By Kenya Barrett
Filled with pristine beaches, iconic sights, and places to wine and dine, Portugal may just be one of the best places someone could ever visit. To learn more about the vast amount of things to do in the country, check out this list of the top locations to explore in Portugal!
The historic Alfama district is certainly a site to see during your time in Portugal. This neighborhood was first created more than a century ago and was ruled by the Moors. As such, the area retains somewhat of a Moorish flair with its pastel-coloured buildings and tangled lanes. To experience more of the neighborhood's charm, simply hop aboard a tram that’ll take you through more of the area.
Initially constructed by King Manuel I in 1502, the Jeronimos Monastery remains one of the most marvellous sites to see in Portugal. Built during the Age of Discovery, the structure features Manueline architecture, which was developed by the King. Today, the monastery serves as the burial grounds for Vasco de Gama and is home to the country’s National Museum of Archaeology. Entrance to the building is free, but it is worth the extra dollars for admission to the structure’s cloisters – some of the most beautiful in the world.
Sao Jorge Castle
If you’re looking to capture spectacular views of Lisbon, then make your way to the Sao Jorge Castle. The building’s roots date back to the 11th century when it served as the royal palace of the present King. Today, the castle resides in a tranquil park and offers breathtaking views of the Ponte 25 suspension bridge and the Tagus Estuary.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site should be on the top of any traveller’s bucket list! With precise detail and sheer brilliance, the Pena Palace features attention grabbing colors and bold designs that you simply won’t find anywhere else in the country. This Instagram-worthy structure is the perfect place to snap photos with your favourite person. Don’t forget to enjoy surreal panoramic views of Sintra from the palace’s highest point.
In its past, the Belem Tower served as one of Lisbon’s waterfront defense towers. Constructed by King Manuel, the tower also featured bits of Manueline architecture and was additionally utilised as a lighthouse for sailors who returned to Portugal after embarking on new world voyages. Ruins of the tower still stand today, which makes the landmark a perfect historical site for photos.
This cobblestone-paved city centre resides in the heart of Lisbon and is home to the city’s most vibrant shops. Filled with locals, charming boutiques, and tons of eateries, Rossio Square is nothing short of a great place to have fun. Stop in for a bite or a drink and take in the lively ambiance of the area.
Capela dos Ossos
If you are a lover of macabre, then a visit to Portugal’s Chapel of Bones is a must. The chapel is part of the larger Royal Church of St. Francis and is situated right in the city of Evora. Built by monks in the 16th century, the structure maintains the eerie phrase “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos,” or, “we bones are here, waiting for yours.” The idea of the saying was thought to have offered citizens a peace of mind and place to meditate while battling their own struggles of life.
For those interested in exploring 18th century readings and texts, consider visiting the Biblioteca Joanina! This library is no ordinary library in that it holds thousands of ancient books and relics of the past. A magnificently decorated structure, the Biblioteca Joanina serves as a National Monument and is preserved and protected as such.
This city is a perfect escape for those who prefer days exploring history and architecture. Located right between Porto and Amarante, Barga is the third largest city in Portugal and is home to the country’s oldest cathedral – Santa Maria de Barga. Visitors can get lost in this historic gem, while embracing the area’s slow pace and cultural charm.
Of all these amazing sites, which will you visit on your next trip to Portugal?