Best Cities and Regions to Visit in Portugal

View of Porto from Dom Luís I Bridge
Federica Gentile / Getty Images

Portugal is cheaper than Spain and has a very, very different culture. There's no flamenco, there's fado instead. They don't have sherry, they have port. They don't (really) do tapas, they do humongous plates of fish or meat accompanied with boiled potatoes and veg. 

But where should you go in Portugal? Below you will find the best cities and regions to visit in Portugal, including Lisbon, with its fado music and its medieval Alfama district, and Porto, with its world-famous port wine.

Portugal is a relatively small country and much of it is rural. As a result, it doesn't have many sprawling metropolises for you to visit. After Lisbon and Porto (and, to a degree, Coimbra), the appeal of visiting Portugal is its beaches and countryside, particularly the wine regions of the Douro and Alentejo

    • 01 of 07

      Lisbon

      Lison bay cityscape
        Loic Lagarde / Getty Images

      Lisbon is Portugal's largest city and the most popular destination for visitors, and with good reason. You can sample most of Portugal's best offerings including fado music and Portugal's famous wines (including port).

      Lisbon has all the modern conveniences you'd expect of a city, as well as the old charm of the twisty alleyways of the centuries-old Alfama district.

      Take the night train from Madrid to Lisbon (perhaps with a stop in Salamanca).

    • 02 of 07

      Porto

      Old Porto reflected in river Douro
        Federica Gentile / Gety Images

      Porto is home to port wine! Walk along the Ribeira, the pedestrian walkway along Douro River for beautiful views of the port cellars across the river or cross the bridge and do some port tasting while admiring the view of the city and its old buildings.

      Porto is also a good place to base yourself for visiting the Douro valley.

      Porto is easily accessible from Galicia. Though you'll need to change trains in Vigo, you can go from Santiago de Compostela to Porto in a morning. 

    • 03 of 07

      Coimbra

      Coimbra Portugal
        Allard Schager / Getty Images 

      Coimbra is famous for its own brand of fado music (aptly known as Coimbra fado). If you visit while the university is in session, you may see students adorned in their traditional black capes and robes.

      Coimbra is not a very large city and so is easily explored by foot.

    • 04 of 07

      Faro and the Algarve

      Faro Beach Portugal
        Nico Ebel / EyeEm / Getty Images 

      While Faro may not be the destination of choice among all the locations on the Algarve, it does offer up some attractions, including an old city, and even a couple of beaches that are easily accessible from the city center.

      Faro also is a great ​jump-off point for the rest of the Algarve, as it has an airport and serves as the bus and train hub for the region.

      Continue to 5 of 7 below.
    • 05 of 07

      Evora and the Alentejo

      Roman Temple of Evora, Portugal
        Patrick Donovan / Getty Images 

      Evora is famous for its university, but it is certainly not just a university town. Evora has one of the best medieval towns in Portugal, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

      Evora is also ​a good place to base yourself to explore the Alentejo region, including its wines!

    • 06 of 07

      Braga

      Portuguese Shrine Good Jesus of the Mountain
        neirfy / Getty Images

      Though Braga is Portugal's third largest city, it has a laid-back attitude which can be enjoyed easily by foot. However, it still shows signs of its medieval past and boasts a 12th-century cathedral, among other attractions. However, the real draw is the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, which is located on the outskirts of the city. Located on the top of a hill offering views of Braga, one can climb the amazing zig-zagged baroque staircase or take the funicular up to the sanctuary

    • 07 of 07

      Guimaraes

      Toural square in Guimaraes, Portugal.
        vrfoto / Getty Images 

      Guimaraes was picked as a European Capital of Culture for 2012 and with the Vila Flor Cultural Center opening in 2005, one would not wonder why. Guimaraes is not only about modernity. It has a medieval center as well as a 1,000-year-old castle. And if you feel like some fresh air, you can take a cable car up to a park that looks over the city.