Curious about the most famous landmarks in Portugal? You’re certainly in the right place because this guide lists all the top attractions in the European country!
Portugal’s famous landmarks are varied and they include palaces, bridges, monasteries, natural attractions, and more! From the secluded caves of the Algarve region to the spectacular palaces near Sintra – here are the top 15 famous attractions in Portugal!
The National Palace of Pena is one of the best-known attractions in Portugal. The 19th-century Romanticists palace sits atop a high rock and is surrounded by parkland. It is accessible by hiking trails, and it is possible to hike to the palace all the way from Sintra. There are also buses that take you to the palace from Sintra, but a challenging climb still awaits when you get off the bus.
The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is best known for its colorful exterior. Walk along the palace walls to experience some of the best panoramic views in this part of Portugal, and don’t miss out on a chance to tour the interior of the palace.
Quinta da Regaleira is another famous landmark in Sintra. It’s a 20th-century palace featuring beautiful architecture, stunning gardens, and underground passages that are fascinating to explore. A chapel and museum are also located on the palace grounds, plus the entire complex often hosts various events.
The entire Quinta (estate) is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to the abundance of captivating attractions. The vast park that surrounds the palace is even more intriguing to first-time visitors, thanks to all the different charming sights. It boasts multiple entrances to the underground tunnels, as well as lakes, fountains, and an aquarium built into a boulder. Even the benches throughout the park grounds are architectural wonders, with ornate decorations and incredible detailing.
Belém Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal and one of the attractions Lisbon is famous for all over the world. The medieval tower sits on a tiny river island and features a rooftop terrace with scenic waterfront views. Tour the tower if possible, to experience some of those panoramic views, otherwise, stop by one of the many cafes and wineries in the area and just admire the sight of this medieval fortress.
The tower was built in the 16th century, and it served as a point of embarkation (and disembarkation) for Portuguese explores. Belém Tower was built during the peak of the Portuguese Renaissance, and it remains of the greatest examples of the Portuguese Manueline style of architecture. Architectural elements from other styles can also be observed in the tower, making this Portuguese landmark a true treat for the eyes.
Benagil Sea Caves are Portugal’s most famous natural landmarks. They’re situated in Lagoa in the Algarve region, and these caves can only be accessed from the sea. The caves are most notable for a distinct hole in the roof, and they attract quite a lot of tourists to the region. Because of the huge interest in the caves, there are boat tours from places nearby several times a day.
It’s also possible to reach the caves on a SUP, but swimming is not recommended. Although the caves don’t appear to be very far from the main beach in the village, the currents in the area can be very strong, and swimming all the way to the caves is not safe.
Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon. It’s known for late Gothic Manueline-style architecture and it’s considered the best example of this architectural style in Lisbon, if not in the entire country. The famous monastery boasts an ornate entrance that is 12 meters wide and 32 meters high, and it’s not even the main entrance into the building!
Visit the Jerónimos Monastery to check out the mesmerizing architecture and admire all the little details that make this Gothic building so special. It’s also possible to visit two museums in the monastery – the massive building is home to the Maritime Museum and the National Archeology Museum, so there’s quite a lot to do once you’re in the area. It’s also great that the famous monastery is close to Lisbon’s Belem Tower, making it possible to see two of Portugal’s most famous landmarks in a single afternoon.
Castelo de S. Jorge is an 11th-century Moorish castle situated on a hill in Lisbon. The royal residence features a public park, palace ruins, and a very interesting archaeological museum. It’s easily accessible by stairs, and it offers some of the best panoramic views in Lisbon.
The entrance into the castle is some 10 Euros, and it’s worth every penny. You can wander around the grounds admiring the scenic vistas, tour the museum, and you can chase the peacocks across the castle grounds! It’s best to visit this famous Portugal landmark in the evening because sunsets from the St. George Castle viewpoint are magical and unforgettable.
Óbidos Castle is located in Óbidos, in the civil parish of Santa Maria, São Pedro e Sobral da Lagoa. It’s one of the most visited attractions in the region, drawing tens of thousands of tourists to the area just to walk along the walls of this fascinating castle. The fortress also doubles as a hotel and it is possible to spend the night in one of the rooms inside – if this sounds fun, it’s perhaps the best way to explore this beautiful Portuguese landmark.
The medieval castle was built in the 9th century and it has protected the Óbidos settlement since. It was originally much smaller and various rooms and parts of the complex were added on in the following centuries. A walk along the castle walls offers panoramic views of the settlement and the plains and hills beyond it, and it truly is a great way to spend an afternoon.
The Alcobaça Monastery is a 12th-century Catholic monastic complex in Alcobaça, about 120 kilometers north of Lisbon. This was the first building in Gothic architectural style in Portugal, as well as one of the most important monasteries in medieval Portugal. The building is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of its cultural, historic, and artistic importance.
This monastery was founded by Portugal’s first king, Afonso I, as a part of his larger strategy to affirm his authority and continue to colonize the lands that were conquered from the Moors. Throughout the centuries, the influence and importance of the monastery only grew, and at one point it even housed a local public school. Perhaps the best testament to the importance of Alcobaça Monastery is the number of tombs that are the final resting place of Portuguese kings. Kings Afonso II and Afonso III are both buried in the monastery, as well as King Pedro I along with his mistress.
Senhora da Boa Estrela is a historic landmark in Portugal. It’s a seven-meter-tall monument carved into a rock, situated in a picturesque part of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. The entire place is incredibly serene and scenic, and it’s certainly worth the trip if you want to experience a different side of Portugal.
The nature preserve of Serra de Estrela is a popular place for hiking and mountain climbing, so there are many other things you can do in the area, in addition to seeing this fascinating Portugal landmark.
Guimarães Castle is a hilltop Romanesque castle in Guimarães. It was constructed in the 10th century, and it’s supposedly the birthplace of Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king. It’s nicknamed the Cradle of Portugal because of this, and to this day it remains one of the most important national symbols in the country.
The castle was built for defense purposes, to shield the monastery from attacks by Norsemen and Moors at the time. Most of the military fortification was built during the Romanesque period, but some elements were added later when the early Gothic style became prevalent in Portuguese architecture. The castle was remodeled in the late 13th century, which resulted in an increase of Gothic elements in its appearance.
This castle is smaller than it looks and it only takes about 10-15 minutes to tour the rooms inside. They’re interesting, but you won’t miss out on much if you skip out on the tour.
Batalha Monastery is a Gothic monastery from medieval times. It was built in order to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese in the battle of Aljubarrota, and from the start, it was known that this would be a major project for the next couple of centuries. The construction of this monastery lasted for some 150 years, spanning the reigns of seven different kings.
Fifteen architects worked on the project, but seven of those are just honorarily credited. This monastery is an excellent example of how the Gothic style evolved in Portugal, especially with the influence of Manueline art. The Dominican Monastery of Batalha is considered a Gothic masterpiece of Portugal, and it’s because of this significance that the UNESCO World Heritage Site remains one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal even today.
Luís I Bridge is probably the most famous bridge in all of Portugal, and it’s no surprise that it is in one of the most livable cities. The double-deck bridge connects the cities of Villa Nova de Gaia and Porto, and it features a low-level road, a high-level metro line, a pedestrian walkway, and a scenic viewpoint with panoramic views of the Douro River.
The metal arch bridge was built in the late 19th century and the construction lasted for some five years, and the bridge was even blessed by Bishop D. Américo. For more than a century, road traffic was carried on both decks of the bridge, and it wasn’t until 2003 that the upper deck was adapted to accommodate the metro system structure.
Praça do Comércio is a public square in Lisbon and one of the most famous landmarks in the entire country. It’s one of the largest public squares in Portugal, with a total size of 30,600 m². In the early 20th century, mere months before the Portuguese Republic was established, the public square was classified as a National Monument of Portugal.
The famous public plaza is home to a few other famous Portuguese landmarks, so you can kill at least two birds with one stone. Arco da Rua Augusta is the ornate arch at the entrance to the plaza, and it boasts a viewing platform near the top, which rewards visitors with some spectacular city views. The statue of King D. José sits at the center of the square and dominates the area.
Castelo dos Mouros, also known as the Moorish Castle, is an 8th-century fortification perched atop one of Sintra’s many hills. It was built during the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, and it was central to the protection of neighboring territory.
Today, this famous Portugal landmark is popular for walks along its stone walls, which offer spectacular views of the colorful Pena Palace. The entire area of the Moorish Castle is a great blend of ancient ruins and stunning nature, which is exactly why this landmark is popular with both tourists and locals.
Sanctuary of Christ the King is a famous Catholic monument in Almada, overlooking the city of Lisbon. It was inspired by the famous statue of the Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, and the monument was erected as a way of expressing gratitude that the Portuguese were spared the devastating effects of WWII.
There is an elevator you can take to the observation deck at the foot of the statue, and this is a must if you want to experience some of the best views of Lisbon. The panoramic vista of the Tagus River and the Golden Gate-style bridge is breathtaking, although they’re not easy to enjoy if you have a fear of heights. Standing at the foot of the statue is also the only way to really appreciate just how massive it is, so definitely try to find the time to visit this famous Portuguese landmark while you are in Lisbon.
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