16 Most Beautiful Places in Portugal
This list of most beautiful places in Portugal is a bit of mix for anyone hoping to holiday here. With so much variety, there’s something for everything — gorgeous regions with unique cities, beaches, nature reserves, and, of course, the breathtaking islands that form the Azores.
Stroll through the narrow streets of lively Lisbon, take a dip in the sea in the sunny Algarve, walk through the green valleys covered with olive trees and almond trees and taste the local wines in one of the many quintas (vineyards). Don’t forget somewhere like Sagres, which makes for the perfect surfing holiday.
Here’s your guide to the most beautiful places in Portugal!
The Most Beautiful Places in Portugal – The Regions
The Algarve has beautiful rock formations that together with the beach and sea form the spectacular coastline of Portugal. The lively Faro is the most important city in the region, and that is mainly because the international airport is located here. From here, many holiday makers spread throughout the beautiful south of Portugal. The Algarve has a pleasant climate where it is also great to stay outside of the high season. It is therefore not surprising that the beaches are one of the most popular areas.
You’ll also hear the name Albufeira regularly when it comes to the Algarve. The town consists of an old and new part which makes walking through the streets a special experience. It is a great base when you discover the Portuguese Algarve.
For a more guided experience of the Algarve, try these tours:
- Benagil Caves Boat Cruise
- 4-Hour Algarve Heritage Tour
- Albufeira Half-Day Caves and Dolphin Watching Cruise
Nature is beautiful in northern Portugal and also one of the main reasons for traveling here. The many vineyards, often called quintos, are a striking appearance in the landscape. The Douro River runs like a golden thread through the region and is surrounded by endless greenery.
Northern Portugal is not only the wild nature. The famous city of Porto is also located in this region. When reading the name you immediately think of the drink “port,” then you are in the right place. The origin of this fortified wine is indeed in Porto and the surrounding Douro Valley. Extra fun as a wine lover is participating in a wine tour, where you go on a voyage of discovery through the Portuguese vineyards.
The Alentejo region is in the south of Portugal. It is known as one of the quieter places in the country where you don’t see many tourists. Alentejo is roughly the size of the Netherlands, but considerably fewer residents. Perfect to completely unwind. It also means that you can see the starry sky as we almost never see it in the Netherlands due to light pollution. The mysterious universe sparkles above your head when you lie outside on your back at night.
Alentejo is a beautiful region to drive through when you take a small road trip through Portugal. The small-scale seaside resorts lend themselves to a wonderful day at the beach and also vineyards, rock formations, olive trees and mountains pass when you visit this undiscovered part of Portugal.
Admiring the beautiful starry sky we were just talking about? You can do that at the special reservoir Alqueva in Alentejo. If you really want to relax then the surroundings of Alqueva are the perfect place for you. Due to the remote location there is little light pollution, so you can really see at night why Alqueva is so special. You will also find clear, clear nights most of the year.
If you prefer not to go on a voyage of discovery alone, there are also organized adventures that you can undertake in the dark. Riding with your loved one under the starry sky, how romantic do you want it to be? Also visit Aldeia da Luz if you are in the area. The village was literally moved when the old village was flooded by the construction of the Alqueva Reservoir.
For a more guided experience of the Alqueva, try this wine and food tour
One of the most beautiful nature reserves is without a doubt the Douro Valley. UNESCO has therefore placed this valley on the World Heritage List. You can easily combine the Douro Valley with a visit to Porto. It is the endless vineyards from the Douro Valley that have produced the prize-winning port wines. Go on a voyage of discovery through the valley or take part in one of the many wine tours organized in this region.
The Douro Valley gets its name from the Douro River that flows through the area. The origin of the Douro is in Spain and has a length of about 900 kilometers. When you travel through Portugal, chances are that you will come along the banks of this important river.
For a more guided experience of the Douro Valley, try this wine tasting, river cruise, and lunch tour
Just like the Douro Valley, the Côa Valley also benefits from the mighty Douro River. The Côa river that provides the fertile soil in this valley is a branch of the Douro. This makes the landscape in the Côa Valley really beautiful. Walk among the greenery, over the rocks, along the grasses and the water while enjoying the changing landscape and the tranquility that comes from it.
What this valley is also known for, are the historic rock drawings that you will find scattered throughout the park. It is one of the largest collections in Europe and very special when you consider that the drawings have been on this site for thousands of years. You can discover even more about the area in the Côa Museum that you will find halfway through the park.
Ponta da Piedade
When you start looking for beach vacations, Portugal will soon pop up. With the beautiful Algarve region as a true beach hotspot, there is plenty of choice from special places. Many beaches offer spectacular views with their rock formations, making Ponta da Piedade a true highlight. The rocks also form the basis for the beautiful hiking trails in the vicinity of the beach. That way you will certainly not be bored during a visit to Ponta da Piedade.
If you want to admire the beach from a different angle then a boat trip is definitely recommended. Not only organized tours pass here. Discover the Portuguese waters yourself from a kayak or canoe. There are also a few nearby small beaches that can only be reached by water. With a bit of luck you can enjoy a nice afternoon on a beautiful deserted beach.
For a more guided experience of the Ponta da Piedade, try these tours:
Serra da Arrábida
The beautiful Serra da Arrábida is an hour’s drive from Lisbon. As a nature reserve on the water, Serra da Arrábida is a feast for the eyes. From the Serra do Risco, the highest peak, you overlook the wild vegetation, white beaches and the mighty sea. Once downstairs you will find several small beaches on the outskirts of Serra da Arrábida.
Portinho da Arrábida is one of the most beautiful beaches in the region. You can dive excellent here in the clear water. So discover not only nature above water, but certainly also underwater. Walk from the fine sand into the calm water and find the cooling. Aftrwards, stop by for one of the small beach bars in Serra da Arrábida for tasty tapas.
For a more guided experience of the Serra da Arrádiba, try these tours:
- Arrábida Snorkeling Adventure
- Wild Canoeing from Sesimbra
- Kayak Trip to Arrábida Park
- Arrábida and Sesimbra Day Tour & Wine Tasting
Surfing is a sport that seems to become more popular every year. It is a special way to discover Portuguese waters and a nice way to relax. Adjacent to the town of Sagres is a beautiful beach where surfers like to be found. With just the right waves and a nice breeze you can enter the water with confidence.
Even if surfing is not on your list, Sagres is a good stop in Portugal. Praia de Beliche and Praia do Tonel are two beaches where you can enjoy the sun and clear water from the fine sand. On the rocks above the beach you walk through the beautiful Portuguese nature that surrounds Sagres.
For a more guided experience of the Sagres, try these tours:
One of the pearls in Portugal is the city of Lisbon. Art, culture, and history come together under the orange roofs and beautiful buildings of Lisbon. A famous image in Lisbon are the yellow trams that take you through the narrow streets through the city. Even when you don’t necessarily have to travel by tram, it’s a fun experience. Another thing to do is to eat a delicious pastéis de nata. This traditional Portuguese pastry is a custard tart that nowhere tastes as freshly made as in the bakeries of Portugal.
Watch Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara in the evening as the sun sets and enjoy the beautiful view of Lisbon. Miradouros are viewpoints that you find scattered throughout the city and that each offer a different beautiful view. After all, Lisbon is built on hills and that means not only good views, but also enough exercise when you stroll through the streets of this beautiful city.
For a more guided experience of the Lisbon, try these tours:
- Food Walking Tour with Market Visit
- Lisbon Essential Tour: History, Stories, & Lifestyle
- Sao Jorge Castle: Skip-the-Line Ticket with Escort
- Alfama District 2.5 Hour Walking Tour
- Lisbon Street Art Tour
In northern Portugal is the town where the port wines come from: Porto. A cozy city where you can of course go for wine tastings, but also go for atmospheric city walks, historic buildings and restaurants with delicious tapas and other local delicacies.
Admire the Porto train station with its thousands of painted tiles, beautiful decorations and other paintings. Climbing the Torre dos Clérigos is also a fun activity when you are in Porto. From this tower you look out over the city and you will find a small art museum.
For a more guided experience of the Porto, try these tours:
- City Train Tour, River Cruise, & Wine Cellar
- Porto Wine Tour
- 3-Hour Port Wine Walking Tour
- Porto Private Walking Tour
- Secret Sites of Porto 3-Hour Walking Tour
One of the beautiful cities that adorns the Algarve is Faro. Stroll through the old city center via narrow, colorful roads to one of the fine restaurants. An ancient city wall surrounds the tranquil city center of Faro. The city gates, which are still the access roads, are impressive buildings that are definitely worth seeing.
You are also in the right place for historical sights in Faro. Visit the Igreja de Secathedral and don’t miss the Capello dos Ossos. The latter is a chapel built from the skulls of deceased monks. Perhaps a creepy idea, but it’s a very special sight.
For a more guided experience of the Faro, try these tours:
- Ria Formosa Tour with 2 Island Visits
- Four-Hour Sailing Trip from Faro
- 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour of Ria Formosa
The fairytale Sintra is a beautiful town in the Lisbon area. The sights in Sintra make it a special destination. You can walk past palaces, castles, and nature reserves. Combine a visit to Sintra with a city trip to Lisbon or tackle it more grandly and combine it with a road trip through beautiful Portugal.
Admire the Palácio da Vila, walk towards the Quinta da Regaleira, and you should certainly not miss the Castelo dos Mouros. When you walk through Sintra you immediately see why UNESCO has named it a World Heritage Site. The balance between people and nature is what makes Sintra an almost idyllic destination that should not be missing from this list.
For a more guided experience of the Sintra, try these tours:
- Sintra: Castle of the Moors Fast Track Ticket
- Pena Palace & Park Skip-the-Line Ticket
- Sintra and Cascais Small Group Tour
- Private Half-Day Tour of Sintra
Portugal is more than just the mainland that borders Spain. Various islands are part of this special European destination. Madeira is a famous holiday destination that is loved because of the balance between history and relaxation. For example, admire the Cathedral of Funchal and discover the caves of São Vicente.
In Madeira, you are certainly in the right place if you like to visit the beach. Enjoy a pleasant breeze from the golden beaches that overflow into the sea that in turn surrounds the island. At many beaches you can go to one of the terraces at the end of the day for a delicious evening meal and a beautiful view of the setting sun.
For a more guided experience of the Madeira, try these tours:
- Cliffs and Valleys Open Roof 4×4 Tour
- Madeira Walks- Rabacal & the 25 Fountains
- Hike Madeira: Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
- Old Funchal Walking Tour
The name already gives away what this island is famous for. Flores is regularly called “flower island.” As one of the lesser-known islands of the Azores, Flores is still beautifully green and a true natural paradise. While walking you look your eyes out and you come across beautiful viewpoints. Because it is such a small island, it is also considerably quieter than on the well-known islands.
You can also discover Flores from the water. Sail around the island; spot the cliffs, waterfalls, and the volcanic remains. Also get to know the real Portuguese kitchen. As it often works: the less crowded tourism, the more local specialties.
Sao Miguel is another beautiful, natural island in the Azores. For example, you will find crater lakes. Lagoa do Fogo is one of the large crater lakes on Sao Miguel and also the one that is highest above sea level. It bears the name crater lake, because the lake originated at the place where once a meteorite ended up. An impressive sight, that’s for sure!
When you walk across the island you can see impressive nature reserves. A mountainous landscape with beaches that don’t have regular sand, but volcanic sand. You immediately recognize it because of the dark color. Here too, a boat trip around the island should certainly not be missing.
For a more guided experience of the Sao Miguel, try these tours:
- Sao Miguel West Full-Day Tour
- Canoe Rental on Sete Cidades Blue Lake
- Sao Miguel East Full-Day Tour
- Furnas Hot Springs at Night Dinner
In short: Portugal is a super varied and very beautiful holiday country, full of beautiful regions that can be discovered through road trips, city trips, and wonderful beach destinations.
What do you think are the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe.