Tourist Places To Visit In Portugal
Portugal, the south-western European country, is the land of Port wine and Cristiano Ronaldo (yes, he was born here). The country of cobblestone lined villages and narrow streets, medieval palaces and sparkling beaches, Portugal is a delight even if you just spend time strolling here. You will be smitten by Portugal’s mix of history, culture and sheer beauty. Some of the best tourist places to explore in Portugal are its beautiful cities, including the capital Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Aveiro, Braga, Evora and more. Read on for details on each.
Lisbon is Portugal’s capital. It lies on a hill by the coast and boasts of some of the most spell-binding neighbourhoods, like the Alfama part of the town that has the classic white homes with red roofs indigenous to the imagery of Lisbon. Some of the most coveted sites to explore here include the São Jorge Castle, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, National Azulejo Museum and the Atlantic beaches; namely Estoril and Cascais. Some other beaches to visit are Serra da Arrabida and Costa de Caparica. The Mercado da Ribeira market is an ancient 19th Century trade centre of fresh fruits, vegetables and fishes along with flowers. Now it also hosts a gourmet food-court.
Porto, as the name suggests, is the most renowned producer of wine (Port) in the country. It is a north-western coastal paradise with its medieval district of Riviera, winding cobble-stone pathways, old houses and pubs along with cafes. You must visit São Francisco Church here, as well as the 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa (Hall of Nations) which was once the Stock Market. The museum of Serralves is another delight for you to explore the history of Porto through the late 60s. Do also walk across the arched bridge - Dom Luís I, browse through the ancient book store called Livraria Lello and spend an evening admiring the barque art of Clérigos Church.
A resort town in the foothills of Sintra mountains, Sintra is quite close to Lisbon and can be a weekend trip or even a day trip. It is a forested little idyllic place, a haven of royals who escaped for some quiet time in the ancient days. You must explore and admire the Moorish places and architecture that this town boasts, along with its parks, natural bounty and hills. Visit the Pena Palace, suffused with lovely parks and imposing structures. There is the Cabo da Roca, a cape that joins Europe to Eurasia. Other tourist sites are Castle of the Moors, Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra National Palace, Monserrate Palace and Palace of Queluz. Enjoy a day at Praia da Adraga, which is a beach that is very famous among the British.
Aveiro, if one doesn’t give it a second glance, will come across as the Venice of southern Europe. It is a city on the west coast of Portugal and boasts of colourful boats meandering through the many canals and streams cutting the city. Aviero is beautiful, almost biblical in its architecture, with art nouveau structures and cathedrals at every turn. Some of the most handsome sites to see here are Cathedral of Aveiro and its bell tower, Museu de Aveiro and its marble tomb, Monastery of Jesus and the Lighthouse of Praia da Barra. The beaches nearby are breath-taking too; from Costa Nova Beach and its vivid hued houses and promenade to the Praia da Barra Beach with its lighthouse and the São Jacinto Beach. You will have the time of your life here.
One of the biggest northernmost cities of Portugal, Braga sees cold winters and mild summers. The city is renowned for its religious heritage and the famous Bom Jesus do Monte cathedral with its neoclassic aura. Braga also has a vivid gothic influence and it is evident in the designs of the Kings' Chapel, Braga Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. Other tourist attractions are Castle of Guimarães, Peneda-Gerês National Park (you might find wolves here), Citânia de Briteiros (archeological site), the Garden of Santa Barbara, Biscainhos Museum and Raio Palace. You must also take a walk through Arco da Porta Nova, the iconic stone arch known for its neo-classical baroque work.
Evora, a city in south-central Portugal, derives its name from an ancient Roman temple built here in ode of Diana - called the Temple of Évora or the Temple of Diana. The city is a delight, with squat white-washed houses and cathedrals touching the sky, gothic structures dating back to the 12th Century and museums that keep the city’s roots grounded. When in Evora, visit the Cathedral of Évora, Praça do Giraldo (the central plaza square), Museu de Evora and the Bone Chapel. The city also keeps the standing stones of Cromlech Almendres safe in its lap, built between 5000-2000 BC and kept as a religious site since.
Guimaraes is another Portuguese city that conserves its ancient buildings and architecture. It is a northern city and is considered the birth-place of Portugal by the natives because the first king of Portugal - Afonso Henriques was born here. You can see the greja de São Miguel do Castelo, which is a small church where Afonso was baptised. You can also enjoy the idyllic charm and imposing historical buildings here like the hilltop Guimarães Castle (10th Century), Dukes of Bragança Palace and the various monuments of Largo Hill (Braganza Palace, Castelo de Guimarães and Capela de São Miguel do Castelo).
Built on hills that surround River Lis in the Beiras region of Portugal, Leira is a beautiful city of monasteries and monuments. It is at the centre of many other tourist delights like Coimbta, Batalha, Fatima and Alcobaca. The city also patronises artisans and hence becomes a hub of local wares that are hand-crafted and utterly gorgeous. You will love a historical tour of the town, from the Leiria Castle and the pine forests planted by the great poet king Dom Dinis, to the 12th Century church São Pedro. The city is also known to produce world class crystal in its factories at Marinha Grande. Other places of interest are M|i|Mo and Paper museum, Theatre Miguel Franco and the Praca Rodrigues Lobo Square.
Madeira is an autonomous sub-tropical island in the Atlantic ocean, a part of Portugal. The archipelago where Madiera is situated also has another island by the name of Porto Sant, both populated and extremely tourist friendly. Madeira is also known as the ‘Ilha Jardim’ or Garden Island and the British refer to it as the ‘Islands of eternal Spring,’ since it can literally be visited at any time of the year and you will see spring-worthy weather with blooms everywhere. You can either hop around the nearby cities and islands like Funchal, Santa Cruz, Ribeira Brava and Machico; or enjoy beaches and volcanic sites like Porto Moniz, Cabo Girão, São Vicente Caves etc. Madeira is also famous for adventure sports like Kayaking at Ponta de São Lourenço, snorkelling, bird watching, sailing, scuba diving and paddling.