Portugal is a country like no other in Europe. With a rich history, great cuisine, and spectacular beaches that can be enjoyed up to late fall/autumn, there are many beautiful places and monuments to see in Portugal. If you’re planning to visit the country or just dreaming about it, here are some of the most famous landmarks in Portugal that shouldn’t be out of anyone’s trip.
People in Portugal are very welcoming, and you’ll be sure to win their attention if you learn some local expressions. You can start with the most basic ones, such as saying thank you in Portuguese or you’re welcome.
Table of Contents
1- Praça do Comércio – Famous Landmarks in Portugal
At 329,376 sq ft (30,600 sqm), Praça do Comércio is the largest square and one of the top landmarks in Portugal and one of the main places to visit in Lisbon. This beautiful square faces the Tagus River estuary and used to be the main gateway to those visiting Portugal in times when commercial aviation wasn’t popular.
In the 16th century, the Royal Palace was located here, after being transferred from Sao Jorge Castle. The square was designed by Filippo Terzi, the same architect responsible for the design of El Escorial in Spain.
An earthquake in 1755 destroyed everything on the square, which was later revived as Commerce Square. That was because of the new social order, which aimed at promoting the trading class and the bourgeois who helped to rebuild the square.
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Today, Praça do Comércio is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, where tourists and locals come to spend the sunny afternoons, to watch local artists or to eat at the many restaurants nearby. You can visit the square at your leisure or see and learn more about it during a private walking tour.
2- Jerónimos Monastery
This is another of the famous landmarks of Portugal, located in the Belem district in Lisbon. The Jerónimos Monastery is a great example of the Portuguese Neo-Gothic Manueline architectural style.
The construction of the monastery for the Order of St Jerome was authorized in 1495, but it was only completed nearly 100 years later.
The monastery was built on the site of a church where the monks of the military-religious Order of Christ helped seamen in transit. Since 1833 it’s been a secular building, but over the centuries, it was also an orphanage. It was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.
It was also at the Jerónimos Monastery that the famous pastel de Belém was created, in the mid-1800s.
This famous Portuguese landmark is also the final resting place of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who discovered the path to India and of Luís de Camões, the most famous Portuguese writer in history.
To visit the monastery, you’ll need to buy a ticket, which is available here.
3- Belém Tower
The Belém Tower is one of the most famous Portuguese landmarks and can be seen on the cover of many travel guides and tourism promotional ads.
St Vincent Tower (its real name) was built in the early 16th century, as an embarkation/debarkation point on the Tagus River, in Lisbon. It was also a fortification to protect the river mouth, since the nearby fortresses of Cascais and Caparica.
Today, the Belém Tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, where visitors and tourists alike come to enjoy the breeze on hot days and see the beautiful sunsets.
The tower is open for visitation and you can buy tickets here or book a guided tour here.
4- Dom Luís Bridge, Top Landmark in Portugal’s Northern Region
Dom Luís Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal, located in the city of Porto. This iconic bridge connects the popular Ribeira district in Porto to the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia and is among the top attractions in Porto.
This bridge crosses the Douro river and is in itself an architectural wonder. The bridge has two levels for cars and pedestrians. The local tramway runs on the top level, from where you can have the most stunning views over the river, and the historic districts of Porto.
Find Out Where to Stay in Porto
5- Benagil Caves – Famous Landmarks of Portugal
Benagil Caves, or Algar de Benagil, as it’s called in Portuguese, is one of the most iconic natural landmarks of Portugal. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Algarve. It features a large grotto and a big hole in the ceiling, which makes this a fantastic place to visit.
In the summertime, the Alvarge is heaving with tourists. The best time to visit the Benagil Caves is during spring and autumn/fall when there are fewer people and the temperature is still pleasant.
There are several tour options to visit the cave (see them all here), one of the best ones is this, leaving from Portimão.
6- Sanctuary of Fátima, The Top Religious Landmark in Portugal
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima was built on the site where three shepherd children are believed to have seen six apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917. It’s one of the largest destinations for Christian pilgrimage in the world, attracting over 4 million tourists every year. That alone, makes it one of the most popular landmarks in Portugal.
In addition to witnessing the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the shepherd children also received several predictions.
The sanctuary complex includes the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, and the Chapel of the Apparitions, where the three shepherd children were later buried (the last one died in 2005).
The story is so remarkable that many directors took it to the big screen over the years. Here is a 1952 version of the story of Our Lady of Fatima.
Where To Stay in Fatima
Hotel Santa Maria is a modern contemporary hotel located only 250m from the Sanctuary of Fatima, with prices starting at 45 euros per night. It’s rated 9.1/10 by Booking.com customers.
Dom Goncalo Hotel & Spa is another great option, featuring a spa and indoor swimming pool, restaurant, and a courtyard.
7- São Jorge Castle, Another Famous Portuguese Landmark
São Jorge Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal and an iconic attraction in Lisbon. It’s perched on a hilltop and can be seen from most of the central part of the capital.
The castle was built in the 11th century by the Moors as a fortification that housed military troops. It was also intended to be a refuge for the elite, in case of an eventual attack. From the 12th century, when it was conquered by King Afonso I, it became a royal residence.
This magnificent Portuguese landmark was badly damaged in the 1755 earthquake, but it was fully restored. It still retains its eleven towers. When visiting the castle, you can learn about Portuguese history in the permanent exhibition and see some of the local archaeological sites. You can get your tickets here.
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8- Óbidos Castle, A Medieval Landmark in Portugal
Óbidos Castle is one of the most remarkable medieval landmarks in Portugal. Located 53 miles (85 kilometers) from Lisbon, the town of Óbidos itself is a picturesque place with beautiful white houses with flower gardens that developed around the castle.
This iconic Portuguese landmark was built by the Moors in the 8th century and later conquered by the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso II in the 12th century.
Today, Óbidos Castle is a hotel, and the only way to see its beautiful interiors is by booking a stay and sleeping like royalty. Having said that, it’s important to remember that, as a hotel, the interior of the castle is not a living museum. It has been renovated to offer all modern conveniences, with a touch of historic charm.
9- Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary
The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is located on a mount overlooking the northern city of Braga. This UNESCO World Heritage Site follows the idea of the European sacred mountains promoted by the Catholic Church in response to the Protestant Reformation at the Trento Council, in the 16th century.
The most remarkable feature of the sanctuary is its stairway of the senses, which leads up in a zigzag and has walls, statues, and fountains.
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You can visit the sanctuary as part of a day tour of Braga and Guimaraes from Porto, but the best way to see it is by visiting Braga – an attraction in its own right – and staying for at least one night in town.
Where To Stay in Braga
Vila Gale Collection Braga is a 4-star hotel located 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) from the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. It has a spa, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant and is rated 8.9/10 by Booking.com guests.
Casa da Praça Velha Guest House is located bang in the city center and 3 miles (4.2 kilometers) from the sanctuary. This budget guest house oozes historic features and is rated 9.1/10 by Booking.com customers.
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10- Pena Palace – Famous Landmarks in Portugal
The colorful Pena Palace is located on a hilltop at Pena National Park, a lush forest on the outskirts of Sintra. It was built in the mid 19th century to be the official summer residence for the Portuguese royal family.
The bright yellow and red colors make a striking contrast with the surrounding forest greenery. The palace sits on the site of an old monastery from the 15th century.
Pena Palace is a popular landmark in Portugal and gets very busy, especially in the summer months, when tourists from all over the world flock here to see the palace’s beauty and get their Instagram shots.
You can make your way to Pena Palace and get your entry ticket online, or you can also come here as part of a day trip from Lisbon that also includes stops in Sintra itself, Cascais and Cabo da Roca, where you have time to see these places at your leisure.