The 10 cities most beautiful of Portugal

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Martí Micolau

Author and references

Portugal is the nation that faces the Atlantic Ocean with the westernmost outpost of Europe, Cabo de Roca, and which, through the words of the poet Luis Vaz de Camões, reminds us of a very simple thing: "Here ... where the land ends and the sea begins ".
Here, exactly here, we find a frontier land, of natural wonders, of mestizo architectures, of open people and, just like its landscape, pushed towards the mystery of the ocean and fueled by the great passion, by its saudade, for its own country. Portugal knows how to be gentle and rough at the same time, knows how to be cosmopolitan and traditional, and its rhythm adapts to all those who cross its borders and immediately love it unconditionally. Here are the 10 most beautiful and important cities in Portugal!

1 - Lisbon

Lisbon is a wonderful synthesis of a metropolis and therefore a crossroads of cultures, with its 500 inhabitants, the nerve center for the most important sectors such as the economic, financial, commercial and tourist sectors: main city of Portugal and its capital, life headquarters of the whole country, and definitely an excellent starting point to introduce yourself in the best way to the most authentic Portuguese and European life.
Lisbon recalls our Rome in an "oceanic" version, as it stands on 7 hills and winds along the Tagus River: overlooking the sea, it enjoys a truly pleasant climate, with mild winters and hot summers, but always very well ventilated.

  • Best time: Lisbon can be visited all year round due to its mild climate, even during the middle of winter and torrid summers, due to the gentle ventilation that is maintained in all seasons.
  • Main attractions: Belém Tower, São George Castle, Praça Marquês de Pombal, Cristo Rei, the typical neighborhoods of Lisbon, especially the oldest, Alfama, where you can get lost to the rhythm of Fado, the nostalgic Portuguese music.
  • starting from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 46,00 per room -
  • Lisbon: Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Lisbon: Skip-the-Line Entrance to St. George's Castle Fado by Night 4 Hours Tour April 25 Bridge & Christ the King Open-Top Bus Lisbon: Yellow Boat Tour on the Tagus River

2 - Porto

Porto (or Oporto) with its 200 inhabitants is the capital of the so-called "Norte" region, overlooking the Atlantic and the Douro River. Always in competition with the capital Lisbon on the economic side (for this reason it is also called the Capital of the North, as it is highly industrialized and home to the main Portuguese companies), Porto has a vast heritage of medieval and Renaissance works of art and the Ribeira District, declared a World Heritage Site.
The fine wine to which it gives its name is exported and tasted all over the world from here. City of bridges, churches, magnificent urban guards, monuments scattered throughout the historic center and museums, Porto is certainly a fundamental stop to visit to understand the Portuguese reality.

  • Best time: Porto has a mild climate, with more rainfall than Lisbon: the best time to avoid rainfall is certainly between June and September, when even hot summers are still mild by the constant wind.
  • Main attractions: Museu do Vinho do Porto, the Sé do Porto Cathedral, the Ribeira District, the Tower of the Clerics, the Stock Exchange Palace.
  • starting from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 51,00 per room -
  • Porto Wine and Tapas Tour Art and Religion in Porto: half day Experience The Essence of Porto Walking Tour Porto: ticket for the Torre dos Clerigos

3 - Lighthouse

The small town of Faro, with its 58 inhabitants, is located on the extreme southern tip of Portugal, straddling a lagoon and the ocean, with its well-known fishing port and its being one of the main areas of the tourist region of the Algarve. It has a protected area of ​​140 hectares, the Parque Natural del Ria Formosa, consisting of a varied lagoon ecosystem and sands, constantly modified by ocean action. Churches and museums in the magnificent Old City (Old Town) frame this southern town, which, between art and nature, is on the list of unmissable places in Portugal.

  • Best time: certainly Spring, between April and May, when the heat is still moderate and a light refreshing breeze blows in the evening. For a beach-only holiday, better from mid-June to mid-September, when the sun shines more strongly and the sea is certainly warmer than the rest of the year.
  • Main attractions: the Cathedral of the Sé, the Ciudade Velha, the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa.
  • starting from € 128,21 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 48,00 per room -
  • Ria Formosa 4 Islands Catamaran Tour from Faro Birdwatching Experience: Protected Area near Faro - Half Day

4 - Coimbra

Coimbra, in the central part of Portugal, is the capital of the district of the same name, 150 inhabitants and crossed by the Mondego River. It is a fundamental city for the cultural life of the country, since it hosts one of the oldest universities in Europe, with thousands of students coming from all over the country, becoming so the first and true university center of excellence in Portugal. A city halfway between Lisbon and Porto, it has always been one important commercial hub, and of great historical importance, with its narrow and cobbled streets, with medieval stairways and arches. A small cultural, architectural and commercial jewel.

  • Best time: from April to October, when rainfall is minimal and the climate is really mild.
  • Main attractions: the ancient Upper and Sofia University with the Joanina Library, Arches of the Botanical Garden, the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral, Almedina Gate and Tower.
  • flights to Porto (120km) from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 59,00 per room -
  • Coimbra Private Tour Coimbra: 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & optional Mondego Cruise

5 - Fatima

Probably the name of the city "Fatima" already knows how to recall information well known to most of us: the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima undoubtedly identifies this town of 12 thousand inhabitants in the central area, since it is internationally known for being one of the most important Marian centers, linked precisely to the apparition of the Madonna to the three little shepherd children, back in 1917. It also has two important monasteries: the Cistercian Alcobaça and the Templar Tomar.

  • Best time: being an important Marian center, probably the best period falls between May and October, when pilgrimages are more frequent.
  • Main attractions: the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, the Alcobaça and Tomar Monasteries.
  • Flights to Lisbon (130km) from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 39,00 per room -
  • Fatima: private tour with local guide Fátima: full day tour from Lisbon

6 - Vila Nova de Gaia

The second most populous city in Portugal with 300 inhabitants, it is located in the district of Porto, in the north. Vila Nova de Gaia it is the heart of the production and export of the famous Port wine: in the area we find all the best producers, seasoners and bottlers from all over the country. The city consequently ranks first in the wine tourism sector, with an endless offer of tasting packages of the various qualities of Port wine. Vila Nova de Gaia is certainly a very important stage in the construction of the Portuguese identity and for its tourist and excellence market.

  • Best time: a city that can be visited throughout the year, even if in winter there is some more precipitation, while between May and October we will be sure to experience the best time.
  • Main attractions: the various wineries in the district.
  • flights to Porto (7km) from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -
  • From Porto: Cálem Winery, Fado Show and Wine Tasting Green & Port Wine Half Day Tour

7 - Braga

If the conformation of Lisbon with its 7 hills and the river that crosses it, could remind us of Rome, Braga is really known as the "Portuguese Rome" because of its Cathedral, primatial of the whole Iberian Peninsula (for the ecclesiastical title received said primate).
Braga, 180 thousand inhabitants, is rich in museums, chapels, churches, cathedrals, sanctuaries and palaces: a dip in the Portuguese architectural heart, from the Middle Ages to the present day.

  • Best time: late spring to early autumn.
  • Main attractions: the Cathedral of Braga, the Menagem Tower, the Museu de Arte Sacra, the Zona Arqueologica, the Theatro Circo.
  • Flights to Porto (57km) from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 44,00 per room -
  • Braga: Full-Day Bus Tour Braga and Guimarães: Full-Day Tour with Lunch from Porto

8 - Setúbal

A short distance from Lisbon, the city of Setúbal, 120 thousand inhabitants, is the third port and tourist center of the country, with a center rich in history and modern monuments and neighborhoods. Fishing is certainly a fundamental activity, and is practiced not only along the coasts, but also along routes that reach as far as Greenland and in Atlantic archipelagos such as the Azores. The naval sector also has some importance for the city, with several companies in the sector. Nearby, the magnificent Serra de Arrabida, among the most beautiful landscape areas in the area: dense vegetation and rocky mountains mixed in a unique ecosystem.

  • Best time: all year round due to the mild and windy climate of the coast.
  • Main attractions: the town center with dozens of churches, the Castle of São Felipe, the Serra de Arrabida.
  • Flights to Lisbon (53km) from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 47,00 per room -
  • Setubal: Dolphin Watching Sailboat Cruise Setúbal: Guided Fish Market Tour from Lisbon

9 - Guimarães

In the district of Braga, in the northern hinterland, in the green hilly landscape of Minho, the city of Guimarães is a municipality of 150 inhabitants. Important center of textiles, trade and crafts, especially cutlery and goldsmiths. The city can also boast of the Guimarães Castle, the oldest Portuguese castle, on the hill called Sagrada, the magnificent Paço dos Duques de Bragança monument and the Nossa Senhora de Oliveira Church.

  • Best time: all year round, even if the period between spring and autumn is certainly the best.
  • Main attractions: the Guimarães Castle, Paço dos Duques de Bragança, the Nossa Senhora de Oliveira Church.
  • Flights to Porto (57km) from € 33,98 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 37,00 per room -
  • Guimarães: private half-day tour from Porto Braga and Guimarães: full-day tour with lunch from Porto

10 - Funchal

110 thousand inhabitants in capital of the autonomous region of Madeira, the largest on the island and certainly of a unique peculiarity, in which the geological conformation has created a natural amphitheater, from the port to its highest peak of 1.200 meters.
Funchal is within the Ilhas Selvagens nature reserve which extends for 160km. The cultivation of fennel is widespread throughout the island, hence the name funcho. Today Funchal is known all over the world for being the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, to whom a museum and the name of the airport have also been dedicated since 2016.

  • Best time: Funchal has an oceanic-subtropical climate, with mild winters and dry summers, with consistent rains in winter, always very windy, so the best time is certainly all year round, except for winter if you don't particularly like rain.
  • Main attractions: Ilhas Selvagens Nature Reserve, Cristiano Ronaldo Museum.
  • starting from € 173,77 -
  • Hotels and b & b starting from € 95, per room -
  • Funchal Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour Madeira: Whale and Dolphin Watching from Funchal From Funchal: Best of Madeira Tour

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