Portugal is one of the oldest countries in the world and has a huge cultural, historical and natural richness. When you think about visiting Portugal surely discovering its cities is one of the things on your list. In this article I’ll show you some of the most beautiful cities in Portugal – even though this list is subjective, I believe you’ll find here cities you won’t want to miss.
I must point out that this list doesn’t follow any particular order!
Top 10 of the most beautiful cities in Portugal:
One of the cities in Portugal that must be on this list is definitely Sintra. Whoever visits Sintra will surely agree with me when I say that this is a unique city, surrounded by a charm and beauty unparalleled in Portugal.
There are several reasons that make this location a must-see! You can, for example, visit the wonderful Quinta da Regaleira, the majestic Sintra National Palace and the amazing Monserrate Park.
You can also take the opportunity of visiting Sintra to get to know its beautiful beaches and Cape Roca, the westernmost point of Europe.
If you want to learn more, read my article about Sintra!
Considered the birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães is a wonderful city and its history dates back to the 11th century.
When you visit Guimarães, don’t miss the opportunity to explore its amazing historic centre, the castle and the palace Paço dos Duques de Bragança.
Further away from the city, you can visit Serra da Penha where you can stroll with your family, visit the sanctuary and admire the views over the city.
These and other reasons are more than enough to get to know Guimarães, one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal – learn more by reading my article about Guimarães.
Information: do you want to discover the birthplace of the Portuguese nation and discover some of its secrets with the help of an experienced guide? If that’s the case, book this 9-hour activity (affiliate link) leaving from Porto and heading for the fantastic historical centre of Guimarães, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 2001.
Here, you can admire the well-preserved medieval places of this city, including the beautiful castle and the palace Paço dos Duques de Bragança.
In the afternoon, go visit one of the oldest Christian cities in the world, Braga. Here, you will have the possibility to explore the historic centre and visit its beautiful cathedral. Afterwards and before returning to Porto, you will also have the opportunity to complement this activity (affiliate link) with a visit to the sanctuary Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte, also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A must-see!
Also known as the “city of students”, Coimbra is another of the must-see cities in Portugal: explore the amazing gardens and parks of the city, including the gardens in Quinta das Lágrimas; stroll through the narrow streets and admire the buildings in the historic centre.
Listed by UNESCO in 2013 as a World Heritage Site, the University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia, is a place you must visit! This heritage site is composed by several buildings like the library Biblioteca Joanina, the Santa Cruz Monastery and the Royal Palace.
Other points of interest that make Coimbra one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal are Santa Clara-a-Nova and Santa Clara-a-Velha monasteries and Portugal dos Pequenitos, a theme park especially made for kids and featuring the Portuguese culture and history.
Discover what else you can admire in this city by reading my top 10 of the places to visit in Coimbra.
The city of Lamego is located in one of the most beautiful regions in Portugal: Douro Wine Region, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2001.
You can admire the wonderful Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Sanctuary and risk to climb up the 686 steps of the magnificent stairway. If you choose to do this, know that you’ll find beautiful statues, chapels and fountains along the way.
Lose yourself in the narrow streets of the historic centre, visit the cathedral and go to the castle. You can also take some time to explore Douro and other points of interest in this region.
Further south you can get to know another of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. Located in Alentejo region, Évora is one of the oldest cities in the country and its historic centre is one of a kind in all its beauty and cultural richness.
When you visit Évora, take some time to discover the amazing chapel Capela dos Ossos, Dom Manuel Palace, the Cathedral and, of course, the Roman Temple.
You can learn more about this city by reading my article about Évora. You’ll soon understand why this city is considered the “city-museum” of Portugal and why it is in this top.
The city of Braga is another of the oldest cities in Portugal and its origin dates back to the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC – to pay tribute to the emperor Caesar Augustus, the city was baptised as Bracara Augusta.
Also known as the “city of the archbishops”, Braga is one of the most religious locations in the country and whoever visits it won’t be indifferent to the various churches and the sanctuaries of Bom Jesus and Sameiro.
But Braga has much more to see so, if you want to learn more about this city, read my top of the places to visit in Braga.
Also known as the “undefeated city”, Porto offers its visitors a unique experience and a cityscape like no other – it’s not by chance that its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
My suggestion is that you explore the historic centre of Porto on foot and cross the bridge Ponte Luís I towards Cais de Gaia. There, you can enjoy a different view over the city of Porto and the wonderful Douro river in between.
While in Porto, take the opportunity to savour the world-famous Port wine and the local speciality: the wonderful francesinha, a sandwich made with bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries.
As one would expect, the Portuguese capital must be on this list of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. As the biggest city in the country, Lisbon also has lots of places to discover and many reasons why you should visit it.
You can read my top 20 of the places to visit in Lisbon, and discover amazing monuments like the Hieronymites Monastery and Belém Tower – true symbols of the Portuguese Age of Dicoveries.
You can also take the opportunity to try the delicious pastel de nata (a typical Portuguese egg tart pastry), go to the Lisbon Oceanarium, visit the Ancient Art National Museum and admire São Jorge castle.
All in all, discover the monuments, the museums, the gardens, the beaches, the gastronomy – this city is very special and, because of all these reasons and many more, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
The beautiful Tomar, also known as the “city of the Knights Templar”, is one of the cities in Portugal you can’t miss.
Discover this city’s magnificent monuments like the castle and Convent of Christ. In this monumental set, the visitor will have the opportunity to be amazed with the different architectural styles like the Gothic, the Manueline and the Renaissance styles.
Apart from the castle and Convent of Christ, you can also stroll through the historic centre where you can visit an old synagogue (presently the museum Museu Luso-Hebraico Abraão Zacuto) and the church Igreja de São João Batista. Every four years (in July) a festivity takes place in this beautiful city -the Festa dos Tabuleiros. A must-see!
Information: are you staying in Lisbon and want to discover Tomar in the company of an experienced guide and without having to worry about hiring a car? If that’s the case, take the opportunity and travel back in time to the origins of Portugal with a tour to the land of the Knights Templar (affiliate link).
Start this unique experience with a visit to the castle of Almourol, a 12th century castle located on an island in the middle of Tagus river. Continue to the beautiful town of Constância, located just 6 km away and from there head north to the magnificent city of Tomar.
This city was considered the headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal and there you will find a beautiful historic centre as well as the magnificent castle and Convent of Christ, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Book this 9-hour experience (affiliate link) and travel back in time!
The capital of the archipelago and autonomous region of Madeira is one of the most populous cities in Portugal with over 100 000 inhabitants and its biggest revenue source is tourism. When you visit this city you’ll surely be amazed with all its cultural, natural and historical richness.
One of the places you can’t miss is the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. At this location you’ll have the opportunity to admire fauna and flora from all over the world, works of art, a museum, oriental gardens and other reasons that make of this place one you should visit.
If you’re visiting Funchal and the rest of the archipelago by the end of the year, then you should know you can watch the biggest fireworks show in the world – don’t miss it! Otherwise, you can read my article with the places to visit in the capital of Madeira.
Summing up, this list shows that there are many reasons why one should visit Portugal and its amazing and magnificent cities. It’s true that this list could include other cities like Chaves, Bragança, Viseu, Viana do Castelo, Aveiro, Angra do Heroísmo, among others, but the truth is that I could only choose ten.
I hope I have convinced you to want to discover more about this wonderful country. If that’s the case, read more articles in my blog – you won’t regret it!
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