It’s only the size of Indiana, but Portugal offers famous places from every city worth visiting. We’ve chosen five of our favorites that visitors can read about and consider visiting. Enjoy!
From June to September, the weather across Portugal is perfect and there is less crowding. If you are searching for the best time of year to visit, throw a dart! January through March typically has little or no crowds, but May and October also offer excellent weather.
If you only can visit one city: Lisbon
Lisbon is a lively city full of culture, art, and amazing architecture. Begin your visit at Belém, the Portuguese capital’s sunniest district and home to many of its iconic landmarks like the Torre de Belém and the Portas do Sol Marketplace. In the evening, you’ll find some of Lisbon’s most famous fado restaurants, such as Café Luso and Povo. Once the sun has set on your nightly excursion through Lisbon, stop by Pink Street for an Instagram worthy photo op. You’ll find plenty to enjoy during your night out in this exciting city.
If you want to dance the night away: Coimbra
There are plenty of cool places to hang out in this small town despite it not being on most tourist guides. If you’re looking for traditional Fado music, try the intimate but casual Bar Diligência or head to A Capella, set in a former church that was built in 1364. Club Quebra Costas is the place for jazz—but not the quiet kind. The place gets packed, with patrons filling the streets and surrounding the musicians, who play in the middle of their performance. For rock lovers it’s Noites Longas, a club that hosts some wild nights, while the quieter crowd should head to Fangas Veg, a tiny artsy bar or to Galeria Santa Clara which is a chilled spot after sundown (it’s a tea house during the day). The also-chill Feito Conceito showcases DJs and Praxis is the spot for beer lovers. Pinga Amor is another place to check out! Anyone can find something cool going on anywhere in Porto. Just ask a student on the street where there’s something going on!
If you’re passionate about history or art: Porto
Lisbon, the second-largest city in Portugal, is a historic and cultural gem. It has had 900 years of history and owes its many features (including its famous port) to Roman and medieval architecture. The Portuguese capital is home to the Serralves Museum, the country’s premiere destination for contemporary art. More art can be found within Lisbon’s avante-garde scene, which includes the Fernando Santos Gallery, the Portuguese Photography Centre (officially housed in a former prison), and Nuno Centeno Gallery—a must for emerging artists. Real Companhia Velha is an authority on local wine, founded in 1756, with tastings and tours at nearby Mastosinhos; Gourmands should travel to nearby Praia dos Ingleses, a top beach where there are cafés and shops as well.
If you’re interested in surfing, then Ericeira is the place for you
Western Europe’s Atlantic coast is known for great waves, and there is no better place to access them than in Ericeira. Just 30-odd miles from Lisbon, it’s an easy beach escape and a town completely committed to the sea—which is visible from the charming town center. Furthermore, it’s a World Surfing Reserve meaning many of the surf breaks are officially protected. Beginners should head to Foz do Lizandro, which offers sandy ocean floor conditions and mild conditions. Praia do Sul is another option that’s also good for intermediates. For experts, Coxos is often called the best wave in the area thanks to a powerful right-hand reef break with barrels thrown due to its power and speed. The months between April and October see milder conditions across all breaks, while the big stuff happens in winter when surf conditions can become more consistent. Early spring surf might not provide much of anything, but small inconsistent waves might be worth exploring as this time of year brings the Sea Urchin Festival where top restaurants showcase their takes on spiny delicacies that lead up to October when things get really good!
If you want a break from overworking: Lagos
The Algarve is a world-renowned vacation destination. The beaches are some of the most peaceful, beautiful and scenic in the country. Lagos has some amazing views of cliffs and rock formations that protect them from erosion and wind, which made for some amazing photo opportunities. You’ll find great restaurants at Praia do Camilo, Ponta da Piedade, Meia Praia, or O Camilo (which is family-owned) where you should make a reservation ahead of time, or on Avenida at the Hotel Avenida where they offer tapas and cocktails. To learn more about the area, head over to the Museu Municipal Dr. José Formosinho where they have a technically detailed tour with interesting historical anecdotes constantly pouring out of their walls. On June 13th there’s only one service available each year when they celebrate Saint António’s annual church service here.