Sun-kissed beaches, historic castles, world heritage centres, the lush green vineyards and the captivating countryside: Portugal is all that and so much more. Whether you want to laze around in the sleepy villages of Alentejo and Estremadura or have your share of fun and adventure in Madeira and Azores, you will love this country. Here’s the perfect list of places you can visit in Portugal, especially if you have your little ones with you.
Lisbon, the capital city, is a picturesque city overlooking the mouth of the River Tagus. Lisbon is famous for its iconic tramways, especially Tram 28, the Praca do Commercio (Main Square Plaza), the Jeronimos Monastery, the Alfama District that survived the earthquake of 1755 and the nightlife at Bairo Alto. Walking tours and tram tours are both available in Lisbon.
Surrounded by vineyards and windmills, Obidos is an obscure but charming travel destination in Portugal. Besides its cobblestone pavements, terracotta roofed housing and the castle of Queen Isabel de Aragon, Obidos is known for its Chocolate Festival that lasts a whole month! One of their local delicacies is ginhinja, a cherry based wine served in an edible chocolate cup.
Located in eastern Algarve, Lagos is blessed with sandy beaches, of which Ponta da Piedade and Praia da Batata are the loveliest. Further away towards the ocean, there are natural caves that can be explored by boat. The town of Lagos has attractions like the spooky Bone Chapel, where you can find bones and skulls. The Algarve region is always popular – see the Tots Too website for accommodation.
Often called the ‘Venice of Portugal’, Aveiro is a hidden gem. Its gorgeous network of canals, the exotic Costa Nova and Barra beaches, attractions like the Aveiro Cathedral, the Aveiro Museum and the Fisherman’s Wharf, make it a place worth visiting.
Braga is all about religious attractions and archaic buildings, most of which date back to 20 BC. It is to Portugal what Rome is to Italy: a historic destination! Popular attractions include the Bom Jesus do Monte, Se Cathedral, and the Archbishop Castle. The Tree of Life Chapel and the Arcada are other famous places.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and also the busiest! Its port has been the hub of exploration and discovery since the 18th century. The Historic Centre of Porto is a UNESCO Heritage Site with notable sights like Cais da Ribeira (the beautiful city centre) and the Clerics Tower that offer a splendid view after you climb the 240-odd steps to the top.
Coimbra is a college town, home to the ninth oldest university in the world. The library of the University of Coimbra and the Botanical Gardens are favourite tourist spots. Besides, you can also explore the Machado de Castro National Museum, the Igreja de Santa Cruz (a Roman church), Arco de Almedina (a Moorish wall) and the Se Velha (Old Cathedral).
If you love the beach, you’d love Albufeira. Besides the Oceanside, Castelo de Almoeda, a Moorish castle, is not very far away. A prominent tourist attraction here is dolphin watching. For a complete itinerary for the Algarve region, refer to this article.
A dreamy town with a variety of castles, Sintra looks straight out of a fairy tale. Here, you’d find classy castles like the Portugal National Place, the military Moorish castle, the picturesque Palacio da Pena and the Palacio de Monserrate, which looks like an Arabian mansion.
Torre: this is the only place in Portugal where it snows! That alone is reason enough to drive tourists in a frenzy. Located in the Serra da Estrela mountain ranges of the east, Torre is one of the highest cities of Portugal and has several ski resorts, a wonderful ski lift and icy cold winds.
Portugal is an obscure and yet extremely enriching destination. You can find more places to visit and activities to plan in this write-up that features the top 25 attractions in the country.