Portugal is one of the most popular countries in the world for tourists. It’s also a nation that has a large expat community, with many retirees, young professionals and families relocating there in the past decade or so. It’s such an appealing country because of its stunning beaches, delicious cuisine, and pleasant climate.

As the oldest country in Europe, there’s also a wide range of things to do in Portugal, suitable for history lovers, art enthusiasts, adventurers, and foodies.

In this article, we’ll explore the top things to do in Portugal in 2024, whether you’re planning to visit the country for your next trip, you’re thinking of moving there, or you’re already living there.

For those who enjoy city breaks or city life, Portugal has several options for urban exploration. One of the best things about visiting Portugal is that you can find green spaces even in the larger cities, and you’re never too far away from nature. A bonus is that Portugal is a relatively small country, which means that it’s quite easy to travel around and explore.


Lisbon (Slider)As Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon is a favorite among tourists and expats, offering a unique blend of tradition and modernity. Surrounded by seven steep hills, with the Tagus River running through it and filled with beautiful art nouveau buildings, Lisbon is also very picturesque.

Founded in the 13th century, Lisbon has been Portugal’s capital city for almost 800 years, and you can find iconic landmarks of Portugal’s rich history in the city.

In 2024, on any given day of the week, year-round, the cobbled streets of Portugal’s capital are usually crowded with people. If you visit Lisbon, the must-visit locations are the iconic Belem Tower, the historic district of Alfama, Jerónimos Monastery, and the Sao Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge).

After a day of exploring, you might want to indulge. A local favorite is the pasteis de nata (custard tarts), which you can find at many bakeries in Lisbon.

If you’re looking for nightlife, the Portuguese capital has plenty to offer. In particular, Bairro Alto stands out.

Bairro Alto is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood that’s famous for its art galleries and a historic monastery, which attracts many tourists during the daytime. At night, its narrow streets are filled with visitors to its wide range of bars and restaurants.


The Ultimate Guide to Buying Property in Porto PortugalLocated in north west of the country, is another of Portugal’s most popular cities to visit — Porto. Often known as ‘Portugal’s second city,’ Porto is a great place to visit.

Like Lisbon, it also has many steep streets, which means it can be quite tiring to walk around, but it’s well worth it, as there’s so much to see.

One of the best places to start exploring in the coastal city is the Ribeira District, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Porto. If you walk to the highest point of its colorful, narrow streets, you’ll reach Torre dos Clérigos, a 250-foot tower. From the top, you can get impressive panoramic views of the city. Not far from the Ribeira District is Vila Nova de Gaia, where port wine was invented. It’s well worth a visit to try a glass or two of port.

Another highlight is Bolsa Palace. This 19th century palace has a unique design, reflecting that many artists and architects worked during its construction period, which spanned seven decades.

The city also has one of the most impressive bookstores in the world. Livaria Lello, with its beautiful new-Gothic architecture, stained glass ceiling and red staircase, has inspired artists and writers for over a century, and many tourists see it as a kind of magical place.

Harry Potter fans might be interested to learn that the Livaria Lello was a favorite of author J.K. Rowling, who regularly visited the store while she was an English teacher in Porto.


Along the Mondego River in central Portugal, Coimbra is a city steeped in history and culture.

The city is perhaps best known for its prestigious university, which dates back to the 13th century. Take a stroll through the university’s historic campus, which features stunning architecture and picturesque courtyards. Don’t miss the Joanina Library, with its Baroque-style interior and collection of rare books. If you really want to get a good understanding of the university and its history, it’s well worth taking a guided tour.

Coimbra also has a charming old town, with narrow winding streets and historic buildings. The Sé Velha, or Old Cathedral, is a must-visit, showcasing Romanesque architecture and stunning views over the city.

For a taste of local culture, catch a traditional Fado performance at one of Coimbra’s intimate taverns. This soulful music, characterized by its melancholic vocals and acoustic guitar accompaniment, is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Nature lovers will appreciate Coimbra’s proximity to the Serra da Estrela mountain range. Embark on hiking trails through lush forests and alpine meadows, or try your hand at skiing in the winter months.

Just over 15 kilometers away, you can explore the Roman ruins of Conímbriga, which is one of Portugal’s most extensive Roman settlements. Providing fascinating insights into ancient Roman civilization, the remarkably conserved remnants feature elaborate mosaics, communal bathing areas, and a central forum.

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Visit Algarve Beaches

Algarve-remote-working-pngLocated on the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve is known for its picturesque views, breathtaking cliffs and golden beaches.

There are beautiful beaches throughout the region, each offering its own unique charm. Praia da Marinha, with its stunning rock formations and crystal-clear waters, is often cited as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. For those seeking a more secluded spot, Praia da Falésia offers long stretches of golden sand backed by towering cliffs.

Water sports enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them entertained, with opportunities for surfing, snorkeling, and diving. Alternatively, simply relax on the beach and soak up the Mediterranean sun.

After a day at the beach, be sure to sample some of the region’s fresh seafood at one of the many seaside restaurants. Grilled sardines, octopus salad, and seafood rice are just a few of the delicious dishes on offer.

Day Trips in Portugal

last year quality of life new york cityPortugal’s compact size and diverse and stunning landscapes make it an ideal destination for day trips, offering a wealth of experiences within easy reach of major cities and towns.

Just a short drive from Lisbon lies the small town of Sintra, which was once a vacation spot for Portuguese royalty and other famous figures such as Lord Byron. These days, it’s a UNESCO Cultural Landscape famed for its fairytale palaces, lush gardens, and romantic atmosphere. Visitors can spend the day wandering through the colorful Pena Palace, exploring the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira, or admiring the scenic views from the Moorish Castle.

For those craving outdoor adventure, the Arrábida Natural Park, located south of Lisbon, beckons with its rugged coastline, crystal-clear waters, and pristine beaches. A day trip to Arrábida offers opportunities for hiking, swimming, and soaking in the stunning scenery, with highlights including the picturesque village of Sesimbra and the scenic viewpoints along the coastline.

Heading north from Lisbon, the historic town of Óbidos transports visitors back in time with its historic charm, fortified medieval walls, and cobblestone streets. A stroll through the town’s narrow alleys reveals charming, whitewashed houses, artisan shops, and quaint cafes, while the imposing castle offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

In Porto, day-trippers can explore the picturesque Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its terraced vineyards, scenic landscapes, and world-class wine production.

With an abundance of historic landmarks, natural wonders, and charming villages to discover, day trips in Portugal offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery, promising unforgettable experiences just a short journey away from major cities and towns.

Day trip

Estimated cost range (Euros)


€20 - €50+

Arrábida Natural Park

€15 - €40+


€10 - €30+

Douro Valley (from Porto)

€50 - €100+ (depending on cruise or tour type)

Day Cruises in Portugal

cruises-in-portugalDay cruises in Portugal are a great way to explore the country’s stunning coastline, picturesque islands, and scenic rivers, providing travelers with memorable experiences and breathtaking views. From leisurely boat trips along the Douro River to island-hopping adventures in the Azores, day cruises promise relaxation, adventure, and discovery amidst Portugal’s maritime landscapes.

One of the most popular day cruise options in Portugal is a journey along the Douro River, known for its scenic beauty, vineyards, and historic landmarks. Travelers can embark on leisurely boat tours departing from Porto, passing by charming riverside towns, vineyard-covered hillsides, and iconic landmarks such as the Dom Luís I Bridge and the Port Wine Cellars.

Some cruises even include onboard wine tastings, traditional Portuguese cuisine, and live music, providing an immersive experience. A full day cruise will cost you about €100, a half day cruise will be around €60, and prices for an hour cruise start from about €15.

For those seeking island adventures, day cruises to the Azores archipelago offer opportunities to explore the volcanic landscapes, azure waters, and diverse marine life of these remote Atlantic islands. Visitors can embark on boat tours to spot whales and dolphins, swim in natural lava pools, and visit picturesque villages such as Furnas and Nordeste. Additionally, island-hopping cruises allow travelers to discover multiple islands in a single day, experiencing the unique culture, cuisine, and landscapes of each. Prices start at about €45 and vary by group size.

Along the Algarve coast, day cruises offer a chance to discover hidden coves, secluded beaches, and dramatic rock formations that characterize this stunning region. Travelers can choose from a variety of boat tours, including cave tours along the rugged coastline of Lagos, sunset cruises in Albufeira, and dolphin watching excursions in Vilamoura. Some cruises also offer opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty and marine life.

Lagos cave tours start from around €30, prices for Albufeira sunset cruises begin at €25, dolphin watching excursions in Vilamoura begin at around €35, and the snorkelling, paddleboarding, and kayaking tours start at around €40.

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Sailing in Portugal

sailing in portugalSailing in Portugal allows travelers to explore the country’s stunning coastline in style and comfort. From the azure waters of the Algarve to the rugged cliffs of Madeira, Portugal’s sailing destinations can provide unforgettable experiences for adventurers and relaxation-seekers.

Luxury yacht charters: A private yacht charter in Portugal provides the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Travelers can choose from a range of luxurious yachts, catamarans, and sailboats, complete with professional crew and personalized service. Whether cruising along the Algarve coast, island-hopping in the Azores, or sailing to secluded beaches in the Berlengas archipelago, a private yacht charter offers freedom and flexibility to explore Portugal’s maritime treasures at leisure.

Exclusive sailing experiences: For those seeking bespoke sailing experiences, Portugal offers a variety of exclusive options tailored to individual preferences. From romantic sunset cruises along the Lisbon waterfront to gourmet sailing tours in the Douro River, travelers can indulge in VIP treatment, gourmet cuisine, and breathtaking views while sailing Portugal’s scenic waterways.

Sailing regattas and events: Portugal hosts a range of sailing regattas, races, and events throughout the year, attracting sailors and enthusiasts from around the world. From the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Lisbon to the International Sailing Week in Cascais, these events offer opportunities for both spectators and participants to experience the thrill of competitive sailing against the backdrop of Portugal’s iconic coastlines.

Learn to sail programs: For those looking to hone their sailing skills or embark on a sailing adventure for the first time, Portugal offers a variety of learn-to-sail programs and sailing schools catering to all levels of experience. From beginner courses in sheltered bays to advanced training in open waters, Portugal’s sailing schools provide expert instruction and hands-on experience in a safe and supportive environment.


Estimated cost range (Euros)

Luxury yacht charter

€5,000+ per day (highly variable depending on yacht size, amenities, crew, and duration)

Exclusive sailing experiences

€300 – €1,000+ per person (depends on duration, itinerary, inclusions like meals and drinks)

Learn to sail programs

€100 – €500+ (depends on course duration, level, and location)

Go to a Portuguese Soccer Game

leisure options in portugalPortugal is famed for soccer, with a strong national side as well as three major club teams: two in Lisbon — Sporting Lisbon and Benfica — as well as FC Porto in the nation’s second city.

Each of these teams has a rich history and a passionate fanbase. Watching one of them play at their home stadium can be a memorable experience.

Ticket prices vary from about €10 to €50 depending on the seat you pick and the level of opposition. You can buy tickets from the clubs’ official websites, the stadium ticket office, or through third party platforms such as Viagogo or StubHub.

Portuguese Wine Tastings

portugal wine tastingWine tastings in Portugal offer a journey through the country’s rich winemaking traditions, diverse terroirs, and exquisite flavors. From the lush vineyards of the Douro Valley to the sun-drenched estates of Alentejo, Portugal has a variety of wine regions and experiences to suit every palate.

One of the most iconic wine tasting experiences in Portugal takes place in the Douro Valley, renowned for its production of port wine and stunning vineyards. Visitors can embark on guided tours of quintas (wine estates), where they’ll learn about the winemaking process, stroll through the vineyards, and sample a selection of port wines, from tawny to vintage, while enjoying panoramic views of the Douro River.

In the Alentejo region, known for its bold reds and crisp whites, wine enthusiasts can explore historic estates and modern wineries nestled amidst rolling plains and cork oak forests. Guided tastings often include a variety of Alentejo wines, such as the robust Alicante Bouschet or the aromatic Antão Vaz, paired with local cheeses, olives, and cured meats.

For a coastal twist on wine tasting, visitors can head to the Setúbal Peninsula, home to the famous Moscatel de Setúbal. Here, they can tour vineyards overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, sample sweet fortified wines made from Muscat grapes, and indulge in fresh seafood delicacies at seaside restaurants.

In the northern Minho region, renowned for its vinho verde (green wine), travelers can enjoy unique wine tasting experiences amidst lush green landscapes and historic villages. Vinho verde tastings often feature young, light-bodied wines with a slight effervescence, best enjoyed alongside traditional Portuguese petiscos (tapas) and fresh seafood.

For an immersive wine tasting experience, visitors can explore Portugal’s wine routes, such as the Vinho Verde Wine Route or the Alentejo Wine Route, which offer self-guided or guided tours of wineries, vineyards, and wine museums, as well as opportunities to meet winemakers and learn about regional wine culture and history.


Estimated cost range (Euros)

Douro Valley

€15 – €50+ (varies depending on duration, winery prestige, and number of wines tasted)


€10 – €40+ (depends on winery, inclusions like food pairings, and tasting options)

Setúbal Peninsula

€15 – €30+ (varies depending on winery, tasting format, and food pairings)


€10 – €30+ (depends on winery, number of wines tasted, and food pairings)

Wine routes

€5 – €20+ (varies depending on route, inclusions like winery visits or meals)

Try Portuguese Food

Portuguese cuisine is characterized by its diversity, influenced by its coastal location, Mediterranean climate, and a rich history of exploration and trade. Here’s an overview of Portuguese food, dining culture, and street food:

Cuisine style: Portuguese cuisine is known for its fresh seafood, hearty stews, and flavorful spices. It often incorporates ingredients like olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs and spices. The cuisine varies regionally, with coastal regions focusing more on seafood dishes, while inland areas feature more meat-based dishes.

Restaurants: Restaurants in Portugal range from casual eateries to fine dining establishments. Traditional Portuguese restaurants, known as “tascas” or “tabernas,” offer authentic dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. These places often serve dishes like bacalhau (salted cod), grilled sardines, caldo verde (kale soup), and cozido à portuguesa (a hearty meat and vegetable stew).

Prices: Prices in restaurants can vary widely depending on the type of establishment and location. Here’s a rough estimate:

Casual dining (tascas/tabernas): €10-20 per person for a meal

Mid-range restaurants: €20-40 per person for a meal

Fine dining: €50-100 or more per person for a multi-course meal

These estimates can fluctuate based on factors such as the restaurant’s reputation, location (city center versus rural areas), and the complexity of dishes ordered.

Street food: Portugal offers a variety of delicious street food options, especially in urban areas and at festivals. Some popular street foods include:

Bifana: Marinated pork sandwich served in a crusty roll

Pastéis de Nata: Custard tarts with flaky pastry, often dusted with cinnamon

Francesinha: A hearty sandwich from Porto made with layers of bread, cured meats, and melted cheese, topped with a beer-based sauce

Prego no Pão: Steak sandwich typically served with garlic and/or mustard sauce.

Prices for street food items can range from a few euros for a snack to around €5-10 for a more substantial meal.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Top Things to Do in Portugal

What are the must-visit cities in Portugal?

Portugal has several must-visit cities, including Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra. Each offers a unique blend of history, culture, and charm, with iconic landmarks, vibrant neighborhoods, and delicious cuisine.

What are the top attractions in Portugal for history lovers?

Portugal has a rich history, and the top attractions in Portugal for history enthusiasts include the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, the Sé Cathedral in Porto, and the ancient Roman ruins of Conímbriga.

What are some recommended outdoor activities in Portugal?

Outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in a variety of activities in Portugal, from hiking in the stunning Douro Valley to surfing along the Algarve coast. Exploring the rugged landscapes of Madeira or birdwatching in the Azores are also unforgettable outdoor adventures.

Where can I find the best beaches in Portugal?

Portugal is renowned for its beautiful beaches, with top destinations including Praia da Marinha in the Algarve, Praia da Rocha in Portimão, and Praia de Carcavelos near Lisbon. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and water sports in these picturesque coastal paradises.

What's the best food to try in Portugal?

Portugal’s iconic dishes include bacalhau (salted codfish), pastéis de nata (custard tarts), and grilled sardines. You can find these delicacies in many places in Portugal, from traditional Tascas (restaurants) to bustling food halls.

Does Portugal have a UNESCO World Heritage site?

Portugal is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Historic Centre of Porto, the Monastery of Batalha, and the Cultural Landscape of Sintra. These sites showcase Portugal’s architectural, cultural, and natural significance.

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