Portugal is my favorite country to visit in Europe and that’s why I have visited it five times as of 2023.
This page has a collection of not just my Portugal travel blog posts, but also it is an essential travel guide for Portugal with a travel map, essential tips, main airports, top destinations, how to travel internally, and what to eat. If you’d like to skip this section and just read my travel blog posts about Portugal, then click the below button.
The first time I visited Portugal was in 2016 for a music festival – Boom Festival. I decided to spend some time in Portugal before the festival and it was the best decision ever. It was then I fell in love with Portugal, and that love still exists.
I still remember the feeling of sun on my face and the bright happy colors of Lisbon city that instantly made me fall in love with this country.
A little while later, I saw the bright yellow tram and ate my first Pastel de Nata (the famous Portuguese egg tart pastry) and I realized I didn’t want to leave. Moreover, after spending 2 months traveling in Europe, I was broke but Portugal was shockingly affordable.
Fast forward to 2023, I have revisited Portugal over and over and it still manages to wow me each time. And yes, it is still affordable. I will talk about the typical costs a little later, but here’s some essential travel information for Portugal.
Table of Contents
What’s the Capital City of Portugal?
If you arrive in Portugal from another country, then most likely you will start in Lisbon. This brings me to my next point, the airports.
Main Airports in Portugal
Here are the main international airports in Portugal where you can fly from your country of origin or travel:
Lisbon – LIS – Humberto Delgado Airport
Lisbon is in the middle of Portugal and it totally makes sense to fly to here to start your trip because you can easily move from here to the North or South. So, you can combine Lisbon with the Algarve, or Lisbon with the North like Nazaré and Porto with a rented car.
If you’d like to travel within Portugal from the North to the South or vice versa, then it makes more sense to start your trip in the North like Porto, or South like the Algarve. For inspiration, see my itinerary for spending 2 weeks in Portugal. I will discuss the detailed options below.
Porto – OPO – Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport
Porto or Oporto is a historical city in the North of Portugal. It is smaller than Lisbon and to many people, it is prettier than Lisbon. I have visited both Porto and Lisbon and I think they are both pretty but I prefer Lisbon. Lisbon is more pastel and Porto is more Gothic.
If you’d like to travel within Portugal from North to South, then flying into Porto makes total sense. That way, you can rent a car from Porto and travel further within Portugal.
I liked Porto Airport better than Lisbon Airport in terms of comfort. There are shuttles and metros that run from here to the city center.
Faro – FAO – Gago Coutinho International Airport
Having flown to Faro twice, I actually love this little airport and the city that’s the entry spot for the Algarve in Portugal. The Algarve region has the most beautiful beaches in Europe as per me. They are sunny, and sandy, have rock formations, and are affordable.
Faro is a perfect starting point for not just the Algarve but for the entire Portugal if you want to cover it from South to North. Just arrive at Faro airport and rent a car from here. Both my Algarve road trip and the Portugal road trip itineraries start from Faro.
Madeira Island/Funchal – FNC – Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport
In order to explore the Madeira Islands, you need to fly into the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport which is in Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
I will be honest, I haven’t yet visited the Madeira Islands so I can’t share firsthand information about this particular airport.
São Miguel Island Azores – PDL – Aeroporto João Paulo II
The Azores in Portugal have been often compared to Iceland because of the volcanic nature and dark sand beaches. In order to explore this group of islands, you need to fly into São Miguel Island’s airport, which is João Paulo II.
Someone from my family visited the Azores and they were shocked that being an island destination, it was still affordable.
There are definitely more airports but the above-mentioned ones are the main ones that you need to know if you’re going to fly to Portugal.
Places to Visit in Portugal + Map (from North to South)
From North to South, below are the top destinations in Portugal:
There are a lot of places that you can visit in Portugal but here are the top destinations that I’d like to mention from North to South. The two island destinations are mentioned at the very bottom.
Braga is the fifth largest city in Portugal and is in the Cávado Valley. It is both an ancient and a modern city and also a student city because of the Universidade do Minho. You can also party here on Wednesdays and enjoy “academic night”.
Just like many other historical destinations in Portugal, Braga also boasts a lovely historical center with old buildings, churches, and museums. Braga also has the oldest funicular in the world – Bom Jesus funicular and you can still ride it when you’re visiting this historical city.
If you are in Braga, then make sure you visit the nearby Ponte de Lima too, the long bridge over the Lima which the Romans thought was a mythical river.
I will be honest – in my five visits to Portugal over the last 10 years, I have still not visited Braga but I still wanted to recommend it to my readers because it is supposed to be one of the top destinations in Portugal.
Portugal has many historical cities but out of all of them, the two most important ones are Porto and Lisbon. Porto is smaller than Lisbon but doesn’t have a shortage of historical buildings. In fact, the entire historical center of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Just like Lisbon, Porto is also built on hills so prepare to do a lot of walking up and down the steep street. As a result, there are many viewpoints and these viewing terraces are called “Miradouro”.
The Douro River of the Iberian Peninsula has its mouth in Porto. As a result, there are plenty of stunning riverside areas, sunset spots, and the famous Douro Valley.
Aveiro is situated between Porto and Coimbra, is sometimes called “Portuguese Venice” because there are canals and moliceiros (boats that are kidn of like gondolas).
The coast near Aveiro is also called the Silver Coast because of its clean and sandy beaches that are stunning. The must-visit beaches of Aveiro are São Jacinto, Barra, and Costa Nova.
A little further is a coastal town called “Figueira da Foz” which I visited in 2019 while we were driving through Portugal on our camper van.
Coimbra city is in the North of Portugal but under Porto. It is in Portugal’s hilly area and is away from the ocean. In recent years, the historical Coimbra has come up as a travel destination.
Coimbra is a nice option for a historical city in Portugal that’s not busy. It is a small city but has the 4th largest urbanized area in Portugal. One of my family members lives near Coimbra so I had a chance to visit this part of Portugal a few times.
There are many historical structures in Coimbra dating back to the Roman times when the name of Coimbra was Aeminium. It evolved as a major cultural center in the Middle Ages. The first Portuguese university which was initially situated in Lisbon recolated to Coimbra in 1308, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking population.
On today’s date, Coimbra is a lovely historical city with narrow streets, old buildings that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, good weather, and a lovely culture. Personally, I found Coimbra to be a bit boring and I’d not stay here for more than 2 days.
My third visit to Portugal was a solo trip and I asked a lot of travelers and locals to suggest another amazing destination in Portugal and most suggested Nazaré.
Nazaré is a coastal destination in the North of Portugal with massive waves. The waves are so big that surfers come here from all over the world to ride these waves. A German surfer Sebastian Steudtner rode the world’s biggest wave here which was measured to be 26.2 m (86 ft).
Nazaré’s massive waves are stunning and you can see them from October to March. I visited Nazaré in August and that wasn’t even the peak season for the waves but I still got to see some really big waves on one of the days when going in the water wasn’t allowed.
Another thing that fascinated me about Nazaré is that this lovely destination is split into two – Sítio (Upper Nazaré) and the area around Praia da Nazaré (Lower Nazaré). You can reach from Praia da Nazaré to Sítio by hiking or by riding a funicular rail. Because Sítio is on a higher level, the views from here are absolutely stunning.
Nazaré is a beach destination but for me, the whitewashed streets of the old town took my breath away. They were a bit different than all the other old towns of Portugal (and there are MANY).
Lisbon is my favourite city in Portugal and it is where my love affair with this country started. Walking on narrow streets in Lisbon’s old town Alfama felt like I was in a labyrinth.
The streets are slanted, lined with pastel houses, and bright Yellow trams move up and down at a slow pace. I felt like I was in a Wes Anderson movie!
Lisbon is built on nine hills, as a result, there are plenty of viewpoints or “Miradouro” and the view from every single one of them is worth the climb. You can see the lovely Tagus River along Lisbon’s pastel houses. In fact, you can see the Tagus River from some of the streets too, like this one above – Rua da Bica, which was voted the most beautiful street in the world.
If you are visiting Lisbon, then make sure to spend at least 2 days here if not more. Read my 2-day itinerary for Lisbon, top Instagram spot locations, and also reasons for visiting Lisbon.
Sintra is a town as well as a municipality near Lisbon that’s famous for its stunning multicolor castle and fishing villages. The eclectic castle of Sintra is called the Pena Palace which was built by the Portuguese king-consort Dom Fernando II.
Many people visit Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon and it is actually a very good idea to do so. If you have more time on your hands then by all means stay in one of the coastal villages in the Sintra region.
8) The Algarve (Lagos, Carvoeiro, Benagil Cave, Albufeira, Faro)
If you like beaches and rock formations, then Algarve is going to be your favorite destination. It sure is for me. I visited the Algarve in 2022 on a solo trip. I loved it so much that I visited again in 2023.
The rock formations of the Algarve are what makes this coastal region super stunning. Moreover, the beaches are massive and sandy. As a result of the rock formations, there are caves, arches, hidden beaches, hikes, and viewpoints.
Perhaps you have heard of the Marinha beach – it is often called the most beautiful beach of Europe because of the rock formations and is right here in the Algarve near Carvoeiro.
I visited Lagos in 2022 and did the Ponta da Piedade hike. I also kayaked to the stunning Benagil Cave in 2022 and then SUPed to it in 2023. In 2023, I did the Seven Valleys Hike in the Algarve.
My base in the Algarve for my second trip in 2023 was Carvoeiro, which as for me is the prettiest destination. Actually so is Lagos.
I also had a chance to see the other destinations of the Algarve – Portimão and Albufeira but I didn’t like them as much as Lagos and Carvoeiro.
The airport for the Algarve is in Faro, which is a tiny city where I spent two nights. I had a lot of fun in Faro and I think it is definitely worth visiting but you can skip it if you have a rental car and you want to do a road trip in the Algarve.
9) Madeira Island
The Madeira Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean and are a group of two – Madeira and Porto Santo. Both these islands are connected via a ferry service.
In order to arrive here, you need to get on a flight to Funchal’s Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, which is the Island’s regional capital. These islands of course have beaches but also mountains.
If you visit Madeira, then definitely see Cabo Girão – the world’s highest ocean cliffs where you can also do a skywalk. Also worth visiting are the São Vicente Caves, which will re-open in the year 2024.
Cascata dos Anjos is a lovely waterfall here and you can also drive under it because it flows directly on the road.
10) The Azores
The Azores island group consists of 9 volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Portugal. These islands are roughly 1,400 km away from Portugal’s mainland.
If you want to see nature in its purest state, then the Azores islands should be your main destination in Portugal. The nine islands of the Azores are like 9 different little worlds with a bit of similarities and loads of unique characters.
In order to reach the Azores, you can fly to São Miguel Island’s Aeroporto João Paulo II.
How to Travel Internally in Portugal
There are many ways of traveling internally within Portugal and I have experienced most of them because my travel style has changed over the years. In 2016, we used buses and also hitchhiked. We drove through Portugal and Spain in 2019 with our campervan.
In 2022 I visited Portugal twice and traveled in with trains and buses. In 2023, I traveled with buses, trains, and also a lot of Uber.
For me, the best way of traveling within Portugal for me was via train. I liked that we could purchase the train tickets on the trains from a ticket checker instead of standing in line from before. I have also traveled a lot on ALSA express buses and Flixbus in Portugal and I never had a bad experience.
Food in Portugal
Let’s talk about my favorite aspect of traveling to Portugal – the food. Seriously the food in Portugal is the best one I have had in Europe. It is perfectly flavored, garlicky, and buttery, and checks all the boxes for me.
If you are a fan of seafood, you will love the food in Portugal. I often found a massive portion of big-sized prawns loaded with herbs for around 13-15 euros in Lagos, Carvoeiro, and also in Nazare.
Pastel de Nata
One of the most famous pastries of Portugal is the Pastel de Nata which was invented by monks in Lisbon and is now world famous. This simple yet delicious pastry makes the perfect breakfast.
I normally prefer salty breakfast but I couldn’t help deviating from my habit while in Portugal and eating the Pastel de Nata occasionally for breakfast. They taste good everywhere and you don’t need to go to the most famous bakery for it.
Francesinha – Porto’s famous sandwich
Francesinha is Porto’s famous sandwich which is actually a sandwich that’s coated with cheese, egg, and Francesinha sauce usually served on a bed of french fries.
Honestly, this sandwich was a little too much and was impossible to finish. The sauce was delicious and so was the cheese but there was no way we could finish even half of it. If you are in Porto and would like to try the Francesinha sandwich, then share it with another person.
When in Portugal, one of the best things to eat on a daily basis is codfish or bacalhau. You can find it in many forms and most of them are fried but I liked the one in salad form with loads of fresh tomatoes on top.
The fried ones are mostly mixed with potatoes and are called “Bolinhos de bacalhau” or “Pastéis de Bacalhau” – they are basically salted cod croquettes.
Alcoholic Drinks – Vinho Verde, Sagres Beer, Port Wine, Ginjinha
If you like to experience different alcoholic drinks in the places that you travel to, then Portugal offers a lot of options. Out of them, I’d like to mention a few:
Green Wine / Vihno Verde: I heard of Vihno Verde when I visited the Algarve solo in 2022. For me, it was pretty much like white wine but a bit sharper and with a greenish hue.
Sagres Beer: I love the taste of Sagres beer. It is a pale lager that is refreshing on a hot day on the beach. Moreover, I like the “Sagres Mini” bottles and cans which true to their name are small in size and easier to carry. Just like Sagres, there’s Super Bock too but I enjoy the taste of Sagres more.
Port Wine: Having traveled and lived in Goa for a few months, which was a Portuguese colony for a few months, I have often tried Port Wine. It is a sweet wine but is very strong. It comes from Porto and you should try it. I no longer enjoy it because I find it too sweet.
Ginjinha: Ginjinha is a Portuguese liqueur that’s made from Portuguese ginja berries or sour cherries. While traveling in Lisbon, I often saw stands of it and tried a few of them on multiple occasions with my friend. Try it when you visit Portugal.
Portugal Travel Blog Posts
Below are all the Portugal Travel Blog Posts that I have published on my website.
- After five different visits to Portugal (one being a road trip), I have finally decided to pen down this post. Here’s all the information you need for the best 2… Read more: The Ultimate Portugal Road Trip: 2 Weeks in Portugal
- Before I was a travel addict, I was a book lover. Strangely, that happened because of traveling because my mother would buy me a new book every single time we’d… Read more: Is Livraria Lello Worth it? I visited the Harry Potter bookstore in Porto
- Having visited Portugal a few times over the last few years, I have explored it from north to south. I have visited its most popular cities – Lisbon and Porto.… Read more: Lisbon vs Porto – Which City in Portugal Should You Visit?
- Living in Europe since 2017, if there’s one country that I have visited year after year, it is Portugal. Over the last few years, I have done many kinds of… Read more: 4 Days in Portugal: Itinerary with Lisbon, Porto or Algarve
- As someone who has visited Portugal five times and the Algarve region twice, my answer is below. The best time to go to the Algarve in Portugal is late spring… Read more: What’s the Best Time to Go to Algarve Portugal? (+ Weather)
- Coimbra is a historical city and former capital of Portugal situated on hilly terrain in the center of the country. Unlike Lisbon, Porto, and Faro, Coimbra is one of the… Read more: Is Coimbra Worth Visiting? Thoughts on Portugal’s Historic City
- Having visited the Algarve twice, I now want to talk about the most beautiful beach there. Not just in Portugal but this beach often features in Europe’s most beautiful beaches… Read more: Praia da Marinha: the Most Beautiful Beach of Algarve, Portugal (Complete Guide)
- If you have been reading my blog since 2015, then you have probably seen how I rave about Lisbon, its pretty streets, and pastel houses. Do you want to know… Read more: 20 Things to Do in Alfama, Lisbon’s Prettiest District
- I have rewritten my 2 days in Lisbon itinerary after visiting Lisbon for the second time and in total Portugal 5 times. It was my second time in Europe when… Read more: The Best 2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary, Portugal (2024)
- Sete Vales Suspensos OR the Seven Hanging Valleys Ever visited a travel destination for a few days but realized that your time there wasn’t enough because there was so much… Read more: Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Algarve’s Scenic Hike (Portugal) + Map
- I visited the Algarve twice and here’s my travel guide for Carvoeiro Algarve. If you have a thing for stunning beaches, then most likely you have heard of Portugal’s Algarve… Read more: Visiting Carvoeiro, Algarve’s Prettiest Destination (Portugal)
- I have said it before and I will say it over and over again – I absolutely love Lisbon. It is super pretty, warm, unique, and has the cutest public… Read more: Lisbon Instagram Spots: 15 Photo Spots in Lisbon, Portugal
- Here’s my itinerary for spending 3 days in Lagos Portugal. I have been living in Europe since 2017, and I have to say that Lagos on Portugal’s Algarve coast is… Read more: 3 Days in Lagos Portugal: Itinerary for the Algarve’s Fun Destination
- Faro is the starting point for most of the Algarve itineraries and road trips, but is this city worth visiting? I have said it before and I will say it… Read more: Is Faro Worth Visiting? My Thoughts about Algarve’s Entry City (Portugal)
- The epic Ponta da Piedade hike, the map and info about how to get to Ponta da Piedade, the best sunset spots, and more info about the sea cliffs in… Read more: Ponta da Piedade Hike in Lagos (Algarve), Portugal – Viewpoints, Maps & Tips
- If you ask me to recommend the best beach destination in Europe, I’d say Portugal. It has everything that I think makes a beach destination perfect. Want to know why?… Read more: Best Beaches in Lagos, Portugal (the Algarve Coast)
- Portugal is definitely my favorite country in Europe. I have visited it over and over, and each time I discover something new. During my third trip to Portugal, while I… Read more: Is Nazaré Worth Visiting? Portugal’s Beach Town with Big Waves
- Algarve itinerary 7 days – can be done as a road trip or without a car using public transport. I have this thing for beaches. As an Asian, I was… Read more: Algarve Itinerary 7 Days: A Road Trip for One Week in Algarve, Portugal
- Porto (or Oporto in Portuguese) has it all to make it an epic travel destination. It is warm, has loads of history, insanely good food options, and plenty of viewpoints.… Read more: 3 Days in Porto: things to do + Itinerary + Map (Portugal)
- Faro is a lovely little historical city in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is the entry point to Algarve because it has an airport. Faro is used as a base to… Read more: Things to do in Faro, Portugal (Algarve’s Entry City)
- Information about how to reach Benagil Cave, Tips, and Practical Travel Info. As of 2023, I have visited the Benagil Cave twice and had a different experience each time. Imagine… Read more: How to Reach Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal (Tours + Kayaking + tips)
- Travel guide for visiting Lagos in Algarve (South Portugal) with how to visit, and top tips. Here’s everything you need to know about things to do in Lagos Portugal’s beach… Read more: Things to do in Lagos Portugal: the Gem of the Algarve Coast
- Ola Lisbon, I am hopelessly in love with you! Can I be yours forever? There are two kinds of people in this world – those who have never been to… Read more: Why Visit Lisbon? 15 Reasons to Visit and Fall in Love