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Portugal Towns - A-Z of Portugal towns and areas

  • Albufeira

    Albufeira beach
    Central on the Algarve coast and only 40 minutes away from the Faro airport, Albufeira has been the most popular holiday destination in the south of Portugal since the 1970s. Originally a fortified Roman town, and for centuries a typical algarvian fishing village awash with simple white houses and the smell of grilled sardines, this picturesque location is now a thriving tourist town offering... more
  • Alcacer do Sal

    Alcacer do Sal
    Alcácer do Sal is an historical town crowned by castles whose medieval cobbled streets, worn over time, cluster around the banks of the Sado River, in the district of the town of Setúbal. Wrought-iron balconies look out over the river and underneath them dwell a variety of cafés and restaurants. The Sado flows sleepily past, yet the mighty ramparts and towers remind us of times when this, like... more
  • Algarve

    Praia da Rocha
    Portugal's southernmost province has enough sandy beaches to toast every sunbather in Europe: beautiful secluded coves and great golden strands stretch into infinity. The ocean is the Atlantic but it feels more like the Mediterranean.  In villages of squat white houses, gnarled old women wearing felt hats hide from the sun under black umbrellas. Fishermen repaint their boats in colours nearly as... more
  • Aljezur

    Aljezur
    Aljezur is a small market town of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets located thirty kilometers north of Lagos near the border between the Algarve and the Alentejo in south west Portugal. Straddling a fertile river valley, famed for its sweet potatoes, the town is dominated by the ruins of a tenth century Moorish castle, which sits at the top of a narrow and very steep cobbled hill. Entry to... more
  • Almancil

    Almancil
    A fifteen minute drive from the main airport in Faro, the small town of Almancil is perfectly pleasant and typical of the Algarve. The neighbouring village of São Lourenço boasts a church decorated with characteristic blue tiles telling the life story of its patron saint, this example of azulejo work being particularly notable because of its age, it dates back to 1730, and the fact that it is... more
  • Amarante

    Amarante
    Amar is the Portuguese verb to love, and it is perhaps fitting that it should be the first part of the name of this attractive town. A settlement since the 4th century BC, Amarante is situated in the rich agricultural lands of the Minho region, the northern section of the country which is responsible for the grapes of the vinho verde, the young semi-sparkling ‘green’ wine unique to Portugal. The... more
  • Aveiro

    Aveiro
    Aveiro is a medium town of around 55,000 people that grew up around its thriving port. Established in Roman times, Aveiro was initially known as Aviarium, meaning, "a gathering place or preserve of birds". As you would expect of a coastal town with good shelter for boats fishing was an important acitivity from the beginning. In fact the cod fishing grounds off the coast of Newfoundland were... more
  • Azores

    Lagoa do Fogo - Sao Miguel
    Rising straight out of the Atlantic Ocean around 1,500Km off the coast of mainland portugal is the Azores (Açores) archipelago. Volcanic in origin the chain stretches nearly 600Km and comprises of nine significant islands and eight smaller islets known locally as formigas (ants!). The landscape of the Azores is quite stunning, owing much to their volcanic origins. Ranging from the conical Pico,... more
  • Barcelos

    Barcelos
    Probably the most famous symbol of Portugal, the colourful ceramic cockerel has its origins in the pretty town of Barcelos where, according to local legend, it is reputed to have saved the life of a traveller wrongly accused of theft by crowing his innocence. The full story is told on a 15th century cross found in ruins of the Palace of the Dukes of Braganca, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.... more
  • Batalha

    Batalha Monastery
    A small town amidst the hills of the Leiria area, Batalha only became a place of any significance upon the building of its magnificent monastery, now honoured with UNESCO World Heritage status. This gigantic pearl of Gothic architecture occupied Portugal's most accomplished tradesmen under Royal command for the best past of two centuries. It was built to celebrate the Portuguese victory over the... more
  • Beja

    Beja
    Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Beja became capital of the Lower Alantejo region under Roman rule in the 1st century and thence known as Pax Julia, after Julius Caesar. The Visigoths renamed it Paca until the invasion of the Moors in the 8th century where the definitive name Beja was declared. Its evident importance is perhaps owing to its stunning location rising sharply out of the fertile... more
  • Braga

    Braga cathedral / Igreja da Sé de Braga.
    Famous for its historical buildings, monuments, gardens and fountains Braga is a beautiful city in the heart of the green Minho region where religious devotion in the form of many churches and other symbols of faith lies juxtaposed with the typical bustle of a modern city complete with restaurants, bars and a renowned nightlife, owing in some part to the local universities. Braga’s importance as... more
  • Braganca

    Braganca
    The name of the region of which Bragança is the capital belies its nature, being that Tras-os-Montes, quite literally 'behind the mountains', is easily the most remote part of mainland Portugal, if not western Europe. Here, ancient stone houses still cluster in small villages that seem unaffected by the speed and complexities of modern life, rich traditional dishes still fill the bellies of hard-... more
  • Caldas da Rainha

    Caldas da Rainha
    The origins of the spa town of Caldas da Rainha lie in a journey made by the 15th century Queen Leonor to her father-in-law’s funeral in neighbouring Batalha. Upon coming across peasants apparently bathing in unpleasantly smelling water, the queen enquired as to their motivation and was informed that the waters held curative powers. Leonor, herself rheumatic, put the waters to the test and on... more
  • Carvoeiro

    Carvoeiro beach
    Carvoeiro is an Algarve fishing village turned tourist hot spot located five kilometers south of Lagoa. Built into steep red sea cliffs, the once-attractive village has mushroomed since the 1960s to accommodate (mainly in self-catering apartment blocks) the hordes of tourists who come every Summer to soak up the sun and escape the more hectic pace of towns such as Lagoa, Albufeira and Portimao.... more
  • Cascais

    Cascais
    At the end of one of the suburban train lines out of the capital lies Cascais. This once tiny fishing village has grown in the last century to become the elegant beach town that it is today. Visitors are no stranger to Cascais, having attracted various monarchs over the ages, a summer-dwelling artistic community in the thirties and continued to charm people both Portuguese and foreign ever since... more
  • Castelo Branco

    Garden of the Episcopal Palace in Castelo Branco
    Castelo Branco is the capital of what used to be the province of Beira Baixa. Located just twenty kilometers from the Spanish border, most of the historical character of Castelo Branco has been destroyed by numerous marauding armies. Of the monuments that do remain, the most famous is probably the Jardim do Paco Episcopal (Bishop's garden) which was made by the Bishop of Guarda, Joao de Mendonca... more
  • Chaves

    Chaves Roman Bridge
    In the remote northern region of Trás-os-Montes, Chaves (meaning ‘keys’) is only 10km away from Spain and lies on the upper stretch of the river Tâmega. It is a spa town steeped in history, the most important example of which is the fantastically maintained Roman Bridge. This feat of engineering was completed at the end of the 1st century and all twelve arches are still visible. Reputedly built... more
  • Coimbra

    Coimbra University
    In terms of historic significance and romantic beauty, Coimbra is second only to Lisbon and Oporto. Its ancient buildings cling to the side of the hill that rises above the curves of the river Mondego, the ornate buildings of the famous University of Coimbra are its crowning glory. Indeed the university is still the lifeblood of the city and the change in atmosphere is notable when the summer... more
  • Covilha

    Covilha - Serra da Estrela National Park
    The Serra da Estrela is a wonderland of mountains. Clean air, crystal-clear streams and the ubiquitous sheep make it a magical destination far away from modern life. In the winter, the snowy peaks are a playground for skiers, Penha da Saude being one of the most popular slopes, and in the spring wild flowers grace its lower slopes. In one glacier valley in the South East of the area lies the... more
  • Douro Valley

    River Douro Valley
    The Douro Valley is home to the River Douro, the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula, which runs for eight hundred and ninety seven kilometers from the Spanish town of Duruelo de la Sierra to Porto, Portugal's second city. For one hundred and twelve kilometers the river forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. In the past, impassable canyons formed a barrier against marauding... more
  • Ericeira

    Ericeira, perched on high cliffs some thirty meters above a string of sandy beaches, has benefited greatly from it's location. A small fishing village whose name derives from sea urchins (Ouricos do Mar) and where shellfish are still reared in tanks that can be seen at the bottom of the cliffs, Ericeira is home to one of the very few natural harbours between Cascais and Peniche. Because of this... more
  • Espinho

    Originally a small fishing village boasting little more than a minor canning industry, the beach resort of Espinho now draws crowds to its golden beach and varied attractions, although the odd colourful narrow fishing boat can still be seen on the sands. Just over 10 miles south of Portugal’s second city, the majority of its visitors hail from the interior regions of the north. However its well-... more
  • Estoril

    Estoril - Tamariz beach
    Long established as the cosmopolitan holiday destination of the rich and famous on the Portuguese Riviera, Estoril has an elegance more commonly attributed to resorts on the Côte d’Azur. Exiled royalty and deposed despots made this their haven during World War II, alongside spies from both sides. During a stay at the famous Palácio Hotel, Orson Wells apparently expressed amazement at the number... more
  • Estremoz

    Estremoz
    The semi-arid plains of the eastern Alentejo stretch for miles before the pyramid-like settlement of Estremoz looms into view. To sum this place up in a few words, one would choose historically significant, strategically situated and dramatic. During Portugal’s long struggle to retain its sovereignty in the face of invading Spanish armies, Estremoz always played a vital role. This strongly... more
  • Evora

    Evora Roman ruins
    Even from a distance the majestic importance of Evora is apparent, its cathedral dominating the view of the famous white and yellow city as it stands atop a hill surrounded by the vast expanses of the Alentejan plain in southeast Portugal. With over two thousand years of history and, therefore, a variety of cultural and architectural influences, Evora is a real national treasure and certainly... more
  • Faro

    Faro
    Surrounded by fertile fields of trees bearing fruit, olives and the almonds for which the Algarve is famous, Faro is a large town of over 50, 000 inhabitants, the administrative capital of the province, lies at the heart of the Formosa Estuary. Under Moorish rule the port of Faro was of great importance but more recently it is the airport which serves as the entry point for millions of... more
  • Fatima

    anctuary of Fátima
    Once a tiny village in the hills of Santarém between Lisbon and Oporto, Fátima is now town of around 10,000 people globally renowned for the religious visions which took place here in 1917 and which have made it an important pilgrimage centre for the Catholic faith. Interestingly, given its now super strong links to the Catholic Church, name Fátima itself originates from a Moorish girl’s name.... more
  • Figueira da Foz

    Figueira da Foz beach
    Its nickname, Rainha das Praias (Queen of Beaches) leaves us in no doubt as to the main attraction at Figueira da Foz. True to form, the summer months see its long stretches of golden sands attract swarms of beach lovers who come to swim, surf or simply soak up the rays of Figueira’s apparently above average amount of sunshine. The name Figueira da Foz itself, which translates as ‘fig tree at the... more
  • Grandola

    Grândola, Vila Morena
    Grândola, in the Setúbal district, is a typical small Alentejan town. Set amidst plains of crops and vast gatherings of cork trees, for which the area is famous, it is hot and dusty in the summer months and yet captures the feeling of a place where people work hard but also take life at a leisurely pace, appreciating their surroundings – often the stereotype of the Alentejan people. It is perhaps... more
  • Guarda

    Guarda
    Its proximity to the Spanish border means that this whole area of the Beira region is dotted with fortifications and hilltop villages, and Guarda is no exception. Indeed its very name is an indication of its 'guarding' role. It served its purpose well under the Duke of Wellington against the French in the Peninsular War of the 1800s. The highest town in Portugal, at over 1000 metres above sea... more
  • Guimaraes

    Guimaraes Castle
    Heralded as the birthplace of Portugal as we know it today, the role of Guimaraes in establishing Portugal’s status as an independent country and national identity is significant. Already housing an important monastery, protected from Moorish and Norman attack by a formidable castle and fortifications, in the 12th century Guimaraes also witnessed the birth of Portugal’s first king, Dom Alfonso... more
  • Lagos

    Lagos harbour - Algarve
    One of the most popular tourist destinations on the Algarve and certainly one of my favourites, Lagos is a bustling town full of activity, nightlife and modern attractions. However, it is also a town full of history and the monuments and architecture which take us back to the many different peoples who have settled here and the many maritime adventure which have started in Lagos' impressive... more
  • Lamego

    Lamego Sanctuary Nossa Senhora
    Nestled among the terraced slopes of the Douro valley port wine-growing region, and overlooked by an ornate shrine, the town of Lamego is elegant and infused with Baroque style. Atop one of its two hills stands the 13th century keep and a castle 100 years its senior. The Porta dos Figos gateway arch leads into the narrow streets of the inner town. Also found here is a somewhat unusual piece of... more
  • Leiria

    In the Beiras regions, all roads seem to lead to Leiria from surrounding tourist favourites such as Coimbra, Alcobaça, Fatima and Batalha, with its outstanding monastery. However, beyond being the geographical hub, Leiria has its own charms. Built on the hills and flatlands that flank the River Lis, its old quarter and ancient monuments make it a worthy visit, even if the more modern sections are... more
  • Lisbon

    Lisbon
    Lisbon is one of the most immediately likeable capitals in Europe. Located on the westernmost front of Continental Europe, its mosaic of terracotta roofed buildings cling both majestically and humbly to its seven hills. The Tejo River sweeps past the many character-rich districts which border it, carrying boats big and small and is straddled by two impressive bridges. Some ultra modern... more
  • Loule

    Loulé Castle
    Loulé
  • Luso

    Luso
    This small town just north of Coimbra is famous for one thing in particular: water. Agua de Luso is synonymous with good quality mineral water in Portugal, and thousands of bottles of this precious liquid are consumed daily across the nation. It flows freely from fountains and springs in the town and is also renowned for its healing qualities, hence the fact that Luso is one of Portugal’s most... more
  • Madeira

    Madeira coast
    The archipelago of Madeira is situated in the Atlantic Ocean 535 miles southwest of Lisbon and 490 miles off the coast of Morocco in Africa. Madeira consists of 3 main islands, of which two are inhabited. These are Madeira Island and Porto Santo with the other island being appropriately named Ilhas Desertas (deserted island). The population of the islands is around 250,000 with around 4,800... more
  • Monsanto

    Monsanto village
    In 1938 Monsanto was voted the 'most Portuguese village in Portugal'. Since then it has been protected by building regulations that ensure the village retains an almost preternatural charm. Granite cottages are squeezed in amongst giant boulders, many of which form part of the houses themselves, as walls or steps, in a picturesque, higgeldy piggeldy fashion. The tiny streets, just wide enough for... more
  • Moura

    Moura is a large town in the thinly-populated (and relatively impoverished) Alentejo region. The town is supposedly named after the Moorish Princess Moura Saluquia. Legend has it that Saluquia threw herself from one of the towers of the castle after her lover was killed and she was subsequently tricked by the Portuguese, who dressed up in his clothes, into lowering the drawbridge. The Moors' five... more
  • Nazare

    Nazare
    Possibly the most famous fishing town in Portugal, Nazaré is unique in many ways. It doesn’t contain the architectural treasures or grandiose monuments prevalent in other Portuguese towns, but it has an atmosphere of times gone by, contentment and traditions which continue to thrive, which make it a special place to visit. The wooden fishing boats still used today are colourful and narrow with... more
  • Obidos

    Obidos
    Perched on a hill rising out of an agricultural plain, Óbidos is one of Portugal’s picturesque gems. From its lofty centre one gazes upon expanses of vineyards speckled with whirling windmills and terracotta-roofed homesteads. Nearer, narrow cobbled streets, lined typically with whitewashed, bougainvillaea-draped houses, wind up to the walled interior; the name Óbidos stems from the Latin for... more
  • Olhao

    Olhão roof tops
    Olhao is a coastal town in the Algarve which grew out of the fishing industry in the seventeenth century. Olhão, located just ten kilometers east of Faro, is still one of the Algarve's main ports. It was here that the first canning factory was established in 1882, sparking a trend that was to spread in both directions along the coast, with canned tuna and sardines quickly becoming the Algarve's... more
  • Ourem

    Ourém is a town and municiplaity in central Portugal, near the city of Leiria. Ourem is mostly visited for its ruined castle and palace, which date back to the Moorish occupation that began in the eighth century. Ourem, then called Abdegas, was reclaimed by the Portuguese during the twelfth century Christian Reconquista and given the new name of Portus de Auren. Legend has it that the name Ourem... more
  • Palmela

    Palmela
    Another link in the ancient Portuguese defence system, Palmela is a charming small town centred around a fortified castle at an altitude of 1200 metres at the edge of the Arrábida mountain range. Its past strategic importance is evident given that the views from here are astounding, taking in vast expanses of farmland, the Sado estuary to the south and even Lisbon to the north. Originally a... more
  • Peniche

    Peniche is a coastal city an hour's drive north of Lisbon. Peniche was an island until the sixteenth century, when silt created a narrow isthmus. It has been a busy fishing port since ancient times and retains a historical harbour and harbour walls. The old, walled part of town (which is in stark contrast to the burgeoning development all around it) is dominated by an impressive sixteenth century... more
  • Portalegre

    Visiting Portalegre is not so much about visiting one interesting town, but about visiting a whole cluster of northern Alentejan towns, each with their own tale to tell, and with Portalegre at their centre. The region contains a wealth of historical monuments and anecdotes, awe-inspiring views from the fortified hilltop towns and a good smattering of pre-historic treasures to boot. For the... more
  • Portimao

    Located towards the western end of the Algarve, Portimao is one of the largest towns on this coast with a population approaching 40,000. As a tourist destination in its own right the town doesn't really jump out, as with much of south and west Portugal it was extensively damaged in the great earthquake of 1755. Set on the Rio Arade estuary Portimao's economy has been dependent on fishing and its... more
  • Porto

    Porto is considered the capital of the north and as the second largest city in Portugal, rightfully so. There are really very few similarities between Porto and Lisbon – they are both near the coast, on the banks and have some fairly daunting hills, but that’s really where it ends. The two cities have a different feel and different charms. Porto’s most striking characteristic is that of ‘faded... more
  • Sagres

    Sagres
    Although Sagres is on the Algarve it doesn't have the same over-developed holiday town feel of some of those towns further east. Situated within a few Km of Europe's most south western point, Cape St. Vincent, the town has a rather windswept, remote feel about it. The town itself is pleasant enough in places, with an attractive square, but there is little of historical or architectural interest... more
  • Santarem

      Igreja da Seminario Overlooking the wending Tagus River from its ridge-top position, Santarem is a town of historical significance, once renowned as the strongest fortress in the kingdom and second only to Lisbon in importance in the country. Its origins can be traced back to the Iron Age, and Julius Caesar used it as an administrative centre for Roman legions. The name originates in the legend... more
  • Serpa

    Serpa
    Serpa is a sleepy hilltop town in rural Alentejo. Close proximity to the Spanish border gave rise to the construction of thick town walls and a small castle, the remains of which are open to visitors. The castle is of Moorish origin, though it was largely rebuilt in the late thirteenth century by King Dinis.The castle suffered serious damage during the Spanish invasion of 1707. Entrance to the... more
  • Sesimbra

      Arrabida José Manuel This picturesque fishing port lies about 40km due south of Lisbon and is situated nestled at the foot of the hills of Arrabida and inside a sparkling blue bay, protecting it from cold northerly winds. Since the 1960’s Sesimbra has become increasingly popular with weekenders from Lisbon, looking for an easy escape from the city and a pretty place to eat fantastic fish,... more
  • Setubal

      Setubal José Manuel Setubal and its surrounding area are awash with history dating back to before the Roman period, indeed it is said that the town was founded by a relative of Noah. Its relationship with the sea is also remarkably long-lived with a fish salting industry which started in the 1st century AD and a large, protected harbour - the third largest in the country - from where, in the... more
  • Silves

    Silves by night
    Silves is an attractive town with a rich history built on the banks of the River Arade. The river was navigable in historical times and represented an important link between the hinterland and the coast. The town, which is built on top of one of the largest underground aquifers in the south of Portugal, the Querenca-Silves aquifer, straddles the river and retains a medina-style gate, the Porta de... more
  • Sines

    Sines is a long way off the tourist trail and on first impressions it is easy to see why. Sines is an industrial town dominated by its oil refinery with its towers and pipelines, and the deep sea port with its huge container ships and tankers. Suffice to say the water here is fairly polluted and the air not a great deal better. Besides the port Sines also has a small marina, although yachts can... more
  • Sintra

    Sintra Pena Palace
      Sintra> Considered not only one of the wonders of Portugal but indeed of Europe, Sintra is truly a gem. Once the royal town of the country, it now deservedly holds UNESCO world heritage status and attracts hordes of visitors throughout the year. Its unusual geography, nestled in a stretch of hills surrounded on all sides by plain, estuary or ocean, and its subsequent climate, which is... more
  • Tavira

    Tavira is one of the gems of the eastern Algarve. Straddling the River Gilao and the River Segua, its gentle charm and predominantly low-rise architecture set it aside from other resorts in the region. Sometimes referred to as the Venice of the Algarve, it boasts a seven-arched Roman bridge, some fine Renaissance architecture, numerous churches, tree-lined squares and a certain romantic air. Also... more
  • Tomar

    Although a small town, Tomar plays a large role in a very important stage of Portuguese history, with links to the Knights Templar and the Discoveries, and remains an attractive and interesting place to visit. Its story begins in the eleven hundreds when much land in the area was donated to the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem by the then Queen Dona Teresa and her son Dom Alfonso Henriques.... more
  • Torres Vedras

    Torres Vedras
    Torres Vedras
  • Vendas Novas

    Vendas Novas is a municipality in the district of Evora. Vendas Novas is split into two parishes, Landeira and Vendas Novas. A royal palace that was built for King Joseph I now houses an Artillery School. The tourist office occupies a picturesque nineteenth century windmill.
  • Viana do Castelo

    Viana do Castelo Oft described as ‘Entre o mar, o rio e a montanha’ (between the sea, the river and the mountains), the northern town of Viana do Castelo is exactly that. Its location on the Lima estuary, surrounded by verdant hills is probably best appreciated from atop the Monte de Santa Luzia. This contrasting scenery with its fine sandy beaches both coastal and fluvial, and the differing... more
  • Vila Real

    Vila Real
    Vila Real, the capital of the Tras-o-Montes province, is a sleepy university town set in a sea of rural tranquility. The town is located above the confluence of the Rio Cabril and the Rio Corgo. Diogo Cão, who discovered the Congo River in 1482, was born in Vila Real. The town has long been a popular place to have a second home. The most famous has to be the Palacio do Mateus, used as a holiday... more
  • Vilamoura

      Vialmoura Marina Vilamoura is more of an area than a town in iself and has grown over the past couple of decades to more or less engulf Quarteira to the east. Located virtually in the middle of the Algarve coast, within 15Km of the main airport at Faro, Vilamoura's accessibility has helped it become one of Europe's largest beach resorts. The 20 square Km of purpose built resort are home to... more
  • Viseu

      Traditional Viseu pottery Set on a plateau high in the hills of Beira Alta, this regional capital retains a medieval feel to what was once a walled centre and has been an important crossroads since Roman times. In fact, the Romans kept a large garrison of soldiers here, the most important yet to be uncovered by archaeologists in Portugal and the buildings of which apparently covered around 40... more
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