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The 23 most beautiful towns and cities in Portugal to include in your Portugal Itinerary

Although it is a small country, Portugal is full of beautiful places and landscapes that change dramatically in just a few miles, making it an extremely enjoyable place to visit. From big cities to charming fishing villages, this country will blow your mind. Although it’s a bit hard to choose among all the most beautiful towns in Portugal, in this post I have picked my favorite ones that you should include in your trip and I will tell you why.


Portugal lies on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded to the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean.

And precisely because of its location, Portugal has a milder climate than the rest of Europe, one of the reasons it is a popular tourist destination in Europe. Another important reason is that Portugal is a much cheaper destination on the continent!

The country also has a rich history, culture, and tradition. It is full of ancient and modern sights that reflect the entire history and development of each city.

Porto Skyline - Towns in Portugal

Portugal has all the factors capable of making a vacation a visual pleasure: architecture, tiles, whitewashed houses, sleepy little villages, fresh seafood, sandy beaches, medieval castles, baroque palaces, and natural landscapes.

Portugal’s charms go far beyond its major cities, so be sure to venture out to discover some of its hidden gems.

From the charm of Porto and the wines of the Douro Valley to the delights of the rural countryside, the bohemian Lisbon, and the Algarve beaches. Portugal has got it all!

So, here is a list of the 23 most beautiful towns in Portugal, from north to south.

Portugal most charming towns on the map

Portugal towns map
Photo © Google Map – click on the image to open the interactive map

23 most charming towns in Portugal

Guimarães

A mixture between tradition and modernity: this is how Guimarães can be summarized. And, interestingly, the city is known as the cradle of Portugal’s history since this is where the country’s first king was born.

And despite being a small city, it is full of churches, monuments, museums, squares, medieval streets, making Guimarães very sought after by all visitors.

Overall, the cobblestone streets, the tiles, the gothic buildings, and the traditional houses will make you travel through history and be dazzled by all the country’s architecture, reflected in the national monuments.

Guimaraes night Portugal cities

After all, walking through the streets of Guimarães is like being in an open-air museum! On your trip to Guimarães, check out Castelo de Guimarães, Muralha de Guimarães, Largo da Oliveira, Paço dos Duques de Bragança, Largo do Toural, Igreja da Consolação, Praça da República do Brasil, and Jardim Público da Alameda.

And best of all, since almost all of these attractions are concentrated in the historic center, you can see everything on foot, without having to worry about renting a car or using public transportation.

But not only history and architecture make up the town. For those tourists who like adventure, you can go rappelling, trekking, or simply take a ride on the cable car at Penha Mountain.

Located in northern Portugal and very close to Porto, Guimarães is an excellent day trip, especially if combined with its neighbor, Braga.

Cuimaraes Church

Porto

Although Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful towns in the country. The mix of history, modernity, culture, and gastronomy make this one of the most visited cities in Portugal.

Porto Old Town

Besides having an eye-catching historical center, Porto carries with it a lot of history reflected in its museums and monuments. Porto still has mild and pleasant temperatures most of the year, which guarantees one of the best wines in Portugal. Have you ever heard of the famous Port Wine?

Although the city is full of sloping streets, this is another city to explore on foot. This way, you appreciate some of its architecture with buildings in various styles. The main touristic attractions there include Jardim das Oliveiras, Ribeira, Palácio da Bolsa, Sé do Porto, Torre dos Clérigos, and the Cathedral of Porto, one of the main and oldest monuments in Portugal.

Porto cityscape

And, of course, it is impossible to talk about Porto without mentioning its gastronomy, one of the reasons that attract thousands of tourists every year. Among the regional and truly Portuguese dishes are cod à Gomes de Sá, Francesinha, and the dessert Papo de Anjo.

Speaking of gastronomy, as it could not be otherwise, one of the essential tours in Porto is to visit a Port Wine Cellar, or a warehouse to understand the production process of one of the most famous wines in the world while tasting a few glasses, of course!


Almeida

At Almeida, you will see a village completely different from the others on this list. This historical town is surrounded by a military structure in the shape of a twelve-point star, one of the most spectacular European examples of 17th century defensive systems.

The structure was initially medieval and then rebuilt after the War of Restoration, which was Portugal’s way of fighting for its independence from the Spanish occupation around 1640. By the way, not by chance, Almeida is only 4 miles from the Spanish border!

Seen from above, Almeida is a work of art with its 6 bastions and the same number of ravelins, common formations in military architecture.

Almeda Portugal
Almeida city walls

But since the 19th century, the entire structure no longer sees any kind of conflict. It then became a place of great historical memory and a lot of peace amidst nature.

Despite being one of the twelve Historical Villages of Portugal, and for that alone it is worth the visit, Almeida is a hidden treasure in the interior of the country.

Almeida is located in a flat area, and only when we approach its fortress do we realize that we are standing before something imposing. I recommend parking the car next to the Double Gates of San Francisco and exploring Almeida on foot.

And if you are interested in learning more about Almeida’s military past, visit the Historical-Military Museum, in the old Casamatas, which are the underground galleries.


Aveiro

Affectionately called the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is a discontinuous territory in northern Portugal. Formed by a set of river islands called Ria de Aveiro, the city is characterized by a network of canals lined with colorful gondola-like boats.

These boats, known as moliceiros, are on the top of must-dos in Aveiro since a boat tour offers the most unique view of the city.

The historic and pastel-colored Art Nouveau-style buildings, colorful boats, and regional cuisine make Aveiro one of the most authentic towns in Portugal!

Aveiro

But Aveiro is not limited to this. The small town is very interesting and offers many different attractions including its historical center, Aveiro Museum, Parque Infante Dom Pedro, and Aveiro salt mines. Not to mention, religious monuments, such as Monastery of Jesus, Carmelite Church, and Cathedral of Aveiro.

Aveiro is also home to the Costa Nova do Prado, where striped, multicolored fishing shacks will capture your heart. Responsible for making Aveiro one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Portugal, Costa Nova is one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal and a good place to spend a day away from the “northern capital”.

Also, while in Aveiro you will have the opportunity to taste the best flavors of Portugal, so be sure to try the eel stew and the classic codfish.

Another highlight in the list of Aveiro’s local cuisine is the traditional dessert: ovos moles. With egg yolks and sugar, this recipe was invented by the nuns of the Convent of Jesus of Aveiro before the 19th century.


Manteigas

Manteigas old town

Right in the heart of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, Manteigas is the perfect destination for tourists who enjoy good infrastructure as well as countryside air.

Since it is a region that can be described as a “mountain village”, you can understand why it is considered one of the most beautiful small towns in the country.

Just wait until you get there and admire its white houses in the middle of the surrounding mountains. It truly feels like a fairy-tale!

Besides being famous for its buttery cheese, it is a destination for those who want to see beautiful landscapes and small villages where time seems to have stopped.

Manteigas portugal

Nature lovers will especially fall hopelessly in love with everything Manteigas has to offer, such as hiking on various trails and even ski slopes during the winter months.

So, if you (like me) are into the snow, this might be the best time to visit Portugal.

The Inferno Well, for sure, is one of the highlights in the region. The place, marked by a variety of vegetation, forms a natural waterfall of about 33 ft that, during the winter, turns into ice, which makes the landscape even more beautiful.

And if you pass through Manteigas in autumn, be sure to do the Beech Route, a hiking trail in which the brown and yellowish tones take over the vegetation, creating spectacular scenery.


Coimbra

Coimbra POrtugal

One of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, Coimbra is well known for its renowned University of Coimbra. The oldest university in Portugal and one of the oldest in all of Europe gives the place a very university-like atmosphere. Just imagine how many young people and bars this city has?!

Coimbra is located in the center of the country, less than 2 hours from Lisbon, and until the year 1255, it was the capital of Portugal.

This means that Coimbra has a valuable historical heritage. Among the main attractions of the city is the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, the Church and Monastery of Santa Cruz, the Church of St. James, the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, the Convent of Santa Clara, and of course, the university.

Yes, the university is definitely worth visiting! Those who visit the campus and facilities will be enchanted by the students dressed in their traditional black capes, just like in Harry Potter. Be sure to check out Paço das Escolas and the university library.

Coimbra Old Town

But it is not only students who are attracted by Coimbra.

Its privileged location, close to the sea and mountains, added to its quality of life makes the city one of the most sought-after cities in Portugal. And since the subject is the city’s historical sites, walking through the downtown area – as the historical part of Coimbra is known – and its narrow streets, full of old houses, is one of the best things to see there.

Besides being a great place to buy good wines and handicrafts, it is also an option to taste the regional cuisine and understand a little more about the Portuguese culture.


Monsanto

Monsanto granite rock

Known as the “most Portuguese village in Portugal”, the historic village of Monsanto has one of those idyllic landscapes that look like something out of a movie. Just imagine what it would be like to build an entire village around huge, jagged rocks, but without taking them out of place.

In the distance, it looks as if a mountain has collapsed, chaotically scattering at its foot huge stones and small houses and churches.

There are less than a thousand inhabitants in this village, which has existed since the time of the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques.

However, there are archeological and historical traces that show that Visigoths, Arabs, and barbarians also passed through and inhabited the region at some point. The importance of this village, of such a simple and small population, has always been associated with the imposing Castle of Monsanto.

Monsanto POortugal

Besides the castle itself, other highlights include Torre de Lucano, Capela de Santa Maria do Castelo, and Capela de São Miguel do Castelo.

Despite this, Monsanto is not too popular and amongst the least explored historical villages in Portugal. The destination is perfect for those who want to enjoy the best rural tourism.

If you like historical sites, peaceful and quiet places, hiking, and activities to do in the middle of nature, it is worth including Monsanto in your Portugal itinerary!


Dornes

Dornes

The village of Dornes is a mystical land of the Templars. To visit Dornes is to get to know a small village, on the banks of the Zêrere River, surrounded by a magnificent landscape and stories and myths related to the formation of the Order of the Templar Knights.

The town is actually located on a small and narrow peninsula bathed by the Zêzere, precisely on the border between the districts of Santarém and Castelo Branco.

Dornes has a beauty that leaves no one indifferent and is often cited as one of the most beautiful historical towns in Portugal.

Besides the river, the surrounding landscape is marked by the dominance of large patches of pine forest.

However, who arrives in Dornes will most probably be surrendered to another image: the Pentagonal Templar Tower, a unique monument of Portuguese medieval architecture and whose origins are shrouded in some mystery.

The historic center of Dornes is marked essentially by the presence of the tower at the top of the hill and by the set of residential buildings, of homogeneous colors and dimensions. White is the dominant color, with openings marked by granite moldings.

At the bases, corners, and even some windows, the colors alternate between yellow and blue, possibly inspired by their use in the tiles of the Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Pranto, another highlight of this village.


Fátima

Fatima portugal

Among the cities of Portugal, Fátima is the most popular religious destination. The region became known after the apparition of the Virgin Mary, reported by three shepherd children. This phenomenon made the Saint become the patron saint of Portugal, known worldwide by the name of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.

Well known for being one of the biggest Catholic pilgrimage centers in the world, Fátima is now one of the most popular destinations by those visiting Portugal.

The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, the largest Catholic temple on the planet with more than eight thousand seats, must surely be your first stop there.

Fatima Portugal

The Byzantine-style basilica is very modern and was built in 2007, because the Basilica, built in 1953, could no longer cope with the number of visitors.

Another famous landmark in Portugal, the Sanctuary of Fatima is a mandatory stop for tourists because of its architectural beauty and, of course, its religious value.

Although it is a very religious destination, regardless of whether you are Catholic or not, the Sanctuary is well worth visiting. The religious complex receives about 6 million visitors per year.

Outside the Sanctuary, it is also possible to visit the House of the Shepherds, the Monument to the Three Little Shepherds, the Way of the Cross in Valinhos, the Chapel of St. Stephen, and Hungarian Calvary.


Nazaré

Anyone who has heard about the destination of giant waves must be curious to know what to do in Nazaré. But make no mistake: the city is not only for surf lovers!

In fact, Nazaré is a great stop on a drive from Lisbon to Porto, for example. Among its attractions, there are beautiful landscapes such as the Miradouro do Suberco, which is part of one of the most important sights in the upper part of the town, called Sítio de Nazaré. This is a historical area and a must-visit in Nazaré.

Nazare big wave

By the way, for those who are catholic, this region is visited by many pilgrims due to the apparitions of Our Lady of Nazaré and the church in the main square.

This part of the town is also known for offering beautiful views both in the winter and summer months. Actually, it is in winter that the giant waves come to Nazaré. So, if your idea is to see this phenomenon of nature, this is the best time to visit Nazaré.

I personally have been twice to Nazaré and witnessed the professional surfers on these waves, and I assure you that you do not need to be a fan of the sport to appreciate this feat.

Nazare beach

Some of the other attractions in Nazaré include the Forte de São Miguel do Arcanjo, Praia do Norte, and Praia de Nazaré. In general, Praia do Norte is for those who love surfing or are going to follow the annual competitions.

And Nazaré Beach is the central beach, with a promenade, hotels, and local restaurants by the sea.


Marvão

MAvao hill

At an altitude of almost 3000 ft and on the back of a stone dragon that defended it for centuries, Marvão invites contemplation.

The best of the town is its landscape, with undulating fields that stretch from the Serra de S. Mamede to Spain. After all, the neighboring country is not far away.

The steep slopes made this a natural defense point, a fact that inspired legends and did not go unnoticed by kings and conquerors. But the military past is forgotten before the peacefulness of what Marvão is today: one of the most beautiful towns in Alentejo with only half a thousand inhabitants.

Land of chestnuts, olive oil, and mushrooms, Marvão proves that Alentejo is not only made of dry plains.

You have to walk through its narrow streets to discover nooks and crannies, a Manueline pillory, gothic arches, and wrought-iron balconies. You have to stop at every esplanade, at every stretch of the wall. Among the main tourist attractions in Marvão is the Marvão Castle, with its walls and towers, the Casa da Culatra, and the Ammaia museum and archeological site.

But remember that altitude is synonymous with strong winds. It is said that Marvão is so windy that, in the old days, you could not hold the tiles together even with stones and, therefore, the houses did not have chimneys. I wonder if this is true…


Óbidos

Imagine a medieval town!? That is Óbidos!

The historic center, surrounded by the walls, is full of charm, and surely this is one of the reasons that attract so many travelers to the region.

Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, walking through the ancient streets of the town is a unique experience at any time of the year because it is like traveling back in time and getting to know a little more about how life was in ancient times.

Obido Portugal

Among its main attractions is the Óbidos Castle, a construction from the 12th century, considered one of the greatest historical patrimonies of Portugal. Another place that cannot be left out of your itinerary is the Santa Maria Church.

The beauty of Óbidos is such that the town was a gift from King Dinis to his wife, Isabel of Aragon.

Today, the town is still preserved with its beautiful houses with details in blue and yellow, flowered streets, and an intense medieval atmosphere.

In the historic center, there are restaurants, little shops, cafes, and art galleries. And as a bonus, the walls that protect the town can be freely walked and explored.

And if you visit Óbidos in July, you can even see the interesting Medieval Fair, where there are presentations, dishes, typical drinks, and of course, people dressed in medieval costumes.


Sintra

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed village of Sintra is located high in the mountains surrounded by pine trees. Considered the most romantic corner of Portugal, the town is mostly known for its rich history, natural beauty, and, of course, the Sintra Castles.

But how come some many castles were built there? Well, for many years, Sintra was the destination of the Lisbon elite.

From the 18th century into the 20th century, many nobles chose the town to build their palaces and castles such as the Pena Palace, Moorish Castle, and Quinta da Regaleira. And not only history make up these monuments, but also their breathtaking views.

Sintra Castle

But, of course, Sintra is not only made of castles and palaces. The historical center of Sintra is one of the activities that cannot be left out of your Sintra itinerary.

Also, the Sintra mountain range itself is a separate attraction worth exploring. On the way from one castle to another, pay attention to the natural beauty of several species of plants and animals.

In addition, I personally recommend a quick trip to Cabo da Roca while in Sintra. Considered the westernmost point not only of Portugal but of all Europe, Cabo do Roca attracts, especially, travelers looking for natural landscapes.

Sintra Well

Besides all the magnificent views of the Atlantic coast, the cape also houses a beautiful and historical lighthouse.


Cascais

Cascais

Cascais is a coastal town, and you will breathe the sea breeze everywhere you go. It has saltwater swimming pools, a marina, a yacht club, paradisiacal beaches, and cliffs that serve as viewpoints. So, get ready to meet unforgettable scenarios, such as Boca do Inferno.

But that is not all, there is still the charm of the town of Cascais. The town has a medieval fortress in the city center, the rock formation of Boca do Inferno, streets full of interesting shops, restaurants, and museums for those who cannot go without a cultural tour.

However, one thing that is important to say: Cascais is not one of those destinations with a huge list of sights.

Cascais Resort

Relax and forget about the hustle and bustle. Cascais is the ideal place for those who want to take a leisurely walk and discover the charms around every corner, as well as beach lovers who want to relax on the beach and enjoy the sea breeze.

Still, what makes Cascais so popular is its beautiful beaches: Praia das Moitas, Praia da Duquesa, Praia da Conceição, Praia da Rainha, and the Alberto Romano Ocean Pool.

Many people get to know Cascais on a day trip from Lisbon since it is only 19 miles away. Also, because it is a tiny town, it seems quite possible to get to know Cascais in 1 day. Is it possible? Yes, it is. The thing is: Cascais is one of those passionate destinations. After getting to know the town and its charming corners, you will want to spend at least one night there.


Lisboa

Lisboa

Of course, the Portuguese capital and also Portugal’s largest city could not be left out of this list, even though it’s clearly not a town!

Lisbon is simply fascinating and has rich tourist attractions, full of history and culture. Once in Lisbon, you can visit places like Tower of Belém, Castle of São Jorge, Jerónimos Monastery, take a boat trip on the Tejo River, visit the viewpoints of Senhora do Monte and Santa Luzia, explore the Parque das Nações, walk the cobbled streets, and ride the streetcar.

Moreover, in Lisbon, you will also find great shopping centers, one of the most exciting nights in Europe, and also rich gastronomy that will leave anyone’s jaw dropped.

The Portuguese capital is indeed a passionate destination and should be on everyone’s “best places to visit” list.

If you want to feel like a local, just take an afternoon to have a coffee, watch the sunset, and, of course, take pictures at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument. You can explore areas like Chiado, Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Rua Augusta.

By the way, Augusta Street is the perfect place to find the best souvenirs from Portugal, or simply eat a delicious typical dish of the region. And since the subject is culinary, do not leave Portugal’s capital without trying the delicious pastel de nata pastries. And write this down: the best ones are by far from Pastel de Belém bakery!


Évora

Evora

Located in the heart of the Alentejo, Évora is the only Portuguese city that is a member of the Network of Oldest European Cities.

A historical center that holds the Unesco World Heritage Site title certainly cannot be left out of your Portugal itinerary. Surrounded by walls that are more than 500 years old, the town is very well preserved and full of sights.

Just like in some other cities in Portugal, to travel through Évora is to lose yourself amid monuments and history.

It is a tranquil destination for those who want to wander in between old buildings that take you on a journey to different moments in the past such as Roman temples, Moorish squares, Gothic-Manueline style churches, and even chapels made of bones.

With a perfect location to enjoy the city, the Jardim de Diana is a place that makes the traveler feel truly in the capital of Alentejo.

Next to the site, there is a belvedere with a view of the city and also of the Silver Aqueduct. Évora’s Sé, a gothic-style cathedral, is also among the city’s unmissable attractions. If you go there, make sure to climb up on its terrace to contemplate the entire city.


Monsaraz

Monsaraz

Also in the middle of the golden hills of the Alentejo, you can see a tiny village of white houses surrounded by walls and dominated by a castle. This is Monsaraz, an old, fortified town that still guards the border between Portugal and Spain.

Overlooking the Guadiana River, the village has withstood enemy attacks. Today, only 800 people inhabit the village, a number that is increased by a few dozen visitors who spend a morning or afternoon there. But, as the saying goes, size doesn’t matter.

And despite not having many attractions, this is one of those delightful places where you feel like spending hours and taking thousands of photos.

Walk slowly down the narrow street and delight yourself with the small, whitewashed houses adorned with coats of arms, built in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Flirt with the little shops selling colorful Alentejo handicrafts and the region’s wine, the Monsaraz Reserve.

But the main attraction there is Monsaraz Castle. You don’t have to pay anything to enter the castle, and from the top of its walls, there are breathtaking views of the fields and the Alqueva Dam, the largest artificial lake in Europe.

Be sure to also visit the local Igreja Matriz and its pillory in white marble.


Lagos

Lagos

Strategically located along the southern coast of the Algarve, Lagos is a small and cozy coastal town. Despite having less than 20 thousand inhabitants, Lagos works as a great base for your Algarve itinerary.

First of all, the Algarve beaches, but especially the ones around Lagos are always on the list of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and the world!

And it’s not for nothing, as it will not be uncommon to find golden sand and clear waters located in the middle of beautiful geological formations and rocky outcrops by the sea. It is literally jaw-dropping!

Such beauty has led Praia Dona Ana to be elected one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Other beautiful beaches to visit there include Meia Praia, Praia do Camilo, Praia Porto de Mós, Praia da Batata, and Ponta da Piedade.

But, the city itself is also worth exploring. Lagos Old Town is very charming, full of historic buildings, shops, and good restaurants.

Lagos Coast

Marina de Lagos is very close to the train station and bus station. On warm days, why not go for a walk along the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, where you will find the Lagos Fish Market?

Another beautiful area worth visiting is Praça Infante Dom Henrique, where the Santa Maria Church and the Slave Market are located. Also, be sure to visit the Forte Ponta da Bandeira.

The city, which is pure charm, with white houses and cobblestone streets, has seen a boom in its tourism. And with so many options of accommodations, you will have so many cute options when it comes to where to say in Lagos. And it’s recommendable to spend there at least a couple of days.


Alte

Alte

In a region like the Algarve, where the big tourist attractions are the beaches, the resorts, and the coastal towns, nobody would expect to find one of the most beautiful villages of Portugal that is not on the coast.

But yes, hidden at the foot of the Serra do Caldeirão you will find Alte, a countryside village very close to Loulé, southern Portugal.

Your visit to this picturesque destination can begin at the Queda do Vigário waterfall. It is the terminal part of a sequence of waterfalls formed in limestone tuffs existing in the Ribeira de Alte. The waterfall reaches a height of 79 ft and falls into a large lake of great natural beauty.

In the historic center do not miss the Mother Church of Alte, also known as the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição.

Alte vilage

And although there are many buildings of recent periods, Alte stands out for its well-preserved historic center and beautiful, white-painted houses with colorful doors and windows.

Not to mention, the surrounding dryland agriculture scenery which can be explored along the Alte trail, a mixed route between the Springs and the Queda do Vigário, passing through the interior of the village.

And now, this is a personal tip that I highly recommend! Less than 20 minutes of driving east of Alte, you will come across Rocha da Pena.

The hike to the top is not too long and not too hard but the view from the top of this rock is breathtaking. You can see miles and miles of the rural area of the Algarve and even the ocean!


Tavira

Bordered by long beaches separated by an arm of the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon and by gentle hills covered in orchards, Tavira is one of the most delightful towns in the Algarve.

With its very unique architecture, it has a charming mix of beautiful buildings, cobbled streets, and squares that maintain the atmosphere of a traditional Algarve fishing town.

The Gilão River, which runs along the center of town, amplifies its charm. Tavira is distributed by the two banks of the river, in a maze of narrow streets and white houses that you want to walk through without haste.

Tavira Portugal

Both sides of the town are connected by two bridges, the Old and the Roman bridges. In fact, the river is so important in Tavira that the town is affectionately nicknamed the “Venice of the Algarve”.

With its 37 churches, visiting Tavira is a history lesson. Some of Tavira’s main attractions include Praça da República, Largo da Misericórdia, Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, Jardim do Coreto, and, my favorite, Castelo de Tavira.

Tavira also has some of the best Algarve beaches right there at Tavira Island: the Terra Estreita beach, the naturist beach of Naked Man, and Praia do Barril, where you will be surprised by a graveyard of anchors.

So, you can only imagine that the best way to explore Tavira’s coast is through a boat tour visiting a few of the sand barrier islands of Ria Formosa.


Portugal’s best towns and cities on islands

Besides mainland Portugal, the country also has beautiful cities and attractions on its islands, such as Madeira and Azores archipelagos. Check some of them out:

Ponta Delgada, Ilha de São Miguel, Azores

I suppose that visiting Ponta Delgada is hardly at the top of your priorities when traveling to the Azores.

Understandably, you might want (as most visitors do) to immediately go and explore the countless wonders of the ravishing natural paradise that is São Miguel, the “green island” of sleeping volcanoes.

The volcanic islands of the Azores archipelago were formed more than 8 million years ago and for this reason, they offer exuberant views of nature in its fullness.

But be aware that Ponta Delgada itself has many good reasons why it should be on the list of the most beautiful towns in Portugal.

Ponta Delgada

The small fishing village of the past has given way to a cosmopolitan, economically, and culturally active city, worthy of a travel magazine cover under the title The Best Kept Secret of Europe.

When you visit Ponta Delgada, you will first notice a city in black and white. Evident in the monochrome game of white walls adorned by black basalt of the slender convents and churches, the facades of historic buildings, and typical Portuguese paving.

Among its highlights are Avenida Infane Dom Henrique, Portas da Cidade, Igreja São Sebastião, Torre Sineira, Câmara Municipal de Ponta Delgada, and Forte de São Brás.

Ponta delgada

As a bonus, Ponta Delgada offers many possibilities! You can walk along the avenue, enjoy the restaurants, and have a coffee with a view of the sea.

Besides that, you can adventure yourself and go paragliding, ride a yacht, go diving, surf, ride a horse, and even practice sport fishing.


Angra do Heroísmo, Ilha Terceira, Azores

Angra do Heroismo

Another beautiful town in the Azores archipelago is Angra do Heroísmo, located on the south side of Terceira Island in a small and beautiful bay.

Although many people have never heard much about Angra do Heroísmo, the city was extremely important to the history of Portugal, so much so that it was once even Portugal’s capital.

The city’s beauty is a result of its exuberant nature and its contrast with the dark stone used in the buildings.

Its beautiful and typical streets are the reflection of years of history reflected in its monuments, with various manor houses and palaces, such as the Bettencourt Palace, the General Captains Palace, the Madre de Deus Manor, among many others.

The historic center of the region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, is home to the beautiful Igreja da Misericórdia, a baroque style construction that stands out in the region.

Another place that stands out is the Igreja do Santíssimo Salvador da Sé, considered the largest church in the entire Azores archipelago.

And for those who do not give up direct contact with nature on their trips, you cannot miss a visit to Prainha de Angra, where you can swim and contemplate Mount Brazil.


Santana, Madeira Island

Santana Madeira Cliff

Also of volcanic origin, Madeira Island has dramatic rock formations, large valleys, mountains, waters in beautiful shades of blue, and an intense green that covers the entire island.

And even though Funchal is the capital and most popular city in Madeira, there are many other charming towns to be visited and Santana is among the most beautiful ones.

Located on the north coast of the island, Santana is an amazing place with several tourist attractions for those who enjoy hiking and outdoor activities to be in contact with nature.

Among the activities to do in Santana are watching the sunrise at Pico Ruivo, admiring the view from the Pico da Boneca Viewpoint, having a picnic at the Queimadas Forest Park, riding the cable car down to Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve, and walking along Levada do Rei, one of the most famous aqueducts in Madeira.

Also, of course, be sure to take a dip in the Caldeirão Verde lake, or just take a look at the magnificent Caldeirão Verde waterfall.

Santana Madeira

But if you prefer to take a break from the physical activity you can just visit Santana’s highlight. The typical Santana houses are triangular-shaped, thatched constructions.

The houses are open for visitors to enter, and in one of them there is a tourist office and in another a store selling traditional products. In addition, there is a small garden with benches if you want to take a short break and admire your surroundings.


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