Portugal cities are one of the best parts of this beautiful country, situated along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula of Southwestern Europe. The country has some of the best beachscapes in the world, with its superb blend of untamed and beautiful landscapes. It also has a rich historical legacy as a maritime power and is the home country of some of the world’s first explorers, including legends like Dom Vasco Da Gama.
However, its rich landscape and grand history are not all there is to Portugal. As a modern State, Portugal is also home to many marvelous metropolitan cities spiced with remarkable architecture. It is an underrated tourist destination, which is why it is ideal. So, if you’re looking for a place with cities not too crowded with other tourists, Portugal should be on your bucket list.
There are many cities to visit in Portugal, but we’ve picked the best 5 for you. So, without wasting any time, let’s look at them.
Naturally, the first in any list of the top Portugal cities to visit will be Lisbon, the nation’s crown jewel and capital city. It is the westernmost capital city in continental Europe, situated in western Portugal on the Tagus (Tejo) River estuary. It is the nation’s principal port, largest city, and commercial, political, and tourism hub.
Lisbon gives off a warm small-town vibe despite being the largest city in Portugal, and its beauty is accentuated by its phenomenal weather – which is why it’s great to visit almost any time of the year.
The city holds many wonders for tourists. First, its cobbled streets are an impressive carpet of stone accentuated by its beautiful ice cream-colored buildings and red roof tiles. Then, Lisbon is a breathtaking panorama of red and white in every direction. But let’s get back to the ground.
Architecturally, Portugal has many eye-catchers to visit. The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is one of these. An absolute masterpiece of Manueline and Gothic architecture built in the 1500s, this ancient monastery has been classified as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1983. It is also the resting place of the famous explorer Vasco Da Gama.
There are also other magnificent places such as the Praca do Comercio – one of the largest squares in Europe – and the famous Benfica stadium. As for where to stay in Lisbon, the city has many fantastic neighborhoods and hotels to choose from, each a unique expression of Portuguese hospitality.
- Lisbon is over two centuries older than Rome.
- Lisbon has an entire museum dedicated to Azulejos (blue tiles).
- The Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon is the longest in the EU and the second longest in Europe.
Aveiro is a small port and fishing city along the lagoon Ria de Aveiro. It is home to three canals lined with many gondola-type boats (Barcos moliceiros) and is considered a miniature Venice. As far as cities go, Aveiros is as authentic as it gets since it doesn’t draw too many tourists. You can witness local life in this city at its most natural.
Despite not being a tourist hotspot, Aveiros is not without its attractions. The Cathedral of Aveiro, with its distinctive bell tower, is located not far from its center and is noted for its art nouveau architecture. An extravagant marble tomb is featured in the Museu de Aveiro, housed in a former monastery.
The famous Praia da Barra lighthouse, the tallest in Portugal, stands at 203 feet overlooking the Atlantic.
Finally, one must not forget its green sites like the Parque Infante D. Pedro, a great place for picnics, intimate strolls, and excellent photos. All in all, Aveiro presents an unforgettable tourist experience.
- Aveiro is the first digital city in Portugal.
- The University of Aveiro is one of the top 100 in Europe that are less than fifty years old.
Known natively as “Oporto,” Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and is one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. It is located along the Duoro estuary, with the western part of its urban area extending along the Atlantic coastline.
Porto is a rich cultural area celebrated for its entertainment and art. It also has an immense architectural heritage, thanks to its long history. The Romanesque Cathedral of Porto, with its beautiful rose window and fortified-church vibe, is one of such that’s worth paying a visit.
And as if to drive home its architectural majesty, the city is home to the Porto School of Architecture – one of the finest in Europe and the alma mater of Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Eduardo Souto de Moura.
But Porto is known for more than just architecture. It is also known for exporting top-grade wine, which you can try out in any of the splendid restaurants or hotels in the city. However, the best way to enjoy the wine is to go on any of the famed wine tours, where you get to visit Porto’s wine caves and see some of the city’s rich history.
Finally, we must not overlook the magnificent cityscape of Porto and its bustling activity. The district of Cais da Ribeira is the perfect area to stay if you want to be at the center of the action. The area is lined with great bars, restaurants, and pastel-colored buildings that will make splendid photoshoots.
- The nation of Portugal itself is named after Porto.
- Porto’s Maria Pia Bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself.
The capital of a district with the same name, Faro, one of the coolest Portugal cities, is located in the Algarve region of Southern Portugal. It is the biggest city and second most populous municipality in the Algarve region, with nearly 40,000 inhabitants.
Faro is an excellent city from which to discover the attractions of this stunning and unspoiled region of Portugal. Numerous sites are just waiting to be explored along the coast, including several beaches, sea cliffs, and charming rocky coves. There are also some breathtaking vistas to be experienced.
The old part of Faro is excellent for tranquil evening strolls. Additionally, when so many tourists come to the city in the summer, it has a lively atmosphere as everyone seeks to enjoy themselves in the sun.
- Faro became the capital of the region under King Alfonso III
- Before it was known as Faro, the area used to be known as Ossonoba
Viseu is a city and a municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal, with a population of about 100,000. It is a charming city to visit with a lovely old center made up of tiny streets winding through homes, palaces, and churches. The main attraction is a cathedral from the 12th century whose deteriorated exterior exudes a charming air of antiquity.
The city is also a cultural hub, serving as the location of national universities like the Catholic University of Portugal. It’s also home to the nationally renowned Gro Vasco Museum and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Viseu.
Due to its location on a hilltop, the city’s more contemporary sections drape themselves down the hillside away from its historic core. As a result, Viseu is a great place for daytime wandering and exploration.
- Viseu is one of the likely birthplaces of the first Portuguese King, Alfonso Henriques.
- The city was formerly named Vissaîegobor under the Celts and later Vissaium by the Romans.
These fantastic cities have a lot for you to sink your teeth into. But among them, the cities of Lisbon and Porto take the cake.
Their rich cultural, architectural, and historical legacy blend perfectly with modern life to create the perfect tourist destination. In any case, you will find that these five cities will serve as a gateway drug to the rest of Portugal, as exploring them will leave you thirsty for more of this beautiful country.
So, which one will you visit first?