There is no shortage of beautiful cities in Portugal. Lisbon itself is teeming with gorgeous architecture and a vibrant cultural scene. Porto is historic and romantic, and Algarve has pristine beaches with super cool rock formations. But what about the other cities?
Portugal, while not as large as Spain, is a fascinating country. It has a rich history and culture, including Germanic, Celtic, and Viking influences. This means that there's beauty to be seen throughout the country, and it's often well-preserved. It currently has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites on its list, not to mention the 19 tentative entries.
We can't discount the must-see towns like Lisbon, Sintra, and the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. Still, if you have a little more time and are ready to venture off the beaten track, these 7 cities are totally worth it.
Evora is the largest city in Portugal's Alentejo region. Whether it's an overnight stay or an extended week-long stay at one of those cool B&Bs, you'll love the historical architecture in the town's center. What's unique about the town center's architecture is that they're still partially gated by impressive medieval walls. It's no wonder the center was named a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Take a stroll around and admire the narrow alleys and floral terraces. Don't forget to visit Évora Cathedral as well, a 13th Century Gothic cathedral that will have you swooning.
Getting to Evora: The train from Lisbon is 1.5 hours, and the drive is about 1 hour.
The Algarve region may appear like an endless beach resort, but there's a little more history here than you'd expect. Take Tavira, a small town loved for its beautiful and well-preserved historical monuments. So on top of those gorgeous beaches, you're also getting a look at Gothic, Renaissance, and Roman landmarks.
Check out Tavira castle, for one, a tribute to the Moorish history of the town. The structure still stands tall, and you can also visit the lovely landscaped gardens.
Getting to Tavira: Fly to Faro, in Algarve. Then it's a 30-minute drive.
There are just so many reasons to visit Cascais. Also known to be Sintra's cool younger sister, nightlife and outdoor dining is a big part of the lifestyle here. Apart from being a buzzing beach town boasting great surfing waves, the art scene is noteworthy.
Once a sleepy fishing village, many now flock to Cascais to see the art. There are lots to see, from famous work housed by the several galleries in the Museum Quarter to street art decking the Bairro da Torre. You can spend a whole day checking out the local and upcoming artists by walking through the cluster of museums in the Bairro dos Museus.
Getting to Cascais: Train (40 minutes), Car (30 minutes)
The city of Tomar will please the history buffs and the romantics. You can start with a visit to the historical monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Convent of Christ. The Catholic structure sits atop a hill, offering an impressive view from the outside. Inside, you can continue to marvel at the architecture, ornate sculptures and cornices, and beautiful decoration.
Romantics will delight in a simple stroll about the town, through cobblestone walkways, along with mosaic tiling, and across the serene Nabão River.
Getting to Tomar: Tomar is a 1.5-hour drive from Lisbon, and the car is the easiest option.
Pinhão is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, located in the absolutely stunning Duoro Valley. As with its territory, wine and port are celebrated here. Table wines are delicious and affordable, making it an excellent destination for wine enthusiasts.
The town sits at the confluence of the Pinhão and Duoro rivers, so picturesque views are a given! A great way to travel here is by train and starting in Porto, and you can stop at different towns along the way like Régua and Pocinho. But even if you forgo the train ride, stop by Pinhão's local train station, handsomely decorated with azulejo tiles and panels depicting the history.
Spend an afternoon visiting the many wineries it's known for, either by train, car, or boat. Among others, Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas and Symingtons' Quinta do Vesúvio wine estates are prominent wine-makers that have their own railway stations, making them easily accessible.
Getting to Pinhão: The town lies 127 km from Porto. You can take the train from Porto, about 2h17m, or drive the scenic 3 hour-long route.
The town of Obidos is an excellent choice for those wanting to see a traditional town in Portugal. A medieval city, many will both love and be surprised at how well it's maintained its beautiful architecture.
The colorful buildings are the most striking. Those cobbled, narrow streets wander about the town and get lost amongst the bright-hued structures.
Head over to Obidos castle, a Moorish construction that towers over the town. You can even enter and walk through the castle, seeing the same views that royals did long ago.
Getting to Obidos: You're about 50 miles (86 kilometers) from Lisbon, so about an hour's drive.
For beach lovers looking for seclusion, make sure to head over to Nazaré, one of the best beach spots in Portugal.
Their coast is the main draw, with epic waves drawing experienced surfers from all over the world. Surf season is from October to March, Portugal's winter season. But be warned, the waters can get rough.
Getting to Nazaré: The town sits on the Silver Coast along the western side of the country. You can take a bus for around 2.5 hours, or drive by car for about 1.5 hours.
Explore more of Portugal
It might be tempting to skip some of these hidden gems for their more popular options, but if you want to steer away from the crowds, these cities are your best bet. Either way, you won't be disappointed with a trip to Portugal.
If you're searching for flights to Portugal, you might want to check out our review of their local airline, TAP Air Portugal, before you fly!
While you're at it, start preparing your journey with Pilot.