It’s fair to say us Brits absolutely love Portugal. A small country that packs plenty of punch, you’ve got world renowned beaches, incredible cuisine, beautiful cities steeped in history and a climate that’s lovely and hot, but not too hot.
If you wanted to experience more than just one part of this well-loved country, you’ll find a clear destination path from top to bottom, starting with the northern city of Porto, then onto the coastal capital of Lisbon and finally finishing with Faro on the southern border.
All three have plenty of offer, each with their own individual charms and delights. Here’s a quick guide on all three locations.
Porto is Portugal’s second city – the right-hand man to the capital of Lisbon if you like – but don’t let that fool you into thinking there is less to enjoy. A city that boasts historical architecture in spades via the famous Ribera district, essentials include a stroll along the stunning Douro River and a view of the Dom Luis I iron bridge that stands over it, connecting Porto to Gaia. The Clerigos bell tower is arguably the city’s most recognisable landmark, and one which you can climb up to get a full 360-degree view of the city.
If it’s an adults only trip, a visit to (and taste of) the area’s wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia is a must. After all, Porto is the home of port, so where better to try some than the place of origin?
The country’s hilly capital has a little more modernity to it than Porto, but still has its share of historical sights mixed in with lively contemporary attractions. History lovers should head first to the Belem district, where you’ll find the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower), the Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument and a series of museums. You’ll likely be able to find a great Airbnb in Alfama, but still be able to enjoy what feels like a traditional part of the city.
Head to Baixa & Rossio for some grand architecture. The Praca do Comercio is one of the largest, and grandest, squares in Europe, and also represents the old gateway to the city. Over in Chiado, you’ll find art, theatres and great cuisine, while the residential district of Bica is home to Bica Funicular – one of the most photographed streets in the country.
The British love a beach holiday, and the southern coast of Portugal welcomes millions of us each year. Faro is the capital of the ever-popular Algarve region, with a Faro airport transfer the gateway to a plethora of golden sand beaches and crystal blue waters, beautiful architecture dating as far back as ancient times and an array of wonderful fresh seafood cuisine.
Likely the best family destination of the three, a week in Faro can just as easily be spent by the beach as it can exploring the interesting towns around the area. Filled with family friendly activities, great places to eat and a welcoming a friendly culture, top landmarks include Faro cathedral, the Arco de Vila waterside gateway and the Igreja do Carmo church.
Whether it’s a few days in each city or a week long trip to just one, you’re guaranteed a mix of beautiful architecture, great food and engaging culture wherever you end up heading to in Portugal.