10 Most Beautiful Places in Portugal
What could never miss on a website about Portugal is a list of the most beautiful places of the country. But how do I do that? There’s so much to choose from! I’ve decided to just let my heart speak. That can’t ever be wrong.
This top ten is no list of regular touristic highlights. You can find those in the travel guides. This list consists of my personal favourite places, where I have felt most joy or was most touched by the experience. And as you will see further on, that can also be a very touristic place. The list is ordered by region, not by most favourite.
Miradouro do Penedo Durão, Norte
Let’s start in the north of Portugal’s mainland. This area is dominated by the Douro river, famous for the vineyards on the hillsides. Following the river all the way to the east will take you to the border with Spain. Where the Douro starts being the actual border, there’s a stunning viewpoint called Miradouro do Penedo Durão. It’s located 550 metres high on the bank of the Douro, offering you an amazing view of the river and the schist mountains. Drive up there early morning or late in the afternoon to spot birds of prey and enjoy the magnificent colours of sunrise or sunset.
Portugal’s second city, Porto, is also located along river Douro. The riverside quarter is called Ribeira and a treat for the eye. Not only the waterfront, but also the winding streets behind it are amazing. I could fill my whole holiday just sitting outside of a café in this neighbourhood and watching city life pass by.
My best memories of the Ribeira are from the time I experienced the São João festival. An absolutely crazy experience in which I was hit by plastic hammers by all kinds of people, bursting with joy. So my best advice would be to go there on the night of the 23rd of June (every year). You’ll never forget it.
Convento de Cristo, Tomar
For a history lover like myself the Convento do Cristo in Tomar is a magical place. This castle and convent used to be a Templar stronghold and later passed on to the Knights of the Order of Christ. They are an important part of Portuguese history, and although their symbolism returns all through the country, in Tomar it is ubiquitous.
The building is beautiful and the stories around it so interesting. This place inspired me to learn so much more about the history of Portugal.
Torre, Serra da Estrela
The highest point of Portugal’s mainland is Torre in the mountains of Serra da Estrela. This has always been a special place for me, because the Serra da Estrela was the first place I visited in Portugal, many years ago. Not the sunny beaches, but a mountaintop filled with snow introduced me to this country.
Later it was also the place where I made the most beatiful cycling trip of my life. Cycling down from Torre, with the mountains covered in snow, all the way down to the glacial valley of the river Zêzere was a unique and unforgettable expierence.
Palácio da Pena, Sintra
Another building that blew me away is the Palácio da Pena in Sintra. Just driving up to the mountain town of Sintra is a great experience. You feel as if you’ve entered a fairy tale with all those amazing palaces in bright colours, surroundend by green forest. But the pink and yellow Palácio da Pena is unmatched.
Unfortunately the whole world has discovered this place, so it’s flooded with tourists every day. It would be wise to either go extremely early or late in the afternoon. Or on a day with bad weather, but that doesn’t help the view of course…
Castelo de São Jorge, Lisbon
Another crazy touristic place is the castle of São Jorge in Lisbon. But I have no choice, I have to add it my list of favourite places. The view you get here from the city of Lisbon is simply my favourite and again, I have this thing with history. Not to mention the beautiful trees here that provide some shadow on a hot day. I wish I could have this place all to myself for just a day.
Where to go to really get that Alentejo vibe? Try Monsaraz, a beautiful historical village, located on a mountain top. Everywhere you look there’s this amazing Alentejo landscape, you see the swallows fly all over the place and there is this unmistakable peace. This is the place to forget all about your busy daily life.
Falésia Beach, Algarve
The Algarve, so special to me as I lived there for nearly four years. The place I loved the most was the Falésia Beach between Olhos d’Agua en Vilamoura. For me it is not so much the beach itself, but the cliffs along it. I have spent hours there walking with my dog, enjoying the smell of the pine trees and the glittering light on the ocean. Almost always alone, because most people only want to be down on the beach.
Miradouro de Terra Chã, Porto Santo
As I am writing my ninth favourite place in Portugal I realise that I must really have a thing for viewpoints. This one on the island of Porto Santo blew me away completely. It was part of a hike called Pico Branco on the eastside of the island. It starts off nice, but at a certain point you turn a corner and get stunned by an unexpected view of a beautiful blue bay. I really have to go there again!
Caldeira Velha, São Miguel (Azores)
Last but not least my favourite place on São Miguel, island of the Azores. With the crazy beautiful nature on São Miguel it’s a struggle to pick something, but I guess that I was most in awe when visiting Caldeira Velha. The exotic plants and trees, the waterfall and the relaxing hot springs were all mindblowing. The other hot springs on the island were lovely as well, but this one felt most natural. Like I was actually taking a dip in untouched nature.
Wow, writing this list really makes me want to book a ticket to Portugal again. What are your favourite places in Portugal?
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