Portugal: Portugal is a southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. Its location on the Atlantic Ocean has influenced many aspects of its culture: salt cod and grilled sardines are national dishes, the Algarve's beaches are a major destination and much of the nation’s architecture dates to the 1500s–1800s, when Portugal had a powerful maritime empire.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the Portuguese consulate website: www.vfsglobal.com/portugal/uae
Portugal is part of the 26 Schengen State Countries.
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options. Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette, and how shoppers can take advantage of VAT refunds.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things do & see:
Lisbon- is Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city. From imposing São Jorge Castle, the view encompasses the old city’s pastel-colored buildings, Tagus Estuary and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Nearby, the National Azulejo Museum displays 5 centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. Just outside Lisbon is a string of Atlantic beaches, from Cascais to Estoril.
Porto- is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market, was built to impress potential European investors.
Madeira- an autonomous region of Portugal, is an archipelago comprising 4 islands off the northwest coast of Africa. It is known for its namesake wine and warm, subtropical climate. The main island of Madeira is volcanic, green and rugged, with high cliffs, pebbly beaches and settlements on deltas of the Fajã River. Capital Funchal has botanic gardens and is known for its harbor and a large New Year's fireworks show.
Coimbra- a riverfront city in central Portugal and the country’s former capital, is home to a preserved medieval old town and the historic University of Coimbra. Built on the grounds of a former palace, the university is famed for its baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and its 18th-century bell tower. In the city’s old town lies the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral Sé Velha.
Évora- is the capital of Portugal's south-central Alentejo region. In the city's historic center stands the ancient Roman Temple of Évora (also called the Temple of Diana). Nearby, whitewashed houses surround the Cathedral of Évora, a massive Gothic structure begun in the 12th century. The Igreja de São Francisco features Gothic and baroque architecture along with the skeleton-adorned Chapel of Bones.
Braga- is a city in the far north of Portugal, northeast of Porto. It’s known for its religious heritage and events. To the east, Bom Jesus do Monte complex has a neoclassical church atop an elaborate 17-flight stairway. In the city center, medieval Braga Cathedral is home to a sacred art museum and the Gothic-style Kings' Chapel. Nearby, the imposing Archbishop’s Palace overlooks Santa Barbara Garden.
Guimarães- is a city in northern Portugal. It’s known for well-preserved medieval buildings like the hilltop, 10th-century Guimarães Castle, with its sweeping city views. The restored Dukes of Bragança Palace, built in the style of a French chateau, has a museum showcasing furniture, tapestries and weapons. Between the palace and the castle is the Romanesque São Miguel do Castelo Church, built in the 13th century.
Aveiro- is a city on the west coast of Portugal set along a lagoon called Ria de Aveiro. It's distinguished by its canals navigated by colorful boats (barcos moliceiros), traditionally used to harvest seaweed. Not far from its core, known for art nouveau buildings, is the Cathedral of Aveiro, with its prominent bell tower. The Museu de Aveiro, housed in a former convent, has a lavish tomb made of marble.
Lagos- is a town in southern Portugal's Algarve region. It’s known for its walled old town, cliffs and Atlantic beaches. Steep wooden steps lead to the sandy cove of Praia do Camilo. The nearby cliffs of Ponta de Piedade offer sweeping headland views and a lighthouse. Igreja de Santo António, an ornate 18th-century church, sits across from the Castelo dos Governadores, a castle with a baroque facade and watchtowers.
Tavira- is a small city on Portugal’s Algarve coast. It straddles the Gilão River, which reaches the sea through the inlets and lagoons of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Tavira Island has a long, sandy beach, plus salt pans that attract flamingos, spoonbills and other wading birds. In the center, medieval Tavira Castle has city views. The Santa María do Castelo Church houses the tombs of 7 knights killed by the Moors.
Albufeira- is a coastal city in the southern Algarve region of Portugal. It’s a former fishing village that has become a major holiday destination, with sandy beaches and a busy nightlife strip. Local fishermen now use the modern marina, also a base for diving, dolphin-watching and boat trips. It's surrounded by candy-colored apartments, with a waterfront promenade.
Faro- is the capital of southern Portugal’s Algarve region. The city’s neoclassical Arco da Vila is on the site of a gate that was part of the original Moorish wall. The monumental archway leads to the old town, with its cobbled streets. Nearby is Faro Cathedral, built in the 13th century. The Municipal Museum, in a 16th-century convent, displays prehistoric and medieval artifacts, plus religious art.
Óbidos- is a town and a municipality in Oeste region. The town proper has approximately 3100 inhabitants. The municipality population in 2011 was 11,772, in an area of 141.55 square kilometres.
Sintra- is a resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, near the capital, Lisbon. A longtime royal sanctuary, its forested terrain is studded with pastel-colored villas and palaces. The Moorish- and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace is distinguished by dramatic twin chimneys and elaborate tilework. The hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace is known for a whimsical design and sweeping views.
Vila Nova de Gaia- A hub of the port wine industry, Vila Nova de Gaia is peppered with cellars offering tours and tastings. It’s also known for sandy beaches like Praia da Madalena, and the scenic riverside road Cais de Gaia, with its cafe terraces and expansive views across the Douro. Small restaurants serve grilled fish and seafood in the old fishing village of Afurada, where picturesque tiled houses line narrow streets.
Funchal- is the capital city of Portugal's Madeira archipelago. It's backed by hills, and known for its harbor, gardens and Madeira wine cellars. The centuries-old Funchal Cathedral, which mixes Gothic and Romanesque styles, is notable for its carved wooden ceiling. Fronting the harbor is the São Tiago Fortress, built in the 1600s. It now houses the Contemporary Art Museum, with a large collection of Portuguese works.
Portimão- is a port city in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. It’s known for its old quarter, busy marina and proximity to many beaches. Museu de Portimão is housed in a restored 19th-century cannery, with displays on local history. The Gothic-style Nossa Senhora da Conceição church has azulejo tiles. To the south are Rocha Beach, backed by ochre cliffs, and the medieval Fort of Santa Catarina de Ribamar.
Fátima- is a central Portuguese town that's home to the Sanctuary of Fátima, a Catholic pilgrimage site. The Capelinha das Aparições marks the spot where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared in 1917. Other sacred sites include the Basílica de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, with its golden angels, and the modern church of Igreja da Santíssima Trindade. The Museu de Arte Sacra e Etnologia exhibits religious artifacts.
Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel Island- is the capital of the Azores archipelago of Portugal. The striking, 3-arched city gates and the Gothic-style Church of St. Sebastian are near the harbor. The Convent and Chapel of Our Lady of Hope houses a revered image of Christ. The Carlos Machado Museum offers diverse artifacts of Azorean culture. The city is a gateway to the crater lakes of Sete Cidades, to the northwest.
Estoril- is a town in the Municipality of Cascais, Portugal, on the Portuguese Riviera. Estoril is famed as a luxury entertainment destination on the Portuguese Riviera, as home of the Casino Estoril. Estoril is one of the most expensive places to live in Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula.
Queluz- is a city within the Sintra Municipality, on the Portuguese Riviera, in the Lisbon metropolitan area of Portugal. It is famed as the home of Queluz National Palace, the 18th century pleasure palace of the Portuguese Royal Family, as well as notable institutions like the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.
Sines- is a Portuguese city of Setúbal District, the Alentejo region and subregion of the Alentejo coast, with about 18,298 inhabitants. It is the largest and the first port area of Portugal and the main city industrial port logistics in Portugal and the birthplace of fifteenth-century explorer Vasco da Gama.
Elvas- is a Portuguese municipality, former episcopal city and frontier fortress of easternmost central Portugal, located in the district of Portalegre in Alentejo. It is situated about 200 kilometres east of Lisbon, and about 8 kilometres west of the Spanish fortress of Badajoz, by the Madrid-Badajoz-Lisbon railway.
Lamego- is a city and municipality in the Viseu District, in the Norte Region of the Douro in northern Portugal. Located on the shores of the Balsemão River, the municipality has a population of 26,691, in an area of 165.42 km².
Angra do Heroísmo, or simply Angra- is a city and municipality on Terceira Island, Portugal, and one of the three capital cities of the Azores.
Silves- is a municipality in the Portuguese Algarve of southern Portugal. The population in 2011 was 37,126, in an area of 680.06 km². The urbanized area includes approximately 11,000 inhabitants. Silves is the former capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve and is of great historical importance.
Cascais- is a coastal resort town in Portugal, just west of Lisbon. It’s known for its sandy beaches and busy marina. The old town is home to the medieval Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort and the Citadel Palace, a former royal retreat. Nearby is the whitewashed Nossa Senhora da Assunção church, with glazed azulejo tiles. Paula Rego House of Stories shows the Portuguese artist’s paintings in a modern building.
Covilhã- is a city and a municipality in the Centro region, Portugal. The city proper had 34,772 inhabitants in 2001. The municipality population in 2011 was 51,797, in an area of 555.60 km². It is located in the Beiras e Serra da Estrela subregion and Beiras and Serra da Estrela Intermunicipal Community.
Leiria- is a city and a municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal and in the historical province of Beira Litoral. It is the capital of Leiria District. The population in 2011 was 126,879, in an area of 565.09 square kilometres. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima.
Nazaré- is a municipality in Oeste region and Leiria District, in historic Estremadura province of Portugal. It is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the Silver Coast. The population in 2011 was 15,158 in an area of 82.43 km². The present mayor is Walter Chicharro, a member of the Socialist Party.
Alcobaça- is a city and a municipality in Oeste region of Centro the Portugal, formerly included in the Estremadura Province. The city grew along the valleys of the rivers Alcoa and Baça, from which it derives its name. The municipality population in 2011 was 56,693, in an area of 408.14 km².
Póvoa de Varzim- is a Portuguese city in Northern Portugal and sub-region of Greater Porto, 30 km from its city centre. It sits in a sandy coastal plain, a cuspate foreland, halfway between the Minho and Douro rivers. In 2001, there were 63,470 inhabitants, with 42,396 living in the city proper.
Batalha – Built in 1388 and protected as a World Heritage Monument, Batalha is one of Europe’s
Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, is an archipelago comprising 4 islands off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s known for its namesake wine and warm, subtropical climate. The main island of
Abbey of Santa Maria – The Abbey of Santa Maria is Europe’s largest building of the Cistercian order. You can wander around the abbey at your leisure and find out more about the different parts of the building: its five cloisters, seven dormitories, a library, and huge kitchen. The church is free to enter but the monastery is not.
Azores islands – These nine islands lie about 930 miles from Lisbon (a two-hour flight) in the Atlantic Ocean. Each of the islands offer a peaceful and slow-paced way of life, unique wildlife, and stunning beaches. These islands are very off the beaten track and a good “out of the way” place to go.
Religious Monuments in Braga – The beautiful city of Braga provides many Baroque monuments, including one of the country’s best-known sights, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. The old and the new city are connected by the main square, Praça da Republica. The city’s cathedral is also very much worth a visit, as it is the country’s oldest!
Knights Templar in Tomar – The big attraction in the town of Tomar is the Templar Castle and Convent of Christ on the hill. It was the headquarters for the Knights Templar in the 12th century and contains one of the country’s most impressive monuments, the Convent of Christ.
Fado Performance – Whether in Lisbon or somewhere else, you shouldn’t leave Portugal without getting a sense of the country’s musical culture. Fado is a very important Portuguese tradition, with at least 200 years of history. It’s very haunting and emotional music, sung by an individual. Most of the songs follow a theme of loss and mourning. Performances normally take place in restaurants during dinner.
Cape Sagres- is the most southwestern point on the European continent. It was here that Henry the Navigator had his famous navigation school, which gave birth to the careers of some of the most famous explorers in history.
Pastéis de nata – This pastry is a Portuguese staple and you’ll find these delicious custard-filled tarts at any bakery. They’re a must for an authentic food experience.