Explore Portugal

Explore Portugal
Portugal has it all: medieval castles, cobblestoned streets lining quaint villages, big and beautiful cities, endless coastline, and seriously delicious food! If you’re looking for the kind of slow, idyllic lifestyle that most people dream about, Portugal has it. The history here is fascinating, too – whether you’re interested in the megaliths outside Evora or the more “modern” UNESCO World Heritage sites, history geeks will be tickled pink by Portugal’s offerings.

The Portuguese have a great zest for life, and “living in the moment” comes easy here. While the lifestyle tends to be slow, when it’s time to celebrate, Portugal knows how to do it. Festivals occur year-round; drinking, dancing, and eating to excess is a beloved way of life; and music pours out of every city like water. If you’re visiting, be sure to look up any festivals or fairs that are occurring during your time in Portugal. If you’re most interested in a town’s nightlife, Lisbon’s clubbing scene is notorious.

But beyond the cultural highlights, Portugal is a stunningly scenic destination. Whether you want to hike or mountain bike inside the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês or go kayaking along the Rio Guadiana, you’ll easily feel at home with nature.

Most Popular Cities to Visit in Portugal

  • Lisbon
  • Porto
  • Algarve
  • Cascais
  • Sintra
  • Albufeira

Iconic Attractions in Portugal

  • The 20,000-year-old stone carvings at the Villa Nova de Foz Coa
  • The medieval houses in Monsaraz
  • The canals at Aveiro
  • Rio Douro Valley
  • The Battle Abbey
  • Sintra hilltop retreat

Portuguese Cuisine

If you explore Portugal without experiencing the food, you’re not really experiencing Portugal. Food is the epicenter of much of Portuguese culture, and you’ll love the variety offered here. Meals are simple, but delicious, and often served tapa-style. Baked bread, cheese, olives, wines, fish, seafood stew, meats, etc., are often the focal point of the dinner table. Thanks to Portugal’s coastline and fertile countryside, fresh-farmed goods are plentiful, and so is fresh seafood. Most towns have busy markets, and if you’re into fine dining, you won’t have to go far to find a legendary restaurant or café.

Breakfast usually includes fresh bread with butter, ham, cheese, or jam. You’ll have a choice of coffee, milk, tea, or even hot chocolate. Pastries are also popular! Lunch tends to last for over an hour, while dinner is served late. Soup usually accompanies one of these meals, and caldo verde is a popular one: potato, shredded kale, and sausage. Then there’s the seafood dishes, many including lots of fresh cod.

And dessert? Rice pudding, caramel custards, and pastries galore. One of the most popular pastries is the pastel de nata – a small custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon. The Portuguese love their wines too, especially in Porto, so don’t be afraid to imbibe a little!

Getting around Portugal

Like most European countries, Portugal’s public transit system is reliable and affordable, and easy to use. Trains and buses are the best way to get around. The trains are cheap and will take you through some of the most scenic routes in the country, but buses are usually quicker. There’s no shortage of private bus companies, so getting between rural areas is a breeze.

Did you know…?

Bertrand, the oldest bookstore in the world, is in Lisbon. Lello & Irmão bookstore was also voted the world’s most beautiful bookstore!

Did you ALSO know…?

The Monserrate Palace is one of the finest examples of Sintra’s Romanticism.

Getting a rental car isn’t a bad idea either, and will offer greater flexibility in getting around. However, parking can be a hassle, especially during peak tourist season. Within most cities, getting around on foot is easy to do, and public transit is plentiful. Taxis are always metered, and surprisingly affordable compared to the rest of Europe.

Best time of year to travel to Portugal

Portugal’s temperatures stay fairly pleasant year-round, but it can get pretty cold in the winter months. The sun doesn’t stop shining during the summer, so June and September is an ideal time to visit. However, this is also peak travel season, so you’ll have to deal with higher prices and bigger crowds. Sometimes it can get TOO hot, making exploration hard – especially if you’re hiking or walking around.

Spring is a great time to visit, from February onwards. This is when the almond blossoms start flowering, and the countryside turns into a colourful carpet. The weather in autumn is also lovely, and the sea is still warm, although swimming and beach-going isn’t as common then.

Getting a rental car isn’t a bad idea either, and will offer greater flexibility in getting around. However, parking can be a hassle, especially during peak tourist season. Within most cities, getting around on foot is easy to do, and public transit is plentiful. Taxis are always metered, and surprisingly affordable compared to the rest of Europe.

Ready to plan your visit to Portugal? Check out these popular guides and trips.

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