Famous for its coastline, fantastic weather and Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal is a small and beautiful country with many wonders worth discovering. It has become one of the most visited countries in Europe because of its proximity to water bodies like the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the temperate climate that makes it a year-round vacation destination.
From beautiful beaches to historic landmarks, tourists in Portugal never run out of places to visit. Here are 10 attractions you can’t afford to miss if you’re ever in Portugal:
1. Torre de Belém (Belém Tower)
Belém Tower is a grand historical monument on an island in the Tagus river in Lisbon. This fortress was built in the 16th century to defend Lisbon from its enemies and welcome its friends. This tower is one of Europe's most unique pieces of military architecture.
The tower has so much cultural significance to the Portuguese people, in fact, that Unesco listed the tower as a world heritage site; go to Belém Tower and explore an essential facet of Portuguese history.
2. Oceanário de Lisboa
The Lisbon Oceanarium is the perfect place to have family fun when you’re in Portugal. The vast array of marine life on display captivates both adults and children alike.
Oceanário de Lisboa is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, and it shines a light on the world’s diverse ocean habitats. The experience is both fun and educational, perfect for a group experience.
3. Bom Jesus do Monte
In the north of Portugal, overlooking the city of Braga, lies the most relevant religious sanctuary in the whole of Portugal, called Bom Jesus do Monte. This magnificent neoclassical church is an important pilgrimage site and is the number one tourist destination in the city of Braga.
Granite buildings, an amazing stairway, impressive stonework and majestic fountains are just some of the things you can expect to be treated to if you visit this captivating cathedral. It’s truly a thing of beauty.
4. Praia da Marinha
In a country blessed with beautiful beaches, Praia da Marinha manages to still stand out. This beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, and I doubt you’ll find anyone willing to debate that.
You’ll find smooth sand and crystal clear waters in this picturesque paradise, as well as archways made out of rocks that make the beach perfect for exploring. There’s no better place to try cocktails and enjoy amazing scenery than Praia da Marinha.
5. Guimaraes Castle
Originally built in the 10th century, this castle was a Portuguese stronghold and the home of Portugal’s first king, Dom Afonso Henriques. The city of Guimaraes is the cultural and historical centre of Portugal, and this castle is the city's main symbol.
Although a lot of the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt, you can still get a taste of Portuguese history by exploring the rooms and climbing the walls of this once great castle.
6. Capela Dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones)
This isn’t like most other tourist attractions, and it definitely isn’t for everybody. This chapel looks like it was taken straight out of a horror movie — the walls are covered and decorated with human bones and skulls.
In the 16th century, the monks in Evora decided that cemeteries were taking up too much space in the city, so their solution was to use the bones of the dead to decorate one of the chapels at the Church of St. Francis. Thousands of people go every year to admire what is a truly unique choice of interior decoration.
7. Limit Zero Zipline
This zip-line spans Spain and Portugal, making it the only cross-border zipline in the world. Going from one country to the other in under a minute on a 720m line is a truly exhilarating experience.
Almost everyone that has gone to Limit Zero has nothing but good things to say about their experience. Make sure you listen to everything you’re told there; you can never be too safe when zip-lining across countries.
8. Museu da Marioneta (Puppet Museum)
If you’re a fan of puppetry, you will love Museu da Marioneta in Lisbon. The whole museum is dedicated to the history and practice of puppetry as an art form. This museum contains over four thousand exhibits from various countries, making it one of the largest puppetry collections in the world.
Here, you can see how the art form has evolved over time in different parts of the world. Fans and newbies alike will definitely gain a heightened level of appreciation for the art form after visiting this unique museum.
9. Obidos Castle
Obidos Castle is a simple yet beautiful mediaeval castle in Obidos, Portugal. There are a good number of castles that look like it around Portugal, but Obidos stands out because of how well preserved it is. This beautiful castle looks almost exactly how it did in the 14th century; it’s truly fascinating and definitely worth a visit.
10. Gerês Mountains
If you love the outdoors and working up a sweat, then you have to visit Gerês Mountains whenever you’re in Portugal. This mountain range is one of Portugal’s most popular natural attractions.
Hikers and walkers from all over come to experience the unique landscape and explore the plant and animal life present. There’s so much to explore in the Gerês Mountains.