What are the top ten things to do in Portugal?
Portugal may be small in size but it is packed full of exciting things to do and see. Whether you are exploring ancient ruins, tasting delicious wines and local cuisine, or simply lounging around by the coast, this little country has you covered. To help you experience Portugal to the fullest, here is a list of things to do in Portugal, compiled by our experts.
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1Enjoy a performance of traditional Fado music
Originally a part of Lisbon’s bars and cafes in the 1820s, Fado has been called “The Soul of Portuguese Music”. Fado songs are beautiful ballads of loss, love, and the difficulties of life, that even if you don’t understand Portuguese, they can be deeply moving – a Portuguese equivalent to American blues! Discover the cultural heart of Portugal while you enjoy a traditional performance in Lisbon.
2Explore the beautiful Alentejo region of Portugal
While Alentejo is recognized as one of the best wine regions in the country, it is also one of the most picturesque. It is dotted with expansive olive groves, fields of cork trees. In the distance, you may see grand ruinous castles or picturesque towns and villages, each worth a visit.
3Explore nature in the Laurisilva National Park
The Laurissilva National Park is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for being one of the largest laurel forests in the world. The woodland is home to diverse native species including the Madeiran long-toed pigeon. Believed to be more than 15 million years old, this mist-laden forest offers a surreal setting and fantastic viewpoints too. Take a walk by the levadas of Laurisilva – moss-covered, man made water channels which carry water across Madeira.
Hiking through the forest while you hear nothing but your own footsteps, birdsong, and the gentle sounds of the water is a remarkably tranquil experience.
4Swim in the luxurious natural hot springs of Furnas, Sao Miguel
Sao Miguel Island, one of the nine islands that make up the beautiful Algarve archipelago, is home to Furnas, a small town surrounded by numerous hot springs, a lake, and a caldera. Some of the springs have been developed into spas or swimming pools, and you are also free to swim in the natural lake Lagoa das Furnas. So, whether you want to go for a hot swim, or simply unwind by a beautiful lake, you will find plenty to love in Furnas.
5Taste the best of Portuguese wine
Portuguese wine is popular around the world, with the countryside dotted with world-class wineries and vineyards. You are likely to find high-quality wines all over Portugal, but we particularly recommend the Douro Valley in the north of Portugal, the oldest wine region in the world. Sample Port Wine in the region it was invented, various blends and vintages or rich red wine, or a nice glass of Vinho Verde, Portuguese Green Wine.
6Tour the rugged coastline of the Algarve
The coastline of the Algarve is one of exceptional beauty replete with unique sights. Take for example, the spectacular natural dome of the Benagil cave, or the long and snaking lagoon of the Ria Formosa. If you want to explore Portugal at its scenic best, then make your way to the Algarve.
7Explore the fairytale castles of Sintra
The history of Portugal is imprinted on every brick of Sintra’s castles. The vivid colors of Pena Palace speak to the arts and high culture of the 19th century. The imposing Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish castle) overlooking the town brings to mind both the Moorish occupation and the wars and battles that followed. The 20th century residence of Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra is another enchanting site, comprising a Gothic building and a garden that represents secret orders through unique symbolism and hidden tunnels! It is no wonder travelers seeking to learn the fascinating history of Portugal flock to Sintra.
8Taste the world-famous Pastel De Nata
No visit to Portugal is complete without tasting its cuisine. If you have a sweet-tooth, you’re in luck as delicious desserts are almost a specialty of the Portuguese. We particularly recommend the Pastel De Nata, a crisp, egg custard tart topped with sprinkles of cinnamon. These are believed to have originated in the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, which is by far the best place to try them.
9Take a relaxing, scenic cruise down the Douro River
The Douro River flows through northern Portugal and into Spain, passing rolling hills and open valleys, some marked by vineyards, rustic villages, or noble old Quitas (country estates). Experience this in style and comfort aboard a Douro River cruise.
10Watch whales at the Portuguese Islands
Thanks to the location of the Azores Islands and Madeira, these islands are the perfect spot for some whale watching. Between the months of April to October, Madeira or the Azores are perfect for watching migrating whales or dolphins frolic in the water, from the comfort of your boat.
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Alentejo is an expansive region where cork oaks, olive groves and vineyards grow, and several historic towns including the colorful Alentejo village, dot the picturesque landscape.
Furnas is located on the eastern side of Sao Miguel Island in Azores, a 45-minute drive from the Ponta Delgada.
Furnas, São Miguel Island
Faial Island, jutting out of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, is a part of the Azores archipelago located off the west coast of the Portuguese mainland.
Horta, Faial Island
Explore Lisbon, Portugal's cosmopolitan capital that graces the Tagus estuary on the Atlantic coast.
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