Medieval cities, historical centers, famous monuments, natural wonders… the diversity of the most beautiful places in Portugal is impressive.
In this article, we have gathered the 25 most beautiful places in Portugal – from the most obvious ones like downtown Lisbon or the Pena Palace to lesser-known ones like Marvão or Mata da Albergaria in the Peneda Gerês National Park.
We also wanted to ensure that we included places spread across the country (islands included) and not just the most touristy destinations. Finally, we wanted to include specific places and not entire regions like the Algarve or the Azores. Saying that the Azores are beautiful is obvious, it doesn’t help much, does it?
Without further ado, let’s explore the most beautiful places in Portugal, from north to south, without any other sort of order.
Most beautiful places in Portugal – North
Ribeira in Porto
Ribeira is one of the most iconic images of Porto and one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. The colorful houses of Ribeira, the Douro river with its traditional Rabelo boats, the D. Luis I bridge, and the Serra do Pilar Monastery on the other bank create a stunning setting that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Currently populated by numerous bars, restaurants, and accommodations for tourists, Ribeira is one of the oldest zones in the city of Porto. Since 1996, the historic center of Porto has been considered a cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO due to its unique urban landscape endowed with a strong character and cultural identity developed over more than 2000 years.
Albergaria Forest in Gerês
Peneda Gerês National Park is one of Portugal’s top outdoor destinations for those who enjoy hiking, waterfalls, and mountains. The Albergaria forest is the heart of the National Park and perhaps one of the main reasons for creating the park. It is a mystical forest of secular oaks of unique beauty in Portugal.
Albergaria Forrest is crossed by the Geira, the famous Roman road that connected Braga to Astorga. It is still possible to see a set of millenary marks along the road. Also within the forest is one of the most famous and most beautiful waterfalls in the Park, the Rio Homem waterfall, also known as the S. Miguel waterfall.
Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga
The sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte near the city of Braga is one of the most beautiful monuments in Portugal, having been declared a UNESCO heritage site in 2019. Built in 1722, this sanctuary is formed by a church, a staircase with a via sacra, a park with a beautiful forest, a funicular, and several hotels.
The most striking element of this sanctuary is undoubtedly the staircase with a drop of 116 meters and three flights: Staircase of the Portico, Staircase of the Five Senses, and Staircase of the Three Virtues. This entire staircase has more than 500 granite steps with white-painted walls. It is one of the most beautiful images of northern Portugal and an unavoidable reference for the city of Braga.
Winner of the 7 wonders of Portugal contest in the “Rural Village” category, Sistelo is one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal. It is a typical northern village located in the mountains near the National Park, with many beautiful trails in its surroundings, particularly the fantastic Sistelo walkways and Ecovia do Vez.
The most striking feature of Sistelo is certainly the terraces. They are an almost unique image in Portugal, giving rise to the epithet of “Portuguese Tibet.” Built over centuries for the production of cereals and pasture, the terraces conduct and use water in a sustainable and intelligent way. Furthermore, together with the village, they create an idyllic and pleasant setting.
Douro wine region
Famed for the production of Port wine, the Douro wine region combines the monumental nature of the steep slopes of the Douro valley with terraces built to take advantage of the soils and the need for agricultural production. It is the oldest regulated wine-growing region in the world, and since 2001 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Douro wine region is an exception to our rule of specific locations, not regions. Mainly because it is a very homogeneous region with similar characteristics and practically always very beautiful, but also because it is difficult to choose an area in the Douro wine region that stands out from the others.
Still, if we had to choose a specific area, we would choose the part of Régua and Lamego because the terraces create a fabulous landscape and easy access, whether by car, boat, or train. A simple passage on the highway becomes a magnificent tourist experience.
Historical Center of Guimarães
Besides being the birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães also has one of the most beautiful and pleasant historical centers to visit. In 2001, the center of Guimarães was also inscribed as a UNESCO heritage site for being a well-preserved medieval urban center and an example the Portuguese architecture between the 15th and 19th centuries.
In addition to being exceptionally beautiful, the center of Guimarães has the ability to transport us back in time due to its granite houses, narrow streets with arcades, passages, and iron balconies. In addition to all this, very close to the historic center of Guimarães, we also have the famous castle of Guimarães, and the impressive Paço do Duques de Bragança.
Most beautiful places in Portugal – Centro
Lisbon is a beautiful city, and we could have chosen a few different parts of the city to be included in this list (Belém, Alfama, Parque das Nações), but for this article, we will focus on downtown Lisbon due to its architectural richness but above all for the harmony of the set with perpendicular and straight streets.
Innovatively built following the devastating earthquake of 1755, downtown Lisbon boasts beautiful views of the Tagus, traditional shops, and some impressive monuments. Altogether it is a complete destination, and a walk through the city’s heart is a memorable experience.
Óbidos is one of the most picturesque and traditional villages in Portugal. Entirely surrounded by medieval walls, the village of Óbidos is a maze of streets and whitewashed houses. It is a pleasure to walk around and enjoy the small squares, the Manueline details, the flowered windows, and of course, its magnificent and well-preserved castle.
Built on top of a small hill, the village includes several historical monuments and is well preserved. The scenery in Óbidos is stunning and, therefore, very popular with tourists. Naturally, Óbidos is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
Nazaré is a very popular destination in Portugal. In summer, the vast and stunning beach of Nazaré attracts thousands of people to this fishing village, making it a touristic hub full of life. In winter, the impressive waves of the Nazaré canyon attract curious people from all over the world to see the Giant Wave Surf.
Whether for its wonderful beach, white houses, the viewpoint at the Sítio da Nazaré, or the recently famous giant waves, Nazaré is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
Located in the Castelo Branco district, Monsanto is one of the most beautiful and traditional villages in Portugal. Known as the most Portuguese village in Portugal for having won a competition held in 1938, it is also part of the group of historic villages in Portugal.
Monsanto was built on a high and imposing location in the middle of boulders, where it also seems to hide. It is perhaps the most touristic destination in the region and a unique experience for those who visit it as the houses are built between granite boulders creating a rural and idyllic environment. It is a village that exudes history in all its pores and at its highest point has a castle with a keep from which you can enjoy the view of the entire region.
Coimbra could not be missing from this list of the most beautiful places in Portugal. To represent it, we chose nothing less than its main institution and tourist attraction: the University of Coimbra. A UNESCO heritage site since 2013, the courtyard of the University and the Royal Palace was built over centuries, from D. Afonso Henriques to the 16th century.
Paço das Escolas is the central location of the University and where the Manueline Portal, the tower, the Latin Way, the iron gate, and the access to the Capela de S. Miguel and the fabulous Joanina Library are located. It is perhaps the hallmark of the city and is architecturally stunning, also offering lovely views of the Mondego and the lower city.
Monastery of Batalha
The central and western area of Portugal has several monasteries, convents, and other monuments that could be included in this list, but to represent it, we chose the Batalha Monastery because, aesthetically, it is our favorite.
Officially known as the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, the Batalha Monastery has been a World Heritage Site since 1983. It was built over two centuries to celebrate the decisive victory against Castile in the Battle of Aljubarrota, bringing together various styles, the predominant Gothic, the evolution to Manueline, and even some final Renaissance details.
In addition to the grandeur of the entire building and the national pantheon where D. João I, Master of Aviz, is buried, we must highlight the absolutely incredible details of the imperfect chapels and the royal cloister.
It seems impossible to leave the Alcobaça Monastery, the National Palace of Mafra, and the Convent of Christ in Tomar out of a list of the most beautiful places in Portugal, but we want to have a comprehensive and diverse list, both in terms of geography and of the type of places and beauty showcased. To learn more about these monuments, check the most famous landmarks in Portugal.
Pena Palace, Sintra
Located on top of a hill with bright colors and flaming architecture, Pena Palace is like the cherry on top of the cake in a county with many tourist attractions of rare beauty.
Considered one of the greatest exponents of Romanticism in Portugal and the world, the Pena Palace was built in the 19th century in the order and vision of D. Fernando II. Embracing a set of styles typical of modernist palaces, it is considered the first European palace in this style.
A UNESCO heritage site since 1995, it is naturally one of the most visited monuments in Portugal and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. As much for the architecture, as for the views, and for the setting where it was built. Whatever beauty criteria apply, Pena Palace is one of the most beautiful monuments in Portugal.
Located about 15 km from Peniche, the Berlengas archipelago is one of Portugal’s natural wonders. Endowed with incredible natural beauty, the Berlengas is a National natural reserve, and since 2011, it has been a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
From a distance, the Berlengas is nothing more than a vast and arid granite rock in the middle of the ocean. However, when we get closer, we see that it has unique fauna and flora, beaches with crystal clear (and cold) waters, ruins of a fort, and several natural caves that attract more and more tourists. In addition to being one of the most beautiful nature destinations in Portugal, it is also a remarkable place.
Most beautiful places in Portugal – South
Portinho da Arrábida
With a long sandy beach, clear waters, and the Arrábida mountains as a backdrop, Portinho da Arrábida beach is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. This beach is located in the natural park of Serra da Arrábida, which is known for having other beaches worthy of this list, such as Figueirinha, Galapinhos, and Galápos.
Awarded as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal in 2010 in the Beaches and Cliffs category, Portinho da Arrábida beach impresses with its natural beauty and invites you to relax on its sands. The calm turquoise water of the bay also calls for swimming or diving.
Marvão is a walled village whose beauty transports us to different times. Situated on top of one of the mountains in the São Mamede Natural Park, Marvão is a typical historic village with an impressive medieval castle and walls that give the village a breathtaking charm.
The castle and walls of Marvão are excellently preserved and allow us to walk around them freely, enjoying both the streets and houses of the town and the fabulous views all around. Contemplating the world from the top of the Marvão Castle is a magical sensation of freedom that is only possible because it is not yet an extremely touristy place.
Évora Historic Center
In addition to being the biggest city in Alentejo, Évora is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Portuguese cities, an authentic open book on the history of Portuguese art. Full of points of interest, the center of Évora has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 due to its long history and the richness of its heritage.
Évora’s cozy and peaceful atmosphere led the Portuguese monarchy to install there one of their residences. It is currently one of the best tourist destinations in Portugal, with many impressive monuments such as the Cathedral of Évora, the temple of Diana, the museum of Évora, and the bones chapel. In addition to its beauty, it is an authentic museum city.
Ponta de Piedade, Lagos
Ponta da Piedade in Lagos is a beautiful place where the action of the sea and the winds created a landscape full of caves, arches, caves, and rocks with unique shapes. Seen from the sea, these rock formations are beautiful, contrasting the warm colors of the rocks with the crystalline turquoise of the sea. Furthermore, many of them look like animals, people, and random objects, which is always fun.
Considered one of the natural wonders of the Algarve, Ponta da Piedade is one of the most beautiful and photographed places in Portugal. It is great to be appreciated both by boat and on the pedestrian trails. On foot and free of charge, we can visit the viewpoints, use the old staircases that lead down to the sea, and walk on the walkways along the coast. By boat, the perspective is completely different and perhaps even more beautiful.
If you want to take a boat or Kayak and SUP tour, book in advance. There are lots of vendors in the Marina de Lagos, but during the summer, the tours can be full! If you book online, you can make sure you go exactly when you want.
Algar de Benagil, Algarve
If Ponta da Piedade is famous and much-photographed, what can we say about Algar de Benagil? Located in the municipality of Lagoa, next to Benagil beach, the Algar is one of the main natural attractions in the region, functioning as an icon and brand image of the Algarve in international magazines.
Formed by the erosion of water and wind, the Algar de Benagil is huge and can only be accessed from the sea by boat, kayak, or SUP. The vertical cavity, the two sea entrances forming the beach inside the cave, and the crystal clear water create an enchanting setting and the opportunity to take unique photographs. This is truly a unique place in Portugal.
Ria Formosa, Algarve
The Ria Formosa is another of the Algarve’s natural wonders that must be on this list of the most beautiful places in Portugal. This lagoon system is formed by a paradisiacal string of islands and peninsulas that stretch along the coast, protecting the lagoons in a labyrinth of salt marshes, channels, and islets.
Despite being completely different, both the interior area of the marshes and the exterior of the islands with paradisiacal sands are beautiful. The beaches are characterized by having massive sands of several km, fine white sand, and minimal slope. The sea is typically calm, with a light and pleasant swell. The water temperature is one of the highest in Portugal.
Most beautiful places in Portugal – Azores and Madeira
Sete cidades lagoon, São Miguel
Lagoa das Sete Cidades is one of the most famous natural landmarks in Portugal. This freshwater lake occupies about 4.5 km2 and has a maximum depth of about 30 meters; however, its main feature is the double coloration of its waters.
Although it is just one lagoon, it is crossed by a low bridge, and on one side, the water is green, while on the other, it is blue. This unique feature of the Sete Cidades lagoon, combined with the beauty of the surrounding landscape, makes it one of the most beautiful destinations in Portugal and visiting is one of the best things to do on Sao Miguel, Azores.
Islet of Vila Franca, São Miguel
Also in S. Miguel (or rather, about 500 meters from S. Miguel), we have the islet of Vila Franca, which has become even more well-known for being one of the most spectacular stages of Red Bull Cliff Diving.
Classified as a Nature Reserve, it is only possible to visit the islet from June to October. This islet is characterized by the natural pool with an almost perfect circular shape and only communicates with the sea through a small narrow passage. The water is naturally crystal clear, and there is even a great little beach where you can swim and snorkel.
Algar do Carvão, Terceira
Algar do Carvão is one of the most impressive natural monuments in the Azores and one of the best things to do in Terceira. Located in the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo, this Algar was formed from several volcanic eruptions and the rapid descent of magma into the deepest conduits of the Volcano. Thus, when entering Algar do Carvão, we are actually entering inside a volcano.
The interior of Algar do Carvão is spectacular and allows us to descend to about 100 meters of depth, where there is a wonderful lagoon of clear water of 400m2 and about 15 meters of maximum depth. Along the way, we can also see stalactites that are unique in the world for their silicate characteristics.
Porto Santo Beach
With about 9 km of continuous, golden sand, Porto Santo Beach is one of the most iconic in Portugal and the island’s hallmark. In addition to the endless sand, Porto Santo beach is known for its warm water with unmistakable turquoise tones. The sands of Porto Santo are mainly made up of micro-fossils and micro-fragments of calcareous algae, shell remains, and other fossilized marine organisms.
Voted the best beach in the “dune beach” category in the seven wonders of Portugal contest, it is the main tourist attraction on the island and one of the most beautiful spots in Portugal.
Véu da Noiva, Madeira
Madeira island has many points of interest and natural monuments, and to represent it, we chose the Véu da Noiva ( bride’s veil) waterfall. On Veu da Noiva, the water rushes down from the top of a high cliff over the sea. The water hits the rocks hard during the fall, forming an extensive white foam that gave the waterfall its name.
As if that weren’t enough, halfway through the fall, the water passes over the road that linked São Vicente to Porto Moniz (which is now closed, though), creating a unique setting. Note that although immensely tempting, you should not place yourself under the waterfall. This waterfall is known to bring rocks with the water, and some people have ended up in the hospital because of it.
As we said initially, we wanted to make an eclectic article, and that’s why we included four historic centers of large cities, five towns and villages, four national monuments, and 12 natural wonders (which include caves, lagoons, beaches, islets, etc.). But a list of the most beautiful places in Portugal will always be incomplete, as we could easily list 10, 15, or 20 more destinations.