Things to do Portugal
Portugal is home to impressive architecture and a rich cultural history. (Photo: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images )
Located in the southwestern region of Europe, Portugal cozies up to the Atlantic Ocean on the west and south and Spain on the north and east. Known for its vivid history and intricate architecture, Portugal welcomes millions of tourists every year. Although you’re sure to have no shortage of sights to see and things to do in Portugal, a few specific attractions should be included in your itinerary.
Wine Tasting in Douro Valley
Scattered with terraced vineyards and hacienda-style wineries, the Douro Valley is punctuated by the Douro River that winds through the land. According to Cellar Tours (cellartours.com), Portugal’s finest wines come from Douro Valley. Depending on your personal preferences, you can choose casual wine tastings or guided walking tours of the area's vineyards.
Watch the Races at Estoril
The world-famous Estoril race track (circuito-estoril.pt/en) sits on Portugal’s Atlantic Ocean coast. Built in 1972, the track’s design was slightly modified in 1994. The track is just over 2.5 miles long and features four left corners and nine right corners for drivers to handle. The slowest corner requires drivers to decrease their speed to under 40 mph, while the fastest straight can be traveled at speeds near 200 mph. Estroril serves as a testing circuit for the Formula One teams and hosts an annual Grand Prix racing event.
Marvel Over the Medieval in Tomar
Tomar is home to the Knights Templar Castle. Built around 1160, the castle commands attention against Tomar’s city skyline. A visit to the Knights Templar Castle tells a story filled with controversy and power. The original order of the Knights of Templar fell in the early 1300s. But the order continued to practice in secrecy and still has modern-day members that protect the order’s secrets, including the Holy Grail. With its intricate architecture, the Knights Templar Castle takes at least two hours to tour and fully appreciate its richness and history.
Escape Your Stress in Sintra
A quaint town nestled in wooded hills. Sintra is one of the wonders of Portugal, according to the Travel In Portugal website. Author and poet Hans Christian Anderson described the town as the “most beautiful place in Portugal, ” and Portugal’s national poet immortalized Sintra in his famous poem, "Os Lusiadas." The Palacio Nacional de Sintra stands at the center of Sintra and Palacio da Pena hits high atop one of Sintra’s wooded hills. When you’re not immersing yourself in the historic palaces, enjoy the town’s historic homes, craft shops, local cafes and the famous Toy Museum.
Listen to Fado in Lisbon
With a distinct melancholy melody, fado is the most well-known type of music in Portugal. Fado is similar to blues music in sound and history – it was created from a mixture of different cultures. The Spain and Portugal for Visitors website describes fado as “the Portuguese version of the blues, a plaintive, crying song with an exotic, Middle Eastern feel to it.” Most of the fado lyrics speak of love, longing and yearning. Although fado can be heard throughout Portugal, it is widely available in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. If you’re looking for a mix of fado and cultural history, head to a quaint cafe in Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon. This picturesque district features ancient cobbled streets and colorful tiled walls.