Nine of Portugal’s Most Beautiful Destinations

by | 13 Sep 2021

Famous for its windswept beaches, heady port wine and incredible maritime history, Portugal is the perfect place to make some Insight moments. Now that it is open for travel once again, we thought we’d shine a light on the many treasures this European gem offers.
Connect with the culture on a premium guided tour and discover quaint towns with colorful monasteries, tantalizing cuisine and well-preserved heritage.

1. Lisbon

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From its picturesque cobbled streets to the welcoming hospitality of the locals, Lisbon is known for capturing the hearts of travelers. First stop on the Country Roads of Portugal tour, it gives visitors a true flavor of the country with incredible hilltop views across terracotta roofs to the Atlantic Ocean. The attractive squares shaded by trees are a perfect place to sample the local speciality, pasteis de nata and a visit to the Belém Quarter recalls the Age of Discoveries, the time when Portugal ruled the oceans.

2. Sintra

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Once the summer retreat for Portuguese royalty, this UNESCO World Heritage town has palaces, castles and gardens alive with beautiful blooms. Its many scenes resemble a fairy tale storybook and make it popular with couples. While the marvelously colorful Pálacio de Pena is a huge draw, presiding over the town like a cartoonish fantasy, there are plenty of enchanting walks and other historical buildings to explore too.
The Country Roads of Portugal premium tour begins and ends in Portugal so Insight Vacations guests can book a day tour to Sintra from Lisbon, or add on some time to see the Quinta de Regaleira and the majestic Monserrate Park and Palace, beloved of writers.

3. Évora

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This ancient university city is one of the oldest in Europe, which becomes clear to the IV guest on tour from the stunning Roman Temple at its center. The Templo de Diana was built in the first century A.D. to honor Augustus, the Roman Emperor at that time. Travelers will find many other fascinating ruins and artefacts from the city’s diverse past.
Day 5 of the Amazing Spain & Portugal tour takes in this wonderful city, and a stop at Capelo dos Ossos, where visitors are invited to ponder their own existence. Don’t miss the magnificent Praça do Giraldo with the pretty Henriquina fountain and arched arcades.

4. Lagos

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A pretty fishing port, Lagos offers dramatic scenery, fantastic cuisine and some wonderful museums. The multi-hued sandstone cliffs and golden sands provide wonderful photo opportunities, or simply take a stroll alongside the fine combed waves meeting the shore.
If you’d prefer more history, walk the old fortified walls of the town, which date back to the eighth century. You can also take a peek into the oldest church in the Algarve, São João Baptista, built in 1174. Guests on the Country Roads of Portugal will have plenty of time to explore on Day 3 of their journey.

5. Tomar

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Another stop on the same tour is the charming city of Tomar, which you’ll reach on Day 6. Once the seat of the Order of the Knights Templar, it is a must for history buffs (or fans of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code). The Convent of Christ showcases Portuguese Manueline architecture and a number of other styles, although perhaps most impressive is the 12th century rotunda, which was inspired by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Aside from its rich history and associations, Tomar is also home to the quirky Museu dos Fosforus, a private collection of more than 43,000 different matchboxes from all over the world.

6. Monsaraz

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Reach the tranquil village of Monsaraz on Day 5 of the Country Roads of Portugal tour, perched on a hilltop amid vineyards and olive groves. Just moments from the Spanish border, visitors are afforded incredible views across to one of the largest lakes in Europe, Alqueva Lake and its azure hue contrasts beautifully with the white washed buildings of the village. Take a gentle cruise across its waters, hearing more about life in the area from a local boat captain.

Indulge in a feast of tapas at a former olive mill, tasting dish after dish of Alentejo specialties. We promise that this food experience will be a highlight of your vacation.

7. Fátima

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Reach the tranquil village of Monsaraz on Day 5 of the Country Roads of Portugal tour, perched on a hilltop amid vineyards and olive groves. Just moments from the Spanish border, visitors are afforded incredible views across to one of the largest lakes in Europe, Alqueva Lake and its azure hue contrasts beautifully with the white washed buildings of the village. Take a gentle cruise across its waters, hearing more about life in the area from a local boat captain.

Indulge in a feast of tapas at a former olive mill, tasting dish after dish of Alentejo specialties. We promise that this food experience will be a highlight of your vacation.

8. Óbidos

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The charming town of Óbidos is where to travel next, as it’s less than 100 kilometers from Fátima. It has a romantic history of its own, beginning when King Dinis made it a gift to his new bride Queen Isabel in the 13th century. The narrow, cobbled streets are adorned with bougainvillea and each doorway tells a story through the intricate tiling.
History is everywhere in this medieval town, but among its most treasured sites are chapels such as Igreja de Santa Maria and Santuário do Senhor Jesus da Pedra. Take time to explore Óbidos on Day 5 of the Best of Spain & Portugal.

9. Porto

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Arrive to Porto, where quaint chapels sit alongside bustling new bars serving the famous port wine that is made here. The city sits on the Douro River and has an infectious energy that captivates visitors throughout their stay.
Insight Vacations’ Country Roads of Portugal tour allows plenty of time to see the sights in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saunter along the famous Dom Luis I Bridge, climb the steps of Clerigos Tower to take in the views or cruise down the Douro in a traditional Rabelo boat. The locals are friendly, the food simply divine and visitors will find it easy to make many Insight memories in Portugal’s second city.
We are curious about the world, and we know you are too. And it’s that curiosity and sense of adventure we aim to spark through our Insightful blog. Each month we bring you stories, interviews, awe-inspiring photography and videos from around the world – always threaded through with our expert insights and destination knowledge.

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