24 Popular Places and Hidden Gems to Visit in Portugal in 2024

24, yes 24 places to visit in Portugal! If this was simply a list of places to visit it would be easy but I wanted to make it different from other similar lists you may find online by adding some depth to it. This isn’t a blog post, it’s a travel guide; written with love. While you may have heard of many of the places on this list I’ve used my travel planning experience to (hopefully) offer you something new to discover in each. I’ve also included lots of true hidden gems that I’ve found since living in and traveling around Portugal over the last 7 years.

The guide will span the whole length and width of the country (including the islands) and share 24 places you need to add to your Portugal travel wish list. My main focus, as always, is on authentic experiences, featuring local, small businesses where possible.

TRAVEL GUIDES

I’ve visited all of the places I write about personally and all photos are my own. Each place will include a personal recommendation on where to stay, where to eat and what to experience.

24 Places to Visit in Portugal 2024

.I’ve personally visited all of the places below, and all photos are ones I’ve taken during my own travels. So, are you ready for the 24 places to visit in Portugal n 2024? Let’s go!

1. Caldas da Rainha

First up, we’re heading 1 hour north of Lisbon to a town that often slips under the radar of most travellers even though it sits perfectly on the route between Lisbon and Porto. Most people opt for the pretty, but touristy town of Óbidos and the big wave capital of the world Nazaré when choosing a mid-way stop. I’m a huge Nazaré fan with our without the waves so I vote to keep that on your itinerary. However, if you want a town that’s pretty and isn’t built solely around tourism then add Caldas da Rainha to your itinerary.

Where to stay in Caldas da Rainha

This boutique concept hotel 19Tile is a true gem. It’s honestly one of my favourite stays in Portugal. The rooms are all individual, spacious and well thought out. There is an excellent petiscos restaurant below and the free breakfast is amazing quality.

More accommodation in Caldas da Rainha here.

Where to eat & drink in Caldas da Rainha

Maria dos Cacos is the name of the restaurant below 19Tile and is definitely the winner for me. If you’re here on a weekend, book a table in advance as it can get busy.  I was amazed at how many high quality and interesting restaurants there are in Caldas. Another couple to check out…

Pateo do Baco Wine bar with all the Portuguese classics, at Portuguese prices.

Razzle Dazzle Okay, so this isn’t Portuguese but in case you’re in the mood for some (really good) pizza then this is your place.

Oh, and for wine experience stop off for a glass or two at Local Café. The staff can help you pick the perfect bottle to suit your taste.

Best Experiences in Caldas da Rainha

Like pottery and ceramics? You’ve probably heard of Bordallo Pinheiro and Caldas da Rainha is the perfect town to pick up some of his iconic designs since the factory store is here. However, did you know Caldas da Rainha is also home to some incredibly cheap (and gorgeous)ceramics? You just need to know where to find them. Kind of don’t want to give this away but sharing is caring so…Casa das Louças. Shhh don’t tell anyone I told you 😉

For a strange yet fascinating activity buy a €4 ticket to the hospital museum. I was surprisingly impressed! 

One more Caldas experience is the daily market at Praça da fruta. It’s only small but it encapsulates the ‘market experience’ perfectly. Drop by to pick up some fresh goodies to enjoy picnic style on the cliffs at Nazaré!

See what I mean? There is plenty to occupy a few days in Caldas da Rainha and it really does make a great stop-off between Lisbon and Porto.


2. Mosteiros (Açores)

Next on the list and the first entry for The Azores. Mosteiros is a small area at the western most point of the biggest island in the Azores – São Miguel. This remote-feeling town offers a breath of fresh air and, well, since it’s way out west, some pretty spectacular sunsets too! 

SÃO MIGUEL TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Mosteiros

Just a short, scenic drive away you’ll find the teeny village of Várzea which is home to Villa Várzea. This rural house offers huge rooms with beautiful details and close proximity to the famous Sete Cidades. I stayed in the charming room and loved the view, corner bath and giant bed.

Where to eat & drink in Mosteiros

Why, Sunset Steves of course! This fun bar is situated at the perfect location for that sunset I was telling you about. It attracts a great crowd of locals and foreigners and a drinks list to suit all tastes. It is more of a ‘snacks to share’ kinda place than a meal but again, there are plenty of options to stop you going hungry. Pull up a seat or sit on the wall and wait for sunset.

Best Experiences in Mosteiros

How many times can I mention sunset? Stay for sunset.

Apart from that, there are some natural pools here which are begging for a dip. The swell can be a bit wild here so it’s only suitable during low tide on a calm day. 


3. Ferragudo

Ahh, lovely Ferragudo. Nestled down in the sunny Algarve, next door to Portimão the fishing town of Ferragudo is a more compact and quieter place to stay in Algarve. This little town is no secret but it doesn’t attract the same crowds as places such as Lagos so it has a more relaxed vibe year round. It also has some great beaches in the general area.

FERRAGUDO TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Ferragudo

I had a wonderful two night stay at One2Seven which has a pool with a view and a “basement” full of fun toys like bikes and SUP.

Where to eat & drink in Ferragudo

Eating freshly caught fish that has been cooked on a coal barbecue in front of you is a Portuguese experience not to be missed. What makes it all the more special is the local fisherman fixing their nets next-door. Take a look at Sueste and Borda do Cais. In these restaurants expect to pay per KG – always check the price first so you don’t get caught out.

Alternatively sit in at one of the restaurants in the main square for a buzzy atmosphere and lots of options. I enjoyed a fresh bass at O Barrel which was great value.

Best Experiences in Ferragudo

I can’t mention experiences without talking about the beach! Ferragudo has the big and attractive Praia Grande in walking distance but for me the short drive (or taxi) to Praia dos Caneiros is totally worth it. At high tide there isn’t much beach so if you’re coming here in summer, arrive early.

Another must is pulling up a chair at one of the restaurants on the waterfront where you can watch your fish order being cooked on a traditional bbq right in front of you. Complete with lobster pots and colourful fishing boats as the backdrop.

A short drive from Ferragudo is Morgado do Quintão. This small scale vineyard offers wine and petisco tastings under a 1000 year old olive tree. There are also some gorgeous rooms here that lend themselves to a slow-living kinda holiday if you want to stay a while.

WINE TASTING ALGARVE


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4. Valença do Douro

Day 4 and now we’re getting to the good stuff. Introducing this Douro Valley “hidden” village, Valença do Douro. Most people dart in and out of Douro Valley in a day, usually stopping in Pinhão and ticking off a must-visit meal (I agree) and wine-tasting at Quinta do Ventozelo . But I urge you to spend a few days in Douro Valley if you can, even better if you can drive. The roads here are spectacular and even if you’re not a wine buff, you’ll be mesmerised by the beauty surrounding the vineyards. I’ve visited Douro Valley 6 times since moving to Portugal in 2016 and each time I discover somewhere new, but I come back to Valença do Douro every time.

Where to stay in Valença do Douro

Whenever I’m planning a trip for someone to Douro Valley and they have 2 nights (the minimum stay), I send them to Casa Cimeira. It’s one of my all time favourite places to stay in Portugal. Run by Miguel and his family this modest hotel has huge, comfy rooms, a swimming pool and a drinking nook where you can taste Miguel’s 10 year old tawny port. You can also enjoy a home cooked dinner each evening with the other guests. Every time I visit I meet new people from around the world and it always turns into a fun evening. 

If you’re looking to stay on an actual vineyard Quinta da Corte is just down the road and offers a luxury rustic stay. Factor in at least one free afternoon to enjoy the pool overlooking the valley. They also offer wine tasting (fantastic – do it) and a three course meal but in my honest opinion the meal isn’t worth it. Instead I would book a table at Quinta do Ventozelo in Ervas do Douro for the foodie part of your trip.

Where to eat & drink in Valença do Douro

This is only a small hamlet so there aren’t many restaurants. There used to be a small snack bar with one of the best secret views of Douro Valley but it has since permanently closed according to GoogleMaps. If you’re not staying at Casa Cimeira or Quinta da Corte there aren’t any other eating options close by but Pinhão is only a short drive away and has plenty of restaurants and some small shops.

Best Experiences in Valença do Douro

If you want something else to add to your itinerary in Valença then I recommend booking a picnic at Quinta do Pôpa. First book a wine tasting and then choose your favourite bottle of wine to add to the picnic of local treats, sit back and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Douro river below the vines. Lots more ideas for the Douro in my guide below…

DOURO VALLEY WINE TASTING GUIDE


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If you want to plan the perfect trip but there are just too many options, I can help you make the most of your time.  If you want a one-of-a-kind, personalised travel itinerary, full to the brim with authentic experiences, I’ve got you…


5. Azeitão

Another relatively unknown spot that is only an hour’s drive from Lisbon is Azeitão. The municipality is made up of a collection of aldeias which are worth a drive around but Vila Nogueira de Azeitao is the main hub of activities. It’s also close to the natural wonder that is Arrábida natural park so it is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore those beaches without having to drive over the busy April 25th bridge in Lisbon.

Where to stay in Azeitão

The Casa dos Avós apartment is a good choice in Azeitão. Alternatively find an apartment in nearby Sesimbra or even Arrábida since you’ll likely be exploring the whole area.

Where to eat & drink in Azeitão

First let’s sort out the sweet tooth. Azeitão is home to all sorts of sweets and pastries but if you are to try one thing it has to be the sticky Tortas de Azeitão. Start your day at Pedaços de Azeitão to try one of these delights and pick up a few gifts to take home too. For lunch head to the Wine Corner at José Maria da Fonseca for perfect food and wine pairing; or for something a little more down to earth head to Retiro do Caçador for a Portuguese feast. If you don’t have time for food here, definitely still spend 20 minutes grabbing a coffee at the old lavanderia (communal laundry space) Sabores e Encantos de Azeitão.

Best Experiences in Azeitão

Wineeee. There is going to be a lot of wine in this advent calendar of places to visit in Portugal because it’s ne of my favourite ways to experience the country. Azeitão has a rich wine history and there are several places to enjoy a wine tasting. José Fonseca is a big wine brand in Portugal and the winery in Azeitã offers several tours throughout the day. Don’t stop there though the beautiful Bacalhôa palace and museum is also worth a wine tour and tasting. Several different tours available!


6. Ponte de Lima

Today we’re north of Porto to the oldest town in Portugal – Ponte de Lima. It’s been on my travel wish list for the last 3 years; I finally got to visit this year and it’s even more quaint in real life. Ponte means bridge in Portuguese and the town is named after what is said to be the most important monument in the country – the 2,000 year old (!!)  bridge that crosses the river Lima. The town itself is a maze of calçada lined streets and pretty churches. 

Where to stay in Ponte de Lima

For a central small hotel try Casa da Travessa. For a rustic stay try Quinta Da Aldeia.

Where to eat & drink in Ponte de Lima

Take yourself to Restaurante Gaio for all the Portuguese greats such as bacalhau and rojōes.

Best Experiences in Ponte de Lima

Of course, take many photos of that bridge view….swoon! The town is made for wandering so wander ‘til your heart’s content and see where the tiny streets take you.

Since Ponte de Lima is also central to the vinho verde region it would  be rude not to enjoy a couple of glasses while you are there. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to do a tasting because I was driving north to Gerês. The Adega Cooperativa offers wine tasting but the website is currently down. Alternatively Quinta da Cuquinha is located 6km away and offers wine tasting and stays.


7. Cascais

I wanted to get Cascais early on because it’s the place in Portugal I choose to call home. After living in Lagos for 4 years I moved to Cascais in 2020 and I love it fiercely. Apologies in advance, this is a long one!

Cascais can sometimes get a bad rap. Firstly, people tend to compare it to Lisbon which is a mistake because Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and Cascais is a large coastal town. They offer completely different experiences. Cascais can draw in the crowds during the summer, because it’s not just foreigners that holiday here, but the Portuguese too. Many people think the town is touristy but it’s only because they are not looking in the right places. Rather than just stopping here as an afterthought on the way home from Sintra, spend a day or two and get to know the town properly. I think you’ll be surprised!

CASCAIS TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Cascais

The historical centre is an obvious choice. The beautiful streets capture the charm of Cascais better than anywhere else but don’t think you have to stay here to experience Cascais. Another option is Guia which is halfway between Cascais and Praia do Guincho. Or stay on any of the small towns along the Linha da Cascais such as Monte Estoril, São João or Parede. To be immersed in nature look for stays in Malveira (only suitable if you have a car).

 

Where to eat & drink in Cascais

You are certainly spoiled for choice here in Cascais. José Avillez has a wonderful contemporary Portuguese restaurant here. You’ll also find mind blowing sushi at Confraria and several memorable outdoor dining restaurants at Rua Amarela. Not forgetting some beautifully crafted cocktails at Hīfen (if you go there is a good chance you’ll see me sipping on a glass of wine at the bar because it’s my local hangout). When it comes to good grub, you are certainly spoiled for choice here in Cascais. However I’ll be the first to admit, it isn’t easy to find good traditional tascas like those hidden around Graça and Mouraria in Lisbon, but I promise they do exist. Take a few streets back from the historical centre and you’ll find O Cantinho da Belinha – you can thank me later. For something even more casual and a church view drop by A Leitaria for a bifana or bitoque and an ice cold Sagres.

CASCAIS EATS & DRINKS

Best Experiences in Cascais

You’ve probably already seen the famous view of Santa Marta lighthouse in Cascais, but did you know you can climb to the top? It’s open every day from 10am-6pm with a break for lunch. Tickets are €5 and give you entry to the small but interesting museum and the top of the lighthouse. The lighthouse and many of the museums in Cascais offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month.

I can’t mention Cascais without mentioning the beach. However, let’s skip the town beaches and head out west instead. 10km west of Cascais sits the dramatic Praia do Guincho. This natural beauty is a must-visit in Cascais and a sure way to beat the crowds, even in the summer. It can get windy here so be prepared. What’s even better is that you can hire electric bikes or scooters and follow the flat cycle path the whole way there. It runs along the sea and takes you past Boca do Inferno cave, Casa da Guia (great lunch spot) and several wild beaches. My favourite secret spot? Praia do Abano for hidden beach hikes.


8. Vidigueira

I’m going to guess, unless you are a real wine nerd you probably haven’t heard of this one. I don’t blame you. It wasn’t on my map before 2020 but after searching for some wine experiences I ended up here. Vidigueira is a small town in Baixo Alentejo (a place I go to fill my soul back up after too long in the city). Vidigueira has a long (1000 years) of winemaking history. It is believed it started with the Romans which were followed by the Greeks who created Amphora wine – a wine process you can still find in the Vidigueira area today.

Where to stay in Vidigueira

I rented the fabulous Casa Grainha and loved being right in the centre.

Where to eat & drink in Vidigueira

Quinta do Quetzal – another one that is far too good to be kept a secret. This spaceship looking restaurant plonked in the middle of a vineyard has stunning views over the vines and dishes to die for thanks to local chef João Mourato. Ask the team to pair your wine, you won’t be disappointed.

Best Experiences in Vidigueira

Well, wine, duh. 

Now that you’re here let me tell you you’re in one of the most densely populated places in Portugal for wine production. As in, there are so many wineries that you need at least a  week to experience them all. I’ve spent 3 trips tasting wines in Baixo Alentejo and I’m still a long way off stepping foot in all the wineries.

My favourites are…
Rocim Book an amphora tour and tasting with the brilliant Bruno. If you happen to be in the Baixo Alentejo area during November don’t miss out on the annual Amphora Wine Day where you’ll get to taste the first amphora wine of the year.

Herdade Grande Intimate tasting area and if you’re lucky you can meet the famous vineyard dog who is so loved he made it on a bottle label.

Quinta do Paral I’m not a rosé drinker but I tried a bottle here in 2021 and I still talk about it today.

Not forgetting Adega Cooperativa Vidigueira right in the centre of Vidigueira.

I can’t talk about all of this without mentioning my friend Rita from Burrico d’Orada who introduced me to all of the vineyards above.. She has a deep knowledge of the region and introduced me to many amazing people, places and wines. Get in touch with her if you want to get to know the real Baixo Alentejo 

SLOW TRAVEL WITH BURRICO D’ORADA


9. Piodão

Probably the most well-known of the schist villages but it still takes some dedication to get here. The windy roads lead you through mountains and thick forest until you round the corner to the picturesque Piodão.

Where to stay in Piodão

There aren’t lots of places to stay in Piodão village but Story Studio is possibly the cutest of the lot!

Where to eat & drink in Piodão

I was pleasantly surprised by the food on offer in Piodão. I was expecting it to be overpriced and not great quality but I was wrong. There are lots of restaurants serving hearty mountain food. If you’re staying for lunch or dinner go to O Fontinha or for lunch or a snack Solar dos Pachedos do fantastic bifanas.

Best Experiences in Piodão

The main draw of Piodão is the cute village itself so the best experience is simply wandering between the schist houses, counting the red doors and seeking out the village wildlife (cats). It’s a great place for photography too!


10. Tavira

Tavira is a well-known town right in the eastern corner of Algarve. Its location means it holds onto the warmest temperatures in the country and since it is more sheltered than western towns like Lagos it is often less windy here too. It’s a pretty town with a lovely square and gorgeous bridge. It also has some of the region’s best beaches nearby. 

TAVIRA TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Tavira

Formosa Guesthouse is in the centre of town and features high ceilings and individual balconies overlooking the main square. I stayed here in the balmy summer of 2020 and spent many evenings drinking wine on the balcony, people watching. They also have a huge roof terrace.

Where to eat & drink in Tavira

For traditional Portuguese dishes and jugs of wine served by the 1⁄2 litre you cannot go wrong at Casa Simão. For seats next to the river Terraze is your place. For a taste of the Mediterranean, pull up a seat at Nikita . If you’re anything like me and an afternoon spritz in the sun is your idea of heaven go directly to Tasca do Zé André .

Best Experiences in Tavira

Take the ferry to Praia da Ilha de Tavira which is so long that even in the middle of summer you can find a quiet spot (as long as you are willing to walk).

Wander the historical centre and climb the 11th century castle.

Enjoy sunset at Praça da República, the atmosphere at this time of the day is amazing.


11. São Vicente (Madeira)

The first place I want to mention in Madeira is São Vicente on the north coast. When travelling to Madeira you’ll be tempted to stay in the well-serviced area of Funchal but I urge you to spend at least a few nights in other parts of the island. São Miguel is a great place to spend at least one of those nights. São Vicente is, like much of the island, surrounded by almost unbelievable natural beauty. Mountains, waterfalls, natural sea pools and some of the most spectacular viewpoints to discover. 

Tropical banana palms Madeira

Where to stay in São Vicente

Stay in a traditional Madeira island house with a huge tropical garden and pool. Casa da Piedade was one of my favourite stays on Madeira. Imagine lying in a hammock with a glass of wine from a vineyard a matter of a few km’s away, surrounded by hibiscus plants and banana trees. There you have Quinta da Piedade.

Where to eat & drink in São Vicente

Pull up a plastic table and chair on the terrace at Calamar for seafood with a sea breeze. Step inside the small wine cave – Justinos for a glass of madeira wine. You absolutely have to try the ‘Nikita’ while in São Vicente. It’s a combination of beer and pineapple ice-cream which is infinitely better than it sounds. I had the best one of my madeira trip at the Poncha Bar in São Vicente.

Best Experiences in São Vicente

In 7 years of wine tastings all over Portugal Quinta do Barbusano in São Vicente holds the prize for best view and I absolutely recommend adding this winery to your Madeira Itinerary. 

WINE TASTING DOURO VALLEY


12. Alcoutim

A literal stone’s throw away from Spain is the cute village of Alcoutim. When you think of Algarve this will be the opposite of what comes to mind but as you can see there is so much more to Algarve than sardine-packed beaches. Alcoutim is located in the north-east of the region, on the Guadiana river. Alcoutim is situated smack bang in the middle of Tavira and Mértola (45 minutes drive from each) so it’s a great way to link Algarve and Alentejo for those of you visiting both regions during your travel in Portugal.

Where to stay in Alcoutim

Most people don’t stay overnight in Alcoutim but there is no reason not to stay the night here. There is a great country house to rent close by in Corte de Seda. As well as other traditional houses in the countryside. 

Where to eat & drink in Alcoutim

It’s all about a ‘sandes mista’ (cheese and ham sandwich) and Sagres at Beira Rio with a view of the river, and Spain!

Best Experiences in Alcoutim

In the summer season you can take the (very short) ferry across the river to Sanlúcar de Guadiana in Spain and then zipline back to Portugal. This is the only zipline between two countries in the entire world – pretty cool! 


13. Apúlia

The first time I heard of Apúlia was this year, 7 whole years after moving here. It’s these surprises that make me fall in love with Portugal over and over again. This wonderful seaside fishing village has some iconic features setting it apart from other seaside villages in Portugal – windmills! Originally used to grind cereal, the well-kept mills are now holiday homes. This long stretch of beach is only 1 hour north of Porto and the perfect alternative beach holiday in Porto.

Apúlia hidden gem Portugal

Where to stay in Apúlia

I am yet to find a listing for the windmills. They seem to be privately owned but it’s not easy to find details. However this is a Portuguese holiday destination so there are plenty of rentals available in town and close to the beach. This house is right on the sand. You can even stay in one of the traditional fishing shacks for a really unique experience.

Where to eat & drink in Apúlia

There are a couple of great seafood shacks on the beach. They get busy during summer and weekends so be prepared to queue.

Best Experiences in Apúlia

Walk the boardwalk behind the windmills, noting the differences between them. This is a great beach for kids because there are many shallow pools available. 


14. Monchique

Monchique is an Algarvian village that often gets forgotten about because it’s not on the coast. However, Monchique has its own charm and offers a glimpse of local life. Monchique is home to the highest point in Algarve – Foia. On a clear day (which is most days in Algarve) you can see the entire stretch of coast from Foia. 

Where to stay in Monchique

The classic Villa Termal hotel with a spa is a great stop off in Algarve. You can stay any time of year but It’s a particularly  great cosy winter hotel. In the off-season you can get exceptionally good value rooms here. 

Where to eat & drink in Monchique

There are two noteworthy restaurants to mention. Both with amazing views over the Algarve region. The most well-known one is Luar da Foía. This restaurant serves up excellent quality traditional dishes and is already well known on the tourist route (for those who venture away from the beaches). Book a table in advance for sunset. 

The second restaurant is a hidden gem that I regularly suggest to my clients. Paraíso da Montanha is located further up the Foía route and is often missed by tourists. The food here is simple and delicious and you’ll likely be eating with Monchique or Algarve locals. 

Best Experiences in Monchique

Drive to the top of Serra da Foía and look out for the water fountain. Bring some empty bottles and stock up on fresh mountain water.  

Monchique is home to a small but fantastic thermal spa with 9.5ph water (apparently this is optimum for your health!). 

ALGARVE OFF THE BEATEN PATH EXPERIENCES NOT TO MISS


15. PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço (Madeira)

I’ve cheated a little with this one as it’s not a town or village or hamlet, it’s a hike. This is one of the most special places I visited in Madeira and although it’s not a typical place to stay there is a way you can actually sleep on this peninsula. The PR8 route is a breathtaking 7km hike (out and back)to Miradouro Ponta do Furado. The route takes you across a desolate landscape with crashing waves either side.

Where to stay in São Lourenço

The beauty of this hiking area is that it has a legal wild camping space. Not many people realise this but wild camping is legal in Madeira, but only in designated areas. Madeira has a number of wild camping locations across the island, each with a certain number of permits available each night. The permits are free, you simply apply online for a specific date and it is granted (as long as there is availability). I wild camped solo in two different locations on Madeira and felt very safe. It’s one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in Portugal. Note, there is no vehicle access so you have to be comfortable and fit enough to carry your hiking equipment to the area which is about 3.5km each way.

Where to eat & drink in São Lourenço

Like an oasis rising from the desert, Casa da Sardinha shows up just as you need it, below the main view point. The cafe serves up hot and cold drinks, cakes, snacks and hot meals too. They also have a boat service should you want to take the easy route back or see the peninsular from the water.

Best Experiences in São Lourenço

Beach and ocean on PR8 route Madeira

Cool down from your hike with a mid-way dip in the ocean! The beaches along PR8 are absolutely wonderful. Praia da Sardinha (close to the campspot) is a rocky little cove with crystal clear water, tropical fish and warm water. If you’ve come from the mainland you will be astounded at the sea temperature in comparison! There are not usually lifeguards here so stay in your depth and never swim alone.

MADEIRA’S BEST EXPERIENCES


16. Alvito

A true hidden gem located in Baixo Alentejo (told you I loved this place). Alvito is possibly one of the cutest villages you can find and also one of the most undiscovered. Only 40 minutes south of Êvora, Alvito can easily be bolted on to a trip to Alentejo or via a drive to Algarve. Even better, stay overnight at the pousada for a village experience with a little luxury thrown in.

Where to stay in Alvito

Definitely check in to Pousada do Alvito

Where to eat & drink in Alvito

Best Experiences in Alvito

Wander the streets with no purpose, seek out colourful doors and windows and seek shade in local cafes.


17. Porto

It wouldn’t be a ‘places to visit in Portugal’ list without everyone’s favourite city – Porto. Lisbon may take the top spot for tourism in Portugal but Porto captures the most hearts. I have yet to meet a person who didn’t fall at least a little bit in love with Porto. There is no shortage of information on what to see and do in Porto but I’ll try my best to offer some alternative suggestions.

PORTO TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Porto

Ribeira is the number one spot to stay in Porto. It is the most “touristy” area but for good reason. The atmosphere and views are unbeatable, even if it is busy!

However, Porto has so many fantastic areas to stay. If you want to try something different look for stays closer to Bolhão market where you can experience a bit more local life. Another option that people often miss is Vila Nova de Gaia; Located just across the river from Riberia, amongst the wine cellars, you’re in a great location for exploring. If you’re comfortable staying further out (20-30 minute metro) consider the working fishing town of Matosinhos. I’m no travel trend expert but I predict Matosinhos will take off in the next few years. Enjoy the cheaper accommodation and restaurants while you still can. 

Where to eat & drink in Porto

There are some restaurants that get mentioned time and time again (CHAMA cough cough). The problem with this is many people feel like they have missed out on the best of Porto if they don’t manage to get a table but this isn’t true. Just because no one is talking about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. When it comes to Porto I strongly advise you not to book every meal in advance. Leave yourself time for stumbling across hidden restaurants with traditional, tasty Portuguese grub – there are many waiting to be found. Two local favourites I personally love are Casa Vuívia and O Golfino

Best Experiences in Porto

The most exciting way to see the city? From a sidecar! Book a sidecar tour with João from Sidecar Tours Porto. Or how about spending the morning at Afurada village and then enjoy fish cooked on a traditional bbq street side. In the evening I recommend joining the locals and tourists alike at Jardim do Morro for Porto’s best sunset spot. 

Porto Side Car Tours

18. Pico Ruivo

Pico Ruivo is Maderia’s highest peak is 1,862 metres above sea level.The most famous hiking route to reach it is PR1 which starts at the islands second highest peak Pico Arieiro. If you are able to, I highly recommend doing PR1 – it’s mind blowing, especially at sunrise. However if you don’t have the time or energy for the 23 km  hike there is another way to get to Pico Ruivo for sunrise. The short PR1.2 route starts in Achada do Teixeira and is a 6km out and back route. Whichever hike you choose arrive before sunrise to experience the full magic of this mountain range.

MADEIRA TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Pico Ruivo

Have you stayed in a mountain hut in Portugal before? Now ‘s your time! Casa de Abrigo do Pico Ruivo is a mountain cabin ideally positioned close to the summit of Pico Ruivo. It’s basic, with no electricity and only cold running water. The beds are comfy and there are plenty of blankets – I wasn’t ever cold, but do bring layers and a head torch for night. There is no restaurant, only snacks but there is a bbq area outside which you can use to cook your own food. This stay was one of the most uniqueI’ve had in Portugal. It also meant I was up at Pico Ruivo for sunrise and then walking back down to my car above the clouds. A beautiful moment. 

Where to eat & drink in Pico Ruivo

Mountain Spot Cafe is a mountain hut at the start of the PR 1.2 trail Achada do Teixeira. It’s a warm and cosy mountain hut with big bowls of soups and frothy cappuccinos. The perfect place to spend a few hours before or after hiking. 

Best Experiences in Pico Ruivo

Aside from staying in the mountain hut which I definitely recommend, it’s summiting Pico Ruivo that we’re here for so get yourself up the last steps of the trail and enjoy those incredible views below.

If you want to know more about which hiking routes are available to Pico Ruivo, AllTrails is a good source.


19. Soajo

Without a doubt, my best surprise find of 2023 was Soajo. Tucked away in the Peneda-Gerês natural park, just 10km from the Spanish border, Soajo is a real gem to be explored. But don’t just drive through, stay a night!

Top tip: Don’t do what I did and attempt to drive through the middle of the town. Forever grateful to the local granny who helped guide me to reverse my out of a pickle (cringe!).

Where to stay in Soajo

There are so many cute places to stay in Soajo. There are a surprising amount of holiday houses and a few hotels too.

Best Experiences in Soajo

For a small hamlet there is a lot to explore in the area. The reason most people pass through is to see the Espinheiros – which are old stone cereal houses. If you have a clear evening go here at sunset, the light is beautiful!

Espinheiros Soajo Portugal

There are plenty of hiking trails in the area and if you enjoy a wild swim then there is a waterfall swimming hole very close – Poço Negro is a couple of km’s from the town centre. You can park your car on the street (make sure it’s safe) and then walk down the steps to the watering hole. Go early to avoid crowds if you are visiting in the summer.


20. Nordeste (São Miguel, Azores)

Back to São Miguel for my favourite location on the island – Nordeste. This wild eastern gem offers so much to see and explore. For me Nordeste captures the best parts of São Miguel, remote beaches, dramatic cliffs, wild nature, a memorable town and fishing boats.

SÃO MIGUEL TRAVEL GUIDE

Where to stay in Nordeste

São miguel Nordest scenery and yellow house

Where to eat & drink in Nordeste

For a little slice of luxury stay at The Lince. For a cute cottage stay book this one bedroom house.

Best Experiences in Nordeste

Driving – this island is made for driving and the roads around Nordeste offer a feeling of adventure I haven’t experienced in many places. There are a few real remote beaches here too. I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but if you look to the west of Nordeste on GoogleMaps you’ll find them.

Something I definitely want to share is Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos which is a beautiful sunrise spot. After sunrise drive yourself to the lighthouse and (if you are brave enough) down to the harbour at the bottom. The zig-zag road is very steep and requires confidence to come back up but the views are absolutely breathtaking.

HOW TO HIRE A CAR IN PORTUGAL


21. Lagos

Home to a piece of my heart. Lagos was my first home in Portugal; I spent 4 years in this part of the country and it is still one of my favourite places in the whoel country. Naturally I have a soft spot for Lagos, but I’m not alone. Most people who visit this busy beach town in Algarve come away with good feelings. 

Where to stay in Lagos

Stay in the historical centre for charm (but park in the Marina). Stay along the Avenida or in the Marina for a more luxury feel. I recommend Casa Mãe for a boutique hotel. For easy beach access stay along Meia Praia. When searching for accommodation pay close attention to location, some are very far out for the centre. Porto de Mòs is a great beach but it is far from the old town and the rest of Lagos.

Where to eat & drink in Lagos

For an authentic lunch with the locals, drive (or take an Uber) 10  minutes away to Chico Zé. Order ‘dourada grelhada’ (grilled golden sea bream) and a litre of wine for the full experience.

Linda’s / Bar Quim are both easy breezy beach bars at either end of Meia Praia.

Tasca da Lota is a great spot for simple, fresh, no-frills fish and seafood. 

One of my absolute favourites is Cervejaria Ferradura Lagos. This tiny local bar serves up some great snacks. Super authentic. Definitely worth a visit.

Specialty coffee is big in Lagos so if that’s your thing check out ‘Coffee & Waves’ and ‘Black & White’.

BEST COFFEE LAGOS 

Best Experiences in Lagos

Unpopular opinion but Benagil caves are overrated. Instead explore the Lagos coastline. Ponta de Piedade is no secret but it feels much less commercialised than Benagil. I hope it stays that way. Skip the boat tours, and instead book yourself onto a sunrise SUP tour. You’ll experience the coastline before the crowds. 

LAGOS TRAVEL GUIDE


22. Ferreira do Alentejo

Deep in Baixo Alentejo, Ferreira do Alentejo is one of many of my favourite typical towns in this area. It’s not usually somewhere you would think to visit but these are the exact types of towns I urge you to add to your Portugal itinerary because they offer a glimpse of ‘real Portugal’. Park up at the Intermarche and wander from bottom to top and see what you discover.

Where to stay in Ferreira do Alentejo

Book yourself in at the hidden paradise Pátio das Andorinhas right in the middle of Ferreria.

Where to eat & drink in Ferreira do Alentejo

Take yourself to O Portão and order the gaspacho and carapauzinhos – thank me later.


23. Marvão

Slowly becoming more and more popular Marvão makes for a lovely jaunt into Alto Altenjo. This hilltop village is picture perfect, so much so that it kind of feels like you are in a medieval theme park. It may look like it is geared up solely for tourists but there is still authenticity to be found when you peek around the corners. Marvão can be tricky to reach without a car so if you want to add this town to your itinerary think about exploring Portugal by car.

MEMORABLE ROAD TRIPS IN PORTUGAL

Where to stay in Marvão

Marvão is home to one of Portugal’s many fabulous pousadas. Don’t msis out on an oppotunity to stay in one of these beauties – Pousada de Marvão.

Best Experiences in Marvão

The town itself is only small so make sure you don’t leave until you have walked the circumference of the castle walls to get a 360 degree view of Alentejo. You’ll see Spain from the Eastern walls.

If you want to try something totally different how about hitting the surrounding trails…on a horse! This experience is on my personal 2024 bucket list.

10 DAY ALENTEJO ITINERARY


24. Lisbon

I couldn’t finish this list without mentioning Portugal’s capital. It’s the one place you have definitely all heard of and probably the least surprising of the 24 days. But this city is popular for good reason and my heart swells at seeing how many people have discovered Lisbon over the last few years. Lisbon’s popularity is skyrocketing.

Where to stay

Most people choose to stay in central Lisbon, usually Chiado, Rossio, Bairro Alto or Alfama. Have you heard of Santos? This vibrant area is full of colourful buildings, excellent coffee shops and a maze of streets to explore. It’s a 20 minute walk or 1 stop on the train to Cais do Sodré. A great alternative to the city centre for those of you that want to try something new. This luxury apartment is in the heart of Santos. If you don’t mind jumping on a tram then also consider Belém.

Where to eat & drink

There is no shortage of amazing eats and drinks in Lisbon and I’m sure you already have a list as long as your arm but just in case you need any more, make sure you don’t leave Lisbon without lunch or dinner in a typical ‘tasca’. My personal favourites are O Velho Eurico and A Baiuca, both in Alfama.

For something a little more fancy I highly recommend Izanagi Sushi at Santo Amaro docks which is a dreamy place to spend a sunny afternoon.

Top Tip: TimeOut market is great for a drink (it’s a great atmosphere early evening) or for picking up your 7th pastel de nata of the day at Manteigaria (best in the city 😉 )but if you only have a few days, don’t waste a meal here. There are so many fantastic restaurants to get stuck into that will give you a better taste of Portugal. All my faves in the link below.

LISBON EATS & DRINKS

Best Experiences

Wine tasting is a well-known activity across Portugal and while you’re in Lisbon you should definitely make the most of trying all the different grape juice this country has to offer. But don’t stop your tasting journey there. Portugal is also home to some of the best olive oil in the world (I see you Spain and you got nothing on my beloved Portugal). D’Olivial is a cute boutique store selling Portuguese products AND olive oil tasting. No need to book, just head to the shop and ask to try. You may already know about Fado and you. may already know about food tours but did you know you can mix the two? Join a Lisbon local on this Fado Food tour. For another fascinating stop to add to your Lisbon itinerary visit Bertrand bookstore – ‘the oldest  bookshop in the world’. 

LISBON | 48 HOUR GUIDE

And breathe! There you go – 24 places to visit in Portugal in 2024. Happy Trip Planning!


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