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25 Best & Unique Places to Visit in Portugal
After spending two weeks traveling throughout Portugal, I find myself still dreaming of the country’s tiled buildings, warm people, and golden hued beaches. Portugal is a magical place with countless hidden gems sprinkled throughout its diverse terrains. There are so many unique places to visit in Portugal and amazing things to do; you truly can’t go wrong with where you choose to explore.
From quaint hilltop villages, relaxed surf towns to bustling cities, Portugal has something for everyone. It’s a country embedded with a rich history and colorful culture that earns the adoration from so many.
How to Visit Unique Places in Portugal
The best way to get around and visit these unique places is by car. I use Discover Cars to search the best rates on rental cars when I’m traveling through Europe. They also offer dozens of locations throughout Portugal and its islands.
If you aren’t able to rent a car, there are trains, buses, and ferries that can take you to majority of these places, although not all of them! I like using Omio for finding great deals on these transportation options. Trainline is another great one to use.
If you can’t find any train or bus routes to some of these places, you can also consider booking organized tours that will pick you up and take you there. I love using Viator and Get Your Guide for finding activities that create those special experiences during a trip.
25 Best & Unique Places to Visit in Portugal
Without further ado, here are the 25 best and unique places to visit in Portugal.
When you look up Óbidos, you’ll find descriptors such as fairy-tale, charming, majestic, and so on. Óbidos is personally one of my favorite towns I’ve ever visited, as it truly encompasses all three of those attributes.
Nestled inside of castle walls, the small village is home to a medieval castle, historic churches, and humble storefronts decorated with bougainvillea. While there isn’t much to do in the village itself, the overall charm that seeps through its streets is worth experiencing.
When you do visit, I recommend staying overnight so you can be there during optimal hours without the crowds. Climb the castle walls, wander laneways, and sip on a specialty treat of Ginjinha (sour cherry liquor) served in a chocolate cup.
About 45 minutes north of Lisbon is the ever so lovely town of Ericeira. Known for its world-class surf culture, you’ll find amazing beaches, healthy cafes, and trendy shopping here.
But in addition to the great vibes and aesthetics, Ericeira exudes a community-centric atmosphere; residents chime warm welcomes, gather for music in the streets, and cheer one another on at surf competitions. There’s a reason why Ericeira has become a popular destination for digital nomads, surf enthusiasts, and the like-minded to settle in.
While visiting, take a surf lesson, explore the town square, and discover the picturesque beach of Praia de São Julião.
I’d recommend spending at least two full days here! Browse hotel options in Ericeira here.
The second largest city in Portugal, Porto is vibrant and bustling with a history that dates back about 900 years. Home to the famous port wine, Porto boasts colorful buildings and grand bridges that run along the Duoro River.
Porto’s cobblestone streets that wind along rustic architecture, cathedrals, and riverside markets seem to transport you back in time. But despite its historic etchings, the city claims dozens of hip cafes, designer and trendy shopping, as well as the most beautiful bookstore in the world.
4. Douro Valley
Head to the breathtakingly beautiful Duoro Valley to experience Portugal’s beloved wine region. It’s where port wine is made, and the only place in the world that can legally produce it. But the valley’s grapes aren’t the only reason to visit; sweeping landscapes of rolling hills along the Duoro River make this region a sight to be seen.
I highly recommend a wine tour while visiting to taste port wine and check out the valley’s quintas.
The Madeira islands are one of Portugal’s most unique places to visit. Geographically situated closer to Africa than Portugal, the islands’ terrains are often compared to Hawaii. Madeira is the most popular island of the archipelago and houses natural pools, lush hiking trails, and 360° views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a nature lover’s dream that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into a hidden paradise.
The best way to get to Madeira is by plane; you can choose to fly into the city of Santa Cruz or the city of Funchal.
The Azores is Portugal’s most popular archipelago that comprises nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands’ lush greenery and vibrant fauna is incredible, which is due to abundant rainfall and moderate temperatures year-round. Head to these islands for a calming atmosphere and beautiful scenery.
It’s best to fly into Sao Miguel, and from there it’s easy to explore the other islands. The Azores is fairly inexpensive with amazing food that’s grown locally.
Often referred to as the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is a colorful town made up of canals and a seaside culture. About an hour south of Porto, Aveiro is a great place to stop for a day trip while exploring the country’s west coast. Be sure to take a boat trip and check out its lovely beaches such as Barra and Costa Nava.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Évora is one of the most unique places to visit in Portugal’s eastern region. Just an hour east of Lisbon, the historic town dates back to the 2nd century BC. Throughout its ancient streets you’ll find the Temple of Évora, a preserved Roman temple, and the Chapel of Bones, home to thousands of skeletal remains.
9. Berlengas Islands
Just off the coast of Peniche sit the Berlengas Islands, a Portuguese archipelago that’s home to multiple UNESCO sites and Nature Reserve. Take a day trip to the only island that can be visited, Grande Berlenga, and swim or boat through its crystal clear waters. Be sure to check out the St. John the Baptist Fort and discover its pristine beaches. The island is a preserved gem that’s absolutely one of the most unique places to visit in Portugal.
Home to some of the biggest waves in the world is the town of Nazaré, about one hour north of Lisbon. The coastal town has claimed waves with heights of 100 feet, and continues to attract acclaimed surfers from around the world. But you don’t have to surf to appreciate this lovely town; the beaches, local markets, and simple lifestyle make this unique place one worth visiting.
If you’re exploring the northern region of Portugal, then adding Braga to your list is highly recommended. The cathedrals, castles, and gardens throughout this historic town are some to marvel at. Braga is the third largest city in Portugal, with much to explore and a rich religious history that’s engraved throughout.
Easily one of the most unique places to visit in Portugal is the majestic town of Sintra. Nestled in the mountains just north of Lisbon, Sintra is home to the National Palace of Pena, which is nothing short of a fairytale. There are multiple palaces throughout Sintra that are worth checking out, along with beautiful gardens, convents, and a castle.
There’s several fantastic day trips from Lisbon to Sintra, and with how close they are, it’s a must-see while visiting!
If you opt to visit Sintra, then you should definitely visit its neighboring coastal town of Cascais. About a forty-minute drive from Lisbon, Cascais is where locals flock to for cooling off over summer. This lovely town offers multiple beaches, great restaurants and shops, along with museums and a lighthouse to explore.
While in Portugal it’s an absolute must to explore the Algarve, with so many reasons to visit and fantastic things to do there. Faro is not only the capital city of the Algarve, but also the hub for flying into the coastal region.
Many people pass through this city when traveling to the Algarve, but it’s one that’s worth discovering. Faro is known for its vibrant Old Town, 13th-century Faro Cathedral, and beautiful nearby beaches.
I’d recommend checking out this guided food and walking tour that takes you through the best local gems of the city.
The town of Lagos is home to some of Portugal’s most picturesque beaches, including Praia da Marinha. The beautiful beach town is the perfect place to stay for a few days, situated nearby must-see attractions like the Benagil Cave. Lagos has a unique Old Town with impressive street art throughout, as well as great markets and museums. If you’re seeking the best of Portugal’s coastal culture, Lagos and the Algarve region should not be missed.
Arguably the most charming village in Portugal’s Algarve region is Ferragudo. Head here for a day trip and wander through narrow laneways decorated with vibrant florals. The town sits atop the Arade River, so enjoy the waterfront and take a boat ride.
Albufeira is another town to visit while exploring Portugal’s Algarve region. It’s home to one of the Algarve’s best beaches, Praia da Falésia, featuring red hued cliffs and sparkling waters. Albufeira also serves a lively nightlife scene with dozens of bars and clubs downtown. It’s a great town to stay for a couple nights for taking advantage of its central location and abundance of activities.
As the former capital city of the Algarve, Silves is well worth the visit. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the town’s rich history is preserved and palpable while roaming its centuries-old streets. Discover the Castle of Silves, Cathedral of Silves, and archeological museum.
If you’re looking to surf in the south of Portugal, Sagres is where you want to be. The town itself is laidback, with cozy cafes and quiet streets. But the surf culture is what’s electric here, with waves that attract some of the best surfers from around the world. Head here to take a surf lesson, relax, and enjoy the vitamin sea.
The town of Tavira is yet another dreamy destination in the Algarve region. Tavira is just east of the capital city, Faro, and is one of the more unique places to visit along Portugal’s southern coastline. The Gilão River runs through it, adding to the town’s charm and sights to marvel at.
One of the best things to do here is visit Tavira Beach, which is only accessible by ferry and makes you feel like you’ve reached a private island. While visiting, make sure to check out Tavira Castle, its churches and museums, along with the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
If you’re pressed for time while visiting, this tuk-tuk tour will take you through the town’s highlights and history.
Comporta is one of the less talked about coastal regions in Portugal, but should not be overlooked. Head to Comporta Beach to experience golden stretches of sand, tucked away and off the beaten forestry path. The town of Comporta houses chic boutique hotels that make spending a day or two here the perfect place to vacation.
22. Monsanto Rock Village
Undoubtedly a hidden gem of Portugal is the Monsanto Rock Village, a village literally built around rocks and boulders. Tucked away in the Portuguese hills is where you’ll find this historic medieval village, and it surely will be one of the most unique places you’ve visited. Take a day trip here to explore its stone roads that wind through the Castle of Monsanto, quaint cottages, and ruins of a Roman Chapel.
Once the capital city of Portugal, Coimbra is a colorful city that sits in between Lisbon and Porto. The University of Coimbra, which is built where a palace once stood, is the main attraction to discover while visiting. It houses the Biblioteca Joanina (King Jao’s Library), one of the oldest and well preserved Baroque libraries to exist.
This University of Coimbra guided tour is one of the most affordable that lets you skip the queue and get a full history lesson.
24. Peneda-Gerês National Park
If you’re looking to immerse in nature while visiting, head to Portugal’s Peneda-Gerês National Park. While Portugal has dozens of natural parks to offer, this one is the country’s sole national park. Spanning about 270 sq. miles of land, the park sits about two hours north of Porto. There are countless beautiful hikes and paths that lead to waterfalls, castles, and incredible outlooks.
If you’re pressed for time and want to make the most of your visit, I’d recommend booking a guided tour. There are several great ones that will take you hiking, kayaking, and swimming through the park.
Last but certainly not least is Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. Yellow trams, sweeping views, and a vibrant culture are just a few things that make this city a special one. With so much to see and do throughout its variety of neighborhoods, I’d recommend spending at least three days in Lisbon. You could spend hours simply admiring each tiled building, reading at a park or cafe, or shopping your way through trendy streets.
This food and wine tour is one of Lisbon’s finest, and will let you eat and see your way through the best of the city.
Where is the prettiest place in Portugal?
There’s so much beauty all throughout Portugal! Some of the prettiest places to visit in Portugal include the Duoro Valley, Madeira Island, and the Algarve region.
What is Portugal unique for?
Many people may not know that Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork. As you travel throughout the country, you’ll find endless markets with vendors selling cork products.
Conclusion: Unique Places to Visit in Portugal
By now I hope you have a great idea of the best and unique places to visit in Portugal! There’s so much to see throughout this country that I’d recommend spending at least two weeks here. Renting a car will be the best way to get around so that you can find Portugal’s hidden gems.
Enjoy! I know you’ll very much love it there.