Park and National Palace of Pena, Sintra, Portugal

The Best Places to Visit in Portugal

February 29, 2024

Portugal, the westernmost country in Europe, boasts a rich history, picturesque landscapes and a fascinating cultural heritage that attracts visitors from all over the world. The country’s Mediterranean character and mild climate make it an ideal holiday destination all year round.

The diversity of the Portuguese landscape is truly mesmerizing. In the southern part of the country, sandy beaches and azure lagoons await, providing the perfect setting for relaxation and water sports. Along the northern coast, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the hilly terrain, visitors can explore fishing villages perched on massive cliffs and enjoy breathtaking views. In the inland areas, there are stunning mountain ranges offering opportunities for hiking and discovering the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Portugal’s cities also offer tourists a fascinating range of attractions and activities. The capital, Lisbon, is renowned for its wonderful urban life and impressive architecture. Among the must-visit places to explore are the charming winding streets of the old town, the captivating St. George’s Castle offering stunning panoramic views, and the iconic Belém Tower, which holds historical significance. Lisbon’s unique blend of history and modernity makes it an enchanting destination for any traveler.

Porto, Portugal’s second most populous city, is mainly known for its excellent wines and the vineyards of the Douro Valley. As part of the best things to do in Porto, besides tasting its renowned wines, it’s worth exploring the city’s stunning architecture, such as St. Peter’s Church and the iconic Clérigos Tower. A boat trip on the River Douro, offering picturesque views of the city’s waterfront, is also an unforgettable experience.

Coimbra is known for its famous university, one of the oldest in Europe. The university buildings in the centre of the city and the stunningly decorated halls of the Joanina Library are a magnet for visitors. Coimbra’s labyrinthine streets and small cafés invite you to take a charming stroll.

If you are looking for more active recreation than sightseeing, coastal towns offer a range of water sports such as windsurfing and sailing. The gastronomy is also outstanding, so it’s worth trying the famous Portuguese seafoods and delicious local specialities.

Altogether, Portugal offers a unique experience for anyone interested in exploring the country’s rich cultural and natural treasures.

Now let’s see what you need to know before traveling to Portugal.

How to get to Portugal

If you are traveling by plane, we recommend Lisbon Airport, which can be reached by air from almost anywhere in the world. From Lisbon you can then easily get to the attractions of rural Portugal by car or public transport.

If you are traveling by car, there are several highways from Spain to Portugal, depending on your destination. It is worth noting that you need to register as a foreigner on the highway when entering Portugal, and the system is a little complicated (but there is help at the major border crossings). For this reason, you can read more about the Portuguese highway toll system by clicking here.

When is the best time to travel to Portugal

Traveling during the summer season is particularly enjoyable, as the cool breeze from the ocean helps alleviate the heat. However, it may also be worth traveling in the spring or autumn season, when the pleasant temperatures and lower tourist traffic make them ideal for sightseeing. So the most recommended months to travel to Portugal are May, June and September.

How many days to spend in Portugal

If you want to visit the best places in Portugal, which are included in our list, it’s worth spending at least 4-5 days. If you want to visit other places in Portugal, plan for at least a week. This will give you plenty of time to explore everything the area has to offer, including beaches, sightseeing, relaxation and food.

Where to stay in Portugal

Based on our list of the best places to visit, Lisbon is the best choice for booking a hotel. From Lisbon you can then easily reach the destinations in the countryside. So the hotels we recommend are mainly in Lisbon.

In the mid-range, we recommend the Vincci Liberdade or the Lux Lisboa Park.

In the higher category, the Browns Avenue Hotel is a good choice.

The best places to visit in Portugal

After some introduction, here are the top places that are a must-see in Portugal.


Located in the southern region of Portugal, the Algarve is a popular destination for its stunning coastal beauty and unique atmosphere.

The Algarve combines relaxation with natural beauty and varied activities, making it a fascinating destination for tourists.

The Algarve offers a stunning coastline, dotted with huge cliffs and caves waiting to be explored and discovered.

The Algarve is famous for its sandy beaches, beautiful blue lagoons and the clear, crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean. These beaches are ideal for sunbathing, swimming and water sports such as surfing and diving.

One of the most popular beaches in the Portuguese coast of the Algarve is Praia da Marinha (or Marinha Beach in English).

We took really beautiful photos here, although it was not easy to get here. As it was quite crowded in the summer, the police directed traffic to the outermost car parks – so we had to walk about 2 km to reach the beach. If we had waited until 4-5pm, the traffic controllers would have left by then and we could have driven into the nearest car park. Just a tip!

The ocean water is quite cold even in summer (18-20°C maximum), so only few people swam at the beach.

What proved to be the best travel experience at Praia da Marinha was the tourist boats that took people to the nearby bay, from where the bay could be accessed by small two-person boats. This allowed for a more private and exclusive beach experience. Nearby there are stretches of beach that are surrounded by rocky coves with a large hole in the rock at the top, which are extremely famous photo spots on social media.

Pro tip: If you are visiting the Algarve, you should also take some time to visit the old town of Albufeira.

National Palace of Pena

The National Palace of Pena (or Pena Palace) has recently become one of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations. The Mediterranean architectural style with its colorful palace walls makes the building particularly breathtaking.

The Pena Palace was built in the 19th century and was originally the summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family. The building’s colorful facade is an impressive sight, decorated with painted tiles and detailed sculptures. The interior is also impressive, with rich decoration and furniture.

The gardens and parks surrounding the Pena Palace are also impressive. Walkways, ponds and green areas create a magical atmosphere. From the palace you have a beautiful view of the city of Sintra and the surrounding mountains.

National Palace of Pena is the best-preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal and a significant tourist attraction, and is part of the cultural landscape of Sintra, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How to get to the National Palace of Pena

Sintra is located about half an hour from Lisbon by car. However, it is best to travel to Sintra by public transport, as the municipality does not really support tourists with cars, parking is difficult. Anyway, here’s what you need to know if you are planning a trip to Sintra, whether by public transport or by car.

How to get to the Pena Palace by public transport

The best way to reach Sintra by public transport from Lisbon is by train. If you arrive by train at Sintra train station, bus 434 will take you up to the Pena Palace. For more information on public transport in Sintra, click here.

Additionally, there are also private buses, taxis and tuktuks to the palace, which you can also use.

How to get to Pena Palace by car

From Lisbon, take the A37 motorway to Sintra. After that, take the road N9, then N375.

The best option is to leave your car in the Estacionamento Largo São Pedro Penaferrim car park, not far from the road N375, and walk up to the Pena Palace.

Below you can find an alternative option we can offer.

Best time to visit the National Palace of Pena

The National Palace of Pena can only be visited during strict opening hours. In any case, it is worth buying tickets in advance, because they often sell out and there are huge queues at both the entrance gates and the palace entrance.

The best time to visit the National Palace of Pena is in the afternoon, according to the palace website. That’s right, we went both in the morning and afternoon, but unfortunately there were huge queues in the morning, which affected the whole day’s itinerary. We stood in queues that moved at a snail’s pace for about 2 hours and at the end we barely had time to photograph the outside of the palace.

If the queue is too long and you only want to take photos for social media, skip the inside of the palace and take a turn in the palace courtyard towards the terraces. Then you can see the famous photo spots from the outside, which might be plenty for a photographer. Or go late in the afternoon, 1.5-2 hours before closing time and there will be fewer tourists.

Pro tip: There are more castles in Sintra besides the National Palace of Pena, so if you have time to spend, visit them too. Other famous palaces in Sintra are the Quinta da Regaleira and the Sintra National Palace.

Belém Tower

The Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) is an iconic defence tower located in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. This imposing structure was built in the 16th century and played a significant role in the country’s era of maritime exploration. It is located on the banks of the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Belém Tower is a symbol of Portuguese history and maritime tradition. Its unique architectural character and historical significance place it high on the list of must-see attractions for visitors exploring Portugal.

It is easy to reach, whether you walk from the city centre, take public transport or drive. If you want to see the Belém Tower from the inside, it is worth buying a ticket in advance, but you still have to be prepared for large crowds, especially in summer. The tower can be accessed and photographed from the outside for free.

Tram line 28

Tram line 28 is one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon. You’ve probably seen plenty of photos of the old yellow trams. Like Budapest, Lisbon has also kept some of the old-style trams in some places, and they have gained a great reputation in both cities.

Lisbon’s tram 28, with its retro look and wooden interior, offers a nostalgic and picturesque journey around the city. As it travels through narrow streets and steep hills, passengers can experience the unique atmosphere of Lisbon and enjoy panoramic views of its historic districts and landmarks. The slow pace of the tram offers the opportunity to explore the charming streets and hidden corners of Lisbon.

Passengers on Lisbon Tram 28 can also easily reach many popular tourist attractions. The route takes in a number of notable sites such as São Jorge Castle, Lisbon Cathedral and viewpoints such as the Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro das Portas do Sol.

It is important to note that the popularity of Lisbon’s tram 28 means that it is very busy, especially in high season. It is worth planning your trip in advance, taking into account the timing of your journey or being prepared for possible queues at tram stops.

Sanctuary of Christ the King

The Sanctuary of Christ the King or Santuario de Cristo Rei is a Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Lisbon situated in Almada, Portugal. It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Janeiro.

You can see it from almost anywhere around Lisbon, it stands so high. The inside of the statue can be visited by buying a ticket to go up to the top.

But there is also a perfect view of Lisbon from below, from the square in front of the statue. From there you can see the 2 km long Golden Gate-style 25 de Abril Bridge with the Tagus River and the whole of Lisbon.

Parking here is one of the easiest, as the park next to the statue is free. However, what you should be aware of is that the park and the statue have opening hours, so they are not open all day.

The view from there is amazing, really one of the best in Lisbon. So if you are in Lisbon, the Sanctuary of Christ the King is a must-see.

Portugal is a magical country with a rich history and stunning landscapes. Its Mediterranean character, mild climate, beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage all contribute to its charm. Whether you are looking for picturesque landscapes, historic cities or delicious gastronomic experiences, Portugal is a place where everyone can find what they are looking for. Don’t hesitate to explore this diverse and exciting country. Portugal is guaranteed to enchant you and enrich your trip with memorable experiences.

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