10 of the most beautiful places in Portugal
With its cities fast becoming chic hotspots and gorgeous coastline where you still can escape the crowds and surf world-class waves, Portugal is entering a new era of cool. So what are you waiting for? Here are ten of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal:
Being the capital of Portugal, Lisbon is an obvious place to start. It receives around half the fuss of other European capitals, but can easily equal them in beauty and charm. Besides, how often do you find a capital that receives consistent swell throughout much of the year and has world-class waves? Wintertime sees Carcavelos produce heavy barrels, making it one of Portugal’s best beach breaks. Being only a fifteen minute train ride from the city center, the lineup does get crowded.
A lot of Lisbon’s attraction probably lies in its deep-rooted history, coming second only to Athens in the oldest European capital stakes. It’s actually a beautiful mix of old and new, and alongside the city’s endearing old-fashioned qualities, there is also plenty to please the boutique crowds.
Visit the Gothic cathedrals, historic cafes, vintage trams and narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets and don’t forget the vibrant coffee bars and fabulous restaurants. The city is built on a series of hills, meaning that everywhere you venture within Lisbon you are practically guaranteed to have a gorgeous view.
Lord Byron’s favourite Portuguese haunt is this exceptional village, ripe with richly coloured buildings and breathtaking architecture. Palaces, turrets, a romantic Moorish castle and a misty dense forest are all part of this sweet little village. The vegetation is lush and exotic due to the microclimate. There are a host of historic buildings to take a look at, as well as clusters of leafy mansions with immaculate lawns and stunningly decorative features.
Sintra’s Praia Grande beach break is probably the most consistent in the Lisbon area, with slow rollers at low tide and a fast, fun shorebreak appearing with high tide.
With its 14th century walls, medieval winding streets, colourfully picturesque houses, bell tower and ornate tiles there is much to see in the newly fashionable city of Porto.
Sit under the arches at Placa da Ribeira (the riverfront square) and watch the boats float past. Most apartments in the area have terraces that overlook the tranquil waters. Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it’s a combination of old worldly charm and bustling metropolitan culture, making it a very intriguing travel destination.
4. Douro Valley
The river Douro winds through Spain and Northern Portugal. It was once a wild turbulent river, but the clever introduction of eight vast dams has tamed its spirit and it is now is very tranquil and peaceful.
The beauty of the area isn’t limited to these still and shimmering waters, though. Bordered by stunning sweeping hills and expanses of delicate almond blossoms, it really is a beautiful part of the world. The area remains, for the most part, unspoilt, with roads zigzagging through the mountains and cruise boats softly pressing through the water.
The Douro Valley is famed for supplying grapes to the best Port companies. In fact, you can see all of the major names proudly displayed on the hillside vineyards, which change colour through the seasons as the vines mature.
This is an ancient fortified town located in the Estremadura Province. In the 13th century, Portuguese Queen Isabel was so enchanted by the village of Obidos that her husband, King Denis I, gave it to her as a present. This prompted a tradition of Portuguese kings buying this picturesque village for their queens, which lasted for many centuries.
When you visit this beautiful spot, you’ll understand exactly why Isabel fell in love with it.
Once a sleepy little fishing village, Cascais is now a chic coastal resort famed for its glorious beaches, sophisticated nightlife, water sports and adventure pursuits. Always popular with artisans, writers and artists, due to its exquisite scenery, it boasts a remarkable selection of art, proudly displayed in The Conde de Castro Guimaraes Museum.
Another of the town’s attractions is the smart new marina filled with yachts which shimmer and glisten in the bright sunshine.
Surfers, too, love Cascais. Praia do Guincho is a consistent beach break with beautiful surroundings, and though it does get windy, waves are always pumping here. And with the train line running between Cascais and Lisbon, you can also surf your heart out on the Estoril coast!
7. Praia da Marinha
Because of its proximity to the overly touristy Algarve region, many dismiss the beautiful beach at Praia da Marinha. It is certainly worth visiting though, as it is considered by many to be the best beach in Portugal and is classed as one of the Top 100 beaches of the world. Ideal for snorkelling and striking rocky cliff faces, it’s no wonder that this destination is so popular for luxury 5* holidays in Portugal.
And while the Algarve’s south coast is ideal for innocent days of sunbathing at the beach, the region’s west coast has pumping swell and many breaks to choose from, with Praia da Amoreira and Arrifana being the standouts!
Marvao is a beautiful medieval mountainside town in Alentejo that still has its original 13th-century walls. The streets wind seductively between the surrounding walls, making Marvao a very beautiful place to visit.
As you can imagine, the views from across the town are not to be missed.
Situated three hours South of the capital, near Cape Sagres, Salema is a beautifully tranquil beach. Although located in the package holiday favorite the Algarve, this pretty village remains comparatively untouched by the ravages of tourism, offering just a scattering of eating places, a traditional outdoor market, one small main street and clusters of pretty white stucco houses.
This peaceful fishing village is located between two sharp cliffs with a glorious sandy beach rolling between. It’s also very near the southwestern tip of the Algarve, making a proper surf escape possible at any moment.
Évora is a Portuguese city in the municipality of Évora. The beautifully preserved historic town has been classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and when you visit, you’ll soon discover why.
It’s home to a 2000-year-old Templo Romano, a 16th-century aqueduct that can be followed by foot for five miles and the incredible Capela da Ossos – a sinister crypt – which displays the full skeletons of over 5000 Evora residents.