www.thetravel.com

20 Beautiful Places In Portugal That Completely Surprised Us

Relaxing on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is an all-time favorite European destination that displays a strong cultural identity. This friendly and charming nation offers excellent wine varieties, distinct cuisine, and a lovely range of beautiful beaches.

Here, ancient history and baroque architecture are served in big portions while the Portuguese cities are famous hotspots for those who prefer the vibrant side of life. Thanks to its beautiful coastline, innovative art, and laid-back atmosphere, the country has been drifting on a wave of success in the tourism industry.

Exploring this stunning European country would mean dipping into a palette of soft nuances that will make you lose your perception of reality. Indeed, visiting the picturesque capital city, Lisbon, would be a similar experience.

Whether you prefer the pulsating heart of Lisbon's city center or the tranquility and peacefulness in the suburbs, Portugal will undoubtedly suit whatever needs you may have. This unusually diverse nation boasts over 800 km of pristine Atlantic ocean coastline.

And to make it even twice as enticing, Lisbon is pretty close to the mouth of the Tagus River. You see, there's a ton of things to do and see once you arrive in the charming city of Lisbon, Portugal.

Now, without revealing too much at the starting line, we'd love to invite you on a virtual journey through 20 of the country's best sights and places for adventurers.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 Vintage Trams And Unique Architecture Await You In Lisbon, Portugal

Via Corinthia Hotels

The bright and shiny capital of Portugal may be worth a thousand words, but today we'll need only a few to talk you into exploring this beautiful country. Portugal is fantastic and full of color - is that enough to dream of it tonight? Well, it sure sounds like it.

Seriously, Lisbon is one fabulous and vibrant city that's full of emotion and historical background. Realistically, 99% of its appeal lies in the nation's deep-rooted history.

To make it even harder to look away from it, Lisbon is the second oldest capital in Europe. As you can imagine, the oldest one is the Greek capital.

As such, Libson is jam-packed with an exciting mix of old and new, each presented by the city's symbolic cathedrals, cozy cafes, vintage trams and narrow backstreets.

19 The Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos Reveals "The Golden Age"

Via família na trip - Blogger

As you wander through Lisbon's narrow streets, do pay attention to the nation's distinct architecture. Once you've taken the time to explore its main attractions, you'll realize that even Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - this gorgeous and symbolic building in the picture - is synonymous with the country's Golden Age of Discovery. Even to this day, The Church of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos serves as the embodiment of this Golden age for Portugal, and it certainly fills the locals with pride. This revered building has gained such popularity due to its unique facade and interior design that perfectly reflects the Manueline architecture. Enter the monastery to explore the cloister that's no less exuberant.

18 Oceanário De Lisboa, Lisbon

Via lisbonne-idee

To those who're not that easily impressed by beautiful buildings, we'd love to recommend the country's oceanarium in Lisbon as a super fresh and budget-friendly location.Officially known as Oceanário de Lisboa, it's one of the best places to explore the world's diverse ocean life, full of fish and other exotic ocean habitats. This unique oceanarium is technically the largest one in the country and across Europe. Here, visitors can learn more about the recreated ecosystems of the oceans before heading to the gigantic shark tank placed right in the center of the oceanarium.

17 Palácio Nacional De Sintra, Lisbon Coast

Via Pinterest

Sleeping in the lap of Sintra's wooded terrain, this lovely location is the reason why visitors come here to explore its mystery. Thanks to its cultural landscape, this verdant town has also been listed as a UNESCO Heritage site.

With its idyllic views of the mountains and collection of historical sites, Sintra Velha was also a cherished location by many European greats, including legendary poets and writers, such as Lord Byron. Apart from its scenic landscapes, the town of Sintra Velha is also adored for its small, yet quite charming central square where the city's National Palace resides. If you dare to get inside it, you'll be fascinated by The Swam Room that features a unique Portuguese design, befitting the nation's temper as well.

16 Kayaking In Cascais Is Quite Exciting

Via Kayak Adventures Lagos

Well, if you do feel like you need a healthy dose of adventure and excitement, the Lisbon coast will be glad to serve you well. Kayaking is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting ways to explore the beauty of Portugal and its fanciest locations. But what most don't realize is that such a maritime adventure adds an extra dimension to this thrilling experience. While paddling along the pristine coastline of Lisbon, you'll have the unique chance to enjoy kayaking in a beautiful, almost surreal setting.

Nearby is the charming resort town of Cascais, which is another beautiful location filled with fun outdoor activities, including lots of water sports, of course.

15 Torre De Belém Was Designed by Francisco De Arruda

Via Vortex Magazine

There's no doubt that this impressive monument is one of Portugal's best tourist attractions; however, it's certainly much more than just another best-loved monument. Torre De Belem happens to be the official national symbol of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The tower, which is now considered a brilliant military achievement, was designed by Fransisco de Arruda. Its strikingly beautiful facade shares the typical Manueline style as it also serves to be a construction of carved stone, characterized by maritime elements, such as armillary spheres.

The structure was officially completed in 1521 and was built to defend the approach to the local River Tagus. So, in a nutshell, this spectacular monument was simply planned to be a fortress.

14 The Surreal Castle Convento Do Cristo In Tomar

Via sete pecados (i)mortais

Sometimes all we need is a little source of inspiration to get us through the day. Gladly for us all, Portugal isn't at all short of such utterly artistic locations that will leave us just wordless. Such an example is the beautiful, majestic castle of Convento do Cristo in Tomar. This picture-perfect place happens to be one of the most visited ones in the riverside town of Tomar, Portugal.

Built in the 11th-century, this mighty castle proudly dominates the small Portuguese town. Besides being a beautiful attraction with a symbolic meaning to the locals, the superb castle also impresses with its 16th-century cloisters.

13 Bom Jesus do Monte - Portugal's Most Religious Sanctuary

Via Pinterest

Located in the religious capital of Portugal, Bom Jesus do Monte is an ornate sanctuary built on a wooded slope a few km east of the sunny town of Braga.This hugely important pilgrimage site houses the church of Bom Jesus, a monumental stairway, designed in quite an intricate way, while several nearby chapels offer sculptured scenes from the Passion of Chris. Admittedly, visitors love this place of worship for its peaceful character and beautiful fountains positioned at various points. Bom Jesus also boasts an ornamental granite staircase which zig-zags past the chapels and leads to the impressive Escadório dos Cinco Sentidos section as well.

12 Hiking The Gerês Mountain Range, Minho Region

Via Portugal Green Walks

It's said that taking the road less traveled gets you to the best places, and that is especially true for the Gerês mountain range. Hiking up there is not only a breathtaking experience, but you get to enjoy the exotic beauty of Portugal from atop the mountain. If you, too, cannot wait to jump right into this adventure, then get your backpack ready for a tour through the Minho region, nestled within the majestic Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. Once you've reached it, you'll be too fascinated to open your mouth and express your admiration for it. Indeed, The Geres Mountains is one of the best-rated natural attractions that draws nature-lovers like moths to a flame.

11 Universidade de Coimbra Houses A 17th-century Library

Via alldayeverydaisy.com

Founded in the 12th century, The Universidade de Coimbra is the official seat of learning, also acknowledged by UNESCO as a significant heritage site. Both explorers and history-lovers have long appreciated this impressive historic building, so it's only natural that it's also listed as a world heritage location. The Universidade de Coimbra also houses an astonishing 17th-century library aka the city's marvelous Biblioteca Joanina. Another lovely feature about the building is its Alta and Sofia wings which served as a former royal residence of the king. Today, this spectacular building rewards visitors with its authentic setting, beautiful designs as well as an impressive 16th-century Capela de São Miguel.

10 The Grand Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Via VisitLisboa

Saying that this beautiful European country is blessed with world-class museums would hardly come as a shock to most people. One of the best examples of that is the Portuguese Museum Calouste Gulbenkian. It's not only an excellent source of history and culture, but this museum boasts one of the most extensive collections in the entire country.This impressive museum was named after an Armenian oil magnate, who gave away all of his wealth to the nation as this happened back in the late 90s.

Quite logically, the museum honors that Armenian magnate, Calouste Gulbenkian. Today the museum houses classic and oriental exhibits alongside pieces of art and illustrated manuscripts from the 16th century.

9 Castelo de Guimarães Aka The Castle From The Movies

Via Wikipédia

This UNESCO-listed heritage site is the actual birthplace of the nation's first monarch, Dom Afonso Henriques. But before you think that this is probably just another majestic castle, allow us to tell you that Guimarães used to be the real capital of the kingdom of Portugal. This fantastic location is now best known as a major historical monument that encircles the Old Town of "Portucale."

Today, Castelo de Guimarães symbolizes the country's rich culture, tradition, and togetherness, which practically formed the people as a strong nation. The original structure of the castle was built somewhere in the 10th century. Decades and centuries passed before the castle was substantially extended by adding the stronghold to the main building.

8 Torre de Clérigos, Oporto, Is Full of Character And Charm

Via akiba por viajar

One of the most elegant landmarks in the charming town of Oporto is this needle-shaped attraction, best known for its spindly character and excessive charm. This impressive building stands about 75 meters above the city streets as its slender tower overlooks Oporto's Old Town.

Originally designed as part of another lovely attraction, namely the Igreja dos Clérigos, this needle-like tower was built by Nicolau Nasoni, and it's full of character and charm.

At the time of its construction, Oporto's tower was an absolute leader when it comes to its dimensions. Once you reach the top, you'll enjoy stunning views of Oporto and the River Douro.

7 Castelo de São Jorge Aka The City's Most Visible Castle

Via Aventuras da Aldi

Interestingly, this Portuguese castle is known as the city's most visible historical site; not that the others are hidden from the eyes of the world, but this exact monument is visible from any point in the city. Admittedly, its colossal size and majestic dimensions make it quite hard to miss. Anyway, this magnificent structure happens to be hugely popular with history lovers who come here to dip into the legendary story of King Afonso Henriques who built this castle with a threatening facade over the ruins of the collapsed citadel. A few centuries later, the King's residence was redesigned and reinforced with more sturdy battlements.

6 Sé (cathedral) And Epic Roman Temple, Évora

Via Lisbon Transfers

Also known as the Templo de Diana, this impressive structure is an ancient temple set deep in the country's sun-baked province of Evora. Initially, the beautiful province was under the Moorish rules until the 12th century when Christians turned the construction into one of the most impressive cathedrals in the region in and the entire country. Officially consecrated in 1204, this cherished religious site features narrow lanes and unique urban design that works harmoniously with the usual Baroque and Gothic styles. Once you've admired the elegant facade, you can head to the staircase which will get you to the roof. From there, visitors can enjoy marvelous views of the entire city.

5 Explore Alentejo On Horseback

Via Pinterest

Alright, we must admit it - that's hardly a part of the typical tourist's itinerary, but it's quite worthy of exploring. After all, the best way to feel and explore nature's beauty is to try to get close to it as much as possible. In this case, though, we suggest that you traverse through Alentejo's flower-flecked meadow by riding a well-trained horse. Besides, plodding over the region's soft tracks feels like the greatest experiences in the province of Alentejo. Additionally, you're probably unaware of this, but this charming location is actually quite known for its love and admiration for horses.

4 Mosteiro Pálacio Nacional de Mafra In Mafra

Via Mapa Mundi - Turismo e Negócios Globais

This snow-white structure looms over the beautiful countryside of Mafra, and it proudly represents the city's rich source of beautiful monasteries and palaces.

Built in 1717, this majestic palace was initially planned to be a considerably simple church; however, it has certainly become much more than that. This magnificent palace features exotic furnishings and beautiful detailing, each making it such a fantastic tourist attraction in the city of Mafra. This strikingly white building was officially commissioned by Dom Joao V, and it was supposed to honor the king's first child. Today this beautiful palace and monastery are the reason why thousands of visitors flock to the city of Mafra.

3 Igreja de Santo António & Museu Municipal, Lagos

Via photolisbonne.com

If you wonder where the most extraordinary collection of ethnography and archeology resides, then we kindly suggest that you take a look at this picture. This impressive museum in Lagos happens to be quite abundant in super quirky exhibits of unique artifacts, handicrafts and other items that perfectly reflect the area's rich culture and heritage. Among the most interesting items are homemade scale models of the village as well as an altarpiece made from cork. Indeed, this place sure deserves a visit for its extensive collections of realistic handicrafts, gilded carvings, and panels that are nowhere to be seen but here.

2 Silves Castle Or The Former Capital Of Moorish Algarve

Via Journey To Ambeth

Indeed, Silves was absolutely the capital of Moorish Algarve during the 12th century when the area was known as "al-Gharb." During this period the town was an important center of learning as well as a place of worship and admiration. As a result, many philosophers, artists, and writers used to flock there to get the taste of knowledge. Also, the Moors built this mighty castle on a location where it could be seen from any point in the city. Although the magnificent castle changed its rulers a few times, the fortress survived through these challenging times.

1 Cross-Border Zipline, Alcoutim

Via YouTube

Well, no matter how much fun you've had in Portugal, nothing can beat the good old zip line. This time, though, it's going to be twice as fun and exciting since you'll be spanning Spain and Portugal.  The line is about 720 meters long and joins these two beautiful countries as it gets you across the meandering River Guadiana. But even though you've not tried it before, you've got zero reasons to be worried.

Visitors, who're brave enough to experience it, are fully kitted out in all the needed equipment. Lastly, this cross-zipline in Portugal is the only one of its kind in the entire world, so get ready for an amazing experience, starting from Portugal.

References: planetware.com, theculturetrip.com, globalgrasshopper.com 

More in Destinations