For a relatively small country, has so much diversity. Some of best places to visit in Portugal are some of best places to visit in Europe.
You can ski in the mountains or learn to surf the waves. Go wine-tasting and explore vineyards, or go hiking and rock-climbing in national parks. Visit the big cities and admire the architecture, or head to the quieter towns and learn about the history.
From the big cities of Lisbon and Porto to the lush national parks, to the stunning beaches of the Algarve, Portugal has so much to offer for travelers.
Regardless of your work experience, surely you can find a work exchange that matches your skills and your travel style. This will also give you more of a local’s perspective on the country as well, as you’ll most likely be living with Portuguese people.
But whether you choose to do a work exchange or just travel around for fun, here are some fun places to visit in Portugal while you’re there!
Best places to visit in Portugal
This is definitely the most famous place in Portugal. Lisbon is the country’s capital city and number one tourist destination.
The architecture and design here are incredible, with patterned tiles on the walkways to the intricate blue azulejo tiles on the churches.
Definitely walk up to the São Jorge Castle for sweeping views of the city, or head to the bustling public square known as Praça do Comércio.
Other than these two landmarks, tourists in Lisbon love to check out the architecture of Jeronimos Monastery and the seaside medieval Belém Tower.
Just a 1-hour train ride northwest of Lisbon will bring you to Sintra, one of the most magical places to visit in Portugal.
Sintra is like a fairytale land, with green forests and moss-covered stone buildings, and colorful, hilltop castles.
The town is small but unforgettable. The best thing to do in Sintra is hiking up through the woods to the two neighboring castles.
First, you’ll reach the historic Castelo dos Mouros, which is all stone and greenery. Climb higher and you’ll reach Pena Palace, a multicolored, Romanticist palace the exudes luxury.
You may also want to visit the mystical gardens of Quinta da Regaleira. Here you’ll find hidden caves and alleyways, fancy statues and landscaped gardens, and a famous spiraling stone staircase.
This is the perfect gateway to the Algarve, Portugal’s stunning southern region. Faro is the capital city of the Algarve and even has its own international airport.
Most people visit the Algarve for the beaches and the coastline, but Faro should not be overlooked!
The Old Town is full of history, from Roman walls and medieval towers to the majestic Cathedral and educational museums.
So be sure to soak in the beauty and culture of Faro before heading to the beaches.
4. Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês
In the northeast of Portugal near the Spanish border, you’ll find this massive expanse of wilderness.
With over 700 square kilometers of the national park, there is plenty of wildlife and picturesque scenery here.
Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês is one of the best places to visit in Portugal for nature-lovers. You can hike through the park for days in search of waterfalls, mountain peaks, valleys, lakes, rivers, and of course, native animals and birds.
As the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon, Porto is a must-see for travelers. The best place in Porto is down by the Douro River which cuts through the city.
You’ll find postcard-worthy views down here, especially at the riverside neighborhood known as Ribeira. Here the buildings are all tightly-packed and brightly-colored and the sidewalk is lined with boats.
Another fantastic view awaits you atop the Dom Luís I Bridge. Head to the top of this double-decker bridge in the evening to watch the sunset over the hilly city of Porto.
Other fun things to do in Porto include climbing the Torre dos Clerigos, visiting the magical Livraria Lello, and admiring the Liberdade Square.
Also known as the “Venice of Portugal”, Aveiro is one of the most unique places to visit in Portugal.
You don’t need more than a day here, as the town is quite small. You can even visit as just a day trip from Porto. But Aveiro is one of the most scenic towns in the country.
Canals wind in and out of the quiet city streets, and you can take a boat tour with a local to see the city from the water.
The town is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture as well. Bring a camera and take some time to gawk at the incredibly detailed building designs.
7. Douro Valley
The Douro Valley in northern Portugal is centered around the Douro River, which stretches all the way to the ocean.
This fertile area of Portugal is famous for its wine production, particularly its port wine. This world-famous, fortified dessert wine is only made in this area of the world.
So wine-enthusiasts in Portugal should definitely venture out here for a vineyard tour and wine tasting. It’s also just insanely beautiful here, with rich green hills and layers upon layers of vineyards slathered across the landscape.
The Madeira Archipelago consists of four islands and lies just over 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Portugal.
Madeira Island is the largest of the four, and Porto Santo is the second largest. These are the only two inhabited islands, so you’ll have to find accommodation here.
Volcanic activity throughout time has left the islands with crazy rock and cliff formations of different colors. The Ponta de São Lourenço lookout and the hikes of Pico Ruivo or Levada are some of the coolest places on the island.
In addition to hikes, there are also lots of gardens, museums, and wineries in Madeira. For water-lovers, this is also a great spot for diving, snorkeling, SUP-ing, and taking boat trips.
9. Arrábida Natural Park
This gorgeous, protected natural area lies just south of Lisbon and covers just over 100 square kilometers, is one the best place to visit in Portugal and Europe.
For adventurous travelers in Portugal, this is the place to go. Full of pristine beaches, rocky cliffs, dense forests, and the peaks of the Serra da Arrábida Mountains, the diverse landscape provides endless activities.
You can go hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling, diving, or rock-climbing. You could also just stroll around and relax on the beach!
Just west of Lisbon lies Cascais, a lazy beachside town. Many travelers come here just for a relaxing beach getaway, but it’s also great for learning to surf.
Surfing is a popular sport in Portugal, as half of the country is coastline. If you want to learn surfing in Portugal, Cascais is the perfect place to do it.
There are lots of surf camps and schools here for beginners, and you can also find good waves for intermediate surfers as well.
Home to some of the best beaches in Portugal, Lagos is one of the most popular tourist destinations in western Europe.
The list of amazing beaches in Lagos is quite long, but some of the best are Praia do Camilo, Meia Praia, Praia da Batata, and Praia Dona Ana.
In the waters near these beaches, you’ll find unique saves, grottoes, and sandstone cliffs. It’s these interesting rock formations that truly make Lagos one of the most unique places to visit in Portugal.
As the fourth largest city in Portugal, Braga is full of entertainment. It is quite a modern city, widely revered for its shopping and its sporting events.
But there is plenty of history here as well. There are medieval, neo-classical, and Gothic artistic influences in the architecture of the city, particularly in its religious buildings.
Braga Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace, and the Bom Jesus do Monte complex are some of the best landmarks in the city. Be sure to check out the colorful flowers of the Garden of Santa Barbara as well!
13. Serra De Estrela
Roughly translating to “star mountains”, the Serra De Estrela is a magical place.
These are the highest mountains on Portugal’s mainland, making them a popular destination among hikers and wilderness enthusiasts.
In the winter, the mountains receive generous snowfall. So if you’re looking for a skiing or snowboarding adventure in Portugal, this is the place to go. Though it’s nothing compared to the Alps, the ski season in Portugal is still lots of fun.
Set in the Algarve, Tavira does have some lovely beaches. But most travelers are drawn here for the scenery and history of the town itself.
The Rio Gilão runs through Tavira, and there is an impressive Roman bridge connecting the two sides of town. From the waterfront views to the adorable architecture of the buildings, this is the most scenic spot in Tavira.
You can also visit the Tavira castle walls for panoramic views over the city.
This is one of the best places to visit in Portugal for history-lovers. Located atop a hill overlooking the Mondego River, this scenic city is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site University.
Most tourists like to spend a whole day exploring the Velha Universidade, admiring its cathedral, clock tower, and Baroque library.
There are also lots of museums, parks, and gardens to add to your sightseeing in Coimbra, as well as cafes for trying some traditional Portuguese food.
If you want to visit the best places in Portugal, check out our articles about Portugal destinations here:
Hello! I am a 25 year old from the USA with a knack for traveling on a budget. I fell in love with traveling while studying in Europe, and that love grew even more when I started volunteering abroad in South America. Since then, I've worked odd jobs and volunteered all over the globe while cultivating passions for hiking, wildlife photography, food, wine, animals, permaculture, and more!