Taking the time to fully explore Portugal's forested mountain slopes, golden beaches, and arid regions will be an unforgettable experience. Once you land, the best way to see the country at your own pace is to rent a car. From there, you can decide what adventure to chase.
To help with your planning, we found some of the locals’ favorite spots for flexible staycations.
The Don Luis Bridge in Porto
Porto’s riverside district of Ribeira is like a city within a city. Lined with elevated white, yellow, and orange houses, the riverfront maintains the atmosphere of a small fishing town, despite being home to some of the city’s most popular bars. Wine buffs will enjoy Porto’s famous wine cellars, located right on the other side of the Douro River. Rest for the evening at Porto River apartments before heading to your next destination.
A view of the Tagus River in Lisbon
Lisbon’s coastal location has helped the city build an international reputation for excellent seafood, a mild climate, and some of the prettiest architecture in Europe. Because it’s built on multiple hills, a ride on one of the funiculars is a great way to get an overview of Lisbon – particularly the ice cream colored townhouses of the historic Alfama district. Travelers interested in architecture and city walks recommend the Rossio district, along with the Lisbon Destination Hostel as the best places for fellow history fans to stay.
The Old Town district in Albufeira
Albufeira has some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, including the family-friendly white sand beaches Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Túnel. It’s no wonder why so many Portuguese families make frequent trips here. The area of the Old Town in Albufeira, on the other hand, is composed of cobbled streets, lined with open terrace restaurants and bars, as well as boutique hotels that place visitors in the heart of the city. This area is perfect after a long day at the beach and you’re in search of a bite to eat among picturesque surroundings.
The University of Coimbra
Coimbra was the capital of Portugal for over a century, and this medieval city still holds a great deal of the historical gravitas associated with such a position. Walking through the historic district and down toward the Mondego River, it’s easy to feel like a time traveler. While dining in one of the area’s many fine restaurants, you can watch traditional Portuguese folk musicians perform outside. Then you can stay in the middle of it all at the Sapienta Boutique Hotel.
Almendres Cromlech in Évora
Évora is a dream destination for amateur historians. The city center contains historical oddities such as the Capela dos Ossos—a chapel decorated with thousands of human bones—and carefully preserved Roman ruins. The Évora district is home to one of the largest megalithic monuments in Europe – the Almendres Cromlech. This fascinating site of Iberian history is well worth a few days of exploration, and visitors can stay just a 2-minute drive away at the immaculate Imani Country House.