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  • Uniworld-Queen-Isabel-Douro-River - Guests will marvel at majestic scenery as Uniworld's Queen Isabel makes her journey along the serene Douro River Valley in Portugal and Spain.
  • Crystal-Serenity-Lisbon-Portugal - Visit Lisbon, Portugal. with trained tour guides while sailing on Crystal Serenity.
  • Pena-Palace-Sintra-Portugal - Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
  • Funchal-Madeira-Portugal-3 - Funchal, the scenic capital of Madeira, Portugal.
  • AmaVida-outdoor-dining - Enjoy al fresco dining on the deck of AmaVida as you take in scenic villages along the Douro River in Portugal.
  • Funchal-Madeira-Portugal - View of Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • Roman-Temple-Evora-Portugal - The Roman Temple of Evora, Portugal.
  • Shrine-Fatima-Portugal - The Shrine of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal.
  • Funchal-Madeira-Portugal-2 - The scenic port of Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • AmaVida-sundeck-pool - Take in sweeping views of Portugal's breathtaking Douro River Valley from the best possible spot: the sundeck pool aboard AmaVida.
  • AmaVida-on-Douro-River - Postcard perfect: Experience the sunny side of Europe on a cruise aboard AmaVida through the Douro River Valley of Portugal.
  • Jeronimos-Monastery-Lisbon-Portugal - The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Camara-de-Lobos-Madeira-Portugal - Câmara de Lobos on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • Alcobaca-Portugal - Alcobaca, a pretty city in western Portugal along the valleys of the Alcoa and Baça rivers.
  • Pena-Palace2-Sintra-Portugal - A view from the surrounding mountains of the Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
  • Torre-Belem-Lisbon-Portugal - Torre de Belém on the banks of the river Tagus in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • douro-river-pinhao-countryside.jpg - View of the gorgeous countryside in Pinhao, Portugal, along the Douro River.
  • douro-river-greenery.jpg - Greenery along the pastoral banks of the Douro River in Portugal.
  • douro-river-pinhao-countryside-1.jpg - See the bucolic river town of Pinhao, Portugal, on a Uniworld cruise.
  • douro-river-portugal.jpg - Irrigated fields along the bucolic banks of the Douro River in Portugal.
  • douro-river-valley.jpg - The Douro River Valley of Portugal is becoming a top destination for wine-tasting cruises.
  • douro-spirit-side.jpg - A view of the Douro River during a Queen Isabel sailing by Uniworld.
  • douro-valley-winery-tasting.jpg - Wine tasting during a shore excursion in the Douro Valley of Portugal.
  • Douro_River_Valley_Portugal.jpg - A look at the Douro River Valley, the rich wine-growing region in Portugal.
  • Pinhao_Wine_Tasting.jpg - Wine tasting in Pinhao, Portugal.
  • Castelo_Rodrigo_Portugal.jpg - The historical village of Castelo Rodrigo in central Portugal.
  • Portugal-Porto-tram - The trams in Porto, Portugal, run along the shores of the Douro River.
  • Portugal-Porto-Ponte-Dom-Luis - Ponte Dom Luis I was built in 1886, crossing the River Douro in Porto, Portugal.
  • Portugal-Porto-church - The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso is an 18th-century church in Porto, Portugal, near Batalha Square. 
  • Portugal-Douro-bridge - A Douro River bridge near terraced hillsides in Portugal.
  • Portugal-Porto-muro - Muro dos Bacalhoeiros, a historic block in Porto, Portugal
  • Portugal-Douro-Tua - Scenic Tua is part of the upper Douro wine region of Portugal.
  • Portugal-Miranda-do-Douro - A view of Miranda do Douro (Portugal) from the Douro Natural Park straddling the border between Spain and Portugal.
  • Portugal-Sintra-Palace - Palácio Nacional de Sintra as seen from Castelo dos Mouros near Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Cloister-Jeronimos-Lisbon-Portugal - Cloister of the monastery dos Hieronymos in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Commerce-Square-Lisbon-Portugal-1 - Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) in Lisbon, Portugal, as seen from the Tower of St. Vincent.
  • Monastery-Alcobaca-Portugal - The Monastery of Alcobaca in Alcobaça, Portugal.
  • Camara-de-Lobos-Madeira-Portugal - Câmara de Lobos on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • Funchal-Madeira-Portugal - View of Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • Funchal-Madeira-Portugal-3 - Funchal, the scenic capital of Madeira, Portugal.
  • Funchal-Madeira-Portugal-2 - The scenic port of Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • Madeira-street-scene.jpg - A street scene on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
  • queen-isabel-on-douro-river.jpg - Uniworld's Queen Isabel sails through irrigated farmland on the scenic Douro River in Portugal.
  • douro-river-pinhao.jpg - The Douro River as it winds through a picturesque stretch of irrigated farmland in Pinhão, Portugal.
  • douro-river-greenery.jpg - Greenery along the pastoral banks of the Douro River in Portugal.
  • douro-river-pinhao-countryside-1.jpg - See the bucolic river town of Pinhao, Portugal, on a Uniworld cruise.
  • douro-river-portugal.jpg - Irrigated fields along the bucolic banks of the Douro River in Portugal.
  • douro-river-valley.jpg - The Douro River Valley of Portugal is becoming a top destination for wine-tasting cruises.
  • douro-spirit-side.jpg - A view of the Douro River during a Queen Isabel sailing by Uniworld.
  • portugal-group-wine-tasting-enoteca-avessada.jpg - Stop and enjoy a wine tasting at Enoteca - Quinta da Avessada in Portugal during a Uniworld river cruise.
  • Douro_River_Valley_Portugal.jpg - A look at the Douro River Valley, the rich wine-growing region in Portugal.
  • Pinhao_Wine_Tasting.jpg - Wine tasting in Pinhao, Portugal.
  • AmaVida_Cruising_Douro_River.jpg - AmaVida cruising along the Douro River in Portugal.
  • douro-valley-winery-tasting.jpg - Wine tasting during a shore excursion in the Douro Valley of Portugal.
  • Portugal-Porto-tram - The trams in Porto, Portugal, run along the shores of the Douro River.
  • Portugal-Porto-Ponte-Dom-Luis - Ponte Dom Luis I was built in 1886, crossing the River Douro in Porto, Portugal.
  • Portugal-Porto-church - The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso is an 18th-century church in Porto, Portugal, near Batalha Square. 
  • Portugal-Douro-bridge - A Douro River bridge near terraced hillsides in Portugal.
  • Portugal-Porto-muro - Muro dos Bacalhoeiros, a historic block in Porto, Portugal
  • Portugal-Douro-Tua - Scenic Tua is part of the upper Douro wine region of Portugal.
  • Portugal-Miranda-do-Douro - A view of Miranda do Douro (Portugal) from the Douro Natural Park straddling the border between Spain and Portugal.
  • Crystal-Serenity-Lisbon-Portugal - Visit Lisbon, Portugal. with trained tour guides while sailing on Crystal Serenity.
  • Commerce-Square-Lisbon-Portugal-1 - Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) in Lisbon, Portugal, as seen from the Tower of St. Vincent.
  • Jeronimos-Monastery-Lisbon - The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Torre-Belem-Lisbon-Portugal - Torre de Belém on the banks of the river Tagus in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • anthem-of-seas-in-Lisbon.jpg - Anthem of the Seas docked in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Portugal-Sintra-Palace - Palácio Nacional de Sintra as seen from Castelo dos Mouros near Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Viking-Star-in-Lisbon - Viking Star in Lisbon, Portugal. The ship has itineraries to both northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
  • Cloister-Jeronimos-Lisbon-Portugal - Cloister of the monastery dos Hieronymos in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Jeronimos-Monastery-Lisbon-Portugal - The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal.

Portugal travel guide: Top things to do & see

our guide

The vibe

Portugal, especially beyond its cities, is a country dreamily contemplating its powerful past while enjoying the present with just a touch of gentle ruefulness. The Atlantic that surrounds half of this small nation defines the Portuguese, who used their seafaring genius to build a global economic empire that reached its height in the 1500 and 1600s. It is filled with bustling cities as well as charming countrysides.

Portugal is a land of great natural beauty and terrain so varied that there is no one typical Portuguese landscape. Sun-starved northern Europeans flock to the sophisticated resorts on the sunny beaches of the Algarve and Estremadura. The seaside city of Porto produces some of the best port wines in the world. Portugal's islands include the Azores, a paradise in the Atlantic, and the semi-tropical island of Madeira. No matter what you're looking for, you're sure to find it.

Cruise ships that call on Portugal

River cruise ships that call on Portugal

Top reasons to go

  • Évora, the 12th-century capital of Portugal, offers ancient Roman ruins alongside architecture of the Moors and the Portuguese.
  • The Douro Valley has some of the most stunning natural beauty in all of Portugal.
  • Take in the street scene from one of the wonderful cafes in Lisbon.
Alcobaca, a pretty city in western Portugal along the valleys of the Alcoa and Baça rivers.
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise LineAlcobaca, a pretty city in western Portugal along the valleys of the Alcoa and Baça rivers.

Things to do & see in Portugal

Lisbon

The capital city of Portugal is a bustling mix of old and new, a place to see elegant architecture in the Belem district (so named for the great Belem tower, a classic piece of Manueline style architecture) and the 18th-century Pombalene downtown. Even modern buildings keep a maritime theme in districts such as the Parque das Nacoes. Visit the stunning cloisters of the Jeronimus Monastery, climb up the battlements of St. George's Castle or sit back in one of its cafes to enjoy its street life, then meander around its old quarter.

Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise LinePena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal.

Sintra

Just north of Lisbon, the royal city of Sintra has palaces are in that unique-to-Portugal Manueline style. It is startlingly surreal, considering its medieval origins, that combines seashells, ropes and religious symbols. But you should go here not just to see the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, originally built by the Moors for sultans, then modified over the centuries, or the relatively modern 19th-century Pena Palace and its mix of Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque, Moorish and Gothic styles, but for its great, lush gardens as well.

Beaches

On the edge of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, the beaches in Portugal boast of natural beauty and are great whether you want to play in the water or hit the surf. The southern coast tends to be calmer and warmer than the western coast, but the western coast features the beaches of Lisbon and Peniche as well as the quiet beaches of Costa Vicentina in Alentejo. The Algarve offers stunning coastline and is a major holiday destination throughout Europe. 

Best bets for dining

Portugal’s culinary influence is huge all over the world. The Japanese learned about tempura from Portuguese traders and missionaries and vindaloo draws upon a Portuguese vinho (wine) and alho (garlic) sauce. Traditional dried salt cod, called bacalhau, has been vital, as it made long ocean voyages possible and fueled Portuguese exploration. Fish is a staple in Portugal due to its ocean location, and be sure to enjoy the samplings of the orange groves, olive trees and vineyards, particularly by sampling Portuguese wines such as vinho tinto, blanco and verde (which is green wine). Also be sure to sample a port wine, which is usually served as a apertif or dessert wine and is known to originate from Portugal.

Best time to go

Portugal has good weather year round and its beaches are pleasant well into the fall. Summer is usually the highest tourist season, so it's best to visit in the spring and autumn if you want to avoid crowds.

Experience the sunny side of Europe on a cruise aboard AmaVida through the Douro River Valley of Portugal.
Courtesy of AmaWaterwaysAmaVida cruises through Portugal's Douro River Valley.

When you arrive

Docking Information

There are two main ports for cruise lines. The Port of Lisbon is mainly used for ocean cruises, while the Port of Porto is used for river cruises.

Getting around

Most of the major cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, have metro rails and buses. However, if you intend to visit the countryside, you'll probably have to rent a car, which is cheap. Be warned, though: Some roads are not well-paved, drivers in Portugal can be unpredictable and insurance costs are high.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a passport.

Language: Portuguese, although English is spoken in many of the tourist areas.

Currency: Euro

Safety: Portugal is generally a safe country, with most crime from pickpocketing. Like most places, make sure to stay in well-lit places at night and keep your valuables out of sight.

Your take

Have you traveled or cruised to Portugal? What was it like? We'd love to hear about your experience.

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

Published July 8, 2015

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Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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Overheard

“Madeira, Portugal ... It boasts the world's best year-round climate, spectacular hiking, biking and, yes, Madeira's famous wine. In May, the islands are a virtual botanical garden.”

Islands magazine

“Don't miss Miramar Beach in Porto at sunset. A quick train ride out to the coast, Senhor da Padra (literally, the chapel in the sea) is one of the the most magical things I've ever seen.”

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