The Top 10 Attractions in Portugal
Portugal is a fantastic destination to visit and so diverse with more than 800 kilometres of magnificent Atlantic Ocean coastline boasting the best beaches and coves in Europe. It has hugely impressive mountain ranges with stone built villages, historic castles, monasteries and palaces just waiting to be explored. Take a look at the 10 most popular places to visit:
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lisbon
This is a monument that King Manuel I commissioned and symbolises the country’s astonishing age of conquest. The church and monastery boast some of the finest examples of Manueline architecture found anywhere in Portugal. Inside the cloisters it includes the tomb of Vasco da Gama and other national figureheads such as Luís de Camões.
Oceanário de Lisboa, Lisbon
This has got to be Portugal’s most popular and family-friendly attraction, highlighting the world’s diverse ocean habitats and is one of Europe’s best and largest oceanariums, boasting a mammoth selection of fish and marine animals.
Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Lisbon Coast
Situated deep in a wooded mountain range, is this charming old town. UNESCO acknowledges it as a World Heritage landscape for its beauty and collection of historic visitor attractions which are arranged around the old town, Sintra Velha is also a favourite summer retreat for the kings and queens of Portugal.
Torre de Belém, Lisbon
This is indeed a Lisbon icon and also one of Portugal’s best-loved historic monuments. It is a symbol of the Age of Discovery and all the treacherous voyages of exploration undertaken in the 15th/16th centuries.
Convento do Cristo, Tomar
This huge castle dominates the quaint riverside town of Tomar and is one of Portugal’s iconic historic attractions. It was founded in 1160 as the headquarters of the Order of the Knights Templar. It is also known as the Convent of Christ and contains the original Templar church which is vibrantly decorated with the mystic symbolism associated with the Order of Christ.
Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga
This is Portugal’s grandest religious sanctuary and is situated on a wooded slope six kilometres east of Braga, being one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the country. It features several chapels adorned with sculptured scenes from the Passion of Christ, biblical, mythological figures and cascading fountains.
Universidade de Coimbra
This historical building of the Velha Universidade, or old Coimbra University is situated around a beautiful stunning colonnaded central square, the Paço das Escolas. The Alta and Sofia wings of the university which was once a former royal residence boasts the astonishing Biblioteca Joanina which is a gloriously decorated library installed in 1717 by King João V.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon
This is one of the finest museums in Lisbon. The museum’s collection (some 6,000 pieces) belonged to one man – Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian who was a wealthy Armenian oil magnate who left his priceless art to the Portuguese nation when he passed away in 1955.
Castelo de Guimarães
The birthplace of the first monarch, Dom Afonso Henriques. It is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its collection of historic monuments located in and around the old town centre. It is defined as being the place that symbolized the nation’s culture and tradition and also appears on the Portuguese coat of arms.
Torre de Clérigos, Oporto
Overlooking the old town of Oporto and towering 75 meters above the streets this magnificent tower was built in the 18th century by Nicolau Nason. The top is reached by climbing 200 steps, but it is all well worth it when you see the magnificent views of the city and the River Douro.