Portugal is an unforgettable journey. A relatively small country develops along the Atlantic ridge of the Iberian Peninsula, washed from the east by Spain, and from the west by the Atlantic Ocean. This territory, despite its rather small size, is characterized by a large historical and cultural heritage. Portugal, with a population of just over 10 million people, is quite densely populated, especially in its most important cities, the Port and the capital Lisbon.
The interior areas are mainly characterized by plains, only a small percentage has reliefs, the highest peak of which is the peak of Monte Maglian da Estrela, just under 2000 meters above sea level. The island of Madeira, very remote from the Portuguese mainland and closer to Morocco, from which it is 580 km away, is always the territory of Portugal. The Azores Islands, an autonomous region of the country, are a small archipelago consisting of nine islands, the distance of which from the coast of Portugal is 1,403 km. The islands, all of volcanic origin, are the closest European point to North America.
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. Walking around Lisbon, along its often paved sidewalk, you will be able to see picturesque sunsets that make it ideal for a romantic holiday, but more realistically Lisbon is the financial and commercial capital of Portugal, a fairly lively city and one of the cheapest in the Eurozone, even though prices are also steadily rising. The Tagus River accompanies it in most of the territory, and the small hills that distinguish Lisbon from other cities of the Iberian Peninsula are not uncommon.
Porto, the third largest city in Portugal
The Romans called it Portus Cale, today we know it as Porto. In Roman times, the coastal city in the northwest of Portugal was the most important in the country. Today it has just under 215,000 inhabitants, the city is located on the banks of the Douro River and is connected to the mainland by a beautiful bridge.
Obidos, a charming town near Lisbon
With about 15,000 inhabitants, Obidos is a beautiful city that still retains its medieval features, a distinctive feature of central-western Portugal. Obidos is known as a place given to the Queens of Portugal. The first king who gave the city to his beloved wife Urraca of Leon as a dowry was Alfonso I in the 12th century.
Obidush is located on a particularly impassable territory, where winding and bumpy roads lead to the walls of a kind of castle surrounding this beautiful place. Moreover, painted houses and paved streets accompany the visitor in the most beautiful Portuguese village.
Braga, the sanctuary city of Bom Jesus di Monte
Braga is the main religious center of Portugal, a city full of colorful churches and magnificent examples of Baroque architecture. There are plenty of attractions here, and Braga is connected by direct train to Porto, which makes it a great place for a day trip.
Braga is an ancient city that has been the religious center of Portugal since 1070. This means that most of its attractions are religious, so if you are tired of visiting churches, Braga is not for you. Bom Jesus do Monte, a beautiful church with a decorative staircase leading to it and representing a stairway to heaven. The church is located 7 km from the center of Braga and requires an additional bus ride.
Sintra, the city of bright colors
On the hills above the Estoril coast, west of Lisbon is the city of Sintra with a population of almost 400,000 people. Included together with the Sintra Cascais Nature Park, which surrounds the city, in the World Heritage List in 1955, it was once a meeting place for European monarchs and aristocrats, as well as artists and poets. Therefore, it is easy to understand that among the things that can be seen in Sintra, we can find noble palaces, castles, and gardens built over the centuries. The municipality is separated in bright colors from the surrounding greenery of Mediterranean plants, stretching along the road that winds from the top of the hill to the coast, from where you can see the sea.
Fatima, a city of religious pilgrimage
Fatima is a small Portuguese town with a population of just over 12,000 people. We are located 140 km from Lisbon, and here we find one of the most famous places in the world for religious pilgrimage. It was in Fatima that the Virgin Mary appeared six times in six months to three shepherdesses. The phenomena reached their apogee with the Miracle of the Sun, an event witnessed by several tens of thousands of people. Both events took place in 1917.
Two dates attract pilgrims the most: May 13 and October 13. The first is the date when the Virgin Mary first appeared in Portugal, and the second, on October 13, 1917, is the date of the Miracle of the Sun, when more than 70,000 believers gathered in Cova da Iria in Fatima and saw the sun change color, size, and even position. During these two days, the local traffic is completely paralyzed, and its surroundings, consisting of an almost deserted and partly wild area, are stormed. Every year thousands of believers try to get to the Tomb.
Evora, a fortress city
Evora, the best-preserved fortress city of Portugal, is a beautiful city with a rich history. Being of Roman origin, in the fifteenth century it was the residence of the kings of Portugal, which gave a significant impetus to the cultural life of the city; for centuries it remained one of the most important commercial and religious centers of Portugal, and today it is a lively university city. This thousand-year history has left many traces that make Evora a must-have place to stay during a vacation in Portugal. It is enough to take into account that the number of attractions in Evora, declared national monuments, is second only to Lisbon: an impressive figure if you compare the vastness of the capital with this small town! Beautiful in itself, Evora is also an ideal base for exploring Alto Alentejo.
Nazare, an impressive resort in the Extremadura region
Welcome to Nazare, the city with the highest waves in the world. We are located in the Extremadura region, in central-western Portugal, Nazare is the dream place of every surfer. Here, in the period from October to March, the coast is washed by waves of the Atlantic Ocean tens of meters high.
Nazare develops along a large promontory overlooking the ocean, and the city is divided into three main districts. The first area is called Praia and develops along the coast, the second area is known as Sitio and is centered on the cape, and the third is Pederneira, the most traditionalist populated center of Nazare.
Coimbra, the city of the glorious University
Coimbra, a coastal city in central Portugal and the former capital of the country, is famous for its well-preserved medieval old town and the historic University of Coimbra. Built on the site of an ancient palace, the university is famous for the Baroque library of Joanin and the bell tower of the 18th century. In the historical center of the city is the ancient Cathedral of Coimbra in the Romanesque style of the 12th century.
Tavira, is a small town full of history, culture, and attractions
Tavira is a modern city that stands on the site of the much older Roman city of Balsa, founded in the 1st century BC and subsequent centuries became the most important trading center of the Algarve.
Tavira is a full-fledged tourist city from all points of view. Today it is one of the leading seaside resorts in the south of Portugal, has a really interesting historical center from Risorgimento, and boasts one of the most characteristic natural heritage of the country.
2 thoughts on “10 things to see in Portugal”
Lisbon is a city very close to my heart, the first city I visited after the first four months in my first job. I picked July, the hottest month to visit it but considering I only spent three days there, it was manageable. Since I travel alone I decided to skip public transport altogether and only used Uber just to avoid any potential unpleasantries. If you have the chance to go to Portugal don’t postpone it, make a quick list with the main attractions you want to check off the list and have fun!
There’s so much to see and do in Portugal, it’s suitable for all ages. So far we’ve experienced Lisbon, Porto and Sintra. Loved all three but for us Lisbon was a clear winner; being a bigger town means more activities and opportunities to keep the kids engaged, especially when they tend to get moody.