Best cities to visit in Portugal

Portugal offers a captivating blend of historical splendour, natural beauty, and warm hospitality. From picturesque coastal towns to vibrant urban centres, the best cities in Portugal each have something for every kind of traveller. Whether you're drawn to history, culture, landscapes, or mouthwatering cuisine, Portugal's best cities will beguile your senses and leave you longing for more. So, pack your bags and embark on an adventure to discover some of the best things to do in Portugal.


No trip to Portugal would be complete without a visit to its magnificent capital, Lisbon. This city effortlessly combines centuries-old traditions with modern vibrancy, and has something to offer Portugal’s holidaymakers year-round. With it being one of the warmest holiday destinations in Europe this winter, you can travel outside of the summer months to beat the crowds. With weather still reaching highs of 24°C in November, there really is no bad time to visit.

Start your day in comfortable shoes, with a stroll through the narrow streets of Alfama. The oldest neighbourhood in town, boasts dramatic hilly streets and beautiful architecture; pay close attention to details like the traditional tiles, known as ‘azulejos’.

A short tram ride out of the main hub of the city is Belém. Marvel at the grandeur of Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, and be sure to stop and indulge in some iconic pastéis de nata. It’s rare that you won’t find a queue at Pastéis de Belém, but there’s a reason for that; first baked and sold by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery, they truly are a Lisbon right of passage.

In the evening, Bairro Alto has some great restaurants to sample local delicacies including Vinho Verde and grilled sardines. Throughout Bairro Alto, you’ll find locals and tourists alike spilling out of bars and onto the cobbled streets, or try a rooftop bar for stunning city views. Afterwards, soak in some soulful Fado music at one of the traditional Fado houses in the neighbourhood.


Situated along the two banks of the Douro River, Porto exudes a timeless charm and is renowned of course for its world-famous Port wine. Known as the second city of Portugal, it is one of the best cities to visit for its vibrant, foodie culture.

Explore the UNESCO-listed historic centre, Ribeira, with its colourful buildings and narrow cobbled streets. There are a host of many great guided tours of the city, while if you have the luxury of a little more time on your trip, add on a boat cruise down the river for a welcome rest and stunning vistas of the Rio Douro scenery.

Cross the iconic dual level Dom Luís I Bridge and take in the sprawling views of the city and the Douro River from the top deck, 60m above the water. If you’re feeling slightly less active, take a trip across the river on the Teleférico de Gaia instead, which still gives spectacular views over both banks, plus the Dom Luís I Bridge.

Once you’re across the bridge, you’ll be in Vila Nova de Gaia, home to many of the famous port wine cellars. Be sure to sample some of the best port in the world, before treating yourself to some of the local gastronomy, such as Portugal’s famous doorstep sandwich, the francesinha, while enjoying panoramic views of the city.


Escape into a world of fairytale enchantment at Sintra, a town nestled amid lush forests and rolling hills. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is adorned with extravagant palaces, mystical gardens and ornate estates. Visit the awe-inspiring Pena Palace, an eclectic blend of architectural styles with views all the way to the Atlantic, and the underground tunnels of the gothic Quinta de Regaleira. It’s truly a world of its own and not to be missed on a tour of Portugal.

An easy train journey from Portugal’s capital Lisbon, you’ll arrive at Sintra station to a hubbub of tourist activity. Follow the crowd around the hill and you’ll discover an array of historical buildings, revealed around each corner. The sprawling town is accessible by foot, but it’s a tough challenge to walk the entirety of its hilly streets. Pick up a taxi from point to point, and save your legs for exploring inside the grounds of each monument. In high season, it’s worth booking ahead or planning a trip itinerary before your arrival as there’s lots to cover and queues are likely.


Coimbra is an intellectual hub of Portugal, known as the “city of the students.” Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, Coimbra exudes a youthful energy and rich cultural heritage.

A trip to Coimbra promises UNESCO World Heritage architecture in the form of the University of Coimbra, which is perched atop a hill with panoramic views of the city below. The ornate baroque architecture of buildings such as the Joanina Library is a sight to behold, and tourists can book guided tours for a fully detailed exploration.

The narrow streets of the old town, known as "Baixa," have a charming atmosphere. Discover ancient churches, picturesque squares, and traditional shops selling local handicrafts. Visit the Sé Velha, a stunning Romanesque cathedral dating back to the 12th century, and the nearby Santa Cruz Monastery, a beautiful example of Manueline architecture. Take a stroll along the riverside promenade, known as Parque Verde do Mondego, and enjoy the serene views of the river and the picturesque landscape.

Lively Largo da Portagem, a bustling square lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants is ideal for indulging in the local gastronomy, which often features regional specialties such as "Leitão" (suckling pig) or "Chanfana" (goat stew). Don't forget to pair your meal with a glass of the region's famous wine. No visit to Coimbra would be complete without experiencing the traditional sounds of Fado. As the sun begins to set, head to one of the many local Fado houses in the city for an unforgettable evening.


Finally, Faro: as the gateway to the Algarve, Faro is a vibrant coastal city with a rich history. It’s also home to Faro Airport, which is easily accessible from many UK, Irish and European airports alike. Many travellers opt to head straight to some of Portugal's best beaches along the Algarve coast and visit Faro on day trips.

Club Med Da Balaia is perfectly situated for this, located just 40 minutes west of Faro Airport. The area also boasts year-round pleasant weather, making it perfect for family breaks or a winter sun holiday.

Faro’s well-preserved Old Town boasts cobbled streets, picturesque squares, and the stunning Faro Cathedral. Sitting between Faro city and the coast is Ria Formosa Natural Park. Perhaps on your way home to Club Med Da Balaia, explore this haven for birdwatching and outdoor pursuits via various sign-posted trails, or book onto a guided tour to learn more about the native bird species.