Things to do in Portugal

Portugal is a sun-and-sea tourist destination with the country’s 850 kilometre coastline hosting a variety of great historic towns and cities complete with scenic surrounds, food, accommodation, watersports and nightlife. The most popular beach areas include Costa do Sol west of Lisbon, the Algarve to the south and Beira and Costa Verde to the north. While there’s near year-round sun along the entire coast, being the Atlantic Ocean - water temperatures can be cool in winter and the further north you travel.

For the more adventurous, surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing conditions are best in spring, autumn and winter across the coast in areas such as Peniche, Lisbon, Nazare, Figueira do Foz and Ericeira. If you’re a football fan, enjoy the atmosphere at a Portuguese Liga game if you can get a ticket.

Portugal’s coastal capital, Lisbon, is one of the oldest cities in Europe and a hub of activity from world-class art museums to funky nights out and vintage shopping to enchanting medieval quarters.  Located on the north coast, Portugal’s second-largest city and home of port is Porto. There’s plenty of the fortified wine to sample especially at the old-school cellars on the banks of the scenic River Douro, which happens to be ideal for a scenic cruise.

There’s plenty to do inland in Portugal as well. For medieval towns try the Beira region in the north where you will find ancient university town Coimbra and the Roman city of Idanh-A-Velha. Agricultural hub Alentejo spreads across never-ending plains with cork and olive plantations everywhere. There’s also Roman ruins there with a castle on top of the cliffs at Marvao. For our pick of things to do in Portugal, read on.

Sintra

Portugal’s technicolour dream of a village, the fantastical fairytale locale of Sintra boasts pastel-hued palaces and villas amid rolling green hills, exotic gardens, the sparkling Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue sky. Take a daytrip from Lisbon to soak up the Disney-esque atmosphere.

Belém

This historic Lisbon neighbourhood is a monumental mecca of Portugal’s maritime history. Stuffed with museums and monuments dedicated to the country’s age of discovery, walk in the footprints of great Portuguese explorers and see amazing historic sites all in the one area.

Castle of São Jorge

Towering above the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, the imposing fortifications of the Castle of São Jorge has seen over a millennia of change from Visigoths and Romans to Moors and Christians. Visible from all over the city, the views from the ramparts are well worth the trip up the hill.

The Algarve

Calm, blue waters, white sandy beaches, small coves and idyllic jagged cliffs help make the Algarve Portugal’s most famous beach stretch. Extending some 200 kilometres along the coast and with 3,000 hours of sun every year, this haven has all types of food, resorts, parties and adventures waiting for you to enjoy.

Peneda-Geres National Park

In the northeast of Portugal lies a national park with an abundance of wildlife and vegetation as well as a diverse green terrain complete with rugged mountains, flowing rivers and waters falls. It’s the perfect place to admire ancient milestones nestled among the natural setting with medieval castles and sanctuaries to explore too.

Chapel of Bones

The Chapel of Bones or Capela dos Ossos is an out-of-the-ordinary 16th-century chapel located next to the entrance of St Francis Church in the heritage town of Evora. The name is derived from the inside walls of the small chapel, which are made from human skulls and bones.