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InternationalTravel.ai - 9 Best Cities in Portugal & Best Time of Year to Visit 2024
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Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon


9 Best Cities in Portugal & Best Time of Year to Visit

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're planning a trip to Portugal, here are the 9 Best Cities in Portugal & Best Time of Year to Visit.

Portugal, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, is a country that offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers. From the charming streets of Porto to the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve, each city in Portugal has its own unique allure. Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking to soak up some sun, these nine cities are sure to provide unforgettable experiences. Here's a guide to the best cities in Portugal that travelers absolutely love.

Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a city that effortlessly blends traditional heritage with striking modernism and progressive thinking. As you wander through the narrow streets of Alfama or take in the view from São Jorge Castle, you'll feel the city's rich history. Don't miss the opportunity to ride the iconic Tram 28 or sample the famous pastéis de nata at Pastéis de Belém. For art lovers, the Berardo Collection Museum showcases a fantastic array of modern and contemporary art. Lisbon's Oceanário is one of the largest indoor aquariums in Europe and is a must-visit for families.

When to Visit: The best time to visit Lisbon is either from March to May or September to October, when the weather is still warm, but the crowds are less intense. A great time to visit is during the Festas de Lisboa in June, when the city comes alive with parades and street parties.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the chance to listen to traditional Fado music in one of the authentic Fado houses in the Alfama district. This soulful music is a deep part of Portuguese culture and offers an unforgettable experience.

Where to Stay & Eat: For accommodation, consider staying at the historic Pousada de Lisboa or the modern and luxurious Myriad by SANA Hotels. For dining, try the Michelin-starred Belcanto for an exquisite gastronomic experience or Time Out Market for a variety of local flavors under one roof.

Porto

Porto, known for its port wine and the Douro River, is a city steeped in charm and tradition. The Ribeira district, with its colorful houses and narrow cobbled streets, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers stunning views of the river. Wine enthusiasts should visit the port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for tastings and tours. The Livraria Lello bookstore is an architectural gem that inspired J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. For a taste of local life, visit the Bolhão Market where you can find fresh produce and traditional Portuguese products.

When to Visit: The best time to visit Porto is from May to September when the weather is pleasant. If you're looking for a special event, São João Festival in June is a lively celebration with fireworks, music, and dancing.

Travel Tip: Take a cruise along the Douro River to see the city from a different perspective and enjoy the stunning landscapes of the Douro Valley.

Where to Stay & Eat: The Yeatman and InterContinental Porto - Palacio das Cardosas are both excellent hotel choices. For dining, try Cantinho do Avillez for contemporary Portuguese cuisine or Café Majestic for a historic atmosphere.

Coimbra

Coimbra is the medieval capital of Portugal and home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. The University of Coimbra is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its stunning Baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina. Wander through the city's historic streets and visit the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral, Sé Velha. For a relaxing afternoon, stroll through the lush Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe.

When to Visit: Spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) are ideal times to visit Coimbra, with mild temperatures and fewer tourists. The Queima das Fitas in May is a vibrant student festival worth experiencing.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the opportunity to see a traditional academic performance of Fado de Coimbra, a unique style of Fado music performed by university students.

Where to Stay & Eat: Stay at the charming Quinta das Lágrimas or the sophisticated Sapientia Boutique Hotel. For dining, enjoy traditional Portuguese dishes at Ze Manel dos Ossos or the refined setting of Dux Petiscos e Vinhos.

Braga

Braga, one of Portugal's oldest cities, is known for its religious heritage and vibrant cultural scene. The Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary, with its impressive baroque stairway, offers panoramic views of the city. Braga's historic center is home to the Braga Cathedral, the oldest in Portugal. The city also hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the colorful Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations.

When to Visit: Visit Braga in the spring or early fall to enjoy pleasant weather and fewer crowds. Easter time is particularly special in Braga due to the Semana Santa festivities.

Travel Tip: Explore the Peneda-Gerês National Park, just a short drive from Braga, for breathtaking natural scenery and outdoor activities.

Where to Stay & Eat: Consider staying at the elegant Meliá Braga Hotel & Spa or the boutique Vila Galé Collection Braga. For dining, Brac Restaurant offers a contemporary twist on Portuguese cuisine, while Taberna Belga is known for its traditional dishes.

Évora

Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for its well-preserved Roman Temple and the haunting Chapel of Bones. The city's historic center is a maze of cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and Gothic architecture. The Évora Museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that tell the story of the region's history. For a taste of local wine, visit the nearby Alentejo vineyards for a tour and tasting.

When to Visit: The best time to visit Évora is during the spring (March to June) or fall (September to November) when temperatures are mild and the vineyards are either blooming or harvesting.

Travel Tip: Take a walk around the city walls for a different perspective of Évora and to enjoy the surrounding countryside views.

Where to Stay & Eat: Albergaria do Calvário is a charming hotel set in a historic building, while Pousada Convento de Évora offers a unique stay in a former convent. For dining, try the traditional Alentejo cuisine at Restaurante Fialho or the innovative dishes at Botequim da Mouraria.

Aveiro

Often referred to as the "Venice of Portugal," Aveiro is known for its picturesque canals and colorful moliceiro boats. The city's Art Nouveau architecture is another highlight, best appreciated on a walking tour. The Aveiro Salt Pans are a unique attraction, offering insight into traditional salt harvesting methods. For a sweet treat, try the local ovos moles, a delicious egg yolk-based confectionery.

When to Visit: The best time to visit Aveiro is during the summer months of June to August when the weather is warm and the city is lively with festivals, such as the Festa de São Gonçalinho.

Travel Tip: Don't miss a boat tour on the Ria de Aveiro to fully experience the city's beautiful waterways and learn about its maritime history.

Where to Stay & Eat: Hotel Moliceiro offers a prime location and elegant rooms, while the Meliá Ria Hotel & Spa provides modern amenities and a relaxing spa. For dining, Salpoente serves exquisite seafood dishes, and O Batel is known for its traditional Portuguese cuisine.

Guimarães

Guimarães, often referred to as the birthplace of Portugal, is a city rich in history and culture. The Guimarães Castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza are must-visit landmarks that offer a glimpse into the nation's medieval past. The city's historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with charming plazas and historic buildings. For a cultural experience, visit the Vila Flor Cultural Centre, which hosts a variety of performances and exhibitions.

When to Visit: The best times to visit Guimarães are from March to May and September to October when the weather is pleasant and the city is less crowded. The Gualterianas Festivities in August are a great time to experience local traditions and festivities.

Travel Tip: Take the cable car up to Penha Mountain for stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Where to Stay & Eat: Stay at the historic Pousada de Guimarães or the modern Hotel de Guimarães. For dining, try the Michelin-recommended restaurant A Cozinha por António Loureiro or the traditional Portuguese fare at Histórico by Papaboa.

Obidos

The charming walled town of Obidos is like stepping back in time. With its medieval castle, narrow streets, and traditional white houses adorned with flowers, Obidos is a picturesque destination. The town is also known for its cherry liqueur, ginjinha, often served in edible chocolate cups. Each July, Obidos hosts a traditional Medieval Market, where visitors can experience the Middle Ages with jousting knights and artisan markets.

When to Visit: The best time to visit Obidos is during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to October) to avoid the summer crowds. The Medieval Market in July is a unique event that brings the town's history to life.

Travel Tip: Visit the Obidos Lagoon for a peaceful escape and the opportunity to enjoy water sports or simply relax by the water.

Where to Stay & Eat: The Pousada Castelo de Obidos offers a unique stay within the castle walls, while Casa das Senhoras Rainhas provides a cozy boutique experience. For dining, try the innovative cuisine at Petrarum Domus bar & restaurante or the traditional dishes at Jamon Jamon.

Faro

Faro, the capital of the Algarve region, is a gateway to the beautiful beaches and islands of southern Portugal. The city's Old Town, Cidade Velha, is enclosed by ancient walls and features the Faro Cathedral with its stunning views from the tower. The Ria Formosa Natural Park is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers, with its unique wetland system and secluded beaches. For a cultural experience, visit the Municipal Museum of Faro, which showcases local history and art.

When to Visit: The best time to visit Faro is from late spring to early autumn (May to September) when the weather is warm and sunny. Avoid the peak tourist season in July and August if you prefer a quieter experience.

Travel Tip: Take a boat trip to the nearby islands, such as Ilha Deserta or Ilha da Culatra, for pristine beaches and a taste of local island life.

Where to Stay & Eat: Hotel Eva offers central accommodation with a rooftop pool, while Pousada Palácio de Estoi provides a luxurious stay in a historic palace. For dining, try the seafood at Faro e Benfica or the tapas at Vila Adentro.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC is one of the Founders of InternationalTravel.ai and serves as Co-President of Expat Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange and InternationalTravel.ai, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon

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