The best cities to visit in Portugal for families, friends or by yourself

I visited Portugal with my husband and two kids in April. On our Europe trip, it was one of the prominent destinations. This country’s beautiful cities and towns, delicious cuisine, and stunning landscapes have made our visit worth memorable.

Portugal is mainly famous for being the site of the miracle of Fatima, the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the largest cork producer in the world. Moreover, it’s the first country to decriminalize all drugs. It’s 16th to 19th-century architecture, popular beach destinations, and typical seafood dishes are the other things that add to its charm. There is a lot to write; there is a lot to list!

In this article, I have described everything I found joyful on my trip to Portugal and what I don’t want you to miss out on. Besides this, I have also described the geographical location of Portugal, how you can get there, and the best time to go there. In short, this article is a comprehensive travel guide on a tour to Portugal. Let’s begin!

Where is Portugal?

Algarve is known for its beaches

Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe. It borders the North Atlantic Ocean, and the only country this European state borders is Spain. It also shares a maritime border with Morocco. This beautiful country covers an area of 92,090 km², and according to the statics of 2019, it has a population of 10.3 million people.

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is home to around 500,000 inhabitants. Other famous cities are Evora, Porto, Amadora, Aveiro, Coimbra, Lagos, Braga, etc. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. However, the population also speaks English, Spanish, and French.

How to Get There?

Regular direct flights from Europe and some US cities land in Lisbon, Porto, Faro, etc. Most tourists prefer connecting flights via London as these are cheaper, and you can also explore London. Major airlines offering flights to Portugal include American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, SATA, etc. We booked a direct flight from New York and landed in Lisbon within around 7 hours and 15 minutes.

There are several airports in Portugal, but Lisbon Airport (Humberto Delgado Airport) is the leading international airport. This airport welcomes most international flights from outside Europe. Moreover, it is the main airport to fly into for the central region. Other airports in Portugal are Porto Airport, Faro Airport, Madeira Airport, Joao Paulo II Airport, etc.

Best Time to Go There

The best time to go to Portugal is from March to May, during Spring, or between September and October; during Fall. In these periods, Portugal is the most beautiful; the weather is dreamy, the days are longer, and you will have more opportunities to participate in different activities. I travelled to Portugal with my family in April when the Spring was blooming. It was the best time indeed!

Best Cities and Towns to Visit in Portugal

There were lots to explore, and we had several cities and towns on our list like Lisbon, Sintra, Lagos, Aveiro, Tavira, Brganca, Braga, Elvas, Beja, etc. However, the ones listed below are what we find the most attractive, or you can say what made it to the list of our top picks.



One of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the hilly capital of Portugal, Lisbon, is the best place to start exploring Portugal. It’s well known for its lively nightlife. We spent more time in this alluring city than others because we had so much to explore. Here are the two places where we enjoyed ourselves the most.

The very first place we went to was Castelo de São Jorge. This historic castle served human occupation since the 8th century. We bought two adult tickets for 10 euros each, and as our kids were below 10, they enjoyed the visit free of cost. What we enjoyed watching the most in this castle was the stunning painting of the city before the 1755 earthquake and the splendid symmetry of 10 towers, two central courtyards, and the defensive wall separating them.

Then we went to Oceanário de Lisboa, one of Europe’s beautiful aquariums. Here we not only explored fishes and marine animals, but we also got to see different bird species. The creative layout of this oceanarium showcases four different seas and landscapes; the habitats of the Antarctic, Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans.



The second-largest city of Portugal, Porto, is exceptionally famous for being the birthplace of port wine. It is such a beautiful place, where I will spend most of the time if I get a chance to go to Portugal again.

One of the most alluring tourist attractions we visited was the most beautiful bookshop in the world, Livralia Lello. This bookshop is considered an inspiration behind the luxurious Hogwarts sceneries. As my kids are great fans of Harry Potter, how could we have missed this place? The unlimited bookshelves, stunning art-nouveau décor, and sweeping staircases; everything will let you fall in love with the charm of this place.

Next, we went to Clerigos Church, the wonderful church of the Clerics. Surprisingly, this church was built by the famous Florentine architect Nicholas Nazzoni for 17 years, from 1732 to 1749. The architectural splendour of this church and its towers were enough to please our eyes. We also explored the routine life of the Brotherhood of the Clerics depicted in the enthralling museum.



UNESCO recognizes Sintra for its splendid cultural landscapes. It is a town and municipality located on the Portuguese Riviera in the Greater Lisbon region of Portugal. The most attractive tourist attractions were the Quinta da Regaleria, and Museu do Ar.

Quinta de Regaleria is the castle close to this town’s historic centre. It is classified as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Our visit to this palace was more joyful than we expected. Everything, the palace, chapel, and the park featuring the beauty of lakes, wells, caves, and fountains, make this place a must to visit when in Sintra. The main building is a classic representation of neo-Gothic culture and garishly carved pinnacles.

Then, we went to Museu do Ar, the Portuguese Air Force’s aviation museum. The collection of Aircraft this museum showcased is incredible. My husband has great affection for aircraft, so his love brought us to this beautiful museum. The aircraft on display included 14-bis, CASA C-212-100, Demoiselle XX, Lockheed T-33A Silver Star, Douglas C-47A Dakota, etc.



Evora is the enchanting capital of Portugal’s south-central Alentejo region. It holds many tourist attractions like Sé (Cathedral), Évora Museum, Roman Temple, Termas Romanas, Igreja de São Francisco, etc.

Sé Cathedral de Santa Catarina is a part of the World Heritage Site and a Roman Catholic Church in Evora. It is Portugal‘s largest medieval Cathedral and is the only one of its kind in the entire country. It is where the architectural designs of gothic and Roman culture fuse. We entered this church and were mesmerized by the beauty this church holds. Its towers, entrances, and the pulpit in the central nave; everything was worth admiring.

Our next stop was Évora Museum. This kid-friendly museum was once the residence of noblemen and bishops. Here, we explored a wonderful collection of regional treasures. The 16th-century Flemish polyptych and other splendid artwork featured in the art gallery were the things we loved going through. What else caught our attention was the Roman sculpture standing with glory.


Another worth visiting town and municipality of Portugal, Obidos, is the country’s most interesting walled settlement. Portugal’s queen built several buildings and monuments of this town. Beautiful places we visited there were Porta da Vila, Ginja, Lagoa de Óbidos, Óbidos Castle, Santuário do Senhor Jesus da Pedra, etc.

What we enjoyed the most was wandering the streets of the historic townscape nearby Porta da Vila. Those filmy views of beautiful houses with whitewashed walls and blue or yellow coloured borders were stunning. Making our way along Rua Direita, we were tempted to explore the magnificent side streets and staircases. We also had ice cream from a local ice cream parlour.

Óbidos Castle was our next historic stop! This castle was founded in the early 700s by the Moors. Later on, in the 100s, it was reworked to make the interior more habitable. Now, this castle has become a heritage hotel, we booked a room and stayed there for two days. However, if you don’t want to book a room for exploring the castle, you can explore the battlement and the perimeters of Óbidos’ defending walls.



A small city on Portugal’s Algarve coast, Tavira, holds some top tourist attractions of Portugal. It’s where we found the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. This town is sometimes named Venice of the Algarve. Its famous tourist attractions are The Riverfront, Núcleo Museológico Islâmico, Castelo, Ilha de Tavira and the Ria Formosa, Convento da Graça, etc.

The Castle of Trivia, Castelo, is a partially ruined fortress that was once the guardian of the fishing town of North Africans. As the castle is located at the highest point of the town, we witnessed panoramic views of the town from the battlement. Though the castle is small, what makes it worth visiting are the beautiful views, well-maintained gardens, and the free entrance fee.

Our next destination was a tropical island close to the town of Tavira, Ilha de Tavira. Out of three white sand beaches, we went to Praia da Ilha de Tavira, the main one on the eastern side. This super clean beach with crystal clear water is s must to visit. My kids loved making sandcastles there.


Tomar is another charming city of city and municipality in Portugal. It is exceptionally famous for its cultural and artistic wealth. If you are interested in the history of Portugal, like me, Tomar must be your ultimate destination. Its must-visit places include Convento de Cristo, Matchbox Museum, Núcleo de Arte Contemporânea, Barragem do Castelo de Bode, etc.

Matchbox Museum was the place we were most excited to visit, as it seemed very interesting. This museum’s whole collection of matchboxes is of a man named Aquiles da Motta Lima. Though this man is not alive, his descendants have taken responsibility for the museum’s maintenance. Here, they have showcased more than 43,000 matchboxes. Yes, you read it right!

The following site we visited was Convento de Cristo (Convent of Christ). The Knights Templar founded this UNESCO site, and it’s mainly famous for its round church. What left us spellbound was this church’s splendid Manueline, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture.


On the northeast of Porto, another worth visiting city of Portugal lies, i.e., Braga. This mass tourism-free city is a hoard of history and culture. Its popular travel destinations are Antigo Paço Episcopal, Museu Pio XII, Capela São Frutuoso de Montélios, etc.

Museu Pio XII is where we found a massive collection of sculptures, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, and paintings. The Museu Pio XII combines the Museum¸ Medina collection and the Medieval Tower. After going through the museum, we climbed this five-floored tower to witness the dramatic view of the current Braga.

Antigo Paço Episcopal is situated opposite the Cathedral. Constituted as the palace of the Archbishops of Braga, this historic landmark has been a famous tourist attraction in Braga for its impressive architectural work. We found the University offices and the municipal library of this building worth visiting. The beautiful carvings and paintings on the roofs of the computer lab left us spellbound. After spending a tiring day in Braga, we rested in this building’s serene flowery gardens for a while.


Portugal is not just a country; it’s a hoard of history, splendid architectural masterpieces, beautiful beaches, and quirky museums. It’s where we found the best-preserved palaces and churches. The panoramic views of the cities from the palaces or towers were the most fascinating. However, if you are fond of exploring history and historical monuments, Portugal is there to welcome you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top