feira de Barcelos

Head to Barcelos. The markets here are marvellous. And prove Portugal's rural traditions still thrive.

23 - Hike the Serra da Estrela

Serra da Estrela is Portugal's highest mountain range. It conceals windswept uplands and remote communities. Plus the hiking trails are plenty challenging. Take a mountain village tour with local guides.

Find beautiful views hiking in Portugal © Vector99/Shutterstock

24 - Relax at the riverfront in Porto

Ribeira in Porto is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stay at the heart of the historic district. Try Exmo Hotel in Ribeira.

Ready for a trip to Portugal? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to Portugal. Read more about the best time to go to Portugal, the best places to visit and best things to do in Portugal. For inspiration use the Portugal Itineraries from The Rough Guide to Portugal and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Travel advice for Portugal

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written by Mani Ramaswamy
updated 7/29/2021
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