Portugal is more than just cobblestoned streets, vineyards, castles and gorgeous beaches. The modest neighbor of Spain has breathtaking, soulful and picturesque cities full of history and culture. Whether you’re a social butterfly out to try new things, a thrill-seeking daredevil, or someone wanting to experience the serenity of nature, there is no doubt you will love the unique activities that Portugal has to give.
From surfing the emerald waters of glamorous Algarve to wine tasting in the country’s second largest metropolis of Porto, we’ll give you the lowdown on activities to try, places to see/stay and foods to taste in order to truly do Portugal like a boss. Don’t forget to add your favorites to your BUCKiTDREAM planner!
Things To Do
Adventure Sports Spanning more than 850km, the Portuguese coast is every surfer’s dream. There is no other coastal strip in the world that can offer such an extravagant number of spots within such a short distance – in Portugal, you can always rely on getting waves.
Algarve has been every tourist’s go-to slice of Portugal for years now and surfers are no exception. It may not have some of the wave quality of Ericeira and Peniche but the chilled country vibe more than compensates for that, appealing to ever-increasing numbers of foreign surfers fleeing the chilly winters of northern Europe. Get an insight into surfer life at Algarve Surf School. Whether you are a beginner looking to learn the art of surfing or an experienced rider of the waves looking to hone your skills, the school offers only the best coaching in the paradise that is Lagos.
Located along the coast of Estoril, not far from Lisbon, sits Guincho – the Portuguese destination for windsurfing, which has already hosted the world’s best windsurfers. The wind and the waves promise a good show for those relaxing on the beach and provide exciting challenges for those in the sea. Try Bar Do Guincho Sailing Center which offers high-quality lessons with qualified instructors.
There is an abundance of other activities that will ensure that you make the most of the conditions offered by the sea. From paddle-surfing in the calmer waters of sheltered coves and lagoons to parasailing and waterskiing on the open sea, there are endless options to ensure you have a great time. Places worth checking out are Algarve SUP and Beach Hut Watersports.
Sightseeing and Culture
Porto Famous for its notable contribution to the world – fine Port wine – the busy city of Porto lies along the hills looking over the Douro River (or “River of Gold”) in northern Portugal. Visit Graham’s Cellars where you can taste the best Port of the region whilst also having the opportunity of following a guided visit through the barrels and tunnel corridors.
While in Porto, it is also worth experiencing the stunning landscape by walking along the Ponte Dom Luis, an iconic, metal, double-deck arch bridge crossing the Douro.
Lisbon A visit would not be complete without a trip to the capital, Lisbon. Not only is Lisbon one of the oldest cities in Europe, it is also renowned for being the city of the oceans, with sunsets on the sea and close to golden sands. Its mild winters and hot summers make it an ideal year-round destination.
Lisbon is also home to one of the world’s largest state-of-the-art aquariums – Oceanário de Lisboa – which was born to highlight the world’s diverse sea habitats. This is one of Europe’s best and largest oceanariums, containing a wide range of marine animals and fish and is great for all the family.
Belem Tower The tower is an architectural masterpiece and a notable tourist attraction. Located on the River Tagus and close to the Monastery of Geronimo, this tower is a beautifully kept, symbol of the city that is definitely worth seeing. Tip – It’s a good idea to book tickets beforehand to avoid queuing.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lisbon The monastery and church embody the spirit of the age and emphasize some of the finest examples of Manueline architecture found anywhere in Portugal; the stunning embellished decoration found on the South Portal is magnificent and the beautiful cloister is just as exuberant. A must-see on every tourist’s agenda.
Sintra Around 16 miles northwest of the Portuguese capital lies Sintra, with its dreamlike landscape of mist-soaked forests, turreted palaces, and castle ruins, this resort town seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon. Make sure you see the Quinta da Regaleira – a decorative 20th-century residence. It is known for its amazing display of architecture combined with gardens and caves.
Madeira Be one with nature in Madeira – an independent region of Portugal. This fertile oasis in the Atlantic Ocean comprises of flower gardens and delightful green landscapes. Enjoy the spectacular views as you hike along the mountains Pico do Arieiro or Pico das Torres. The Orchid Garden and the Laurissilva Forest, which inhabits the earth’s largest concentration of laurel should also be on your list if you’re looking to experience the tranquility of nature.
Looking to let loose and dance the night away? Then look no further than in the Portuguese capital. Clubs in Lisbon are exploding with African influences. Some great clubs and bars to enjoy are Musicbox, Lux, Portas Largas and Cinco Lounge.
If you’re down south then Algarve is the place for you. Start the day sightseeing and sunbathing and end it with a wild party experience in Albufeira by checking out Avenida Dr. Francisco Sá Carneiro, also known to tourists as The Strip. Here you will find crowded theme pubs bars, restaurants and other stores illuminated by colorful dancing neon signs.
Portuguese cuisine is among the most underrated yet probably the most delicious in the world. From the northern mountains to the rolling hills of the south, Portugal offers a wide range of culinary delights. Below are a few of the must-try foods that will excite your taste buds.
Pastel de Nata You won’t want to miss these cute little egg tarts. They are sweet, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon and will satisfy any sweet tooth. Try Pasteis de Belem for the most authentic pastel de Nata.
Seafood Dine on fabulously fresh seafood and kick back with a beer at Cervejaria Ramiro – a restaurant in the capital that has acquired legendary status from seafood lovers. Their delicacies include oysters, lobsters, and prawns.
Cozido à Portuguesa For a more traditional taste try this meat stew loaded with chicken, beef, pork, several pork sausages and veg. Hearty would be an understatement!
Where To Stay
Corinthia Lisbon A hotel fit for a king, this luxury, family friendly accommodation has culture on your doorstep. Dine in style and indulge in the massage and beauty treatments available in the spa.
Velamar Boutique Hotel A renovated hotel located between the fishing village of Olhos D’água and famous Santa Eulália Beach. This spotless and modern accommodation is ideal for those who want a stylish yet affordable place to stay.
This is Lisbon Hostel If luxury is on the bottom of your priority list then check out this hostel. It’s simple and modest with a terrace rooftop view and breakfast and WiFi included; this is the place to consider if you don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet.
Portugal is the small country with a big personality. It’s friendly, low-key with a laid-back vibe not to mention it has probably one of Europe’s greatest coastline and climate so what are you waiting for? Experience the charm that Portugal has to offer and add this country to your bucket list – don’t forget to share snaps on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!