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What to see in Portugal

Portugal Attractions

Sightseeing in Portugal consists of a warm climate, charming ports and friendly people. The sea has always been the country's first love, with the golden beaches and soaring cliffs of the Algarve attract millions of visitors every year. Vibrant, energetic tourist resorts in the south give way to the natural treasures of the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa.

The trademark seven hills of Portugal's historic capital city, Lisbon, stand over a colourful city. Visitors can wind their way through Lisbon aboard the famous Tram 28, and experience mournful Fado music in the Alfama district. Not to be missed is a day trip to the picturesque town of Sintra, nestled in the mountains north of Lisbon. Equally impressive is the walled town of Obidos, with its hilltop castle now turned into a luxury pousada (inn).

Not far away lie the mysterious megalithic monuments of the Cromeleque dos Almendres, situated just outside the lively university town of Evora. Porto, in the north, is an edgy city boasting a historic centre and great food and drink, as well as being a gateway to the famous Port-producing region of the Douro Valley. On the way north to Porto, visitors should stop to take in the atmosphere in Coimbra, former medieval capital of Portugal and home to the country's oldest university dating back to the 13th century.

Portugal's historic seafarers uncovered yet more delights in their travels west. The tiny island of Madeira is known as a 'floating garden', hiding a botanical wonderland and famous fortified wine behind its soaring ocean cliffs. Further west lies the Azores, dramatic island landscapes shaped by geological forces within the earth. Visitors can indulge in watersports, see whales and dolphins, hike to volcanic craters and explore the lush scenery.


The oldest part of Lisbon, the Alfama quarter sprawls down the hillside from below the Castelo de São Jorge. It retains much of the traditional colour and atmosphere from the…

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Bairro Alto

The Bairro Alto district is a historic enclave dating back to 1513, reached via the Santa Justa Elevator from the lower city. The colourful district resounds to the calls of vendors…

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Castelo de São Jorge

The walls of Castelo de São Jorge sit atop a hill guarding the Tagus, dating from the Moorish occupation in the 10th century. But the site has been a fortress for centuries,…

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Coimbra was the birthplace of six Portugal's kings, with the country's first lying in a carved Gothic sarcophagus in the Monastery of Santa Cruz. There are several beautiful sites,…

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In 1917, the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared above an oak tree and spoke to three peasant children in the valley of Cova da Iria, 79 miles (127km) north of Lisbon. The children…

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Frederico de Freitas Museum

The Frederico de Freitas Museum in Funchal houses a vast array of decorative pieces. Turkish, Moorish and North African tiles, as well as about 2,000 mugs, trophies and vases are…

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Named for the abundant fennel trees in the area, Funchal has many beautiful parks and gardens. The Madeira Botanical Gardens offer stunning views, as well as more than 2,000 species…

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Funchal Cathedral

In the heart of the historic section of Funchal stands the Sé do Funchal, the most impressive of Madeira's religious edifices. The simple rough white stucco and brownish basalt…

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The historic town of Guimarães is regarded as the birthplace of Portugal. Here, in 1128, Afonso Henriques became the first king of the country. Guimarães has many medieval…

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Jerónimos Monastery

One of Portugal's most iconic tourist sights, the Jerónimos Monastery is an absolute must-see attraction for visitors to Lisbon. A stellar example of Manueline, also known as…

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Lisbon Oceanarium

Marketed as the second best aquarium in the world, the world-class Lisbon Oceanarium is the most impressive achievement of EXPO '98, which used to be an abandoned waterfront. The…

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Monument to the Discoveries

One of the most famous sights in Lisbon is the imposing Padrão dos Descobrimentos, situated on the riverbank along Avenida de Brasilia in the district of Belém. Designed…

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Tower of Belém

Belém Tower, also known as the Tower of Saint Vincent, is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belem. The tower was built in the 16th century to serve…

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Our Travel Expert

Steve Masters first visited Portugal in 1989 and, later, lived in Porto for several years before returning to the UK. He speaks the language and is well versed in the culture of Portugal. He currently works on behalf of Rocha Brava, a holiday resort located in the Algarve.

>Read Steve's tips on Portugal
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