Fairy-tale castles, sun-kissed beaches, picturesque cities and enchanting vineyards – everything that you could possibly want in a holiday is simply waiting for you in Portugal.
The country may not be hidden from tourists the way it was years ago, but it still offers a number of destinations where you can lose yourself and stay away from the public eye as well. Lisbon is the biggest star in the country, but it hasn’t let the fame and popularity make it fussy. It is very easygoing and its colorful cityscape always promises never-ending explorations. However, in order to experience the true beauty of Portugal, you really need to get off the beaten track and breathe in the surreal beauty that the Portuguese countryside has to offer. Here are a few tours and sights that you simply cannot miss out on while in Portugal.
Ilha de Tavira
IIha de Travia is one of the sandy islands that can be seen all along the coast towards the west of Faro. Considered to be the finest, IIha de Travia’s star attraction is that humongous beach that can be found on its eastern end. It has a number of cafes and restaurants, a campground as well as water sports. The island seems to be even more special (except for the months of July – August) because it is extremely remote and relatively empty. We recommend you to travel to Praia do Barril, which can be accessed by a miniature train. The place is home to an anchor cemetery, which has anchors left by tuna boats that once used to fish in these waters. Apart from a few eateries here and there, the only other thing that comes into your view is sand!
Wine Tasting Tours
Portugal has been famous as a wine region for decades. Simply head south of Lisbon to a place called Azeitao. This area is particularly known for its wine and cheese, and also offers some of the most exotic and intoxicating sceneries in the country. A wine tasting tour lets you visit three popular wine cellars (Jose Maria de Fonseca, Quinta de Alcube and Lima Fortuna), enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery of Arrabida Natural Park and taste some of the best locally produced wines on the planet. Wine-tasting is definitely one of the best things to do in Portugal.
Insider Tip – Don’t forget to sample a liqueur that has been made using a 450-year-old recipe at Lima Fortuna.
Convento de Cristo
Portugal was dominated by the Knights Templar from the 12th century to the 16th century. No wonder then, that many of its attractions are engulfed with mysteries, countless stories and old world splendor. The Knights Templar were majorly responsible for bankrolling the Age of Discovery and their headquarters were the Convento de Cristo, founded by the Grand Master of the Templars in the year 1160. One of the main highlights is the 16-sided Templar church, Charola, known to be an imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is extremely different from most Portuguese churches and is known to have a circular design which made it possible for the Knights to attend Mass on horseback. The upper choir boasts of intricate decors while the main doorway on the west is one of the best examples of the Spanish plateresque style. The most mesmerizing feature of the church is its western window, which seems to have been grown from the wall. It is considered to be the best work of Manueline, and is actually a celebration of the Age of Discovery.
Insider Tip – For unparalleled views of the western window, go up to the roof of the adjacent Claustro de Santa Barbara. The experience makes you feel moved, fascinated and spellbound, all at once.
Dolphin Watching Boat Tours
Hop onto a luxury boat and explore the coasts between Carvoeiro beach and Albufeira Marina. This exhilarating tour gives you an unparalleled option to swim and relax, and watch dolphins while you’re at it. Dolphins may be the main highlight of the tour, but the ride through those caves and rock formations is very exciting as well. On each tour, you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who offers interesting tidbits every now and then and helps you capture the perfect image on your camera.
National Palace of Pena
Lord Byron had once termed the village of Sintra as the most beautiful village in the world. Although many attractions have withered over the ages and lost their beauty, Sintra has actually managed to become even more beautiful. Despite its tiny size, it boasts of a vast flavor of attractions, some that are known to all, and some that can only be uncovered if you dare to venture off the beaten path. One of the biggest highlights of any trip to Sintra is the National palace of Pena, a colorful Romanticist palace that plays with your views from its position up the hill. The town and its fish specialties are brilliant, but the palace’s splendor is known to outshine even the best experiences that Sintra has to offer. Most people simply fall in love with the colors and the designs of this beautiful palace. Just think of it as a Disney attraction minus all the screaming and crying kids.
Segway Tours in the Natural Park of Faro
Segway Tours in the Natural Park of Faro let you feel in harmony with Mother Nature and explore beautiful natural attractions that usually feature high on the list of your most favorite experiences in Portugal. The tour starts close to Faro Island, and takes you to the most delightful destination in the area – The Ria Formosa Natural Park. The park extends all over the Algarve and offers views of untouched natural beauty and exotic migratory birds throughout its 15km stretch. Towards the end of the tour, you also visit the Quinta do Lago, a more beautiful version of the Beverly Hills.
Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, is located between the Castle of Lisbon and the Tejo River. It is one of those few areas that managed to withstand the devastating 1775 earthquake, and is certainly the best way to experience fado nostalgia. You are bound to get lost while in the area, but therein lies the beauty of exploration. Just arm yourself with a compass and you should be fine. Some of the top attractions to look forward to include the Lisbon Cathedral, hidden observation points that are known for their perplexing views and the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Start off your Lisbon sightseeing tour in the Belem quarter, home to some of the most beautiful monuments from the 15th and 16th centuries, such as the Belem Tower (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Monument for the Discoveries. The next stop on your itinerary is the S. Jerome Monastery church, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, that is considered to be the ultimate Manueline masterpiece. The next part of your tour takes you along the river to Alfama, a historic district popular for its old world streets, handicraft shops and Port wine. Sample the delicious wine and head over to Baixa to gawk at some of the most important squares in the city, the Restauradores Square, Trade Square and the Rossio Square. Before ending your tour, drive down to Liberdade Avenue, popularly known as the boulevard of Lisbon.
Check out the following sightseeing tours in Lisbon.
Costa Vincentina National Park
If you’re desperate to add some romance into your visit, simply rent a car and head over to Cape St. Vincent. The place is famous for its spectacular sunsets and is considered to offer stunning views at any time of the day. The windy headlands rise to a height of almost 60m, which gives you the feeling of standing on the edge of the world. There are a number of beautiful bird species and stunning sea views as well.
Insider Tip – For some of the best sea views, head over to the lighthouse. The cape is also famous for its exuberant marine life, and the lighthouse is one of the best vantage points to check it out.
Lisbon Sightseeing (Hop-on, Hop-off)
The thing with hop-on, hop-off tours is that most cities offer a fixed line, which means that you can only explore the attractions that lie on that line. This works well when the best attractions are located close to each other, but doesn’t work at all, for a city like Lisbon, where everything is so spread out. To ensure that travelers don’t miss out on any of the attractions, the city of Lisbon runs hop-on hop-off tours on four different lines – the Belem Line, the Oriente Line, the Castle Line and the Cascais Line.
The Belem Bus Line covers 18 stops and takes you to monuments showcasing Portuguese discoveries. Some of the highlights include the Belem Tower, National Coach Museum and the Monument to the Discoveries.
The Oriente Bus Line is most suited for fun seekers which makes 19 stops and features attractions such as the Oceanarium, the Lisbon Zoo and the Park of Nations.
The Castle Bus Line is a shorter line which has just 8 stops and is dominated by the Castle of St. George and the Avenida de Liberdade.
Finally, the Cascias Line lets you discover the magnificent scenery of the Costa del Sol. It is perfect for nature lovers and those searching for sports or relaxation.
The paradise-like Azores is scattered all over the Atlantic and is famous for taking you to another realm that is dominated by dreamy villages, scintillating lagoons, enchanting valleys and fields overflowing with flowers. The natural beauty makes you forget about everything else, and the inspired folklore never ceases to amaze and excite. And if things become too monotonous, there are all sorts of traditional festivals to enjoy.
Rent a Jetski
Portugal tours are mostly about natural beauty, historic charm and world-class cities, but how about taking your Portuguese holiday to the next level by visiting the Dream Wave World. This tour lets you take the water head on in a Yamaha Waverunner Jetski and enjoy an entirely unique Algrave experience. This adrenaline-pumping soul-charging adventure is bound to attract adrenaline junkies and adventure maniacs, but can actually be enjoyed by all sorts of travelers. And even if you haven’t been on a jetski before, the safety briefing and necessary assistance ensures that it isn’t a hindrance to your adventure.
We really hope you got lots of input on what were some of the top best things to do in Portugal. Now it’s time to secure your tickets and seats. Why wait in the line when you can already now book the top things to do in Portugal from home?