25 Best Things to Do in Portugal


Por­tu­gal is a beau­ti­ful coun­try locat­ed in the south­west of the Iber­ian Penin­su­la. It attracts with rich his­to­ry, mag­nif­i­cent nat­ur­al mon­u­ments and enter­tain­ment.


Who and why goes to Portugal

Por­tu­gal flour­ished dur­ing the Age of Dis­cov­ery. Sea expe­di­tions brought gold, spices and slaves to the coun­try. Soon the Por­tuguese colo­nial empire was cre­at­ed, leav­ing behind a rich cul­tur­al her­itage.

Tourists come to the coun­try to see Romanesque, Baroque palaces, Manue­line and Pom­bali­no hous­es. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many medieval build­ings in Lis­bon and near­by cities were destroyed by the Great Earth­quake of 1755. The cap­i­tal was rebuilt almost from scratch accord­ing to a new lay­out.

Por­tu­gal, washed by the Atlantic Ocean, is a great place for a beach hol­i­day. In the Lis­bon Riv­iera, the Algarve, Madeira and the Azores, there are mag­nif­i­cent beach­es, fash­ion­able hotels and restau­rants. Tourists can sun­bathe, scu­ba dive, watch dol­phins, go in for water sports, and have fun in clubs.

On the slopes of the moun­tains of the island of Madeira, you can take a walk along the lev­adas — irri­ga­tion canals, 3000 km long. Paths for pedes­tri­ans are laid next to them, and a safe­ty cable is pulled in dan­ger­ous areas. Tour oper­a­tors select excur­sion routes with dif­fer­ent lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty.

The small vil­lage of Lin­hares da Beira in the Ser­ra da Estrela invites you to enjoy panoram­ic bird’s-eye views. Here is the cen­ter of paraglid­ing, hold­ing the tour­na­ment “Dis­cov­er the Ser­ra da Estrela” in Sep­tem­ber. Expe­ri­enced instruc­tors and equip­ment are at the ser­vice of vaca­tion­ers.

Por­tu­gal guar­an­tees a great time for the whole fam­i­ly. Chil­dren and par­ents can go to the safari park in Badoc, vis­it the Lis­bon Zoo and Aquar­i­um, and go on a yacht ride.

While trav­el­ing around the coun­try, be sure to try the famous Por­tuguese port, grilled sar­dines, beef steak in wine sauce and pas­tels de nata.

Interesting places and entertainment

Praça do Comercio

prassa du komirsio

The cen­tral square of Lis­bon on the banks of the Tagus Riv­er has a sym­met­ri­cal shape and was built in the spir­it of the Enlight­en­ment. In the cen­ter, on a white pedestal, there is a bronze eques­tri­an stat­ue of King José I.

The area is sur­round­ed by beau­ti­ful two-sto­ry hous­es, among which the high Arc de Tri­om­phe stands out. Its façade is crowned with the sculp­ture of Tri­umph; below are well-known sea­far­ers and fig­ures of the coun­try. At the top of the arch there is an obser­va­tion deck, which is accessed by a steep stair­case and an ele­va­tor.

Angra do Heroismo

angra du eroshmio

The con­struc­tion of Angra do Hero­is­mo on the island of Ter­ceira began in the 15th cen­tu­ry. The his­toric cen­ter of the city is includ­ed in the UNESCO World Her­itage List. Peo­ple come to see the Yacht Wharf, Old Square, Cathe­dral Street, the Cathe­dral and the Church of the Holy Sav­ior.

On the shore of the bay ris­es the monastery of Saint Gonca­lo. This ancient build­ing is strik­ing in its grandeur and sim­plic­i­ty. Inside are tiled pan­els of the 17th cen­tu­ry, as well as gild­ed altar icons.

Ria Formosa

ria formosa

In the south of the Faro dis­trict in the Algarve, there is a nat­ur­al park that includes the coastal zone of the Atlantic Ocean with small islands, lagoons, and sandy beach­es. Peo­ple come here to fish, shell­fish and to admire the mag­nif­i­cent scenery.

In the sea­side towns of Faro, Olhao, Tavi­ra there are hotels and cot­tages for vaca­tion­ers. Those who wish can go on a tour of the dunes, rent a yacht for sea trav­el, and go scu­ba div­ing.

Castle of the Moors in Sint

Samok mavrov

In the 9th cen­tu­ry, the Moors erect­ed a stone fortress on the top of the moun­tain. It was of great strate­gic impor­tance and after a few cen­turies passed into the hands of the Por­tuguese. Grad­u­al­ly the cas­tle was aban­doned. Now only pic­turesque ruins remain in its place.

Paths are laid along the ter­ri­to­ry, there is a small cafe and a gift shop. Peo­ple enjoy explor­ing the thick-walled for­ti­fi­ca­tions, the few remain­ing tow­ers, and the San Pedro chapel near the entrance gate. It con­tains ancient fres­coes with flo­ral motifs.

Aquarium of Lisbon


More than 25 thou­sand marine life from dif­fer­ent seas and oceans live in the Lis­bon Aquar­i­um. Giant sharks, stingrays, moray eels, coral fish swim side by side in a huge tank, sep­a­rat­ed by invis­i­ble acrylic par­ti­tions.

The pride of the ocea­nari­um is the Pacif­ic octo­pus, which looks like the hero of a sci­ence fic­tion movie. Its weight is 250 kg, and the range of ten­ta­cles is about 9 meters. Adults and chil­dren like corals, jel­ly­fish, crabs, sea urchins. Among amphib­ians, poi­so­nous frogs, tur­tles, sala­man­ders and pen­guins are of inter­est.

Karmu Monastery

monastir karmu

The monastery on Mount Car­mo in Lis­bon was built at the end of the 14th cen­tu­ry. Dur­ing the earth­quake and tsuna­mi of 1755, the archi­tec­tur­al com­plex was destroyed. The nat­ur­al dis­as­ter destroyed reli­gious relics, a library with ancient man­u­scripts and the tomb of the nation­al hero of Por­tu­gal, Alvares Pereira.

Dur­ing the recon­struc­tion of the city, it was decid­ed not to restore the monastery, but to pre­serve the ruins in mem­o­ry of the trag­ic event. Tourists come to see frag­ments of walls, an altar, dilap­i­dat­ed arch­es. With­in the monastery there is an archae­o­log­i­cal muse­um.

Historical landmarks and architecture

Guimarães Castle

Samok Gimaransh

The medieval cas­tle in Por­to is a nation­al mon­u­ment. The defen­sive struc­ture was erect­ed in the 10th cen­tu­ry to pro­tect local res­i­dents from Mus­lims and Nor­mans. The cas­tle was repeat­ed­ly rebuilt and passed from hand to hand. Four tow­ers, walls and sev­er­al gates have been well pre­served to this day.

Tourists can see the court­yard, an ancient wood­en bridge thrown over a moat, admire the breath­tak­ing views from the cas­tle walls.

Pena Palace

dvorec pena

On a rock over­look­ing the city of Sin­ta, there is a cas­tle, in the fea­tures of which ele­ments of Manue­line and Moor­ish style can be traced. The man­sion was ordered to be built by Fer­nand II in 1838. The monarch wished that it was no dif­fer­ent from medieval cas­tles.

The palace was used as the sum­mer res­i­dence of the roy­al fam­i­ly until 1910. Now it is open to vis­i­tors. Guests are shown the court­yard, dec­o­rat­ed with mosaics, the queen’s pri­vate cham­bers and state rooms.

Aqueduct Aguas Librish

akveduk aguash

The hall­mark of Lis­bon is the Aguas Lib­r­ish aque­duct of the 18th cen­tu­ry. Thir­ty-five semi-cir­cu­lar and lancet stone arch­es reach a height of 62 meters. The length of the struc­ture is about 940 meters. Most of it lies under­ground, leav­ing the sur­face only in some places.

The aque­duct is still used to sup­ply the city’s water sup­ply. A pedes­tri­an pas­sage is open along it, but tours are avail­able only for orga­nized groups.

Montserrat Palace

dvorec monserat

The palace and park com­plex on the out­skirts of Sin­ta was erect­ed in the mid­dle of the 19th cen­tu­ry for the British col­lec­tor Fran­cis Cook. The Mughal-style palace was bought by the state in 1949. Now it hosts excur­sions, con­certs, as well as hol­i­days for adults and chil­dren.

The park’s his­toric gar­dens and Montser­rat Palace are part of the cul­tur­al her­itage of Sin­ta, which is under the pro­tec­tion of UNESCO.

Belem Tower

bashnia belem

The sym­bol of Lis­bon ris­es on an islet of the Tagus Riv­er — the Belem Tow­er, built in hon­or of Vas­co da Gama’s dis­cov­ery of the way to India. The four-storey Manue­line-style fortress was once a fort, a cus­toms house and a prison.

On its first floor there is a ter­race, dec­o­rat­ed with Moor­ish tur­rets, from which the king wel­comed the ships return­ing from sail­ing in the era of the Great Geo­graph­i­cal Dis­cov­er­ies. On the sec­ond one there is a bal­cony, and on the roof there is an obser­va­tion deck.

Monte Palace

dvorec monte

In the 18th cen­tu­ry, Charles Mur­ray pur­chased real estate in Madeira to build a beau­ti­ful estate and plant a trop­i­cal gar­den. Soon the man­sion was bought by anoth­er aris­to­crat and con­vert­ed into a hotel. The hotel worked until the mid­dle of the last cen­tu­ry and then was sold again.

The new own­er opened the palace and the park to vis­i­tors. Peo­ple can see man-made ponds, palm trees, water­falls, admire exot­ic plants from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, fig­ured flower beds and stone sculp­tures.

Queluz Palace

dvorec kelush

The coun­try res­i­dence of the Por­tuguese mon­archs is easy to find in the town of Queluz in the vicin­i­ty of Lis­bon. The huge 18th-cen­tu­ry Roco­co man­sion looks gen­tle and ele­gant. Inside, a mag­nif­i­cent inte­ri­or has been pre­served: dec­o­ra­tive pan­els, tiles, mas­sive chan­de­liers, vas­es, antique fur­ni­ture.

The palace is sur­round­ed by a park dec­o­rat­ed with mar­ble stat­ues. Near the main entrance is a pool, in the cen­ter of which stands a foun­tain depict­ing the god of the sea Nep­tune.

Castle of Saint George

samok st georgia

The medieval cas­tle on the hill is vis­i­ble from any­where in Lis­bon. The defen­sive fortress was here in the times of the Romans and Moors. In the XII cen­tu­ry, it was cap­tured by the Por­tuguese king Afon­so Hen­riques and turned into his res­i­dence.

The cas­tle of St. George is con­sid­ered a sym­bol of the state­hood of Por­tu­gal. An archae­o­log­i­cal muse­um is opened here, which stores impor­tant his­tor­i­cal exhibits. Trees grow in the court­yard, bench­es and a mon­u­ment to Afon­so Enriques are installed.

Temples and monasteries in Portugal

Church of Saint Francis

cerkov franciska

In the cen­ter of Por­to, there is a 13th-cen­tu­ry church con­sid­ered one of the most beau­ti­ful in the city. Its con­struc­tion last­ed sev­er­al cen­turies and was com­plet­ed only in the 15th cen­tu­ry. A monastery was erect­ed near­by and the tem­ple was includ­ed in its com­po­si­tion.

The Goth­ic build­ing with baroque ele­ments has a chic inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion. The walls are dec­o­rat­ed with carved wood­en pan­els, draw­ings depict­ing angels, flo­ra and fau­na.

Now the tem­ple has been con­vert­ed into a muse­um, where the ancient altar, the carved genealog­i­cal tree of Christ, sculp­tures and church uten­sils are pre­served.

Monastery of Jeronimos

monastir gironimush

In the sub­urbs of Lis­bon, at the begin­ning of the 16th cen­tu­ry, the Jeron­i­mos Monastery grew up, con­sist­ing of the main church and build­ings in which the monks lived. The archi­tec­tur­al com­plex has the sta­tus of a nation­al mon­u­ment and is under the pro­tec­tion of UNESCO.

Cur­rent­ly, there are archae­o­log­i­cal and mar­itime muse­ums. The first one presents gold jew­el­ry, ceram­ics, weapons, coins, nation­al clothes. The sec­ond con­tains doc­u­ments of the fleet and items relat­ed to the era of the Great Geo­graph­i­cal Dis­cov­er­ies.

Church of Christ on Calvary

cerkov hrista na golgofe

Not far from the city of Bra­ga, one of the main Chris­t­ian shrines of Por­tu­gal is locat­ed — the Church of Christ on Cal­vary of the XIV cen­tu­ry. It was rebuilt sev­er­al times and acquired its final form in 1748.

The neo­clas­si­cal tem­ple ris­es on a moun­tain ter­race. A white stair­case with 17 flights leads to it. Each floor is dec­o­rat­ed with stat­ues, chapels, foun­tains. If desired, you can get to the top on the lift. The pearl of the church is a sculp­tur­al com­po­si­tion show­ing the cru­ci­fix­ion of Christ.

Museums in Portugal

National Museum of Ancient Art

nac musei iskustva

Lis­bon has the largest gallery, which exhibits antique fur­ni­ture, sculp­tures, paint­ings, pen­cil draw­ings and engrav­ings by famous artists. In the halls of the muse­um you can admire the paint­ings of Bosch, Dür­er, Raphael, Velazquez. Sep­a­rate exhi­bi­tions are devot­ed to Por­tuguese painters, as well as works of art brought from Asia and Africa.

Museum of Soares dos Reis

musei suaresh

The Muse­um of Art in Por­to occu­pies the Car­ran­cas Palace of the 18th cen­tu­ry. The old build­ing hous­es the works of Por­tuguese artists: Domin­gos Sequeira, Augus­to Roque­mont, Mar­ques de Oliveira, Vieira Portuense. Vis­i­tors can see mar­ble stat­ues made by António doug Reis, ancient ceram­ics and sil­ver items.

Benfica Museum

musei benfika

The mod­ern build­ing, tow­er­ing in Lis­bon near the Ben­fi­ca sta­di­um, is ded­i­cat­ed to the famous Por­tuguese sports club. In his col­lec­tion — items that are of inter­est to all sports fans.

There you can see Ben­fi­ca foot­ball tro­phies, archival doc­u­ments, per­son­al belong­ings of ath­letes, rare pho­tographs. The muse­um has touch screens that make it easy to find out all the detailed infor­ma­tion about the exhibits.

Port wine museum

musei portveina

Since 2004, a muse­um has been oper­at­ing in Por­to, reveal­ing the secrets of mak­ing port wine. The expo­si­tion acquaints guests with the his­to­ry of the ori­gin of the drink, explains what vari­eties and types of wines are. The muse­um is locat­ed in the Real Com­pan­hia Vel­ha wine cel­lar. At the end of the tour, guests are invit­ed to the tast­ing room to taste port wine poured direct­ly from a wood­en bar­rel.

Science Museum in Lisbon

musei science

The Inter­ac­tive Sci­ence Muse­um is locat­ed in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Park of Nations. The large mod­ern build­ing hosts sev­er­al per­ma­nent exhi­bi­tions:

  • In the “Research” sec­tion, you can learn about sci­en­tif­ic achieve­ments and nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­na, con­duct chem­i­cal and phys­i­cal exper­i­ments.
  • The Watch, Learn, Do exhi­bi­tion invites you to dri­ve a car, launch a rock­et or lie down on a board with nails.
  • The “Unfin­ished House” expo­si­tion tells about var­i­ous pro­fes­sions.

There is a shop on the ter­ri­to­ry of the muse­um where they sell sets for tricks and exper­i­ments.

natural attractions

Cave of Algar do Carvano

peshera algar

In the Azores arch­i­pel­ago on the island of Ter­ceira is the Algar do Car­vano cave, which is a vol­canic crater. It gained pop­u­lar­i­ty thanks to the sta­lag­mites and sta­lac­tites hang­ing from its walls in large num­bers. It is bet­ter to explore a dark cave with an instruc­tor using spe­cial equip­ment.

Cape Roca

mis roka

The west­ern­most point of the Eurasian con­ti­nent, Cape Roca, is locat­ed in Por­tu­gal. It can be found near Lis­bon in the Sin­tra Cas­cais Nation­al Park. On a rock ris­ing 140 meters above sea lev­el, there is a light­house and a stele. The lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude of Cape Roca is carved on the stone. Tourists can vis­it the post office, sou­venir shop, dine in a cafe.

Waterfall “Bridal Veil”


On the island of Madeira, near the town of Por­to Man­ish, there is a unique nat­ur­al attrac­tion — the bridal veil water­fall. The height of the stream is 212 meters. Water flows down a steep cliff and falls direct­ly into the Atlantic Ocean. To view the water­fall from a close dis­tance, you need to go to the obser­va­tion deck, spe­cial­ly built for this pur­pose.


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