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10 Cities to Visit in Portugal

From the valleys of the north to the majestic islands, discover 10 cities to visit in Portugal

Planning a trip to Portugal can be a difficult task when there are so many historic and beautiful cities to visit. The tourist attractions in Portugal are numerous, as each city tells a little of its history with castles, viewpoints, beaches and villages. In this article, we’ll introduce you to 10 of the best cities to visit in Portugal. Let’s check them out!

Visit Lisbon

The country’s capital is, of course, a must-see destination for tourists, as well as being one of the most charming cities in Europe. It has many historic sites with traditional alleys and restaurants that show much of the country’s past and culture. Check out the main attractions:

  • The Belém Tower was the starting point for navigators who set sail from Lisbon to discover new sea routes, such as Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. The inside of the tower shows the audience halls of that time, the kings’ quarters, the cannons and the Baluarte Terrace;
  • The Jeronimos Monastery World Heritage Site and has an impressive historical setting. It was built to celebrate Vasco da Gama’s return from India and it stands out with its impressive architecture and immense garden;
  • Alfama is a historically rich and picturesque neighbourhood in Lisbon. It is famous for Fado, a melancholic Portuguese musical style often heard in small restaurants and bars;
  • Praça do Comércio (formerly Terreiro do Paço) is a large square by the river, marked by triumphal arches. Historically, it was a centre for trade and official ceremonies.

You can take several day trips from Lisbon to nearby towns such as Sintra, Cascais or Óbidos.

Visit Porto

The city of Porto has an unique charm. Anyone who visits it always wants to come back! As it has numerous historical sights, we recommend following an organised and practical itinerary, such as the complete tour of Porto. Discover the city’s most important places:

  • Cais da Ribeira is located on the banks of the River Douro. It is one of the city’s most popular strolls and a popular postcard. There are several restaurants, bars and souvenir shops in the area. On the same promenade is the D. Luiz I Bridge, which connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia with an incredible view of the Douro;
  • São Bento Railway Station as beautiful tiled walls in its hall depicting the day-to-day life and history of Portugal;
  • Sé do Porto is a prominent religious and architectural landmark in the city of Porto. It features a mixture of styles including Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.

Porto from above: Porto Cathedral and Luíz I Bridge
Porto is one of the cities to visit in Portugal that is rich in culture and tradition

Just like Lisbon, due to its proximity to other cities in the north of the country, there are several day trips you can take to other cities. The city of Porto is also the starting point for one of the most beautiful trips in the north of the country: the Douro River Cruise to the Douro Valley.

As the city is also around 100 kilometres from the border with Spain, why not visit the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia? As you can see, there’s no shortage of options for trips from Porto!

Visit Braga

Braga is located in the north of Portugal and was founded over 2000 years ago. The city is one of the oldest in the country and the third largest in Portugal, after Porto and Lisbon. With its churches and gardens, Braga is among the most beautiful cities in the country. Here are some attractions you can’t miss:

  • Braga Cathedral, a magnificent example of religious architecture, deeply rooted in the city’s history and spirituality, witnessing centuries of culture and devotion;
  • The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte sits at the top of Braga’s hill and is known for its staircase with over 600 stairs. You can enjoy the view of the city from the top.

Visit Guimarães

The birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães carries many years of history. The city is called the “Cidade Berço” (birthplace) of Portugal because King Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, chose it as the capital of the kingdom after his victory in the Battle of São Mamede in 1128.

Guimarães is a fascinating place and has many sights that tell the story of the country, such as Guimarães Castle or the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança.

Thanks to their proximity, on our “Braga and Guimarães” tour you can visit these two cities in the Minho Region in just one day. Find out more here!

Guimarães Castle surrounded by green trees
Guimarães Castle, Portugal’s birthplace

Visit Coimbra

Coimbra is known as the “City of Students” because it has one of the oldest universities in the world. The city has traditional academic festivals and the main events include lots of shows, parties and fun. What not to miss:

  • The University of Coimbra is a reference in Portugal. A visit to it is a must when travelling through the city. Anyone visiting the campus will be enchanted by the students dressed in their traditional black capes;
  • The Sé Velha (Old Cathedral) is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions. Inside, besides the church, there is a small garden in the center with beautiful Roman architecture.

Visit Fatima

Fátima is a unique city that combines a rich religious history with an atmospheric devotion. It is internationally recognised as an important Catholic pilgrimage destination, a place where millions of devotees gather to share their faith, take part in religious ceremonies and seek a deeper sense of spirituality.

Here, you must visit the Sanctuary of Fatima built in honour of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions to the Three Shepherd Children in 1917.

Sancturary of Fátima
The Sanctuary of Fatima is a place people from different cultures and backgrounds come together in search of peace

Visit Aveiro

Known as the “Portuguese Venice”, Aveiro is full of history, art, culture and many canals. A visit to the city suggests a “moliceiro” boat trip. The ride lasts around 45 minutes and goes along the city’s four main canals.

Another interesting spot in this city is the Costa Nova, along the seafront, with its vertically and horizontally striped houses in a variety of colours, bringing out all the beauty of the place.

Aveiro is also home to popular typical pastries such as the famous “Ovos Moles” and “Tripas Doces”.

Visit Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo is in the northernmost part of the country and has many different tourist attractions. The city has many important monuments in the history of Portugal. Here are the main places to visit in this city:

  • The Historic Centre is over five hundred years old and today is considered the heart of the city. In its heart is the Praça da República (Republic Square) with its centuries-old buildings such as the old Poços do Concelho (Council Wells), the Igreja de Misericórdia (Misericórdia Church) and a beautiful fountain in the centre. The square is lined with restaurants and bars, and shops selling souvenirs and regional goods;
  • The Santuário de Santa Luzia is Viana do Castelo’s most emblematic monument and attracts thousands of visitors who pray for Santa Luzia’s protection.

Visit Funchal

Funchal is the capital of Madeira Island, located on the south coast. It is a paradise in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 700 kilometres from the west coast of Africa. The city is surrounded by mountains and breathtaking natural landscapes. To visit Funchal, take the cable car and get to know this marvellous island. We recommend an all-inclusive tour to enjoy the best of Madeira.

Funchal from above and some cabins (Funchal Cable Car) over the city
Cable car over the city of Funchal, Madeira

Visit Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is the capital of São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands that compose the Azores archipelago. Marked by churches, typical neighbourhoods and many viewpoints, Ponta Delgada is the ideal destination for those who love natural beauty. On the island, from Furnas, an active geothermal area, to Lagoa das Sete Cidades, there is no shortage of outdoor adventure and connection with nature. To make sure you get all the sights of the place, book a full excursion with accommodation in Ponta Delgada.

Now you know 10 cities to visit in Portugal

As you can see, there are countless cities full of history that you can visit in Portugal. With itineraries to suit all preferences, it can be difficult to choose just one. But do not worry, at ecoTravel Portugal, not only do we know our country, but we also have an experienced team, specialised guides and an enormous affection for it. We are available to help you whenever you need us.

Our most valuable tip is to opt for tours with a specialised company like ours, which offers travellers a more organised, informative and enriching experience. There’s no shortage of ways to explore Portugal and learn about our history. Visit us!


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