It’s only been in recent years that Portugal has shot to international acclaim as a world-class travel destination. Boosted in large part thanks to the numerous World Travel Awards the country has racked up. This has led to an influx of visitors to Portugal’s shores, all of whom soon realize that this small country certainly packs a mighty punch!
There is so much to admire about Portugal and everyone who travels here soon discovers all of its varied delights and surprises. Having called Portugal home now for a few years, I have come to learn about so many incredible and exciting things that Portugal is known for. From its incredible landscapes, historic villages, delectable cuisine, to its warm hospitality and openness.
I simply cannot envisage anyone not falling in love with this slice of paradise on the southwestern shores of Europe.
If you’re wondering what is Portugal famous for, then you’re in luck! I’ve decided to provide my insider tips, in collaboration with some fellow travel bloggers, of the country I am delighted to say I now live in and share with you a list of 25 things that Portugal is famous for.
- What Is Portugal Known For? Check Out These 25 Top Things!
- Portuguese Wines
- Port Wine
- Pastel de Nata
- Portugal Beaches
- Golden Cliffs & Caves of the Algarve
- Cork Production
- Fado Music
- Azulejos – Traditional Tiles
- Surfing – Things Portugal Is Known For
- The Sanctuary Of Our Lady Of Fatima
- Digital Nomad & Start-Up Paradise
- The Azores Islands
- Castles Portugal Is Famous For
- The Colourful Costa Nova Striped Houses
- Francesinha – Dishes Portugal Is Famous For
- LGBTQI+ Friendly Destination
- Portuguese Sardines
- Harry Potter Vibes
Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Portugal Travel Essentials:
- Search & Book flights here on Skyscanner
- Book your car rental through AutoEurope
- Search hotels here on Booking.com, or on VRBO for apartment-style stays
- Click here to browse & book bus and train tickets
- Lastly, don’t forget about travel insurance for your trip!
Pssst…Don’t forget to read our Portugal packing list post to ensure you’ve got all your travel essentials packed and ready for your holiday to Portugal!
What Is Portugal Known For? Check Out These 25 Top Things!
By Marco from Travel-Boo
It’s perhaps no surprise that Portuguese wines should feature high up on my list of famous Portuguese things. In fact, most of the country is made up of several different wine-producing regions. In total you will find 14 wine regions in Portugal, offering up a wide selection and variety of wines.
From the much loved Vinho Verde from the Minho region to the robust reds from the Alentejo countryside, or the sweet Moscatel from the Setubal peninsula, there is no doubt a wine for each palate to enjoy!
Wine tourism is also well and truly alive in the country. So much so that Portugal was rated as the second-best country to visit for wine-lovers by Bounce, only one spot behind Italy. With two regions being demarcated as UNESCO World Heritage sites and being the country with the most wine tours, it’s hardly surprising then that wine enthusiasts will have a fabulous time when visiting Portugal!
By Marco from The Avid Campers
Perhaps the most famous of all wines produced in Portugal is the bold and vibrant Port Wine that certainly deserves its own section on our list of top things that Portugal is known for.
With a selection of top Port houses scattered along the Vila Nova da Gaia riverfront in Porto, there’s simply no excuse to not give this wine a go. Whilst the strong flavours certainly aren’t to everyone’s taste, there is a variety of different wines to choose from, from the Tawny, Ruby, White Port, or the Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) varieties.
Enjoying a Port Wine tasting tour is an absolute must and one of the top things to do in Porto. Most of the Port Lodges including Taylor’s, Graham’s, Cálem, Kopke, Sandeman, and Quinta do Noval all offer exceptional wine tasting experiences and tours.
Of course, if you want to head out of the city, then a day trip to the stunning Douro Valley region, where Port wine is produced, is a must too!
- Port Wine Tasting Tour – Calem cellar tour and wine tasting in Porto.
- Douro Valley Day Trip from Porto – Douro Valley tour with cruise, lunch, and wine tasting
Pastel de Nata
By Marco from Travel-Boo
If there is one thing that Portugal is well-known for, it’s undoubtedly the array of delectable pastries and desserts on offer. The most famous of all is the delicious Pastel de Nata, even being named in 2009 as one of the 50 best things to eat around the globe by The Guardian.
Biting into the crunchy egg-yolk custard tartlet is an absolute treat and something you have to try out when visiting Lisbon, Porto, or just about any other part of the country. It can be a dangerous affair as you’ll quickly get hooked, but if you intend to do loads of sightseeing then all the walking around the city will no doubt burn off the extra few carbs consumed.
The story of how the humble Pastel de Nata came to starts off at the Jeronimos Monastery in the Belem neighbourhood of Lisbon. It is said to have been invented by these very monks as it was custom to make use of the egg whites for chores such as starching the nun’s habits. With an excess of egg yolk, the monks created this delicious bite-sized dessert.
Sadly in 1834 the monastery was closed and the recipe was sold to the nearby Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém pastry shop, which has kept the secret of the original recipe under lock and key ever since. Today, you can still visit the Pastéis de Belém shop to sample the original version, or you can avoid the touristy queues and head instead to my other favourite Pastel de Nata producer, Manteigaria, which can be found in either Chiado or at the Time Out food market in Cais do Sodre.
- Lisbon – 2 Hours Pastel de Nata Cooking Class
By Lara from The Best Travel Gifts
With nearly 1800 km (1100 miles) of coastline and a pleasant climate, it should come as no surprise that Portugal’s beaches are celebrated across the globe.
The most famous beaches are the ones in the Algarve, but there are so many more beaches that are way less touristy (and sometimes also way prettier). The best way to explore Portugal’s beaches is to rent a car and simply drive along the coast and stop at every new beach. This is a great way to find the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches.
In my personal opinion, Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. These have also been recognised globally too. Praia da Falesia was named as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by Tripadvisor in 2022, and the gorgeous beach, Praia dos Galapinhos near Setúbal was named in 2017 as Europe’s Best Beach by European Best Destinations.
Lastly, besides picturesque beaches, you can also find beaches that are great for surfers, as it’s not hard to find places with good waves in Portugal. Beaches such as Praia da Amaro along the Costa Vicentina coast, or the infamous beaches of the Silver Coast are all well-known surfing hotspots.
Golden Cliffs & Caves of the Algarve
By Marco from The Avid Campers
Whilst on the topic of beaches, many visitors flock to soak up the sun along the shores of Portugal’s most well-known beach destination, the southern Algarve region.
Here you’ll not only find naturally stunning beaches but also imposing and dramatic cliffs and rock formations with all shades of gold, yellow and orange!
The coastline here is simply spectacular and a must-see when visiting Portugal. To take advantage of this rugged coastline you can choose to hike along these cliffs, taking in the striking scenery on walks such as the Trail of Headlands hike.
Or alternatively, you can take in the views of these beautiful cliffs from an altogether different vantage point by taking a boat and cave tour to view the famous Benagil Caves. This boat trip was an absolutely unforgettable experience we enjoyed and one I highly recommend to all my family and friends who plan to visit the Algarve.
- From Portimão – 2-Hour Speed Boat Tour to Benagil Caves
- From Albufeira – Speed Boat to Benagil Caves & Dolphin Watching tour
By Marjut from The Smooth Escape
Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer and is responsible for about 50% of the world’s cork supply. The vast majority of the cork produced here is used for wine and champagne bottle stoppers. However, as cork is sustainable and biodegradable, it is also becoming increasingly popular in other industries like fashion, construction and even aeronautics.
Today, you can find a whole range of cork products throughout Portugal in bespoke shops selling all manner of cork items including purses, shoes, necklaces, wallets, and even suitcases! These make for a memorable souvenir from Portugal, to remember your travels by!
One of the best places to see cork trees in Portugal is the beautiful Algarve region in the south. While the coast of the Algarve is a bustling beach holiday destination, the less-visited interior of the region is home to rolling hills covered with tranquil cork oak forests.
The best way to see these special trees with your own eyes is to go on an Algarve road trip and drive through the picturesque countryside. Near the small mountain town Monchique, you’ll find many scenic walking trails through cork oak forests.
By Paulina from Paulina On The Road
Fado is a type of Portuguese music that is popular for its melancholic and emotional character. The word Fado is derived from Latin which means ‘fate’. It is the soul of Portuguese music, which is often associated with restaurants, pubs, and cafes.
This music genre originates in the 1820s. However, it is believed that music has even earlier origins. Fado musicians express the reality of life through their songs and music. The music expresses how resolutions to life’s daily problems can still take place. It balances both resignation and hopefulness.
Some people believe that it originated from African slaves. Others say that it came into existence from a song of lament by seafarers in Portugal. There are known to be majorly two different forms of Fado. The older one is associated with Lisbon and the younger one is linked with Coimbra. If you visit Alentejo, Lisbon, or Coimbra you can get to witness Fado live.
Azulejos – Traditional Tiles
By Maartje from The Orange Backpack
Azulejos are typical Portuguese tiles that have been used for centuries to decorate both homes and public spaces.
Portugal is especially famous for Azulejos, with the city of Porto being particularly well-known for its beautiful Azulejo-lined streets. Hunting down the best azulejos in Porto is one of the best things to do when visiting this city. Make sure to visit the Sao Bento Railway Station, the cloisters next to the cathedral, the Capalas das Almas and the Santo Idelfonso church for the best azulejos in Porto.
Insider top tip: If you’re planning to visit Porto for a few days, plan a day trip from Porto to Aveiro, known as the “Venice of Portugal” thanks to the colourful gondolas that ride up and down the city’s lake. This is also where you can see some of the most stunning tiles adorning just about every home and also the old railway station, a true masterpiece!
Azulejos were introduced to Portugal by Moorish settlers. The tiles became increasingly popular in Portugal during the 17th and 18th centuries as a way to add colour and decoration to plain white walls. Many azulejos feature designs and motifs, making them a truly unique form of Portuguese art. Others even form a wall panel telling Biblical stories or scenes from Portuguese history.
Surfing – Things Portugal Is Known For
By Phil from Journication
Some things Portugal is known for include its beautiful coastline, delicious food, and rich history. Portugal is a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world, and it’s easy to see why! With its stunning beaches, charming towns, and welcoming culture, Portugal has something for everyone.
The country is also one of Europe’s favourite destinations for surfers. This is because of the mild climate and the constant great waves. Great surfing spots are Peniche, Ericeira, Nazare, and some spots around Lisbon.
One of the most popular coastlines in Portugal is the Algarve. The Algarve is a beautiful region that is known for its stunning beaches, clear water, and lively towns. Many people visit the Algarve each year to enjoy its sunny weather and lovely scenery. You can visit Portugal for surfing all year, even in winter!
Another popular coastline in Portugal is the Costa Verde. The Costa Verde is located in the north of the country, and it is known for its rugged coastline and lush green forests. This region is perfect for nature lovers who want to explore Portugal’s wild side! The weather can be very windy, but the lineups are not that crowded.
Are you looking for more great surfing destinations in Southern Europe? Make sure you’ll check out Las Palmas in Gran Canaria!
The Sanctuary Of Our Lady Of Fatima
By Isabella from Boundless Roads
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is a group of Catholic religious buildings and structures in Cova da Iria, in the civil parish of Fátima, Ourém municipality. It’s one of the most visited places in Portugal attracting something like 6 million visitors every year.
On May 13th, 1917 the Virgin Mary appeared in front of three young peasant children for the first time. Since then, people continued to flock in pilgrimage ever since to ask for miracles or simply to pray to the Virgin Mary.
Whether you are catholic or not, the Sanctuary of Fatima is a beautiful historical landmark in Portugal to visit and it makes a great day trip from Lisbon to Fatima, at only 1h 30 minutes drive from the capital city.
- From Lisbon – Full-day Fatima, Batalha, Nazare and Obidos Tour
Digital Nomad & Start-Up Paradise
By Inma from A World To Travel
It wasn’t always like this but from some time to now, with a lot of great spots to work remotely in Portugal, this country has established itself as somewhat of a digital nomad heaven.
On top of that, big tech conferences like Web Summit – which takes place every autumn in the capital city of Lisbon since 2016 with an attendance of 60000 – have also been attracting talent and startups lately.
And who wouldn’t like to move to this Southern European country for a while?
Warm weather year-round, a fabulous coastline, a renowned cuisine, and a really affordable price tag are difficult to say no to. If you are on the fence, why not try it for a week or two?
Book a yoga or surf retreat and get ready to fall in love with Portugal.
The Azores Islands
By Emma from Travel On A Time Budget
Portugal is famous for many things, but there’s a tendency to focus on the sights on the mainland. However, just over 1,000 miles west of Lisbon in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean lies the Azores, an archipelago of nine islands.
The islands are a delight. They are volcanic, with a plethora of caves and craters to marvel at, hot springs and spas to take a dip in, and charming towns and villages to explore. That’s not to mention its excellent food and drink.
Sao Miguel, the main island, boasts the only place in the world where pineapples are grown in greenhouses and Europe’s only tea plantation. Pico island has Portugal’s highest point, Mount Pico, which rises to almost 8,000 feet.
The Azores is also well-known for its wildlife and features beautiful waters in which to spot local dolphins and whales. The stunning landscape also makes it a perfect place for hikers who want to enjoy some of the best hikes in Portugal.
The rich diversity of things to see and do makes a trip to these Portuguese islands a must.
By Or from My Path in the World
Portugal is home to dozens of famous Portuguese landmarks, but it’s especially known for its remarkable monasteries, many of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their historical significance.
In Lisbon, for example, you’ll find the impressive 16th-century Jeronimos Monastery, a symbol of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. In central Portugal, you must visit the 14th-century Batalha Monastery, commissioned by King John I to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians, and the 12th-century Alcobaça Monastery, commissioned by Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king.
If you’re travelling through northern Portugal, you can also visit the Leça do Balio Monastery or Monastery of Serra do Pilar near Porto, but there are literally dozens of monasteries scattered all across the country.
If you’re a history buff or just a traveller who loves to do some sightseeing, you’ll love this side of Portugal.
Castles Portugal Is Famous For
By Jonny from In Faraway Lands
Portugal has long been a strategic territory, especially in medieval times during the wars between the Muslim Moors in the south and the Christians of the north. It was during this period that many castles in Portugal were built for defensive purposes.
Also later on when Portugal started bringing riches back from foreign countries during its colonial conquests, castles played an important role in defending the country from attack by other strong European powers.
All this adds up to Portugal today having some of the best castles in Europe to explore, from the São Jorge Castle in the capital Lisbon to many others spread out around the country. Other notable castles include the Castelo de Guimarães in Guimarães, the Moorish Castle in Sintra, the castle in Silves, and the Castelo de Almourol in Vila Nova da Barquinha to name but a few.
Any trip to Portugal would not be complete without a look at a castle, at the very least visiting the one in the capital, as it’s the easiest to see and offers up stunning sweeping views out over Lisbon!
The Colourful Costa Nova Striped Houses
By Sammy from My Blonde Bucketlist
When travelling to Portugal, stopping by Costa Nova to see the striped coloured houses is a must! This gorgeous little beach town is situated in Aveiro, located just an hour away from Porto.
Along the waterfront is where you’ll find this iconic stretch of houses but that’s not all there is to see. Spend some time wandering the streets to discover plenty more unique homes. From blue to red to yellow, there’s plenty to see.
Be sure to make your way to Costa Nova do Prado beach too, with beautiful white sand and gorgeous blue ocean it can’t be missed.
Francesinha – Dishes Portugal Is Famous For
By Paula at Portugal Travel Hub
Whilst many travellers focus on what to eat in Lisbon, Portugal’s second-largest city should by no means be left out when it comes to the delicious cuisine that Portugal is known for.
Francesinha is a unique Porto dish – it’s a sandwich, but not as you know it! The name comes from the French “little French woman” and is Portugal’s embellishment of the Croque Monsieur.
The Porto sandwich was invented by Daniel da Silva in the 1950s at ‘a Regaleira’ restaurant in Porto. It begins with two slices of bread that are lightly toasted and other slices of bread layered between cheese and meat. Once it’s a tall pile of layered beef steak, Portuguese sausage, and cured and fresh sausage, it’s covered in slices of cheese and baked until the cheese is melted.
A fried egg is placed on top and there you have a Francesinha! If you’re up to a hearty meal, don’t miss this unique Porto experience!
Portugal Is Known For Being A LGBTQI+ Friendly Destination
By Marco from The Avid Campers
It is no secret that the Portuguese are some of the most welcoming and friendly hosts you will likely encounter throughout your travels in Europe. Thankfully this also extends to LGBTQI+ travellers as well.
In fact, Portugal has some of the world’s most progressive laws to help protect members of this community. As a member of this community myself, I have honestly never felt unsafe or unwanted whilst travelling throughout this beautiful country.
By Marco from The Avid Campers
If there is one thing that takes me right back to the balmy summer months of Portugal it’s undoubtedly the smell of char-grilled sardines!
This delicious delicacy is somewhat of a staple and found throughout the country, especially during the summer months or during Lisbon’s Santo António Festival, in honour of the city’s Patron Saint, during the months of June.
During this time, especially in the historic neighbourhoods of Alfama and Mouraria, it’s not uncommon to find rows of stalls set along the cobble streets selling freshly grilled sardines. To wash it down, pair this delectable salty dish with a crisp cold Portuguese beer of choice.
By Marco from Travel-Boo
If ever there was a national sport of Portugal, football is undoubtedly it and it’s no secret at all that Portugal is a football crazy nation.
Even though the country has not yet won the coveted FIFA World Cup title, only coming in third in 1966, they have won the UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations League.
Today you’ll find a fierce rivalry between Portugal’s 3 major football clubs, Benfica and Sporting from Lisbon, and FC Porto from Porto, all of which has earned their own rightful spot alongside other top European football clubs.
Of course, if there is one football player to be singled out, it is Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo, known the world over and considered one of the all-time best players having won the prestigious Bal D’Or five times!
Harry Potter Vibes
By Marco from The Avid Campers
This may seem an odd addition to be included in our list of things Portugal is famous for, but did you know that J.K Rowling spent some time living in Porto and famously used to frequent the stunning Livraria Lello in Porto, a bookstore that many believe inspired the spiral staircase of Hogwarts, thanks to its own intricate spiralling stairs.
Other notable points of reference include the black robes worn by University students in Portugal and can be seen especially in the cities such as Lisbon or Coimbra at the start of the University year. The University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in the world is also said to have inspired parts of the book, especially its stunning library!
Another interesting nod to Portugal found in the series is the fact that the name Salazar Slytherin was drawn from the Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar that ruled over the country between 1932 to 1968.