With so many glorious beaches and charming fishing villages on offer, it can be hard knowing what to do in Portugal.
Towns such as Lisbon, Madeira and Guimarães are characterised by their story-book buildings and twisting alleyways leading to sunny squares. Simply strolling around them is enough to delight any history or architecture lover.
Surf bums will be blown away by the sheer quantity of blue flag beaches in Portugal, while gourmands will adore visiting the many winemakers and farm shops in the Douro Valley, one of the most picturesque regions in the country.
Craft your ultimate holiday with our handy guide of things to see and do in Portugal.
Best of Portugal’s Beaches
Bathed in sunshine and boasting sand as fine as sugar, Portugal’s beaches are some of the most inviting in Europe.
Although it has a Mediterranean climate, its coast is actually lapped by the Atlantic Sea. If you’re looking for warmer water, stick to the Algarve’s 150 sandy beaches at the country’s south-eastern tip. Albufeira is a buzzing seaside resort that never goes out of style.
Some of the best beaches in Portugal are Praia de Cacela Velha, Praia da Falésia and Ilha de Tavira, a series of island beaches in a floating in turquoise lagoons in the Ria Formosa National Park.
To really get off the beaten track, head to The Azores, a string of semi-tropical volcanic islands, where you might spot dolphins and whales as you sunbathe.
Tours & Deals
Many of Portugal’s best tours revolve around the water: cruising the Douro River, hiking around the twin lakes of Sete Cidades (Seven Cities), the azure secret that twinkles at the heart of the São Miguel’s volcanoes, road tripping between its national marine parks…
A food tour led by a local chef is a fantastic way to lift the lid on Lisbon’s food culture, while a walking tour from Cascais to Sintra will reveal Moorish castles and tranquil villages surrounded by thick woodlands filled with the smell of eucalyptus.
Lots of tour companies near the border offer Spain and Portugal tours, so you can tick two of the greats off your bucket list in one easy adventure.
Must Do Festivals in Portugal
Portugal is a traditional place and most villages have their own (festa) or pilgrimage (romaria), many with eccentric traditions attached. Obidos has a chocolate festival every spring, while every four year Tomar’s cobbled streets are filled with girls wearing crowns of bread and flowers for the Festa dos Tabuleiro.
On Shrove Tuesday, the whole country dons colourful costumes and takes to the streets for a carnival which rivals Mardi Gras for sheer good vibes. Get out of the cities and into smaller towns such as Lamego for more traditional celebrations.
Every summer, a host of music festivals draw party-lovers from all over the world. Boom Festival, BPM Festival and Optimus Festival are a few of the most famous.
What to buy
There are plenty of traditional souvenirs you should stock up on in Portugal, such as handbags made from cork, traditional pottery and leather products.
Portuguese shoes are particularly famous, and many towns still have a shoemaker who crafts their products by hand. Colourful Barcelos cockerels are the unofficial symbol of the country, and as they are often made of wood are very light to pack.
If you’re looking for something a little more expensive, check out the new wave of sustainably-produced clothing brands that are coming out of Portugal at the moment. La Paz and Reality Studio are both super stylish and based in Porto.