Portugal is one of those destinations that offer all a tourist is looking for. A country of high mountains, vast plains, beautiful beaches, astonishing stone villages, and fascinating historic places.

 

Located in Southwestern Europe, Portugal faces the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula and borders Spain. Due to its idle climate, affordable travel costs, and many must-see attractions, Portugal is one of the most visited countries in Europe.

 

If you’re considering Portugal for your next vacation, we’ve prepared a list of the very best places to see in Portugal to help you make the most of your trip. We’re sure you’ll love this gorgeous country. So, let’s get started!

 

 

 

1- Park and National Palace of Pena

 

Park and National Palace of Pena
Park and National Palace of Pena

 

Located on a hill on Mount Sintra above the city of Sintra, Pena Palace is a magnificent fortress in Sao Pedro de Penaferrim and is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This 19th-century iconic castle is a national treasure and considered one of the world’s most important expressions of the Romantic era. Palácio da Pena can be easily seen from Lisbon and its metropolitan area on a clear day.

Today Pena Palace is also used by the President of Portugal and other government officials for formal purposes.

 

 

 

2- Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon

 

Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon
Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon

 

As a lasting symbol of orient expeditions of the 15th century, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is a must-see attraction in Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the finest examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline architecture.

 

The stunning interior decorations of Jeronimos Monastery are breathtaking, reflecting rich artistic features of the Portuguese culture. The monastery is also the tomb of Vasco da Gama, Luís de Camões, and other national figures of Portugal.

 

 

3- Lisbon Aquarium

 

Lisbon Aquarium
Lisbon Aquarium

 

Lisbon Aquarium, one of the most popular places in Portugal, is home to a wide variety of marine life creatures in the world. You’ll find a wide range of colorful fish and other sea creatures in this aquarium.

The Lisbon Aquarium recreates authentic marine scenes from the Atlantic, Pacific, India, and Antarctica oceans. This huge aquarium, with open space for penguins, birds, and marine mammals with beautiful scenery of marine nature, is a wonderful attraction you just can’t miss.

 

 

4- Lisbon Beach

 

Lisbon Beach
Lisbon Beach

 

Beach kayaking, next to many other sea activities, is one of the best experiences you can enjoy at Lisbon’s beach.

 

Along the beaches lies the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park with ancient cliffs and magnificent views. All the beaches of this region are under environmental protection and are among the top natural attractions of Portugal.

 

5- Belem Castle in Lisbon

 

Belem Castle in Lisbon
Belem Castle in Lisbon

 

Built by Francisco de Arruda in the Tagus River region for military and expedition purposes, the 16th century Torre de Belém is undoubtedly one of the best historical monuments in Portugal.

 

The Belem Tower, which is a prominent example of Portuguese Manueline architecture, is composed of a bastion and a 30-meter four-story tower built of beautiful limestones.

 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only the symbol of Lisbon but the symbol of global exploration journeys that originated from Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries.

 

 

6- Sintra National Palace

 

Sintra National Palace
Sintra National Palace

 

The amazing location of the city of Sintra in the foothills of forested mountains is enough to make this place a top tourist attraction in Portugal. Wandering around on the cobbled streets of Sintra’s old town with its colorful houses is a joyful experience you can’t miss.

 

In the old town, you’ll easily spot the historic Sintra National Palace. This Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the summer residence of Portuguese monarchs. The place has also inspired many of Portugal’s well-known writers and poets.

 

The construction of Palácio Nacional de Sintra, with its popular large conical chimneys, dates back to the late 14th century. The palace is one of the oldest buildings in Portugal.

 

Each floor of Sintra National Palace has unique decorations totally different from other floors. Another highlight of the Sintra National Palace is the Sala dos Brasoes hall, displaying 72 costumes from Portuguese noble families.

 

 

 

7- Church of Christ the Savior in Braga

 

Church of Christ the Savior in Braga
Church of Christ the Savior in Braga

 

The Church of Christ the Savior, known as Bom Jesus do Monte, is the most important pilgrimage center of Portugal. Located at the foot of a forest six kilometers east of Braga, Portugal’s grandest religious sanctuary is a Baroque architecture masterpiece.

The church is fully decorated with statues of Christ, holy books, and religious mythological scenes and figures. To see the church, you need to climb 116 meters of granite stairs. Don’t forget to enjoy the panoramic view of beautiful sceneries around while going up the stair.

 

8- Geres Mountains

 

Geres Mountains
Geres Mountains

 

The beautiful Serra do Gerês mountain range with its unique atmosphere is located in northern Portugal. Granite Peaks in Peneda -Gerês National Park is one of the highest landscapes in northern Portugal, attracting mountaineers and nature lovers from all over the world.

 

Lush valleys, sparkling lakes, traditional villages, and rare plants and animals are some of the most distinctive features of the Geres Mountains. There are various hiking trails within the park which are between 10 to 16 km long. So, choose the route you prefer the most and enjoy the refreshing nature around you.

 

 

 

9- Convent of Christ in Tomar

 

Convent of Christ in Tomar
Convent of Christ in Tomar

 

The must-visit landmark of the coastal city of Tomar is the Convent of Christ. Located on top of a hill, the 12th-century complex used to be the headquarter of the Templar Knights. This Manueline-style convent with the mysterious atmosphere is an astonishing historical structure listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

In the center of the complex, you’ll find beautiful decorations depicting the passion of Christ. The 16th-century sections with their spiral staircases, inspired by Manueline architecture, will surely amaze you.

 

 

 

10- Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon

 

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon

 

Lisbon is home to many world-class museums, including the magnificent Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. In This museum, you’ll find a wide range of spectacular exhibits spanning from the 4,000-year-old classical and oriental Antiquity period to the early 20th-century European art.

 

The fascinating feature of Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is its collection of 6,000 exhibits. The priceless collection belonged to one wealthy Armenian man, Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, who gave his precious collection as a gift to the Portuguese nation upon his death in 1955.

 

Other highlights of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum include 11 Roman medals, 16th-century manuscripts, the masterpieces of Rubens, Rembrandt, and Turner, Louis XVI furniture, and jewelry made by René Lalique.

 

 

 

11- University of Coimbra

 

University of Coimbra
University of Coimbra

 

Portugal’s oldest university, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, founded in 1290 by King Denis is the University of Coimbra.

 

The 13th-century university building, Velha Universidade, was built around the gorgeous Paco das Escolas square. The university library, built in 1717, with its eye-catching decorations is an astonishing feature of Universidade de Coimbra.

 

By climbing up the 18th-century University Clock Tower you’ll find the most beautiful view of the entire city of Coimbra and its surrounding landscapes.

 

 

 

12- Guimaraes Castle

 

Guimaraes Castle
Guimaraes Castle

 

The birthplace of Portugals’ first monarch, Dom Afonso Henriques, is a must-see attraction in Portugal. This iconic Castle, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a symbol of Portuguese culture and traditions.

 

Construction of the Guimaraes Castle began in the 10th century. Later during the next two centuries, the castle was expanded by Henry of Burgundy to its current structure. The castle is made up of high granite walls surrounded by soaring towers. Its beautiful decorations with many unique works of art are admired by many visitors from around the world.

 

 

13- Clerigos Tower in Porto

 

Clerigos Tower in Porto
Clerigos Tower in Porto

 

The 18th century Torre de Clérigos is an iconic landmark in Portugal. This narrow tower, standing 75 meters above the surrounding streets, overlooks the Old Town of Porto and conveys a bold sense of Baroque.

 

When completed in 1763, the Clerigos Tower was the tallest building in the city of Porto. You need to climb up 200 stairs to reach the top, but the effort is truly worth it as it allows you to enjoy the unforgettable view of Porto.

 

 

 

14- Roman Temple and Sé Cathedral in Evora

 

Roman Temple and Sé Cathedral in Evora
Roman Temple and Sé Cathedral in Evora

 

In the south of Portugal lies the city of Evora, one of the must-visit cities in Portugal. The Romans founded the city back in 57 BC, but it was until the Moorish era with their typical Islamic urban design that the city gained shape and popularity.

 

After the reconquest, Christians constructed the Sé Cathedral which later became one of Portugal’s most unique landmarks. This astonishing structure combines Romanesque architecture with Gothic and Baroque styles to create the most remarkable architecture of the region.

 

Not far from the cathedral you’ll find the most symbolic monument of Evra: The Historic Roman Temple. Built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, this UNESCO World Heritage site is the most impressive Roman building in Portugal and you just can’t miss it.

 

 

 

15- Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon

 

Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon
Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon

 

On top of a hill overlooking Lisbon city stands the spectacular monument of Castelo de Sao Jorge. Construction of this castle began in the 12th century and later in 1511 became a royal residence.

 

It’s unfortunate that a large part of Castelo de São Jorge was ruined in the earthquake of 1755. However, what remains today is a must-see treasure.

 

The castle terrace, where you can see the most spectacular sights of Lisbon and its river, and the Tower of Ulisses, where you can see the full view of the castle, are the most pleasant spots in the castle for visitors.

 

 

 

16- National Palace and Monastery of Mafra

 

National Palace and Monastery of Mafra
National Palace and Monastery of Mafra

 

Located above the rural town of Mafra, the National Palace and Monastery of Mafra is a prominent example of Portuguese culture and architecture. Construction of Mosteiro Pálacio Nacional de Mafra began in 1717 and was first planned to be a simple monastery. Later, however, Dom Joao V turned the structure into a magnificent baroque palace with extraordinary decorations.

 

The most prominent section of this monastery and palace is its glorious library. In the marble-floored library, you’ll see a unique collection of 40,000 precious books placed in Rococo-style wooden bookcases, making it one of the most important manuscripts in European literature.

 

 

 

17- Santo Antonio Church and Municipal Museum, Lagos

 

Santo Antonio Church and Municipal Museum, Lagos
Santo Antonio Church and Municipal Museum, Lagos

 

The Igreja de Santo Antonio and the Museu Municipal in Lagos house the most fascinating archeological and ethnographic collection in Algarve.

 

The museum with its gorgeous decorations exhibits amazing local handicrafts along with historical and archeological works, fully portraying the diverse culture and historical heritage of Portugal.

 

Other highlights of the museum include a realistic handmade model of Algarve village and an altarpiece handcrafted from cork.

 

 

 

18- Old Stock Exchange Building in Porto

 

Old Stock Exchange Building in Porto
Old Stock Exchange Building in Porto

 

Lied within the old city boundaries is one of Porto’s most fascinating attractions: the former Stock Exchange Palace known as Palácio da Bolsa. This palace was built by merchants in the 19th century and is a famous Portuguese landmark registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

 

Beautiful rooms, impressive galleries, and magnificent halls decorated in blue and gold Moorish style are admired by every visitor. The incredible interior of the palace and its dazzling decoration reflects the great wealth of the merchants of the time.

 

 

 

19- Silves Castle

 

Silves Castle
Silves Castle

 

Silves was once the capital city of the Moorish Algarve and the Arabs living in the area called it al-Gharb meaning the West.

 

In the early 12th century, the city turned into a famous gathering place for Islamic scholars, philosophers, and geographers, and so Silves was renowned for being the center of knowledge and education. To protect the city and its people, the Moors built a great castle on a high location overlooking the city.

 

Silves Castle is now one of the most impressive monuments in the Algarve. Its large red walls with their inviting glow attract many visitors every year, especially in the middle of August when medieval festivals take place.

 

 

 

Ready to Visit Portugal?

 

The ancient and spectacular country of Portugal is full of historical and natural jewels. Although it’s smaller than many European countries, Portugal has a wealth of attractions to offer. We hope our list of 19 top attractions of Portugal would guide you in planning out your visit to this wonderful country.

 

If you need more help with figuring out your itinerary, our Portuguese destination experts are always ready to help! Check out top tours and travel ideas listed by our handpicked experts, get in touch with them, and easily begin your Portugal discovery.