Things to do in Portugal

Things to do in Portugal

With literally thousands of things to do in Portugal this article attempts to give an overview of the different areas, climates and possibilities in Portugal.

When you start planning your trip to Portugal you’re first question could be what can we do there? There  is no quick answer about the things to do in Portugal.
Its a small country with an amazing divers landscape, a vast history and a rich culture developed over many centuries.
For some its the land of sun, surf and beach, for others its a journey of culture and history.
Lets start with th main airports at which trips will start!

The airports

Portugal mainland has 3 airports one in its capital located in the center of Portugal, Lisbon. The second in the second largest city of Porto Located in the North of Portugal . And the third in Faro the capital of the Algarve in the South of Portugal.
All three airports receive flights from all the major airlines commercial and budget lines.

The island of Madeira has its airport just outside of Funchal, its capital. The Azores has its main airport in Ponta Delgada on the São Miguel island.

The 3 mainland airport districts in a nutshell

If your planning a short you’ll probably want to stay close to the airports so understanding the surrounding areas may help you  choose which airport you want to fly to.


Lisbon, the capital is a busy, booming city with a population of half a million  in the city it spreads out and merges with other cities and towns set in its surroundings.In 2016 it was visited by 6.3 million tourists making it the most popular destination for tourism in Portugal.

It is an ancient city with a modern infra structure. It has become a booming business center hosting many international conferences and summits but it also remains a most loved location for city breaks.


Porto, the second largest city with almost 1/4 million citizens was largely undiscovered until a few years ago when budget airlines boosted its popularity. Currently it receive 4.5 million visitors a year and these amount are still growing. Port wine …..


Faro is the capital of the Algarve, a small city with 47,000 inhabitants, it is a popular beach resort and a tarting point for many beach holidays in the Algarve.


Read on below or check activities per district


Praca do Commercio, Lisbon


Rabelo boat tours, Porto


parapente Algarve



The Climate

During the summer the climate is more or less the same for the entire peninsula high temperatures inland, slightly cooler along the coast and in the mountains.

During the winter the North receives the most rain and the lowest temperatures. The south in contrast receives the least rain and highest temperatures often reaching 20C in the afternoon, even in January.

In contrast to summer winter weather tends to be very unpredictable but the country has the highest amount of sun hours in Europe.

The landscapes

Central Portugal

As diverse as promised, the landscapes are fast changing particularly in Central Portugal where the flat lands of the Tagus valley above Lisbon alternate with rugged mountain stretches around Sintra and Alenquer to the North east of Lisbon. The Tagus flows into the sea just west of Lisbon on a stretch often referred to as the Riviera of Portugal.

Just south of Lisbon another amazing mountain range, the Serra da Arrabida give access to sheltered beaches that have an almost Caribbean feel, with its sandy beaches, unique flora and blue waters.

Read on below or get to know some areas

The Arrabida, Activities, landscapes and ideas Serras de Aire Candeeiros Cascais

North Portugal

North Portugal is a more rugged location high mountains alternate with a wild coastline. Its most famous area is the Douro valley where the terraced landscapes have produced the grapes for the famous Port wines for centuries and its beauty has made it UNESCO world heritage site since 2001.
Porto itself has a medieval center that attracts tourist from all over the world as much of it has stayed intact. Its location close to the Atlantic ocean make it a popular destination for surfers.

The Algarve

The Algarve landscapes are more hilly than mountainous. tourism in the Algarve seems to be mainly centered around its many sandy beaches and coastal towns. Inland their are many interesting spots and nature areas that receive almost no tourism, along the coast most areas are flooded with tourism especially during the summer months. It has the highest concentration of resorts anywhere in Portugal but even here it is possible to find more quiet places that are still reasonably undiscovered.


Alentejo is the largest province of Portugal, it is also the one with the least inhabitants. It stretches to the coast below Lisbon and above the Algarve and inland to the Spanish border. Inland the climate is colder in winter and hotter in summer compared to the rest of Portugal. It is most famous for it cork trees, wine production horses and bulls. Its hilly agrarian landscapes alternate with small mountains crowned by castles and medieval towns.

The Islands


The most southern point of Portugal is Madeira Island located of the Moroccan coast, the island is a favorite spot for summer and winter travel.  Madeira has  a population of roughly 250,000 and is visited by 1 million tourist per year. Its warm climate, vast coastline and mountainous landscapes all contribute to its popularity.

The Azores

The Azores consist of 9 volcanic islands roughly 1500 KM west of Lisbon. The islands are becoming an ever more popular destination for tourist. Its unique beauty are just one of its magnetic qualities. Its climate compares to the mainland climate but receives more rain during the winter months.


Read on below or check activities per district

SUP tours Alentejo
Furnas Boutique Hotel Sao Miguel, Azores

Most popular things to do in Portugal

Culture trips

Cultural visits to its many UNESCO world heritage sites.
Where: Lisbon, Porto, Central Portugal, Alentejo, Upper Douro


Nature retreats
Inland Central Portugal, North Portugal, Azores

Adventure travel

North Portugal, Madeira, Azores – Climbing, Canyoning
Lisbon Arrabida , Madeira, Azores – Coasteering, Climbing
Skydive, Parachuting – Alentejo, Portimao Algarve, Porto
Surf – West coast
Bungee jumping – Algarve
Paragliding – Lisbon, Algarve
Jeep safaris – Algarve, Arrabida, Geres, Madeira
Scuba diving – Sesimbra, Cascais, Algarve, Peniche

More below but check out some of the adventure travel tips on Go Discover

Skydive Evora

City trips

Porto, Lisbon

Wine travel

Alentejo, Douro, Porto, Central Portugal

Beach resorts

Algarve, Madeira


Finally Portugal’s leisure activity offer is very large and diverse, this article gives an overview of the most popular reasons for people to travel to Portugal.

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