Home Portugal 21 Photos to Inspire Your First Portugal Trip

21 Photos to Inspire Your First Portugal Trip

by David
Walls of Moorish Castle Sintra, First Portugal Trip

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The secret’s out. Everyone knows just how awesome Portugal is now. After a lull, this small country in western Europe has come back with a vengeance. Long favoured as a beach getaway for certain nationalities, the rest of the world has finally caught on to this unquestionable gem. So, if you haven’t been yet, it’s time you plan your first Portugal trip pronto!

Naturally, you’ve probably got a lot of questions like where to go in Portugal or what to see. The best place to start planning then is right here. I’ve put together a collection of just 21 photos that shows you exactly what you’ve been missing out on. Leading you through the country’s different sides and the best places to visit in Portugal, you should find more than a few ideas of where to start.

If you’ve yet to visit this special and genuine country, hopefully these photos will offer some insight and inspiration.

 

The Epic Coast and Beaches

What first comes to mind when you think about Portugal? I bet there’s a good chance that it’s the country’s epic coast. Portugal is simply spoiled with incredible beaches and picturesque coastline. No matter where you go, whether it’s the north, the country’s middle or the southern Algarve, you’re in for a treat.

People may be most familiar with the cliffs and rugged beaches of the Algarve, but its really not the only destination for a Portugal beach holiday. Cities on the central coast like Nazare have their own great beach spots and cliffs. Then there are all the city beaches and potential day trips from Porto, for instance. Your first trip to Portugal can easily combine a city break with beachtime, just part of the reason Portugal is so beloved.

Sunset at Miramare, Portugal

Sunset Dunes at Miramare south of Porto

Algarve Beaches, First Portugal Trip

Classic Algarve beaches by the town of Portimao

Beach View, Sightseeing in Nazare

Hilltop view along Nazare Beach

Trafaria, Day Trips from Lisbon

Fishing boats resting by the waterfront of Trafaria

Algarve Coast, First Portugal Trip

Waves roll in against the rocky coast near Sagres

 

Grand Castles and Palaces

Portugal’s a land with a long past, one whose deep history is easily explored through its most impressive landmarks. I’m speaking, of course, of the myriad of awesome castles and palaces that are dotted throughout. It seems that no matter where you go in Portugal, a grand old palace or castle is not far off.

These mighty buildings often reflect either Portugal’s period of Moorish occupation or the days when the nation of Portugal was forged. Both of these eras can be found in places like Sintra, which when visited as a day trip from Lisbon, offers more castles and palaces than you could hope to expect.

Then there are the likes of Obidos and Leiria, each humbly defined by their castles and city walls. Even the birthplace of Portugal, Guimaraes has a palace and castle to delight, among its many sights. Since the past is so well preserved in Portugal, it really is the ideal destination for history lovers.

Guimaraes Castle

Stone walls surrounding the Guimaraes Medieval Castle

Pena National Palace, Day Trips from Lisbon

Colourful Pena Palace positioned above the town of Sintra

Town Walls, Obidos Day Trip from Lisbon

High walls around the historic town of Obidos

Leiria Castle, Leiria Travel

The hilltop castle overlooking the city of Leiria

 

Fantastic Portuguese Tiles

If there’s one design element that catches people’s eyes on their first Portugal trip, it’s the local tilework. From the streets, to the walls of chuches, to houses, basically everywhere; you can’t help but become enchanted by Portugal’s tiles. The most common traditional design of these tiles is white and blue tile mosaics, known as azulejos.

In truth they’re also found in Spain and can be all sorts of colours, but I find the white and blue pieces the most memorable. While this brilliant design flare could be reserved for homes and private spaces, that’s not the case in Portugal.

Azulejos liven up countless public spaces in cities like Viseu and Porto, not to mention landmark attractions like the terraces of the staircase in Lamego. Perhaps the greatest challenge with these tile mosaics is deciding which is your favourite!

Portuguese Azulejos Tiles, First Portugal Trip

Beautiful and detailed azulejo artwork in Viseu

Visiting Aveiro Poetugal

Intricate tile patterns on the streets of Aveiro

Sao Bento Station, Porto Tips

The iconic azulejo tiles of São Bento Railway Station in Porto

Lamego Staircase Mosaic

Just one of the great tile pieces on the stairway of Lamego

 

Captivating Nature and Landscapes

One side of Portugal that doesn’t get its due is its rugged nature and sweeping landscapes. No, Portugal is not just beaches, as the dry terrain is also home to sun-kissed fields, hills and wild forests. It’s one side of the country that I’d love to explore more of the next chance I get.

It’s not like it’s particularly hard to quickly find yourself amongst nature on your first Portugal trip. Simply head out towards the vineyards and hills along the Douro Valley to sample some wine and you’ll also get quite the view to go with it. Nearby places like Vila Real reinforce that this isn’t a one off with their deep and dramatic valleys.

Alternatively, you can enjoy forest walks along the trails in the hills just above both Sintra and Guimaraes. Even further afield are the wide range of hiking trails on offer in Peneda-Geres National Park and other quiet, inland spots. Finally there’s the calm rural fields spread throughout, that can offer a simple, rustic escape like outside Obidos.

Douro Valley

Vineyard terraces down to the Douro River

Mount Penha Boulders, First Portugal Trip

Moss green boulders atop Mount Penha over Guimaraes

Obidos Train Station, First Portugal Trip

Neverending green fields outside the Obidos train station

 

Incredible Urban Destinations

Now perhaps, the best to last – Portugal’s cities. In a world where cities are constantly modernizing and being redeveloped, Portugal is refreshingly “old world”. Nearly every major or minor city you visit here genuinely feels like it has stuck to its traditional roots.

Talk to people that have visited and they’ll often bring up the atmosphere of places like Lisbon and Porto and an overwhelming feel of cultural authenticity. Oh and that they’re drop-dead gorgeous. You can look beyond the “big two” as well, since Portugal is home to a number of exciting destinations. What’s more, they each have decidely different appeals to them.

The central city of Coimbra for instance is home to a remarkable university and riverfront. Braga on the other hand, has a small old town wrapped up within the parks and boulevards of the modern city. No matter where you go though, you’re bound to find charming streets to walk down and superb cityscape views.

Praca do Commercio, Lisbon

Arco da Rua Augusta on Praça do Comércio in Lisbon

Viseu Portugal

Traditional architecture in the centre of Viseu

Travel to Coimbra Portugal

Looking across the river to the hilltop of Coimbra

Cascais Streets, Day Trips from Lisbon

Relaxed city streets of Cascais

Porto Sunset

Sunset view of Porto’s iconic riverfront

 

Planning your First Portugal Trip

 


With which place or feature would you choose to start your first Portugal trip? If you have already visited Portugal, what do you hope to see next visit? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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19 comments

Ivo Prague September 6, 2018 - 8:12 am

Fantastic photos from Alagrve. What camera do you use? Also the beaches aren’t crowded, what time you were there?

Reply
David September 6, 2018 - 9:10 am

Thanks Ivo! I use a Nikon D3300, just your basic starter DSLR camera.

As for the Algarve, I’ve visited twice now. Once in September when the Sagres photo was taken and it was fairly busy, the other time in April and it was fantastic. Comfortable weather and very few people about = my perfect combination.

Reply
Ivo Prague September 6, 2018 - 9:56 am

but in April is ocean still damn cold, isn’t it? 🙂 btw: saw on your insta photos from my country, hope you have a good time here 🙂

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David September 6, 2018 - 2:05 pm

Haha true, too cold to get in the water, but you can still enjoy everything else there.

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Annabel September 7, 2018 - 10:37 pm

I’m rather taken by the shot of the sand dunes and I’m also keen to visit Porto. Everywhere I’ve been to in Portugal has been pretty brilliant, I’d happily return to Lisbon just for the custard tarts! #Theweeklypostcard

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David September 12, 2018 - 3:12 pm

Thanks Annabel, I’m inclined to agree with you, everywhere I’ve been I’ve liked too! Haha oh those custard tarts!

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Tomas September 8, 2018 - 8:18 am

You have great photos. We were in Portugal two years ago in May and it was a bit rainy and cloudy. So I don’t have so nice photos as you. We should probably come back 😉 Thanks for sharing #TheWeeklyPostcard

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David September 12, 2018 - 3:11 pm

Thanks Tomas, the weather can be a bugger that way can’t it. Hope you had a great time despite it. Definitely recommend a return visit!

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Anisa September 8, 2018 - 4:55 pm

Great photos! I definitely want to go back to Portugal. I need to spend more time in the Duoro Valley and some of the other small towns. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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David September 10, 2018 - 5:25 pm

Thanks Anisa, I hope you do get a chance to see that part of Portugal, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

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Anda September 9, 2018 - 3:11 am

Very inspirational photos indeed! Pena Palace above the town of Sintra is my #1 pick, followed by the beach near Sagres.

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David September 10, 2018 - 5:24 pm

Thanks Anda, I have to say those are two of my favourite as well.

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Anna September 9, 2018 - 9:57 am

So many beautiful landscapes! I’ve been to Portugal 3 times and still haven’t seen it all – would love to visit Obidos next time. You photos of the Algarve beaches give so much Wanderlust! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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David September 10, 2018 - 5:21 pm

Thanks Anna, always happy to inspire a little wanderlust! Portugal is definitely one of those places you can keep going back to.

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California Globetrotter September 10, 2018 - 10:14 am

You’re killing me, Smalls!! If there was one country I have been DYING to visit, then it would be without a doubt Portugal! I just told my husband that in 2019 we will definitely be going! Love the contract from the cities to the mountains and beaches! Thanks for much for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard, David!

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David September 10, 2018 - 5:20 pm

Haha, happy to keep tormenting you with posts on Portugal until you visit. I can see you really liking the country, so I hope it happens in 2019.

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RobRob @TravelLatte(.net) September 14, 2018 - 7:18 pm

David! Fantastic photos. We enjoyed them all, but the blue tiles – wow! We’re intrigued…and have added the train station in Porto to our Must Do list. 🙂 We wanted to go even before you “photo bombed” us here. This just makes us want to go more! Thanks for sharing!

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David September 19, 2018 - 12:47 pm

Thanks Rob! Yeh, the tiles do really add to the already beautiful city scenery. I think you just gave me a new name for these posts, “photo bombs” haha

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David June 5, 2022 - 7:26 am

Love these photos of Portugal, can’t wait to go!

Reply

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