- Spend a day in the medieval Alfama district
- Explore central Lisbon
- Visit the palaces, castles and gardens of Sintra
- Tour Jerónimos Monastery in Belém
- Enjoy the architecture of Porto
- Visit Ribeira, Porto’s colorful historic center
- See the bookstore that inspired Harry Potter’s Hogwarts
- Tour the wineries of the Douro Valley
- Explore the Alentejo region
- Visit the hilltop village of Monsaraz
- Stay in Comporta, a low-profile getaway for in-the-know Europeans
Follow in Our Footsteps
Old World Architecture and Fine Cuisine
Historically, Portugal has been much farther down on visitors’ lists than France, Italy and Spain. But more and more travelers have discovered its appeal: beautifully preserved Old World architecture, a varied landscape dotted with medieval towns, underrated cuisine and lovely, hospitable people. Flights are being added to meet the booming demand, and the hotels, restaurants and shops are becoming much more sophisticated. The long lag in development means the Portuguese remain refreshingly unpretentious, despite their proud emphasis on their country’s products — from wine and olive oil to wool and ceramics — and cultural heritage.
Most visitors spend a few days in Lisbon, take a side trip to see Sintra’s romantic palaces and then head to the sunny beaches of the Algarve. But it’s worth spending some time exploring other areas of the country, stopping in the city of Porto, the Douro Valley wine region, the plains and hill towns of the Alentejo, and the chic beach resort of Comporta. Driving is easy — the highways are excellent and well-maintained — and the rail network is extensive. English is widely spoken. You certainly won’t be the only tourists on this itinerary, but it includes a few places off the beaten path. Spring and fall are the optimal times to visit, with warm temperatures, abundant sunshine and fewer crowds than summer.