Though many of Portugal’s tourists flock to the Algarve coastline for sunny beaches and golf, the nation’s urban centres are not to be missed. Lisbon, the capital, and Porto offer visitors an easy-going culture, warm weather and good value for money. Both cities mix a rich mercantile past with modern art and contemporary living.
Being on the Atlantic coast, seafood is naturally the staple cuisine. In Lisbon, try a city specialty, lulas recheadas (stuffed squid). The must-have pastry is pastéis de nata, a custard-filled tart. Head to the waterfront for late-night caipirinhas in the buzzing nightclubs. Porto is famous for tripe soup, the Francesinha sandwich and (of course) port wine.
Chiado is Lisbon’s fashion district, with a combination of brand-name clothiers, independent shops and a giant shopping mall. Check out Principe Real for more upscale shopping. Mercado do Bolhão is Porto’s traditional market of fruits, vegetables, meat and handicrafts. Pick up local ceramics and some port wine.
Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of St George)
Atop Lisbon’s highest hill, this 15th-century royal residence offers a giant periscope and panoramic city views.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
Portugal’s artistry and history can be found in the evolution of its tile designs and colours.
Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian
A garden oasis in downtown Lisbon surrounds this private art collection, which includes Oriental art and European masters.
National Museum of Ancient Art
Familiarise yourself with national history and culture through Portuguese paintings and artifacts found from shipwrecks.
The six bridges that connect Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia provide beautiful views of the port towns. A daylong cruise up the Douro River is a relaxing way to explore the deep Douro Valley.
Escape the city bustle in Lisbon Botanical Gardens.
Listen to Fado, traditional Portuguese music, in one of the many Fado clubs in Lisbon’s Alfama district.
Relax on a boat tour along the capital’s coast.
Take an art class or workshop in printmaking, weaving, or tile painting.
Explore the wine cellars in the Porto hills and finish with port tastings.