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Top 12 Things to do in Portugal that Cannot be Missed

Are you searching for the best things to do in Portugal? Well, this list has you covered because it isn’t always easy to know where to start. This list will help you plan out your new holiday.

A beautiful European country that is best known for its stunning beaches, but its cities deserve a lot of love too. From medieval castles and cobblestoned streets to dramatic landscapes and insanely dreamy islands, Portugal should be your next travel destination.

When traveling around Portugal you can feel at ease, it is a very safe country, the crime rate is low and English is widely spoken. Many different regions make up Portugal and they all have their specialties but one thing everyone can agree on is that Portuguese people are proud of where they come from, and they are NOT Spain.

The beautiful blue water in Portugal

Top 12 Things to do in Portugal

Visit The Algarve Region

The Algarve is the southern coastline otherwise known as the best beach in Portugal. There are over 100 beaches in the Algarve making it the place to go in Portugal for a relaxing beach holiday.

There are numerous cities to choose from when visiting the Algarve, and most likely you will want to go to them all. The Algarve is the best place to visit for young adults, the nightlife is unmatched. The party towns go all night during the summer, with locals and tourists enjoying the vibes together.

Albufeira, Lagos, and Praia do Rocha are the most popular towns in the region. Albufeira has a party strip and Old Town combined has hundreds of bars, making it the best nightlife in Portugal.

Lagos, Portugal has a more laid-back vibe and is not so tourist crazy in the summer. When visiting Lagos you can expect to see the old town castle walls, beaches for days, boat trips and they even have a Zoo.

Praia do Rocha has both the laid-back beach town vibes and bustling Portuguese nightlife. Praia do Rocha is a mix of all the best things to do in Portugal for Young Adults, you can spend all day exploring the beaches and then get ready for the fun night ahead.

Heart-shaped cliffs in The Algarve of Portugal with girl

Visit Lisbon

If you are planning your Portugal holiday, then you most likely already know about the capital city of Lisbon. This is where the largest international airport is, and home to the famous tram line similar to the one in San Francisco. Some of the best things to do in Portugal are found in this city.

The list is endless when it comes to things to do in Lisbon one of the more romantic things is to go on a castle tour. There are 10 castles in Lisbon alone and if you could only visit one castle in Portugal the Pena Palace should be it. It is a remarkable sight to be seen, it was built in the Romanticist era and gives you the feeling of being in a fairy tale.

The Time Out Market in Lisbon is another one of the best things to do in Lisbon for young adults and families. This market is not like most, it hosts over 3 million visitors every year. The Time Out Market offers a variety of Portuguese dishes to enjoy. They open at 10 am daily and offer fresh fruits and vegetables to buy and also over 35 different food vendors for snacking. Most groups grab small bites from multiple places and share them with their friends.

Girl in the street of Lisbon, Portugal

Visit Nazare

Nazare is next on the list of the best things to do in Portugal. Until very recently Nazare was a beach town that only locals knew about. That all changed with one American Surfer who had a dream to surf the biggest wave in the world. HBO did a series called 100 Foot Wave and ever since then, Nazare has exploded with both surfers and spectators.

A day trip to Nazare, Portugal will forever be imprinted in your mind. People tend to watch from the old lighthouse or the safety of the shore. You will witness the biggest waves in the world at Praia do Norte or North Beach. No joke, this is where the largest recorded wave ever surfed is.

Nazare has many dining options, but the most fun is to grab some food from the many food trucks that are lined up at the entrance.

Nazare Portugal  light house at sunset with big wave in back round

Go on a Roadtrip in Portugal

Want to maximize your Portugal holiday? You can cross everything off your list of the best things to do in Portugal in one week by going on a road trip. There are many different road trips to choose from and multiple rental van companies in Portugal.

If you are looking if the best beaches in Portugal, then you should head on the southern coastal road trip. If you are more of a romantic, plan out a castle tour, you have over 150 to explore. And then there is always the classic Porto to Faro road trip in Portugal that will let you see the whole country.

Portugal has just invested in a new highway system so taking a road trip is easier than ever. Do expect to run into a few tolls, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing one of the best things to do in Portugal.

Eat all the Desserts in Portugal

Seriously, one of the best things to do in Portugal is to experience the variety of desserts they make. The famous Pasteis de Nata is so yummy you will be sneaking some back on the plane with you. You can find these cute little Portuguese custard tarts virtually everywhere you go.

Portugal is one of the top producers of Almond trees in all of Europe, and you know what almonds taste best with, sugar. No wonder one of the best things to do is to eat desserts. The Portuguese Almond Torte also known as Bolo de Amêndoa is widely served and should be tried as many times as possible.

Visit Madeira Island

Madeira Island is not only one of the best things to do in Portugal, but it is also one of the most impressive islands in all of the world. Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it is closer to Morocco than it is to Portugal.

This Portuguese island gives off major Jurassic Park vibes. There are 4 different microclimates in Madeira, and some areas are blooming all year round. Which of course means Madeira has delicious fruits and veggies any time of the year.

If you are looking to go to Madeira, there are several different ways to get there. A flight from Lisbon is only 3 hours and is very affordable. There are direct flights to Madeira from New York, London, and Munich, making Madeira the perfect place to visit in Portugal. It is truly a must-see.

Visit Óbidos Castle for an Overnight Stay

If you are looking for things to do in Portugal for young adults, Óbidos castle should be high on your list. This medieval castle in Portugal is well preserved and has many different options for overnight stays.

Óbidos Castle is located only an hour from Lisbon, making it the perfect distance for a weekend trip away from the city. There are restaurants, bars, gift shops, street performers, and cafes all inside the dreamy castle walls.

Obidos Castle trip in Portugal walking in the light

Visit the 7 Wonders of Portugal

Portugal is an architectural lover’s dream, in almost every city you visit you will be looking up at the buildings in awe. Out of all these wonderful structures, 7 have been named the wonders of Portugal. They are located all over the country and defiantly deserve a spot on the best things to do in Portugal.

These 7 wonders of Portugal include 3 monasteries. They are the Hieronymites Monastery, Alcobaça Monastery, and Batalha Monastery. They are all UNESCO sites located in central Portugal. You could easily make a trip to all 3 in one day.

Next on the 7 Wonders of Portugal are, of course, Castles. These charming Portugal castles are the Pena National Palace, Óbidos Castle, and the Guimarães Castle. Óbidos and Pena National Palace are easily done in a day but the Guimarães Castle is located in the northern part of the country, a good stop to see on your trip to Porto.

Last but not least is the Belem Tower, also known as the Tower of Saint Vincent. Located in Lisbon, this tower was built in the 16th century. Belem Tower is said to be the most recognizable structure in all of Portugal and stands for the identity of Portugal.

Obidos Castle one of the 7 wonders of Portugal

Visit Porto

Next on the list of best things to do in Portugal is to visit the city of Porto. Porto is located in the northeastern part of the country, this vibrant city is a perfect destination for all the wine lovers out there.

Port wine is made in Porto and is a delicious sweet red wine that pairs great with desserts. Porto has been producing this world-famous wine since the 17th century.

Porto is known for more than just its wine, they also have incredible food and architecture. If you are looking for budget-friendly things to do Porto is the place for you. It is much more affordable than Lisbon and less crowded too.

Tour Portugal on a Train

No matter where you are staying during your holiday you can go on a train and tour the rest of the beautiful country. There are many different scenic train routes to choose from. The rail system in Portugal is very affordable and easy to navigate.

The biggest high-speed train system in Portugal is the Alfa Pendula. It runs from Braga to Faro and there are connections in all major cities along the way. The most popular and scenic route is the ride from Porto to Régua, Pinhão, and Pocinho.

Go Take a Hike at Peneda-Geres

Peneda-Geres is Portugal’s one and only National Park. Located in the northern part of Portugal near Porto, Peneda-Geres is 270 square miles full of history and nature. Peneda-Geres was established in 1971 to project the culture of the land.

While hiking through the forest you may encounter a range variety of animals including wolves, deer, ponies, and loose cattle. On the man-made side of things, there are ancient roman ruins, churches, more castles, and hiking and biking trails.

There is even a legend that the devil himself spent time in this forest building the medieval bridge over the river. Many locals refer to it as Ponto de Diablo. But don’t let this tall tale stop you from getting outside and enjoying one of the best things to do in Portugal.

Take a Boat Ride in Portugal

One of the most memorable things to do in Portugal is to go on a dolphin and whale-watching cruise. Nothing beats the coastal landscape and sailing on a sunny day is pure bliss. There are plenty of different boat experiences to choose from.

Besides the dolphin and whale watching tours, there are also boat tours that will take you out for sunset for a romantic night. Another favorite thing to do in Portugal is to go on a sailing cruise to explore the ocean caves.

For a wild experience, charter a fishing boat. You can do this virtually anywhere if you are on the east coast, but the Algarve and Porto regions have the most to choose from. If you are lucky you can spend your day catching trophy fish, looking at breathtaking landscapes, and enjoying the sunshine.


Hopefully, this list will help you on your holiday. Visiting here is a perfect place to vacation for families, young couples, or solo travelers. Please let us know down below if you did any of these things on your trip, or if we left any out!

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Abbey Rae

Fulltime Traveller, Blogger, SEO Writer

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