Stunning Locations That Prove Portugal Is a Must-Visit European Country

Lisbon is one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals
Lisbon is one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals | © TTstudio / Alamy Stock Photo
Josephine Platt

Commissioning Editor

Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful destinations in Europe, including the capital, Lisbon, the fairytale town of Sintra and the coastal city of Porto. From surf spots to historic castles, Culture Trip curates the photos that capture the country’s diversity at its best.

Make the most of your Portugal experience by joining Culture Trip’s specially curated nine-day Portugal tour, led by our local insider.

The Algarve’s white sands

Fancy being a beach bum for a long weekend? Head to the Algarve in the southernmost region of Portugal. With more than 100 beaches, this region is no stranger to coming up top on best beach-break polls. Anticipate temperatures of 24C (75F) in high summer. SPF and a phone on silent come highly recommended.

Praia da Dona Ana is one of the spectacular sandy beaches in the Algarve

Lisbon’s cobbled streets and tram lines

Is there more of a Lisbon icon than its yellow trams? Having been in action since 1873 – going fully electric in 1902 – they are a reminder of Lisbon’s past. And a very Instagrammable reminder at that.

An iconic Lisbon tram climbs the hills of Bairro Alto

Douro Valley’s vineyards

What beats drinking wine in the sunshine? Few things. A beautiful place to do it is at one of the oldest wine regions in the world, Douro Valley. From Porto, you can reach the valley by an incredibly scenic three-hour-long train. It also features on Culture Trip’s exclusive small-group Portugal adventure, which includes a boat ride on the Douro River and a stay in a traditional quinta (rural lodge).

The vineyards in Douro Valley are part of the Alto Douro Wine Region, a Unesco World Heritage site

The magical town of Sintra

The town of Sintra, in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, is like something out of a fairytale – with the Unesco World Heritage-protected Pena Palace the pinnacle of its romanticism. Being just 30 minutes from Lisbon, you can make it a day trip.

The Pena Palace in Sintra is the emblem of the city’s romanticism

Porto’s Douro River

Passing by the vineyards in Douro Valley and four Unesco World Heritage sites, a cruise down the Douro River is about as glorious as it gets. Some argue the river is one of the most underrated in the world.

Cruise past Unesco World Heritage sites on the Douro River

The rock formations of Madeira

Madeira may just be a tiny speck on the map, off the coast of Africa, but this Portuguese region comprises four islands and vast natural beauty. Pack hiking boots to explore the mountainous landscapes it’s best known for.

Madeira holds tons of natural beauty

Landscapes of Azores

Much like Madeira, the archipelago of Azores is minuscule on the world map. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in its dramatic landscapes. These are islands full of natural wonders, such as the hot springs on São Miguel Island and the waterfalls of Poco da Ribeira do Ferreiro on Flores Island.

Visit the waterfalls at Poco da Ribeira do Ferreiro on Flores Island

The historic Rossio Square

Lisbon is the city to visit if you love history. Where to go? Praça Dom Pedro IV, known as Rossio Square. Since the Middle Ages, this cobbled plaza in downtown Lisbon has been one of its main squares.

Rossio Square, or Praça Dom Pedro IV, is the heart of Lisbon’s historic centre

The surfing capital of Europe, Ericeira

Thanks to its coastline conditions on the western coast of Portugal, Ericeira is a destination professional surfers love. As the only European spot in the World Surfing Reserves, by default, it’s earned recognition as the surfing capital of the continent.

The village of Ericeira is the de facto surfing capital of Europe

The fishing town of Ferragudo

The unspoilt fishing town of Ferragudo makes another case for visiting the Algarve. In this quaint town of fishermen’s cottages, with not a high-rise hotel in sight, it’s all about a slow pace of life, sunshine and seafood.

The Algarve town of Ferragudo is the place to go for a slow pace of life

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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