11 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN PORTUGAL AFTER 50

19 January 2022

If you are travelling after 50, you are probably looking for an easy-to-explore, picturesque destination with plenty to see and a lot of historical, cultural heritage to marvel at. A place where you can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet, but also have fun and enjoy the good life (and food)! If this applies to you, you are in luck: Portugal has countless destinations that fit your profile perfectly! To make it easier for you, we have put together a list of cities and villages with the best sights and places to visit in Portugal, from north to south.

 

Pinhão

Vineyards in Pinhão
Vineyards in Pinhão

Pinhão is considered to be the heart of the Douro Valley and is home to several historic estates and many vineyards. This charming, little village is just the best destination to visit after 50, since it is a very quiet place, but with a lot of interesting things to do. Let us see: Pinhão has a popular train station, built in the late 19th century and famous for its beautiful hand-painted tiles (azulejos) that cover the facades of the building and the interior. Visiting this train station and admiring these stunning azulejos is definitely a must. Pinhão is also the perfect place to delve into the secrets of Porto and Douro wine, as there are countless wineries and vineyards to visit in the area. In the famous quintas (estates) you can taste the renowned wine and learn about the traditional methods used to make it. If you just want to sit back and admire the spectacular views of the Douro, you can take a boat trip down the Douro River. Although it is a very small town itself (still a lovely spot, nevertheless), it is a perfect base for you to explore the many outstanding surroundings, like the vineyards. If you just want to walk around and explore the area, Pinhão has the ideal setting for a countryside walk too!

 

Guimarães

Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church, Guimarães
Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church, Guimarães

Yes, Lisbon is indeed the capital of Portugal, but Guimarães is actually considered the birthplace of this country, for it was here that Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, was born. It is easy to see why the historic center has been classified as a World Heritage Site, as this city has a well-preserved and significant heritage. Narrow streets, beautiful towers and cloisters, iron balconies and mansions characterize the essence of Guimarães, a city that exudes a noble aura! Walking through the historic center, you will discover many architectural details that refer to different periods of Portuguese history. The Castle of Guimarães towers over the city center and gives the city a medieval atmosphere. This medieval building is one of the best preserved in the country and was built in the 10th century. Be sure to wander through the Largo da Oliveira in the heart of the city. This is a historic, lively square where you will find several historical monuments and cafes. The rich cultural heritage and historical influence of this city make it a must-see! Stroll around the different squares and have a Portuguese coffee, while taking in all this architectural heritage, try the different restaurants and explore the quaint shops. A great destination to discover the Portuguese roots!

 

Aveiro

Typical colorful houses in Aveiro
Typical colorful houses in Aveiro

Aveiro, also known as the Portuguese Venice, is a charming, flat city with a landscape essentially dominated by the water of the canals and the small, traditional boats that cross them and dot the captivating scenery. The city is crossed by a network of canals, where the colorful boats (gondola-style boats), called the moliceiros (which used to collect algae and seaweed) sail, taking tourists for a sightseeing tour. The canals form an estuary and the river mouth is just a few kilometres outside the city. In the old part of town, you'll find the charming Art Nouveau houses in pastel colours that form a postcard-worthy landscape. Aveiro, which was once an important fishing center, is also known as the Art Nouveau city museum of Portugal: there are many Art Nouveau buildings worth admiring. The city is also known for its salt marshes and quality beaches. The flat landscape makes it perfect for cycling, which is a great way of exploring the town. When you visit Aveiro, be sure to try the very popular delicacy, typical of the region - soft eggs (ovos moles), made from eggs and sugar and sold in wooden barrels or wrapped in a crispy biscuit. You should also take advantage of the town's location and enjoy the seafood and grilled fish dishes in some renowned restaurants.

 

Coimbra

View of Coimbra
View of Coimbra

Coimbra is the city of academic traditions, but also of fado and cultural and historical heritage. Situated on the banks of the Mondego River, a river celebrated in poetry since ancient times, Coimbra is a university city characterised by the charming riverside houses, going up the slope, the lovely alleys, the stairs, the terraces and the black attire of the academics. Speaking of academics, did you know that Coimbra has the oldest university tradition in Portugal? The University of Coimbra, founded in the 13th century, is located in the upper part of the city and is one of the oldest in Europe (and a World Heritage Site!). And if you think Lisbon is the only place where you can enjoy the true essence of Fado, you are quite wrong: Coimbra is also famous for this unique Portuguese music and has developed its own unique style. When in Coimbra, be sure to visit the Santa Cruz Monastery, which houses the tomb of the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques. This is a great city to visit after 50, as it is not only rich in history, culture, charming corners and traditions, but also stands out for its traditional taverns where you can enjoy a wide variety of tapas typical of the region. A city that definitely deserves to be known and recognised!

 

Fátima

Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Fátima
Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Fátima

If you have never been to Fátima, the holy city of Portugal, you are in for a pleasant surprise. The famous Sanctuary of Fátima is Portugal's most important Christian pilgrimage center and one of the most visited religious destinations in the world. But even if you are not a religious person, you will be surprised and enchanted by the majesty and grandeur of the Sanctuary, because you will be able to feel its spirituality and powerful symbolism. The parish has been associated with the Marian apparitions allegedly witnessed by three shepherd children from the area in 1917. Today, the sanctuary receives between 6 and 8 million pilgrims annually. There are even pilgrims who make their way to the sanctuary on their knees to demonstrate their faith! This Catholic complex consists of two churches: the traditional Basilica of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and the modern Basilica of the Holy Trinity. The sleepy, agricultural town of Fátima is the perfect destination if you want to explore Portugal's religious culture and heritage. So be sure to stop by and enjoy the special and unique atmosphere!

 

Óbidos

View of the medieval village of Óbidos
View of the medieval village of Óbidos

The medieval village of Óbidos is not only one of the most picturesque and well-preserved villages in Portugal, but also one of the most charming walled towns with a unique atmosphere and culture. As a small, car-free village, it is quite easy to explore. The village still bears its medieval street plan and has retained its quaint and graceful townscape of small white houses with red roofs. Strolling through the narrow streets and admiring the walls that surround the historic village is the perfect plan for those seeking peace and quiet, but also for those who want to explore the architecture and medieval ambience. You can always take a break from your walk in a typical hidden café and taste the famous cherry liqueur, the second most popular alcoholic drink in Portugal after Porto wine. Within the city walls, admire the well-preserved castle, as well as the Manueline porticoes, flower-lined back streets and colorful houses. Visit the many churches, relax in one of the small squares and enjoy the friendliness of the locals. Óbidos is undoubtedly the ideal place to simply take a break!

 

Lisbon

Typical street in the center of Lisbon
Typical street in the center of Lisbon

The capital of Portugal hardly needs any description or introduction! When in Portugal, it is an unmissable destination. Filled with churches, museums, fantastic restaurants and lively bars, this city is known for its ancient and charming architecture and a gastronomy that leaves anyone surrendered. There are many viewpoints scattered around the historical city, where you can admire the breathtaking views over Lisbon and the Tejo River. Leave the map at home and wander through the typical streets. Pass by Praça do Comércio, and visit the charming and old neighborhoods of Alfama, Belém, Graça and Chiado. If you are not much of a walker, you can always grab a tuk-tuk and enjoy an outside tour! If you are looking to have some fun and enjoy your vacation to the fullest, stop by Cais do Sodré and Bairro Alto for a drink and maybe some live music (try to catch a fado performance at one of the restaurants in the old neighborhoods!). Lisbon is a great destination for those looking for the perfect climate and some stunning views. The ancient architecture is just overwhelming and makes you feel like you just stepped back in time. And it is most definitely a foodie's paradise! You will also be impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of the locals, as well as the authenticity and ancient Portuguese customs and culture. Definitely a timeless city!

 

Sintra

Sintra skyline at sunset
Sintra skyline at sunset

Sintra is undoubtedly one of Portugal's most enchanting gems. Full of mystique and lush vegetation that forms a fairytale natural backdrop, this destination is a must-see for any visitor to Portugal. Aside from the main attractions, such as the majestic Palácio da Pena (a World Heritage Site straight out of a Disney fairytale), Moorish castle ruins, Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate Park, Capuchos Convent or Vila Palace, you should also take the time to simply stroll through the historic center and admire the green scenery. Sintra is one of the most picturesque villages in Portugal, so you just know it's worth a visit. This mysterious village is also known for its literary heritage and 19th century Romantic architecture. Be sure to try the local pastries too - some of the most popular traditional sweets include queijadas and travesseiros. Enjoy the magical ambience!

 

Cascais

Cascais coastline
Cascais coastline

When you see Cascais on the horizon, you'll swear you are looking at a painting. This town was once the chosen retreat of Portuguese royalty and still retains a unique charm, emanating from the magnificent sea views and fishing boats that dot the landscape. The rocky coastline, the idyllic beaches and the stunning coves make for a fantastic backdrop. Traditionally a fishing village, Cascais is now a very lively and cosmopolitan destination that still retains a certain aristocratic feel. While in Cascais, there is nothing better than sitting on a seafront, enjoying a fresh drink and the sun, all in a tranquil, luxurious atmosphere. When visiting this town, be sure to stop by the Boca do Inferno, a cliff formation with a beautiful natural arch that is definitely one of Cascais' landmarks. It is the perfect place to watch the sunset and fall in love with this seaside town. From the Boca do Inferno, you can walk a great distance along the coast to the center of Cascais. If you want to do a bit of shopping, this is also the place to be: Cascais is full of local boutiques scattered throughout the narrow streets. For those who like farmer's markets and flea markets, the Mercado da Vila is also a must. Be sure to try some of the city's best restaurants as well for delicious seafood and grilled fish dishes.

 

Elvas

Aerial view of the city of Elvas
Aerial view of the city of Elvas

Elvas is a quiet UNESCO World Heritage town, with an interesting past and history. It was one of the most important fortifications on the border and it fought to maintain the independence of Portugal and its history, which is why the town was named “The Queen of the Border”. This fortified, historic town is undoubtedly one of Portugal's hidden gems. Being a small town, it is a peaceful place where you can simply stroll through the quaint, narrow streets. If you are interested in the past, this is the perfect place to learn a bit about Portugal's history, especially on a military level. Leaning against Spain, Elvas was an important strategic point of defense of the border and inherited a vast military heritage. For these reasons and more, the Garrison Border Town of Elvas and Fortifications complex was classified as a World Heritage Site. Within the walls, there are plenty of historic buildings to admire. Marvel at the Amoreira Aqueduct, built in 1498, with its many open arches and thick stone walls that take on a special color and radiance at sunset. It is probably the most elegant aqueduct in the country. Be sure to also visit the forts of Santa Luzia and Nossa Senhora da Graça and sample the delicious cuisine of the Alentejo.

 

Monsaraz

Medieval village of Monsaraz
View on the old town of the medieval village of Monsaraz

Monsaraz is the perfect place to visit after 50. Why? Because this ancient, peaceful and picturesque village is the ideal village for those seeking peace and quiet. Walking through the slate-paved cobbled streets with their pretty traditional whitewashed houses and flower adorned balconies is like stepping back in time. This village has definitely retained its old-time charm! Surrounded by a wall and crowned by a castle, Monsaraz, perched on a hill in the heart of the Alentejo, is perfect for slow tourism, although it is somewhat off the beaten track. The looming castle, for example, is a unique touristic spot in Portugal, as it offers fantastic views over the Alqueva Dam, the largest artificial lake in Europe, and to the countryside, full of vineyards, almond plantations and olive groves. This village was named one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, in the “Monument Villages” category, and it’s easy to see why. There are several restaurants where you can sample the tasty Alentejan cuisine. Stroll through the streets, visit some craft shops and the main sights, soak up the medieval aura - especially in the morning or at dusk - and let the tranquility take you away!

 


 

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