LivingTravelThe best cities and regions to visit in Portugal

The best cities and regions to visit in Portugal

Portugal is cheaper than Spain and has a very, very different culture. There is no flamenco, there is fado instead. They don’t have sherry, they have port. They don’t (really) do tapas, they make huge fish or meat dishes accompanied by boiled potatoes and vegetables.

But where should you go in Portugal? Below you’ll find the best cities and regions to visit in Portugal, including Lisbon, with its fado music and its medieval Alfama neighborhood, and Porto, with its world-famous port wine.

Portugal is a relatively small country and much of it is rural. As a result, you don’t have many metropolises to visit. After Lisbon and Porto (and, to a certain extent, Coimbra), the draw of visiting Portugal is its beaches and landscapes, particularly the Douro and Alentejo wine regions.


Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and the most popular destination for visitors, and for good reason. You can try most of Portugal’s best offerings, including fado music and famous Portuguese wines (including the port).

Lisbon has all the modern conveniences you’d expect from a city, as well as the ancient charm of the winding alleys of the century-old Alfama district.

Take the night train from Madrid to Lisbon (perhaps with a stop in Salamanca).


Porto is the home of Port wine! Walk along Ribeira, the pedestrian walkway along the Douro River to enjoy beautiful views of the port wineries on the other side of the river or cross the bridge and do a port tasting while admiring the view of the city and its Antique buildings.

Porto is also a good place to visit the Douro Valley.

Porto is easily accessible from Galicia. Although you will need to change trains in Vigo, you can go from Santiago de Compostela to Porto in the morning.


Coimbra is famous for its own brand of fado music (known as Coimbra fado). If you visit while the university is in session, you can see the students dressed in their traditional black robes and capes.

Coimbra is not a very big city, so it can be easily explored on foot.

Faro and the Algarve

While Faro may not be the destination of choice among all the places in the Algarve, it does offer a few attractions, including an old town and even a couple of beaches that are easily accessible from the city center.

Faro is also a great starting point for the rest of the Algarve, as it has an airport and serves as a bus and train hub for the region.

Evora and the Alentejo

Evora is famous for its university, but it is certainly not just a university town. Evora has one of the best medieval cities in Portugal, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Evora is also a good place to explore the Alentejo region, including its wines!


Although Braga is the third largest city in Portugal, it has a laid-back attitude that can be easily enjoyed on foot. However, it still shows signs of its medieval past and boasts a 12th-century cathedral, among other attractions. However, the real draw is the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus, which is located on the outskirts of the city. Located on top of a hill offering views of Braga, one can climb the incredible zigzag baroque staircase or take the funicular to the sanctuary


Guimaraes was elected European Capital of Culture for 2012 and with the opening of the Vila Flor Cultural Center in 2005, one does not wonder why. Guimaraes is not just about modernity. It has a medieval center and a 1000-year-old castle. And if you fancy some fresh air, you can take a cable car to a park that overlooks the city.

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