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Traveling in Portugal: 15 Unmissable and amazing tips, activities, and gastronomy

Portugal is a country rich in history, culture, and stunning landscapes. As natives, sharing recommendations about our country is always special. It’s not just about giving suggestions but sharing years of experience exploring Portugal from north to south.

One of the great advantages of Portugal is its compact size, which allows us to easily organize short trips of two or three days to explore a specific region. So, whenever possible, we add another point to our map of Portugal, exploring the culture, towns and cities, nature, and, of course, the gastronomy.

If you’re planning to visit Portugal, this guide will help you discover the best activities, places to visit, and dishes to try. Additionally, we’ll cover culture, gastronomy, safety, the variety of landscapes and cities, insider tips, and how to get around within Portugal. Get ready for a memorable experience!

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Portugal offers a variety of incredible experiences. Here are some of the top things you shouldn’t miss during your visit:

Exploring the magic of Lisbon streets

Discover the streets of Lisbon and immerse yourself in the charm of historic neighborhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto. Visit iconic landmarks like São Jorge Castle and Belém Tower. Indulge in delicious Portuguese cuisine. Don’t forget to explore the vibrant nightlife of Bairro Alto with its lively bars and music venues. Experience the magic of Lisbon streets and create unforgettable memories.

Trying the famous pastéis de Belém or pastéis de nata

Discover Portugal’s irresistible sweetness by trying the famous pastéis de Belém, also known as pastéis de nata. Delicately flaky on the outside and filled with a soft and indulgent egg custard, these traditional sweets are a true explosion of flavor in every bite. When visiting Portugal, a stop to taste these delicacies at an authentic pastry shop is a must-do experience that will surely delight your palate. Get ready to indulge in one of the country’s most beloved culinary treasures and succumb to the temptation of pastéis de Belém.

Exploring Palácio da Pena in Sintra

Discover the fascinating beauty of Palácio da Pena in Sintra and marvel at its stunning architecture. As you explore this historic monument, you’ll be transported to a fairy tale era where every tower and architectural detail tells a unique story. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire this jewel of Portuguese architecture and immerse yourself in the magic and charm of Palácio da Pena.

Discovering the city of Porto

Discover the city of Porto and enjoy a glass of Port wine in its famous region’s wine cellars. Experience the unique flavors of this fortified wine as you explore the charming streets and alleys of the city. Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into Porto’s rich wine tradition and enjoy memorable moments by the Douro River.

In addition to visiting the Port wine cellars, take the opportunity to explore other must-see tourist spots in the city, such as the iconic Livraria Lello, the majestic Porto Cathedral, and the vibrant Ribeira. Delight in local cuisine at typical restaurants and try the famous regional dishes like Francesinha and bacalhau à Brás. Explore the city’s charming neighborhoods, such as Boavista and Foz, and admire the breathtaking views of Porto from the viewpoints scattered throughout the city.

Exploring the beaches of the Algarve

Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal

Explore the stunning beaches of the Algarve and enjoy the sun and the sea. Be enchanted by the crystal-clear waters and golden sands as you explore the various beaches along the Algarve coast. Don’t miss the opportunity to practice thrilling water sports like surfing, diving, or boat tours through caves and cliffs. Additionally, take the time to visit the picturesque villages and coastal towns, discovering the unique culture and gastronomy of this region of Portugal.

Visiting the University of Coimbra

Visit the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in Europe. Marvel at the historical and architectural richness of this UNESCO World Heritage Site as you explore its majestic buildings, such as the Joanina Library and São Miguel Chapel. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit its beautiful gardens and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Paço das Escolas. Immerse yourself in the academic and cultural atmosphere of this venerable university and experience a unique and enriching journey.

Exploring a wine region

Portugal is home to several wine regions, each with distinct characteristics, flavors, and interests. From north to south of the country, from Douro to Alentejo, passing through Dão and Vinhos Verdes, there is a diversity of terroirs and grape varieties that give Portuguese wines a unique personality. Discover Portugal’s viticultural richness through visits to its wineries, where you can learn about production methods, taste award-winning wines, and explore the stunning landscapes that shape the character of each wine region. Embark on a wine and gastronomic journey and uncover the secrets behind Portuguese wines that captivate enthusiasts worldwide.

Trying the famous leitão da Bairrada

Try the famous leitão da Bairrada, a traditional Portuguese dish that is a true gastronomic delicacy. Delight yourself with the succulence and unmistakable flavor of this specialty, prepared according to traditional methods that give the suckling pig a crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat. Accompany this delicacy with typical regional side dishes and discover why this dish is so beloved by locals and visitors alike. Don’t miss including a visit to a local restaurant on your next trip to Portugal to savor this culinary delight that will surely leave you craving for more.

Visiting the Peneda-Gerês National Park

Visit the Peneda-Gerês National Park and immerse yourself in the beauty of untouched nature. Explore the stunning landscapes of this natural paradise, where imposing mountains meet serene lakes and dense forests. Discover hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints and dive into refreshing hidden waterfalls. Observe the diversity of flora and fauna that inhabits this unique ecosystem and enjoy moments of peace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with nature and be amazed by the magic of the Peneda-Gerês National Park.

Visiting the Serra da Estrela

Whether in winter, with its snow-covered landscapes, or in summer, for the tranquility it offers, visiting the Serra da Estrela is a must-do activity when you’re in Portugal. Enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and picturesque villages that make up this mountainous region. Engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, or even skiing during the winter season. Delight in the local cuisine, which includes the famous Serra da Estrela cheese and other regional products. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this magnificent landscape and enjoy moments of peace and serenity in the Serra da Estrela.

Visiting Évora

Roman Temple, Évora, Portugal

Visiting Évora, a historic city with an impressive Roman temple, is an experience you can’t miss when exploring Portugal. Discover the cobblestone streets of this charming city, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and marvel at the Temple of Diana, one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the Iberian Peninsula. Additionally, take the opportunity to explore its other architectural treasures, such as the Évora Cathedral and the Chapel of Bones, and enjoy the cultural and historical richness of this Alentejo city.

Trying a meal at a typical tasca

A “tasca” is an establishment where wine and light meals are served at low prices. Typically, they are traditional family-run restaurants where you can taste authentic Portuguese delicacies prepared in a traditional way. These establishments are spread throughout the country and are well worth it for those who wish to experience authentic local cuisine at affordable prices.

Visiting the Azores Islands

View of Pico, Marina da Horta, Faial Island, Azores

Visiting the Azores Islands and enjoying their volcanic landscapes and stunning lagoons is a must-do experience for those visiting Portugal. Explore the craters of dormant volcanoes, dive into natural pools formed by volcanic rocks, and marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views of mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike scenic trails, observe whales and dolphins, or simply relax on the unique black sand beaches of this region. Discover the untouched natural beauty of the Azores and create unforgettable memories in this Atlantic gem.

Visiting the Madeira Islands

The archipelago is composed of several islands, each with its own distinct characteristics. While Madeira Island is known for its natural diversity, with majestic mountains, stunning levadas (irrigation channels), and rich flora and fauna, Porto Santo stands out for its magnificent golden sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Both islands offer unique experiences to visitors, from hiking in Madeira’s mountains and lush forests to relaxing days by the sea in Porto Santo.

Exploring the Alentejo region

Visiting Alentejo is a unique experience that allows you to dive into the essence of Portuguese culture. This vast and diverse region is known for its golden fields, endless vineyards, and picturesque villages. From vast plains to rolling hills, Alentejo offers stunning landscapes that invite exploration. Additionally, Alentejo’s rich historical and cultural heritage is present at every turn, from Roman ruins to medieval castles. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste delicious Alentejo cuisine, with traditional dishes like açorda (bread soup) and lamb stew. A visit to Alentejo is a journey through authenticity and tranquility, where you can enjoy moments of serenity and discover the true essence of Portugal.

What is the culture like in Portugal?

Portuguese culture is rich and diverse. The Portuguese are known for their hospitality and love for music, dance, and festivals. During your visit, be sure to explore museums, art galleries, and attend a fado performance, the traditional Portuguese music.

What cuisine can you find in Portugal?

Portuguese cuisine is a true delight. From the famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) to bacalhau (salted cod), there’s something for every taste. Don’tmiss the famous cozido à portuguesa (traditional Portuguese stew), arroz de marisco (seafood rice), francesinha (Portuguese sandwich), and conventual sweets. And of course, don’t forget to accompany your meals with a good Portuguese wine.

Is Portugal a safe country?

Portugal is considered one of the safest countries in Europe. However, it’s always important to take basic precautions, as in any other place. Keep your valuables secure, avoid deserted areas at night, and follow the guidance of local authorities. Overall, you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind.

What territorial diversity can I find in Portugal?

Portugal offers incredible diversity of landscapes. From the stunning beaches of the Algarve to the mountains of Serra da Estrela, there’s something for every nature lover. Additionally, cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, and Évora are rich in history and charming architecture. No matter what your interest is, Portugal has something to surprise you.

Our secret tips for traveling in Portugal

We want to share with you some secret tips to make the most of your visit to Portugal:

  • Explore the historic villages of Portugal, such as Monsanto and Sortelha, for a journey into the past.
  • Explore the new gastronomy in Portugal. In recent years, both in major cities and in more remote locations, modern cuisine restaurants have begun to appear, some of them even with Michelin stars. If this is the type of experience you’re looking for, be sure to research the guide. Recently, we tried: Belcanto, 100 Maneiras, Esporão, Cenoura Brava, Foco, and Terruja.
  • Summer festivals in Portugal are becoming increasingly renowned internationally, featuring tours by top global bands. Be sure to check cultural agendas to see if there are concerts and festivals taking place during your visit to Portugal.
  • Portugal has always had a strong connection to the sea, so you can find fresh, quality seafood and fish almost anywhere. If you have the opportunity, be sure to try these delicacies.
  • The Serra da Lousã is one of the most beautiful places in the country. There you can find some of the most beautiful Schist Villages, magical places where time seems to stand still.

How to get around in Portugal?

Portugal is easily accessible through international flights to major airports in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Additionally, the country has an excellent public transport network, including trains and buses, that allow you to move easily between cities and regions. If you prefer, you can also rent a car for more flexibility during your trip.

Portugal is a wonderful destination for history, culture, gastronomy, and nature lovers. We hope this guide helps you plan your trip and discover everything this country has to offer. Get ready for an unforgettable experience in Portugal.

Planning your trip to Portugal?

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Activities at Portugal

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