10 Best Cities to Visit in Portugal
Portugal on the third time was still engaging. In fact, more attractive as we came to visit one of its more photogenic cities, Porto. Old world charm, vibrant riverside, the winding Douro, and the port vessels bringing passengers from port to port, what is there not to like about this city?
But Porto is not the only attraction bringing back visitors to this country. Lisbon, Portugal's capital, is the oldest city in the Western world. From its shores, the great discoveries of the New World started. But beyond Lisbon and Porto, Portugal has other cities that can equal the history and beauty of these two.
Travel is very personal and the places you like will differ even from the ones your husband likes. So, I will not be surprised if you have your own list of the top holiday destinations in Portugal. You may share it in the Comments section. Meanwhile, here's mine:
Map of Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal's capital city was once the centre of exploration. It was devastated on All Saints Day in 1755 by an earthquake with an intensity which reached 11. The damage was extreme but as in other disasters, the fury of rebuilding afterwards changed the landscape of the city.
Today, several neighbourhoods claim the attention of tourists for the unique things it can offer. So, the choices are endless and public transport is easy to use.
What we enjoyed most in our exploration of the place is Alfama where traces of Portugal's Muslim heritage lives on. Belem is another favourite especially because of the maritime museum in the area. You will see there the power Portugal has in the seas at that period of history.
From Lisbon, you can easily do a day trip to Sintra. It is not far and there are enough places to visit in a day. You can use public transportation as there are buses in Sintra that go to the various attractions.
Obidos is another city you must visit. The gift to the Queens must be the most beautiful place in the kingdom and Obidos was such. From Lisbon, you can do a day trip and you will have enough time to visit the Palace and wander through the winding streets of this medieval city.
There are many restaurants to satisfy your food desire and stores to delight any shopping enthusiast. But, I suggest you go up the Palace and eat in the restaurant there as the view is worth it. If you are staying the night, this is the place to be. You can try out the tower and imagine yourself living at that time.
Porto has now become one of the most favoured destinations in Portugal and after my visit, I am convinced that it must be on the bucket list of everyone going to Portugal. There is so much history to enjoy here and it is within easy walk of each other. But have good walking shoes as cobbled stones are some of the hardest to walk in.
Across Porto is Villa Nova de Gaia. Hop on one of those boats and cross over or just walk through the Don Lluis bridge. On that side is one of the best views of Porto. But there is more than just the view. There is another very popular attraction in this part that brings people to cross over from Porto. Along the shores of Vila Nova de Gaia are the port houses and you can stop at some of these and enjoy a guided tour or a taste of some of the port offerings from the likes of Sandeman, Taylor Fladgate, and other famous Port houses.
Considered the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro used to be a very strategic port
We visited this former capital of Portugal after spending a week in Lisbon. My husband really wanted to stay in Hotel Quinta de las Lagrimas in Coimbra where his hero, Lord Nelson, stayed. It wasn't a long drive from Lisbon and the hotel we stayed was not at all a disappointment. We got an upgrade to a room with a sitting area and door to the garden.
Its well preserved medieval old town is interesting especially the 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral of Se Velha. Of course, the University of Coimbra is a must visit. Built on the foundation of an old Palace, it has a very famous Library, the Biblioteca Joanina.
We used Coimbra as the base to visit other interesting places in the senator region of Portugal like the pilgrimage place of Fatima, Batalha, Conimbriga and its Roman ruins; and even Aveiro and Porto. Being used to long drives in North America, these places were not far at all.
There are some Roman ruins close by in Conimbriga
Here in Tomar are some of the most beautiful tiles I have ever seen. The houses in the city are tiled, each one expressing its own personality in the color and design. But the major attraction, the centerpiece of this place is the Castle of the Templars with its magnificent Charola.
By the way, when you’re there, it is rumoured that Tomar hides the world’s greatest Templar treasure so keep your eyes open and dig a bit with your toe.
This capital of Portugal's Alentejo region, the country's gastronomic and wine region, is a fun place to visit. When we visited, there was a rally of old fiat car owners and it was fascinating to watch how well they have kept their cars and how proud they are of these.
Right in the centre of the city is the Parador and we found ourselves having tea there and a very animated conversation with the server. Next time I visit Evora, I'll stay in this place. they are so friendly and welcoming to us who were not guests there at all.
Before moving on to the other popular Portugal cities, watch this video of Portugal. It will have its own recommendations of the best places to visit.
There is more to Portugal than just the cities already mentioned. One of the lesser lights but worth a visit is Elvas. This garrison town of Portugal occupied a significant role when the country was constantly attacked from
We went to Bussaco because of the famous battle that took place there so my husband really wanted to see where his hero, the Duke of Wellington, waged his famous battle in Portugal.
It was a charming drive to the old Castle and a convent where the battle took place. The Castle is now a hotel and the tiles here are worth a visit.
Portugal has so many jewels and they are all worth a visit. Here are some: