We know how hard it is to put together a trip that soothes your FOMO and leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and contentment.
That’s why we’ve created a list of the “top ten places in Portugal” you absolutely cannot miss in your next visit to this beautiful country.
The list is based on suggestions, reviews and Lonely Planet’s Portugal’s highlights.
On our 12-day road trip we visited most of the sights hereby recommended but left out two of them for lack of time: Quinta da Regaleira and Cabo de São Vicente.
Be sure to plan your trip including all these top ten places in your itinerary.
Hills, historic trams, narrow streets and much more: this is Lisbon.
The capital city has to fall on your itinerary and deserves at least a couple of days of exploring.
When in Lisbon, don’t miss the many advantageous viewpoints (miradouros), the Castelo de São Jorge, the Convento do Carmo, the Alfama district and the Museu Nacional do Azulejo for a dive into the history of Portugal’s iconic coloured tiles.
Check Lisbon’s Tourism Board for more info on opening hours, travel restrictions and social-distancing measures.
2. Mosteiro da Batalha
Built to celebrate the victory over the Spanish in 1385, it’s also known as Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória.
Dom Nuno Alvares Pereira led 6500 Portuguese soldiers supported by a few hundreds English men into the Battle of Aljubarrota in central Portugal.
After the surprising victory the Portuguese king proceeded to build the Dominican abbey which was completed by 1434.
Don’t miss the Unfinished Chapels (Capelas Imperfeitas), a roofless octagonal mausoleum adorned with seven chapels and sporting eccentric Manueline style additions dating 15th and 16th centuries.
Check Mosteiro de Batalha official website for more info.
3. Mosteiro de Alcobaça
The imposing baroque facade hides one of the biggest monasteries in the Iberian peninsula.
Housing up to 1000 monks, the monastery was founded by Portugal’s first and most beloved king, Dom Alfonso Henriques, in 1153.
Wander the gigantic halls, the huge refectory, the kitchen. Here you’ll see a water channel built in the 18th century to divert wild fish right into the gluttonous hands of the monks.
Check Mosteiro de Alcobaça official website for more info.
4. Convento de Cristo
The Portuguese headquarters of the powerful Knights Templar.
The Catholic military order funded Portugal’s golden Age of Discoveries.
In the construction of the Convento de Cristo the Templars celebrated the conquests with the extravagant and peculiarly Portuguese Manueline style.
A triumph of the maritime theme with seashells, intertwined ropes, anchors and more, the Manueline or Portuguese Late Gothic appeared in the 16th century.
Check Convento de Cristo official website for more info.
5. The university of Coimbra
One of Europe’s oldest universities is set in the lively city of Coimbra.
Established in 1290 in Lisbon, the university was relocated many times before finding its final home in Coimbra, in the 16th century.
A UNESCO’s World Heritage Site since 2013, the main buildings, including the stunning Biblioteca Joanina, face a wide, scenic courtyard that overlooks River Mondego.
6. Palácio Nacional da Pena
Bright colours and bold, intricate embellishments make Palacio da Pena a fairytale castle.
The Palacio is a Mouresque-Manueline confection commissioned by the soon-to-be king of Portugal, Ferdinand II, to Prussian architect Ludwig von Eschwege in 1840. It stands atop a hill in the Sintra Mountains.
Formerly a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady da Pena”, the castle was meant to serve as a summer residence for the royal family.
Check Parques de Sintra official website for more info.
7. Quinta da Regaleira
Surrounded by mistery, the quinta was owned by a millionaire entomologist, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.
Fond of symbolism he commissioned the construction of the palace to an Italian architect, Luigi Manini.
Similarly to Palacio da Pena, the Regaleira Palace is an example of Portuguese Romanticism with Gothic pinnacles and gargoyles and Manueline audacity.
Don’t miss the two Initiation Wells and the many interconnected tunnels dug under the palace.
The larger well has a 27-metre long spiral staircase covered in bright green moss.
All these elements contribute to give the place an aura of mysticism and open to many interpretations: from Tarot initiation rites, to the Knights Templar and the Freemasonry.
This is the only spooky picture we were able to take when we realised a palace was lurking behind a gate, in the dark, on the drive back from Sintra.
Check Quinta da Regaleira official website for more info.
8. Douro Valley
Portugal’s finest and world’s oldest wine region.
The white-walled quintas look down towards the River Douro from the hilly surroundings where terraced green vineyards abound.
It’s in this area that the world-renowned Port wine is produced.
Learn more about the Douro Valley.
The southern region of Portugal is known for its golden cliffs and fine sand beaches.
A tourist hub since the 60s, the Algarve’s coast has been exploited with the construction of hotels and resorts.
From quaint Faro, the region’s capital, jump on a speedboat to Ilha Deserta (last picture) if you want to avoid big crowds.
Don’t miss the picturesque inland with castles and villages and the less exploited western coast.
Check the Algarve’s Tourism Board for more info.
10. Cabo de São Vicente
The southwesternmost point of Portugal and of mainland Europe.
Stay in Algarve and drive south-west to Cabo de São Vicente.
Windswept rugged cliffs offer a remote and spectacular scenery. A red lighthouse brightens the landscape.
Here is where Prince Henry the Navigator planned his voyages and set sail kicking off Portugal’s Golden Age of Discovery.
Read location details and contacts about Cabo de São Vicente.
These were our top ten places in Portugal. We are aware of other places such as Évora, Óbidos, Guimaraes, Braga and many more that deserve a visit.
If you have other suggestions or if you want to share your “top ten places in Portugal”, please do so in the comment box below.