Things to Do in Portugal: Top 15 Tourist Attractions

The country, located in the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, attracts tourists with resorts located there. Fans of sightseeing vacations are attracted to Lisbon, Setubal, Braga, Porto, Coimbra and other cities. About 13 million people vacation in this country every year. Many people are interested: what are things to do in Portugal?

Public Holidays in Portugal

A good time to relax in Portugal is between the end of the last month of spring and the middle of the first month of autumn. You can relax on Madeira all year round—the island is especially popular with lovers of ecological tourism.

Those interested in beach vacations should pay attention to Madeira and the southern resorts of Portugal: the water there warms up to +23˚C during the season time.

Want to save money? Buy roundtrips to Portugal in the low season (November-April), when prices fall, not only for accommodation, but also for spa treatments.

You can spend February vacations visiting Obidos (chocolate festival), April vacations—visiting Lisbon (seafood festival) and Madeira (exotic flower festival). In July, you can spend time in Agede (Umbrella Sky installation).

Top 15 Attractions in Portugal

Cape Roca

Kaap RocaCape Roca

Cape Roca, where countless tourists gather for stunning panoramic views and amazing sunsets, is 18 km from Sintra. At the top there are objects—a post office, a lighthouse, a restaurant, a souvenir store (they sell the certificate of visit to the cape for 11 euros), a stone stele with a sign stating that the cape is the westernmost point of Europe.

Take bus 403 from Sintra to Cape Roca.

Castle of the Moors

The Castle of the Moors is represented today by well-preserved ruins. The walls of the castle divide it into 2 parts, and the walls at the entrance to the castle are the best preserved. Here, it is worth paying attention to the loopholes, towers, the chapel of San Pedro (located next to the entrance; interesting is the vaulted entrance supported by columns and capitals decorated with fantastic animals) and the original cistern, in which a lot of water can be placed in case of a siege.

Today, on the territory of the Castle of the Moors there are a café, a tourist center, restrooms and hiking trails.

Aguash Librish Aqueduct

The Aguash Librish aqueduct is a landmark of Lisbon: it is a series of 35 arches. Of greatest importance is the part of the aqueduct that passes through the Alcantara Valley (the height of the highest arch is more than 60 m).

Groups of tourists are offered to go through the garden to the upper part of the aqueduct on Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00, by appointment only (ticket price – 2 euros).

The Tower of Belem

De toren van belemThe Tower of Belem

The four-story Belém Tower in the Portuguese capital (the mouth of the Tagus River) reflects the Manueline architectural style. Tourists come here to admire the vast river, see old cannons in casemates (there are 16 cannons in total), windows with loggias (Venetian style), a statue of Our Lady of Navigators, sculptures of rhinos, an open terrace, the perimeter of which is decorated with Moorish turrets.

Tickets for adults costs 6 euros and 3 euros for children. Buses 727 and 714 run to the tower (open every day except Monday from 10:00 to 17:00-18:30).

Statue of Christ

Standbeeld van ChristusStatue of Christ
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The height of the Statue of Christ in the city of Almada is 28 meters and stands on a pedestal of 82 meters. The Christ Statue (entrance is open from 9:00 to 18:00) is equipped with an observation deck (one of the columns is the location of the elevator, which takes everyone to the platform, from where they can admire the bridge on April 25 , the Tagus River and almost the entire Portuguese capital), a library, a café and exhibition rooms (where visitors are pampered with interesting exhibits).

Next to the complex is a park: sculptures with Christian themes are exhibited.

Evora

Evora is one of the cities in the Alentejo region: it is interesting for tourists thanks to cheeses, good wines, local sweets, the Temple of Diana (1st century AD), the old aqueduct (its length is 18 km), the monastery of St. Clara (15th century), bullfights that take place 3-4 times a year in May-October is arena next to city garden), the Gothic Cathedral in honor of St. Francisco and the Negros. Clara (15th century), bullfights, which take place 3-4 times a year in May-October), the Gothic cathedral in honor of St. Francisco and the Neolithic buildings near Évora.

There is a train from Lisbon to Evora: for a 1.5-2 hour trip, travelers will pay 12+ euros.

Guimaraes Castle

Guimaraes-kasteelGuimaraes Castle

In a medieval castle in the city of Guimaraes (50 km from Porto), several gates, towers (4), a wooden bridge leading to the entrance of the donjon are worth to be seen. The castle (open for visits Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00) is built in the shape of a heraldic shield and stone steps lead to each of the towers. From the walls of the castle, you can enjoy the breathtaking views for free.

You can get from Porto to Guimaraes by train, then walk 1.5 km on foot or take a cab.

Crystal Palace Gardens

The Crystal Palace Gardens in Porto are designed for walks, photo shoots or weekends in nature. The park has alleys, sculptures, benches, a large pond, cafes, installations (antique and modern styles). Children can spend time here on the playgrounds. The park has a rose garden, a garden of the senses, a multimedia library, a romantic museum (visitors will get into the atmosphere of the time of Karl Albert: they will see antique furniture, tapestries, ceramics, paintings and taste the Portuguese drink at the Port and Douro Wines Institute on the 1st floor of the museum).

The park is open from 8-9:00 to 18:00-21:00.

Church of São Francisco in Porto

The Church of San Francisco (Gothic + Baroque elements) in Porto (you cannot take photos here) is famous for its carvings of the 17th-18th century, walls, in the decoration of which special panels are used, reflecting the Rococo style. The painting of the dome and wall of the church is represented by drawings of flowers, animals and angels. Guests should pay attention to the altar and the iconographic composition “The Tree of Jesse” with the family tree of Christ printed on it.

The Church of São Francisco also has catacombs with the tombs of citizens dating back 18-19 century (the upper floors are occupied by tombs and the lower layers are occupied by skulls and bones; ticket costs 3.50 euros), and a museum (where you can photograph furniture, paintings, sculptures)…

The Cathedral of Funchal

Kathedraal van FunchalThe Cathedral of Funchal

The Gothic cathedral in Funchal, founded in the 15th century, has 3 naves and a bell tower with a spire. The interior is represented by a high cedar ceiling (decorated in carvings) and an altar decorated with images of apostles, prophets and saints dressed in 16th century costumes. And next to the cathedral you can see the monument to Pope John Paul II.

Peneda-Gerês National Park

The Peneda-Gerês National Park (Minho province) is dominated by the Peneda (1,335 m) and Gerês (1508 m) mountain ranges. In the park, you can see the medieval castles in Lindosa and Castro Laboreiro, the monastery ruins (12th century) in Pitoins das Junias, and visit the open-air museum in Vilarinho das Furnas.

In the Peneda-Gerês Park, you can find birch trees, strawberry trees, Portuguese laurels and other plants (entrance fee is 1.5 euros). You can also see mountain goats, bears and other animals.

Ruivu Peak (Pico Ruivo)

Pico Ruivo is an 1862 meter high peak in Madeira (50 km from Funchal) and a point for viewing the surrounding landscapes (ocean + island).

You can reach the top of Pico Ruivo on foot from Ashada do Texeira (the trail is along a conveniently paved path that climbs up and jumps sharply down) or Pico do Arieiro (the brave will go along the cliffs, but you can feel safe—railings have been installed in dangerous places and tunnels have been dug through some rocks).

Pico Ruivo is obviously not the greenest peak, but you can still find moss and ferns, as well as finches and blackbirds.

Luis I bridge in Porto

Luis I-brug in PortoLuis I bridge in Porto

The two-level Luis I bridge (its length is 385 m and height 44 m) is thrown over the Douro River (those who want can go on a river excursion, which takes about 1 hour) to connect the Ribeira (Porto area) with Vila Nova de Gaia (there are wineries and warehouses in the city). The upper part of the bridge (depicted on the labels of the local port wine) is intended for pedestrians and the light rail of metropolitan Porto, and the lower part is for motorists and pedestrians (special paths have been built along which they can walk) take a picture of the Douro River and take panoramic photos of Porto).

It is worth noting that fragments of an old stone bridge can be seen at the entrance to the Luis I Bridge.

Bridal Veil Falls

The waterfall s located near the town of Porto Manis. The waterfall flows from a steep cliff from a height of 212 meters straight into the ocean. The rocky coastline does not allow you to get close to the waterfall, but next to it you can walk along a specially paved path and admire it from the viewing platform (not applicable to capture this amazing wonder in a photo) or from the side of the boat from the ocean side (the boat deviates slightly from the shore). If you move a little north of the “Bridal Veil,” you will find a gift store with memorabilia that will remind tourists of this place.

Obidos Castle

Obidos kasteelObidos Castle

The castle in the village of Obidos is one of the examples of the Manueline style. It is a quadrangle and the length of all its sides is 30 m each. Tourists are invited to view the battlements, bastions and vaulted passages decorated with medieval bas-reliefs. A visit to the castle, part of which is occupied by the hotel, is free for tourists.

In July, a medieval fair is held near the castle of Obidos: everyone can buy authentic souvenirs, food and drink, attend knight tournaments, performances by rope walkers and jugglers with torches.

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