Portugal's location between the Meditteranean and northern Europe has heavily influenced its diverse and colorful culture. Once dominated by a rich maritime empire, the country retains its love for the ocean in the cities and villages peppered across the land. Historical architecture and vibrant flair make the country perfect for travelers searching for a getaway that has it all. Seriously, the place is incredible in every way, and the best cities in Portugal truly do serve up a slice of what one can expect from the nation's culture, lifestyle, cuisine, and scenery.

While the less populated areas have plenty worth exploring, the cities allow people to soak up the culture surrounded by the friendly residents who make it such a great place. Overflowing with cuisine worth celebrating, stunning scenery, and magnificent beaches, these cities in Portugal are the answer to all your travel-related prayers.

Updated by Lauren Feather, January 7th, 2022: Portugal has always been a top tourist contender, and in 2022, its popularity is only expected to excel. With so many incredible cities in this quintessential, sunny European destination, it can be difficult to sieve out the very best Portugal has to offer. As such, and to assist discerning Portugal-bound travelers in their search for the perfect Portuguese vacation, even more cities in this stunning nation of sun, sand, sea, and sensational cities have been added.

Related: A Weekend In Portugal: How To Make The Most Of Your Time There

10 Lisbon

In Lisbon, Portugal, there's something extremely visually satisfying about a city that looks as though every building, past and present, was built with its surrounding structures in mind. Historical constructions punctuate the modern throughout Lisbon, creating a diverse mix of past and present that simply goes together. The stately, historical São Jorge Castle sits atop a hill and overlooks a pastel-colored paradise, with buildings decorated in hundreds of years worth of colorful and artistic mosaic tiles.

An array of shops, restaurants, and clubs line the cobblestone streets, providing the perfect ambiance to sway through your day to the passionate Fado music Portugal is known for.  Due to its city status, there are plenty of choices to enjoy delicious seafood. Learn a thing or two about the culture at the National Museum of Ancient art during the day, and dance the night away at one of the celebrated nightclubs once the sun, which seems to always shine in Lisbon, sets for the night.

9 Sintra

For those who'd like to enjoy Portugal in a smaller setting, Sintra is the place to do it. Visitors will be unable to hold back their smiles surrounded by castles that look like they belong in a fairytale. The colorful Pena Palace, built in the 19th century, combines several types of architecture and is encircled by a vibrant green forested park. On some days, clouds descend, and the palace sits atop them, the sight of which will have people wondering if they're stuck in the best kind of dream.

The entire region is protected, which means visitors will have no difficulty finding serene spots to ponder all the magnificent architecture they've seen throughout the day. Exotic gardens accent the town to provide a natural vibe no matter where you go. Eclectic Sintra is a perfect reflection of how Portugal has been influenced by many cultures to create a one-of-a-kind place all its own.

Related: You Don't Need More Than 2 Days To See Sintra Portugal, And Here's How To Do It Right

8 Lagos

Lagos is nestled on the pretty western Algarve, which offers a stunning coastline of staggering sandstone cliffs, extensive expanses of gold sands, secluded cove beaches, and sprawling greens. The city itself is busy and fun, featuring a large variety of bars, restaurants, and fascinating tourist attractions, and is also an ideal base from which to explore the Algarve's west region with fantastic day trips like Portimao, Silves, and Sagres on offer.

But those who come for the beaches here won't be disappointed either - a local and tourist favorte seaside spot includes the Prai do Pinhao and the Praia Dona Ana - deemed one of the best beaches in Portugal. Lagos's south is also home to the incredible Ponte de Piedade headland, which is a must, especially got photographers and those who love the great outdoors amidst untouched nature.

7 Nazaré

Nazaré is the place to go for those who find themselves drawn to the ocean. Its pristine beaches have made it a popular resort destination. The waves are known to get pretty big in some places, so surfers hit the swells and provide free entertainment to those soaking up the sun on towels laid atop the pillowy sands. Although it's famous for its beaches, there is plenty to see in Nazaré aside from the ocean.

Seaside vendors sell dried fish, a spin on jerky no one knows they need until they try it. The fisherman's district retains its old-world feel, and early risers have the opportunity to watch the colorful boats come into the harbors with their fresh catches. Locals don traditional clothing to create an atmosphere much different from the touristy areas near the beaches. Nazaré is another gem in Portugal that perfectly blends the past with the present, all with a beautiful ocean view.

6 Tavira

Many Algarve towns have endured massive amounts of tourism, however, the sublime city of Tavira remains its discernible charm, having remained untouched by modern travel influences that sees it retain its flourished Portuguese personality. Situated on the Quiet east part of the Algarve, the Tavira used to be a significant trading town and port in the 14t century, and its historic remnants and echoes of stories past are seen throughout its picturesqye cobbled streets, small plazas, and town defenses that blend with beautifil tiled villas.

The city's beaches are located on its protected coasline in the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa, boasting some of the finest, powdery sands in the whole of the Algarve region. With its fascinating fishing roots, Tavira is home to some mouth-watering seafood restaurants serving up delicious regional cuisine, many of which are based in the stunning and historic town centre.

5 Guimarães

It's hard to know where to start in Guimarães, as it seems that every corner is filled with something spectacular worth seeing. Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal, a source of pride for the locals. The city center is a designated UNESCO world heritage site recognized for the impressive preservation of buildings dating back to medieval times.

The stunning and ornate hilltop Guimarães Castle offers views of the entire city. A visit to the Bragança Palace will provide a taste of French architecture, the chateau structure housing various historical artifacts like weaponry and antique furniture. Marked by narrow streets and hidden alleyways, visitors to Guimarães will feel like they've been taken back in time.

Related: What It's Like To Spend A Day Exploring Portugal's Algarve

4 Braga

Braga is perfect for anyone fascinated by the way religion shapes culture. The city's several churches display its rich spiritual history, and it is often considered the religious center of Portugal. Especially notable is the Bom Jesus do Monte chapel, marked by a stunning (and challenging) winding stairway leading to the ornate structure. It remains a popular pilgrimage destination for Christians worldwide.

While Braga is worth visiting for its churches alone, people will enjoy the city center colored by plazas and family-owned shops and restaurants. The elaborate gardens located on the grounds of the historical Biscainhos Palace are an excellent spot to soak up some royal vibes. Brago is easily explorable on foot, making it an ideal place for wandering.

3 Porto

Porto is yet another city in Portugal with enough rich history to earn it a spot on UNESCO's heritage list. Vinophiles will have no shortage of liquid courage to sip on, as Porto is world-renowned for its well-crafted port wines. The magnificently green hills along the Douro River are covered in vines and trees. Visitors can view them by boat or bicycle. During harvest season, people can even do some grape stomping of their own.

While it would be easy to spend entire days visiting vineyards and cellars, there are many affordable ways to soak up the culture seeping from every cobblestone street and narrow alleyway in Porto. The Livraria Lello is a famous bookstore known for its architecture that arouses images of Hogwarts. Samples of Portuguese delicacies are in abundance at the Bolhão Market, a colorful area to take in local culture with tourists and residents alike.

Related: 10 Best Wineries In Portugal To Visit

2 Faro

Many travelers only know Faro because of its airport, where journeys to other more popular destinations start. However, there is an abundance of unique attractions in the city worth sticking around for. Ancient walls wreath the historic center, which contains the Bishop's Palace, a stunningly white piece of 16th-century gothic architecture. Outside the historical center, there are charming plazas peppered with unique shops and local grub.

The city is markedly relaxed, making it ideal for those hoping to avoid the bustling touristy areas. Nearby, nature lovers can explore the diverse ecosystems found within the Ria Formosa Nature Park. The protected area is a labyrinth of green flora and cobalt blue water that attracts unique wildlife like flamingos and the Mediterranean chameleon.

1 Funchal

Unsurprisingly, Funchal is brimming with history and cultural significance. The island town's center is marked by stunning greenery surrounding preserved, centuries-old buildings. The gorgeous Funchal Cathedral, known for its elaborately carved wooden ceilings, rises from the city's center and remains a popular worship site.

While the structures in Funchal are a broad spectrum of lively colors, most are adorned with red roofs that tie everything together. Imagination has taken over Rua da Santa Maria, which contains hundreds of outdoor art pieces painted on the buildings' doors. Fresh, exotic produce fills the vendors' baskets at the Lavradores Market, and several wine cellars serve sweet wine the area is known for.

Next: Portugal Has Beautiful Beaches And These Are The Least Crowded