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an island in the azores in portugal
Travel buzz

15 stunning places in Portugal that you can visit on one trip

Mar 28, 2023 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

Traveling to Portugal has never been more sought-after. These days, countless travelers are learning of and seeking out its myriad cultural, historical, and culinary delights. Whether you’re interested in architectural grandeur, historic villages, unique arts and culture practices, or some of the best food and wine in the world, Portugal has something to offer every type of traveler. (And we haven’t even mentioned that Portugal is home to some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches!)

To celebrate the country’s popularity, we’ve launched our brand-new Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon. The tour covers Portugal from north to south and explores its biggest cities and iconic wine regions, not to mention some of the best coastal destinations in Europe. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even cap this trip to Portugal with a few extra days on verdant São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands of the Azores.

If you’re eager to finally visit Portugal—or visit it again—this is the immersive and comprehensive trip you’ve been waiting for. Below, we list 15 stunning locales you’ll visit on tour with us. (For a deeper dive into the country and its culture, be sure to read our ultimate Portugal travel guide!)

The double-deck metal arch bridge, Dom Luís I Bridge, and shore line of Porto, Portugal

1. Porto

The northern city of Porto, which is about 2,000 years old, may not be as big or as cosmopolitan as Lisbon, but it delivers its own unique take on Portuguese culture. You may have heard of the city’s Port wine and the historic caves located in Vila Nova de Gaia, nestled along the Douro River—but there’s so much more to this compact city.

Our 14-day Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon starts in Porto. Here, you’ll immerse yourself in architectural heritage with guided visits to the Baroque-style Clérigos Tower, the Gothic São Francisco Church, and the wrought-iron Maria Pia Bridge, which was built by Gustave Eiffel. In your free time, discover Art Deco buildings and other architectural treasures, such the Art Nouveau façade of the Lello Bookstore. At mealtimes, it’s all about sipping Port and savoring local fare (don’t forget to try a francesinha sandwich). Porto is easily one of the best places to go in Portugal—and if you don’t get your fill over the course of three days, read our Porto Travel Guide for some future inspiration.

2. Guimarães

One of our added excursions in Porto is a tour of Guimarães and Braga, two smaller cities situated farther north. As far as areas to visit in Portugal go, the former is one of the most historic. Fun fact: Guimarães is the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, and is considered the cradle of the country!

3. Braga

This landlocked city of 193,000 inhabitants is packed with stunning palaces and sprawling gardens—and is a mere half-hour away from neighboring Guimarães. No trip to Portugal would be complete without exploring both, and you can see them for yourself by adding our Day in Guimarães & Braga excursion.

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vineyards and olive trees on the hills along the river of Douro Valley, Portugal

4. The Douro Valley

One of the world’s most iconic winemaking destinations, the Douro Valley is, simply put, stunning. The area’s meandering river is flanked by steep, terraced vineyards. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Portugal, and one of the most unique wine regions on the planet. And of course, the wine itself is world-class. These are the very vineyards in which grapes such as touriga nacional, touriga francesa, and tinta roriz (also known as tempranillo) are picked to make Port wine. You’ll get to sample wines from the Douro Valley’s most renowned winemakers when you visit a winery and stop for lunch in a charming local restaurant on our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon.

Your day in the picturesque Douro Valley won’t just be about getting wined and dined. You’ll also get a guided tour of the 18th-century Casa de Mateus, a glorious Baroque mansion surrounded by beautiful gardens. This was designed by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect who was critical in bringing Baroque and Rococo architecture to Portugal.

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the white baroque style clock tower building of University of Coimbra, with decorative railings and sculptures built into the facade

5. Coimbra

Many trips to Portugal overlook cities like Coimbra, which is located right in the middle of the country—but not our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon. We devote an entire day to discovering just how culturally rich this destination is. Coimbra, for instance, is one of Portugal’s historic university towns. During your tour of the city, you’ll get to visit Coimbra University, one of Europe’s oldest. Did you know that its grand library was built on top of a royal prison?

6. Fátima

An hour south of Coimbra lies Fátima, one of Catholicism’s most significant pilgrimage sites. You’ll be guided through the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, where, it’s said, the Virgin Mary appeared six times in front of three young shepherds. In fact, you’ll get to visit the House of Jacinta, where one of the three children lived. For many travelers, this is one of the best places to visit in Portugal—and you’ll see it yourself on our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon.

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a man walking down a stone stair case to a neighborhood of white buildings with terra-cotta roofs, seen from above

7. Batalha

While in Fátima, you’ll have one free day to explore on your own—and that’s a great time to roam the charming town of Batalha. Here, you’ll marvel at a 14th-century monastery featuring Manueline design details. Manueline style, which typically references the sea, is one of Portugal’s most popular architectural movements.

8. Nazaré

After exploring Batalha, head a half-hour west to take a seaside lunch in Nazaré. This town is famous for its skyscraping waves; make sure you keep your eyes peeled for surfers trying to take on walls of water up to 80 feet tall.

9. Óbidos

End your day with a heart-warming walk through the medieval hilltop village of Óbidos, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. It’s crowned with a castle (complete with imposing watch towers) whose foundations may date back to Roman times. Before you leave, you might want to take a sip of Ginja de Óbidos, a traditional cherry liqueur that originated in town.

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the ruins of a Roman temple made of granite and marble, featuring its remaining corinthian columns in Evora Portugal

10. Évora

Like Coimbra, the ancient city of Évora is home to one of Portugal’s most important universities. However, there’s a lot more to the Alentejo region’s capital than school. During the Évora portion of our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon, get ready to marvel at Portugal’s most beautifully preserved Roman ruin: the Temple of Diana from the first century A.D. You’ll also get to visit St. Francis Church, the Gothic-meets-Manueline church from the 15th century. Inside is the spooky Chapel of Bones, the walls and ceilings of which are covered with human skulls and bones. There’s definitely a lot of grand history here, but what makes Évora one of the best places to go in Portugal is the atmosphere. There’s something really charming about taking an easy stroll around town, whether you decide to people-watch in the main square or get lost in the maze-like side streets that snake around Evora’s striking whitewashed homes.

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boats jetting through aqua blue water around golden colored rock formations that make up the Algarve region on the southern coast of Portugal

11. The Algarve

Portugal’s Algarve region was the country’s first true tourism superstar. For decades, Europeans have known the Algarve to be one of the best places to visit in Portugal, with its gorgeous beaches, year-round mild weather, postcard-worthy landscapes, succulent seafood, and never-ending sunshine. Plus, if you love golf, the Algarve is one of the best places in Portugal—make that the world—for tee time. On our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon, you’ll have two nights to work through our list of five things to do in the Algarve, or simply soak in the rich allure of Portugal’s southernmost region. You’ll learn how cork is made, visit an olive oil farm, and sample local petiscos—the Portuguese version of small, shareable plates.

The other option here is to explore the Algarve’s coastal majesty. Its seaside splendor is one of the reasons the region has been so beloved for so long. On our Algarve Coastal Cruise: Cliffs, Beaches & Caves excursion, you’ll board a boat in the town of Lagos and set off on a scenic adventure, visiting pristine beaches, craggy cliffs, and atmospheric caves. Keep that camera handy!

12. Silves

On your second day in the Algarve, you can choose to visit the historic town of Silves, the region’s original capital. Silves was originally founded by the Romans and was later occupied by the Moors, and you can see remnants of both cultures all over. Pop into the old castle—built by the Moors—and take a peek into a deep underground cistern. Or, visit the archeological museum to marvel at exhibits of ancient walls.

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the pastel colored buildings and bright terracotta roofs of Lisbon, Portugal seen from above with water in the background

13. Lisbon

Is it any surprise that this capital city is also one of the best places to visit in Portugal? The last decade has seen Lisbon grow in the most exciting ways, and on our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon, you’ll get the opportunity to experience Lisbon old and new. You’ll spend a bit of time in the neighborhood of Belém to tour historic monuments, like the Tower of Belém and Jerónimos Monastery, before indulging in one of Portugal’s most iconic treats: a creamy pastel de nata. In the evening, you can sign up for our Fado Show & Dinner excursion to hear the most traditional Portuguese musical style. Or, strike out on your own with a little help from our Lisbon Travel Guide.

14. Sintra

No trip to Portugal would be complete without seeing Sintra. It’s a bucolic, hilly destination that’s been made famous by its colorful, fairy-tale buildings and imposing Moorish castles. On our Sintra & the Portuguese Riviera excursion, you’ll discover why this tiny little village is among the most beautiful places in Portugal.

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a hydrangea bush growing on a hill by Lagoa das Sete Cidades, twin lakes formed into the crater of a dormant volcano, surrounded by forests and green pastures

15. São Miguel, Azores

One of the most exciting parts of our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon is the opportunity to extend your trip and spend three nights on lush São Miguel, the largest of the Azores’ nine islands. Located about 900 miles west of Lisbon in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, São Miguel is green, wild, and awe-inspiring. With its rugged mixture of volcanic topography, tea plantations, hydrangea gardens, and glistening lakes, São Miguel is truly one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.

In your three nights on São Miguel, you’ll explore Caldeira Velha (it’s home to hot springs and waterfalls), marvel at the twin lakes of Sete Cidades, and discover the magic of the islands’ hundreds of pineapple plantations. In your free time, you can add our Gorreana Tea Plantation, Lunch & the Furnas Valley excursion, and see where tea plants have been harvested since 1883. Did you know that São Miguel is the only part of Europe where scalable tea production is possible?

A few days in the Azores is the perfect way to cap off a trip to Portugal!

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Ready to experience everything Portugal has to offer? Check out our Grand Tour of Portugal: Porto to Lisbon.

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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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