Here are 19 awesome landmarks you should see in Portugal. I have also included a map. This small nation is blessed with so many beautiful beaches, and so much preserved medieval history, it is difficult to choose all of the best sites in Portugal, but this list will get you started.
Lisbon is a logical starting point for your adventure in Portugal, with its international airport and three world-class landmarks in the city. Other landmarks are an easy drive, train ride, or bus trip away from Lisbon, Several are clustered close together, and others are in, or very close, to Porto.
You might choose to do a round trip journey from Lisbon to see these locations, but another option is to fly into Lisbon and fly out of Porto. Both international airports are well-connected.
Top landmarks in Lisbon
São Jorge Castle
GPS: 38.71420210456225, -9.133417853449608
Hours: 1 Nov to 28 Feb – 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, 1 Mar to 31 Oct – 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
This is Lisbon’s most-visited site.
There has been a settlement on this hilltop since before the Roman occupation of the area in the BC era.
The Muslim Moors took over the hilltop and the surrounding area and started building the fort that you see today.
Due to the earthquake of 1755 and several years of neglect, little remains from that time.
Afonso Henriques – the first King of Portugal, led a band of Christian knights (many from England on their way to the Crusades) to retake the castle from the Moors in the early 1100s.
As the highest point in Lisbon, the castle offers the best view of the old city.
Also, enjoy the peacocks that live on the castle grounds (The Portuguese explorers brought the birds’ ancestors back from Asia).
Official website: http://Home – Castelo de São Jorge (castelodesaojorge.pt)
Address: Praca do Império 1400
GPS: 38.698062533207484, -9.206725359913055
T: 351 213 620 034
Hours: Closed until May 9. October to April open from 10 am – 5 pm, May – September 10 am – 6:30 pm, On Sundays from May – September the monastery closes at 6 pm.
Admission: €10. Children 12 and under are free. Ages 65 and older pay €5.
This monastery is in the Belém neighborhood on the outskirts of Lisbon. It is easily reached from central Lisbon. For more information on Belém, read my Lisbon’s historic Belém neighborhood | Everything you need to know
Taxi or Uber takes roughly 20 minutes and €10 from downtown.
You could opt for bus 714 or 728, or you could take the train toward Cascais from Cais do Sodré train station, which takes about 10 minutes.
Get off in Belém and walk west along the river.
Another option is the 15E tram, which takes 30 to 40 minutes. You can catch it at Praça da Figueira or Praça do Comércio.
While visiting a monastery might sound dull, this opportunity should not be missed.
The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) is one of the most magnificent buildings in Portugal.
It was built on the site where explorer Vasco de Gama and his men prayed before leaving on their adventure.
With their successful return, Portugal found itself in a position of power and wealth, as they began taking over the vital spice trade from the Venetians.
Able to cut out these foreign middlemen, wealth poured into Portugal, and the country became a leading importer of goods to Europe.
King Manuel I, (known as Manuel the Fortunate, because Portugal had never seen such riches) went on a building spree.
He built several great structures in Portugal, but only a few survive today as a result of the 1755 earthquake.
Among them are the Torre de Belém, the Batalha Monastery, the Pena Palace, and parts of the Convento de Cristo in Tomar.
The Jerónimos Monastery holds a monument to the Portuguese warrior/poet Luís de Camões.
Twentieth-century writer Fernando Pessoa, King Manuel, and Vasco da Gama are all buried within the monastery.
The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Directly across the street, you will find the modern Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), a beautiful shiplike structure that honors Prince Henry the Navigator and other Portuguese explorers and artists.
Another 150 yards on the same street, you will find another of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, as well as another UNESCO site – the Tower of Belém.
Torre de Belém
Address: Torre de Belém, Avenida Brasilia
GPS: 38.6916° N, 9.2160° W
T: 351 213 620 034
The interior of the Torre de Belém is currently closed, but it is still a beautiful piece of history and can be appreciated from outside, particularly at sunset.
Also known as the Tower of St. Vincent (Lisbon’s patron saint), King Manuel built the Belém tower in 1519, in order to beef up the security network protecting the city of Lisbon.
Capela dos Ossos – The Chapel of the Bones – southeast of Lisbon
Igreja e Mosteiro de São Francisco
Praca Primeiro de Maio 4, Évora
GPS: 38.568723843205355, -7.90881363108151
T: 351 266 704 521
The Chapel of Bones was intended to make visitors think about the transience of human life, and the importance therefore of choosing to live life as a Christian.
There are more than 1000 human bones artistically displayed in the chapel.
While this chapel seems like a morbid, or strange concept, bone displays were actually in vogue for a period of time, providing a different way to honor the deceased, and also saving valuable agricultural land.
There are several ossuaries around the world, and even one in the United States.
Many would say that the Capela dos Ossos is not the most impressive or important site in the town of Évora.
The city also has an aqueduct, a beautiful cathedral (Sé), and the Roman Temple of Évora, built in the early first century AD.
Benagil Sea Cave – Algarve – south coast of Portugal
GPS: 37.0897920002117, -8.426415842450169
The Benagil Sea Cave is nestled on the beautiful, sunny, south coast of Portugal between Lagos and Albufeira. Faro is another extremely popular beach town nearby.
The cave is a 40-minute drive east of Lagos. If you drive to the Benagil Cave, you can look down from the hole in the roof of the cave, but there is no way to enter the cave on foot.
The best thing to do is choose a boat tour that will take you into the cave.
Tours to the Benagil caves generally last two to three hours and cost roughly $33. They may or may not include dolphin watching as part of the trip.
Viator offers a two-hour tour from Portimão for $32 https://www.viator.com/tours/Portimao/Benagil-Caves-Tour-from-Portimao/d4478-12562P3
They also operate a five – six-hour tour leaving from Faro for $58. Benagil Cave tour from Faro 2021 (viator.com)
Get Your Guide offers a two-and-a-half-hour cave and dolphin watching from Albufeira for $31. https://www.getyourguide.com/algarve-l66/albufeira-boat-trip-caves-dolphin-watching-t64461/
Get Your Guide also offers a Kayaking trip which leaves from Praia de Benagil Beach for $40 https://www.getyourguide.com/carvoeiro-l2935/benagil-benagil-caves-kayaking-tour-t216270/
I am not associated with any of the businesses in this article.
Cabo da Roca – Continental Europe’s western-most point
GPS: 38.78119054425683, -9.499078398337396
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of the Sintra Mountain Range, but more importantly, the westernmost point in continental Europe.
The Cabo da Roca lighthouse opened in 1772.
From the Sintra train station catch Scotturb bus 403. The trip to Cabo da Roca is 37 minutes.
If you are in the area, also look for one of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches – Praia da Ursa.
The pristine beach with its huge rock formations is very difficult to access.
Pena Palace – Sintra
GPS: 38.78778578760437, -9.390662546922115
Pena Palace Is an example of 19th-century romanticist architecture.
The castle stands on a hilltop that can be seen from Lisbon on a clear day.
According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared on this hilltop in the 14th century.
A Chapel was built at that time.
King Manuel had a monastery built on the site and for centuries it was a quiet village housing just 18 monks.
The monastery was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, but many of its artworks survived the quake.
In 1838 King Ferdinand acquired Pena Palace, the Moors’ Castle, and some of the surrounding land.
He wanted to turn the monastery into a palace for the royal family.
The castle was built between 1842 and 1854 under the leadership of a German architect.
The Portuguese government bought the castle from the king in 1889 and turned it into a museum.
In 1995 UNESCO declared Sintra and the Pena palace to be a World Heritage Site. It is now one of Portugal’s most visited monuments.
When visiting Pena Palace, it is a good idea to arrive at 9 AM, a half-hour before the Palace opens, and also it is a good idea to purchase tickets in advance. https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/commercial-area/ticket-office-2/
Pena palace admission is €14 for adults between 18 and 65. Under 18 and senior citizens pay €12.50
There is so much to see in Sintra. If you are in Portugal, you must go there.
You will also want to investigate the Quinta da Regaleira, the Castelo dos Mouros, and Sintra National Palace.
I suggest spending the night, if you have time.
For more information on what to see in Sintra, check out my article, How to plan a day trip or overnight trip to Sintra from Lisbon
Castle of Óbidos
GPS: 39.363689624045186, -9.157121577082323
There is evidence of settlements existing in the town of Óbidos from the Visigoths in the 5th century BC, the Romans in 1BC, and later fortified by the Muslims in the 8th century.
One of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, the castle was a wedding present from King Dinis to his wife Queen Isabela of Aragon.
The king’s residence is now a hotel. You can spend the night for roughly $140.
Official website: http://pousadas.pt/en/hotel/pousada-obidos
GPS: 39.54831662694732, -8.979595973885452
Official website: Alcobaça Monastery (mosteiroalcobaca.gov.pt)
Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
Alcobaça Monastery was commissioned in 1153 by the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques.
The monastery was meant to honor and display the power of the Christian knights who had expelled the Moors.
Alcobaça Monastery is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Rio Alcoa and the Rio Baça – thus the name Alcobaça.
The Alcobaça Monastery is only 12 miles from the Batalha Monastery.
Nazaré world record waves
GPS: GPS: 39.60471332905771, -9.08516446223721
In 2011 Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara rode a world record-breaking 78-foot wave at Nazaré’s Praia do Norte beach.
He came back to Nazaré in 2013 and broke his own record.
In January of 2018, Hugo Vau broke McNamara’s record, riding a 100 footer at Praia do Norte.
Located one hour and twenty minutes from Lisbon, it is possible to see such waves in Nazaré in November and December, depending on wind conditions.
For more information on when monster swells are hitting, visit the site http://Nazare surf report
Nazaré itself is a charming fishing village with great fresh seafood.
The Nazaré Lighthouse and surf museum sits high atop a hill in the middle of town. You can get to the hilltop by riding an old funicular.
To the southeast of the lighthouse is the wide, family-friendly Praia da Nazaré beach.
In the summer, the water here is calm and flat, yet cold.
To the north of the lighthouse is the more wild Praia do Norte. Even during the summer, the water on this side of the lighthouse is rough and only for very experienced surfers.
For more information on visiting Nazaré, see my article, http://Nazaré, Portugal – Biggest waves in the world, less than two hours from Lisbon
Largo Infante Dom Henrique, Batalha
GPS: 39.65933606159006, -8.825271681329824
Another of Portugal’s Seven Wonders, The Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória de Batalha is one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Portugal and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Batalha means battle, and the monastery was built to honor a victory over the Spanish in 1385 at the battle of Aljubarrata.
It is a huge symbol of national pride and independence from Spanish rule.
Built by King João I, it has pointed arches, gargoyles, pinnacles, and buttresses. While the interior of the church is gothic, the cloister is Manueline. The cloister
features the same ornately carved twisted rope, nautical instruments, and Asian fauna that can be found on Manueline works in the early 1500s in Belém, Lisbon.
The Gothic João I corridor, with its many arches, is something to see.
Building the Batalha Monastery took more than 100 years, from 1386 until 1517.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
GPS: 39.63166829166537, -8.673165514409273
Rua de Santa Isabel 360, Fátima
T: 351 249 539 600
Official website: Shrine of Fatima
The village of Fátima was named after a 12th-century Muslim princess.
Today it is one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.
Between four and six million religious pilgrims visit annually between 12 and 13 of May and October 13.
The Chapel of the Apparitions is built on the site where it is said the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children from April 23 until June 15, 1917.
Construction on The Basilica of the Rosary of Our Lady of Fátima started in 1928. It was consecrated in 1953.
The three shepherd children – Francisco, Lúcia, and Jacinta, are buried in the Basilica.
Two of them, Jacinta and Francisco, died as children as a result of the Spanish Flu.
The oldest child who witnessed the apparition of Mary lived her entire life as a nun and passed at the age of 97.
A massive new Basilica that holds 9500 worshipers was built in 2007.
From Lisbon, Rede Expressos https://rede-expressos.pt/pt bus from Sete Rios bus station is an excellent option, as the bus station in Fátima is only a five-minute walk from the sanctuary.
Convento de Cristo – Village of Tomar
GPS: 39.60427552713624, -8.4190304
Official website: http://Convent of Christ (conventocristo.gov.pt)
The medieval village of Tomar is 86 miles northeast of Lisbon.
The Convento de Cristo is within the 12th century Tomar Castle, which was built by the Knights Templar. It served as their headquarters.
The main door to the convent which has reliefs of Old and New Testament scenes was designed by the military architect Arruda, who also designed the Belém Tower in Lisbon.
The convent has eight cloisters or courtyards (outdoor relaxation areas that were used by the monks).
Knights and monks of the order were buried in the gothic Cemetery Cloister.
King Manuel I began renovating the church beginning in 1499.
The main cloister was built by King João III.
Tomar also has an aqueduct that was built by King Filipe, who was king of both Portugal and Spain.
University of Coimbra
GPS: 40.20740318603907, -8.426437962217403 (Biblioteca Joanina, University of Coimbra)
The original university was founded in Lisbon in 1290 and relocated to Coimbra in 1537.
It is one of the oldest continuously operating universities in the world.
UNESCO recognized the University of Coimbra as a World Heritage Site in 2013.
The 1720’s Baroque Library, the Biblioteca Joanina, (GPS coordinates above) is located on the Paço das Escolas plaza.
The library has 270,000 books, which are protected by a colony of bats that eat insects that are harmful to paper.
You are more likely to notice the high gilded bookshelves in tables made out of dark brazilwood.
Have a look at the university’s Chapel of São Miguel.
Over time, the students at the University of Coimbra also created their own tradition of fado music, which is different from what you might hear in Lisbon and other parts of Portugal.
Porto Top landmarks
São Bento Train Station
GPS: 41.14562915899082, -8.61045376520757
Praça de Almeida Garrett
The São Bento Railway station In the historic center of Porto is surely one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.
Construction on the building started in 1904.
The stunning blue and white azulejo tiles were designed and painted by Jorge Colaço.
The murals show scenes from Portugal’s history and represent people from the different regions of the country.
Approximately 20,000 tiles were placed in the train station by 1916.
Visitors coming from Lisbon do not arrive at São Bento station but instead at the Campanhã train station.
All trains leaving São Bento will make their first stop at the Campanhã station.
São Bento is on the Porto metro D line or yellow line.
Torre dos Clérigos
Rua de São Felipe de Nery
GPS: 41.146084820110474, -8.61396316011991
Official website: http://www.torredosclerigos.pt/en/
The Baroque church was built for the Brotherhood of the Clergy (Clérigos) between 1732 and 1750 by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. He is buried in the crypt of the church.
The famous high tower was an afterthought, added to the church between 1754 and 1763.
When it was built, the six-story tower with its 246 feet tall and has 240 steps was the tallest building in Portugal.
Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views of the city.
The historical center of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Italian Nicolau Nasoni designed both the church and the bell tower, as well as the Porto Cathedral (definitely worth seeing).
Also, you might enjoy visiting Livrario Lello – the world-famous bookstore which may have inspired author JK Rowling.
For more information on Porto, see my article http://Not Lisbon OR Porto, vacation in Lisbon AND Porto!
Dom Luís I Bridge
GPS: 41.140621451503854, -8.6094485
Ponte Dom Luís I – Luís I Bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge that crosses the Douro River, linking Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia.
The bridge spans 564 feet.
Gustave Eiffel proposed a single deck bridge in 1879, but the city rejected his proposal and a competition for designs was held in 1880.
A Belgian company won the competition.
On November 1, 1886, the bridge was opened.
In 2003 the upper deck was closed to car traffic, and in 2005 it began to carry metro trams for the Porto yellow line.
Walk the top deck of the bridge for some of the best views of Porto.
In addition to checking out the bridge, you MUST explore both banks of the river.
You will find great restaurants on the riverwalks, as well as different offers for river cruises.
The world’s Port wine producers float their product downriver to the warehouses on the south bank of the Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, where the wine awaits exportation. You can tour some of the warehouses, and most offer tasting rooms that front the river.
There is nothing better than relaxing at one of their tables and sampling Port wines on a beautiful sunny day. Prices are also very reasonable.
Douro River Wine Region
GPS: 41.19131037436733, -7.545174361012475 (Village of Pinhão on the Douro River)
The River of Gold, or commonly the Douro River, flows from Spain and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Porto.
The Douro Wine Region Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
In Peso da Régua, you can visit the Dorou Museum. Also, it’s worth seeing the train station in Pinhão with all of its azulejo tile.
The two-hour twenty-minute train ride from Porto to Pinhão on Comboios do Portugal CP – Comboios de Portugal costs €11 -€12 each way and parallels the river and passes by terraced vineyards.
Viator offers a nine-hour cruise with stops at wineries and scenic lookouts for $91. Lunch and hotel pickup are included. https://www.viator.com/tours/Porto/Around-Douro-Valley-Tour-Full-Day/d26879-12784P4
Get Your Guide also offers a nine-hour cruise of the Douro River with two stops at vineyards for wine tastings. Lunch is included. $90 https://www.getyourguide.com/porto-l151/from-porto-douro-valley-cruise-wine-tasting-day-trip-t382254/
Prices may vary. I am not affiliated with any businesses mentioned in this article.
GPS: 41.44864943277967, -8.290104523292827
Located just 30 miles from Porto, Guimarães is the birthplace of Portugal. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
The city was founded around a monastery between the years 950 and 957.
A military tower was also built to protect the monastery from the Muslims who controlled much of the Iberian Peninsula.
The Guimarães castle was built in the 12th century and Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal (who was born in Guimarães), used it as a base to begin taking land from the Muslims.
With different groups of Christian knights, Afonso Henriques eventually united the different counties and retook what is today Portugal from the Muslims.
While in Guimarães you can also visit the Paço dos Duques de Bragança (Dukes of Bragança Palace), which was built between 1420 and 1422.
The city became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001.
The train from Porto to Guimarães costs five euros and is a two-hour trip.
Thanks for reading about the top landmarks in Portugal. I am not associated with any businesses mentioned in this article.