9 Things to See and Do on Your Trip to Portugal

By: Angela Ayles

The Portuguese Republic, nestled next to Spain on the Iberian Peninsula, offers travelers many outstanding things to see and do. Visitors will enjoy history, art and the opportunity to experience Portugal’s natural beauty. Here is a list of nine great things to experience in the nation of Portugal


1. Alfama

The Alfama district lets visitors experience the architectural history of Lisbon. The Alfama is the oldest area in Lisbon having survived the earthquake that devastated much of the city in the 1700s. Many of cities important historical attractions are located in the Alfama, and visitors will find very nice restaurants here. This area is well-known for Fado performances. The beautiful Lisbon Cathedral is in the Alfama area.

Alfama Portugal

2. Lisbon Cathedral

This is the oldest church in the city of Lisbon. It dates back to the 12th century. Inside, visitors will see an eclectic mix of architectural styles including baroque, gothic, neoclassical, rococo and romanesque. The cathedral is open for tours when services are not in progress.

Lisbon Cathedral Portugal

3. National Museum of Ancient Art

The National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon has one of the best art collections in Europe. While focusing on the work of Portuguese artists, the museum also has work from artists around the world including an outstanding Oriental collection. There is a good restaurant at the museum with a view of the river.


4. Oceanario de Lisboa

The Oceanario is a modern aquarium having just opened in 1998 in Lisbon. It is the most visited attraction in the country. The building is built partially underwater allowing for views of ocean fish. This attraction provides wonderful viewing of sharks and sea turtles. There are many activities for children.

Oceanario de Lisboa


5. Pena National Palace

Located near Sintra, Portugal is the Pena National Palace. This former palace of the Portuguese monarchs is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was in ruins until rebuilt by King Ferdinand II in the 1800s. It has been restored to its former glory, and tours are available most days. Surrounding the palace is the Pena Park filled with ferns and tropical plants.

Pena National Palace Portugal

6. Costa Vincentina National Park

Along the Atlantic coast near Algarve is the Costa Vincentina National Park. The park has an old lighthouse to tour, and there are nice beaches to walk along. One of the highlights of a visit to this location is a chance to see the abundandt birdlife dwelling in the cliffs along the ocean.

Costa Vincentina National Park Portugal

7. Peneda-Geres National Park

The Penada-Geres National Park is located in far north of Portugal on the border with Spain. It is near the city of Braga. This park is in a mountainous area, and there are excellent hiking opportunities available. Camping is available in some limited locations. This park is one of the few areas left in Europe with a viable population of Gray wolves. Eagles and bears are often seen by park visitors. Many waterfalls are scattered through the park, and they are one of the main tourist draws to the area.

Geres National Park Portugal

8. Monastery of Alcobara

Another Portuguese UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Monastery of Alcobara. This monastary was founded in 1153 by the Cistercian Order. The building is one of the oldest buildings in the Gothic style in Europe. Many of the kings and queens of Portugal who reigned in the Middle Ages are buried in the monastery in elaborate tombs that are certainly works of art.

Monastery of Alcobara Portugal

9. Lisbon Zoo

The Lisbon Zoo is a nice place to spend an afternoon with the entire family. This zoo contains nearly 2,000 animals from a variety of species. Dolphin performances are held daily, and the tram rides in the zoo are quite popular.