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Portugal is unquestionably one of the most visited countries in Europe, thanks to its affordability, weather, and its unique attractions.

Portugal is located on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Its geography varies from lush farmlands and ancient towns to gorgeous vineyards and mountains in the north and sensational beaches to the south.

Let’s explore together the best places and things to do in Portugal.

Guest post by Juliane Burton

Best Things to do in Portugal

Image: remains of church in Coimbra, Portugal | Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of a church ruins.

1. Coimbra

Coimbra once was the capital of Portugal. This place is a picturesque and delightful town and it is known for its remarkable gardens, historical places, Fado music, and vibrant culture. Located near the Mondego River, Coimbra is a city of medieval churches and cobbled charming streets. Many people admit that Coimbra happens to be the most vibrant city in the whole country. 

image: column at historic location in Evora, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of columns in Evora.

2. Évora

This beautiful town lies at the bottom of a range that carries the same name. This town is so marvelous that UNESCO has named the whole place a world heritage site. Evora is a thousand years old and has a lot of ‘Moorish’ courtyards, Renaissance fountains, Gothic towers, medieval squares, and labyrinthine cobbled streets. One of the main squares is Praca do Giraldo, where you can drink beverages in the open-air cafes.

image: people by river in Aveiro, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of people walking by the water in front of some colorful building in Aveiro.

3.Aveiro

Aveiro is a happy city that is located alongside the Rida de Aveiro lagoon. The town sometimes is called the ‘Venice of Portugal’ because of its charming bridges, boats and so on.

The town can be explored by traditional ships that were once used for harvesting seaweed and now they are completely transformed for visitors. You’ll want to be sure to make time to visit the Sao Goncalinho Chapel, the Cathedral, the Convento de Jesus, and oh-so-many art buildings spread around the town’s old center.

image: sunset over Porto, Portugal, with bridge in foreground |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of Porto Portugal.

4. Porto


Porto is the city from where Portugal took the name. It’s most famous for its wine called ‘Port’.

This great city lies on the hills overlooking the Douro River in northern Portugal. The historic center of the Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There you can find the Ribeira – a fantastic pedestrian district with cafes, live music, street vendors, and outstanding cuisine.

image: people on beach at foot of mountains in the Algarve, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of The Algarve.

5. The Algarve

If you are a person that loves the sun, sea, and sand, you will want to give the Algarve a shot. 

Below are the positives for this fabulous south Portuguese area:

  • Amazing beaches
  • Mediterranean weather
  • Practically no rain (3000 hours of sunshine a year)
  • Oh-so-yummy cuisine
  • Affordable cost of living
  • World-renown golf areas
  • Charming towns
  • Rich history

Now, you are probably thinking what’s there not to love? True! Algarve is a place you’ll want to live there FOREVER. The city is almost untouched from old times. It will help if you visit ‘Fortaleza de Sagres’ – which was built in the 15th century. You’ll want to visit the Cape of Sao Vicente, too – a sacred site for the Romans.

image: red rooftops over white buildings and Alfama church in Lisbon, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of Lisbon Portugal.

6. Lisbon

Portugal’s capital and largest city lies along the shores of the Tagus River. Lisbon is an incredible destination vacation and full of Gothic churches, individual neighborhoods, fabulous weather, and fun shopping, all with traditional fado music following as your soundtrack wherever you go! It’s true. Fado music is everywhere! 

Lisbon’s center – Baixa – is the conventional center of life. There you can find the old traditional shops. Alfama too is the oldest neighborhood in the city known for its charming architecture. You will want to take a tour of one of the old trams (Tram 28), which will take you through all the main attractions, squares, and historic districts.

If you are a party lover – a night of exploring clubs and bars in Bairro Alto is one of the most fun things to do in Lisbon. Lisbon also has become one of the most famous stags do destinations.

image: aerial shot of red tile roofs in Albufeira, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of Albufeira Portugal.

7. Albufeira

This place was once a fishing village and now has become one of the most significant vacation destinations to visit.

Tourists prefer the Albufeira for its white-sand beaches, parasailing, jet-skiing, and dolphin watching. There are three famous beaches you would want to visit: Praia da Oura, Praia dos Pescadores, and Praia do Penco. When you are done with the beaches, go visit the attractive villages and high-quality restaurants. Oh, and don’t forget the vibrant nightlife!

image: steps leading up to Nossa Senhora dos Remedios in Lamego, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of Lamego.

8. Lamego

The city of Lamego is located in the Douro Wine Region and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

You can appreciate the wonderful Nossa Senhora dos Remedios Sanctuary and climb the 686 steps of this majestic building. If you decide to do this, bear in mind that you’ll find lovely statues, churches, and fountains along the way.

Get lost in the historic center’s narrow streets, visit the cathedral, and go to the castle. You will also want to explore the Douro and other points of interest in this area.

image: aerial shot of road by Atlantic ocean in Sagres, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of the Atlantic ocean in Sagres Portugal.

9. Sagres

Do you know the most westerly spots in Europe? Sagres is one of them. It is ideal for experiencing the most remarkable natural landscapes in Portugal. 

You might want to consider visiting Fortaleza de Sagres – an incredible landmark extending out into the Pacific that is a little off the beaten path but worth attempting to see. You will also want to taste authentic Portuguese cuisine there.

image: historic tower in Obidos, Portugal |Things to do in Portugal by popular US international blog, The Common Traveler: image of a historic stone tower in Obidos Portugal.

10. Óbidos

Óbidos is one of Portugal’s best-preserved ancient towns. You can find cobbled lanes, white-washed residences. The city is also famous for its bookshops, fresh cherry cocktails, and white sand beaches that open out into the Atlantic nearby.

Author Bio:

Juliane Burton is a journalist with tremendous experience in traveling. She wants to encourage people to be curious about the world and find ways to fit more travel into their lifestyle than they already have. She wants others to look at her and say ‘Because of you I didn’t give up’.

Looking for more Europe content? Check out these posts:

Happy travels!
Annick, The Common Traveler

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