Things to do in Portugal

By Ross Clarke

Photography by Gene Krasko / Getty

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From fairytale towns complete with turrets and towers and the lush fertile vineyards of the Duoro to the cool and crumbling streets of Lisbon and the coastal paradise of the Algarve, Portugal offers up a plentiful mix of sights, tastes and culture whatever your travel palate.

What to see…


Jerónimos Monastery is a masterpiece by anyone’s standards having taken 100 years to complete, and is a perfect example of Manueline architecture (unique to Portugal). Our advice is to get there early as lines can be long and you don’t want to be hanging around in the Lisbon heat. And don’t forget, it’s closed on Mondays.

A trip along the magnificent and watery Duoro Valley is great for wine and heritage lovers alike. Stop by quaint vineyards and taste port wine or experience the wonderful city of Porto, where the river escapes into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Portuguese village of Monsanto is built on, under, in and around giant boulders and is a dedicated living museum – perfect for your Instagram feed


This picturesque Portuguese village of Monsanto is stuck between a rock and a hard place, quite literally. The village is built on, under, in and around giant boulders and is a dedicated living museum – and is made for your Instagram feed.

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Where to eat and drink…

Mercado da Ribeira Time Out

With 35 stalls selling everything from gourmet sheep’s cheese to sardines and chocolates, this indoor food market is perfect for those that like to pick at their food. Make your selections, grab a seat on the high wooden bench tables and take in the hustle and bustle of Lisbon life.

Where? Avenida 24 de Julho, Lisbon

Nearest Metro: Line Verde to Cais do Sodré


This elegant little Porto restaurant has the intimate feel of a supper club – in fact it looks like someone’s rather grand dining room. Enjoy delights such as duck confit, potato soufflé and lemon meringue pie while you study the quirky trinkets dotted around the room.

Where? Praça de Carlos Alberto 85, 4050-185 Porto

Nearest Metro: Line D to Aliados

Try it everywhere…

Pastel de nata – the flaky pastry cases filled with creamy egg custard. We recommend sticking with tradition on this occasion, so head to Lisbon’s Pasteis de Belem – where the recipe is said to have originated.

  • Pastel de nata (or Belem), a Portuguese sweet treat of flaky pastry filled with a creamy egg custard © Ayhan Altun / Getty Images

    Sweet secrets

    Lisbon patisserie Pasteis de Belem has managed to keep the recipe for the custard tarts a secret for over 100 years. Only a handful of people know how to make the authentic ‘pastel de Belem’ which, according to legend, was created by monks at Jerónimos Monastery in the 18th century.

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  • Algarve’s Vila Vita Parc has swoon-worthy views of the Atlantic Ocean

    Beach escape…

    Stay at the Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa.

    Book a stay
  • Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery is a great example of Portugal’s Manueline architecture © OGphoto / Getty Images

    Top tip…

    Visit the Unesco-listed monastery in the morning on a clear day, when the sunlight casts a soft golden light over the church’s stained glass windows – a photo opportunity not to be missed.

    Plan a Lisbon city break

Where to stay…

City: Heritage Avenida Liberdade

This boutique hotel is housed an 18th-century building in Lisbon’s historic centre near to many sights of interest and just a short walk to the city’s peaceful botanical gardens.

Book a stay at Heritage Avenida Liberdade

Beach: Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa

Set in 54 acres, this hotel and spa is one of Portugal’s most exclusive resorts and is ideal for enjoying the sweeping sands and laid-back life of the Algarve.

Book a stay at Vila Vita Parc

Where to shop…

For a good rummage through second-hand goods or for artisan products and gifts, stop by the Feira da Ladra, Lisbon’s flea market open every Tuesday and Thursday.

From Monday to Saturday you’ll find the Rua de Santa Catarina in Porto’s city centre awash with people strolling, shopping and chatting over a coffee. If your Euros are burning a hole in your pocket, this is the place to come.

If you only buy one thing…

Port – make sure to taste your fair share of this fortified wine before stocking up on your favourite vintage, tawny or ruby.

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