We can’t get enough of Portugal. With 500 miles of coastline there are hundreds of beaches to visit, from the rugged edges of the Sagres peninsula to the secluded golden bays of the Algarve. The coast is also dotted with some fascinating towns and cities, including hip, vibrant Lisbon, considered one of Europe’s most desirable capitals.
Travel inland to experience Portugal’s stunning geographical diversity. Discover wildflower meadows, sun-dappled cork forests, rolling hills and craggy mountains. There are plenty of secluded villages where you can try local wine and hearty regional dishes such as porco Alentejana, a vibrant pork and clam stew.
Popular Ports in Portugal
The stunning capital city of Lisbon is an unmissable destination on a Portugal cruise. You’ll be reaching for your camera again and again as you explore quaint cobbled streets, bustling markets and fascinating historic buildings.
The riverside neighbourhood of Belém contains some of the city’s architectural gems, such as the ancient harbourside castle, Torre de Belém, and the ornately carved Jerónimos Monastery. Don’t leave without a visit to Lisbon’s most renowned bakery, Pastéis de Belém, where you can try the best custard tarts in the city – or even the world!
Alfama is the city’s oldest neighbourhood, a charming maze of steep cobblestone streets and narrow, brightly coloured houses. To skip the hills, travel through the neighbourhood on one of Lisbon’s distinctive yellow trams.
This elegant town of terracotta roofs and winding alleys lies along the banks of the serene River Douro. Enjoy wandering through the UNESCO-designated historic district of Ribeira, marvelling at the churches decorated with blue-and-white azulejo tiles. Visit Livraria Lello, the world’s most beautiful bookshop which provided some of the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
Porto is a great foodie destination. The quayside is lined with gourmet restaurants, serving everything from Portuguese seafood dishes to experimental modern cuisine. It’s a great place to people-watch, too, and you might even catch a street entertainment show. Mercado do Bolhão is one of the city’s renowned food markets – you’ll love browsing the stalls and stopping for petiscos, or Portuguese tapas, in one of the small local restaurants.
Outside the city, the banks of the Duoro are lined with picturesque vineyards. Porto is the birthplace of port wine, and there are plenty of wineries where you can sample a glass or two.
Located in the south of Portugal, Portimao is the gateway to the popular Algarve region, which is renowned for its pristine beaches. Most people flock to picturesque Praia da Rocha, a wide stretch of golden sand that never feels too crowded. Travel for less than half-an-hour down the coast and you’ll find the stunning Praia da Marinha, a secluded bay encircled by craggy red and ochre-coloured cliffs.
But Portimao itself isn’t a place you want to simply pass through. This friendly town has a picturesque harbourfront lined with shops and cafés offering grilled fresh seafood and stunning ocean views.
Venture just outside the town and you’ll discover the 5,000-year-old megalithic burial sites of Alcalar, and sleepy unspoilt towns nestled in the foothills of the Serra de Monchique mountains.
What are the best cruise ships for a Portugal cruise?
Such is Portugal’s popularity that it’s well-served by cruise liners. These two ships come highly recommended for the affordable luxury they offer.
The delightful Marella Spirit will, as the name suggests, keep you in high spirits throughout your Portugal cruise. The free Kid’s club will be a hit with your younger ones, offering face painting, movie nights and pyjama parties. They’ll even take the kids to breakfast while you have a lie-in. Teenagers will love the stage school or their dedicated hangout, Graffiti’s. This will leave you free to enjoy a beauty treatment at the spa or a swim in the adult’s only pool.
The Marella Dream is the perfect ship on which to relax and unwind after a full day of sightseeing. Enjoy the sauna, spa or a refreshing dip in one of the outdoor pools. You’ll love the choice of restaurants, offering everything from South Asian cuisine to steaks cooked on hot stones. There’s a wide range of evening activities on offer too, from Broadway shows to piano concerts.
Shore Excursion Ideas
The cruise ports in Portugal are packed full of attractions, but even so there’s an option to explore further afield with some fantastic shore excursions. Here are some of the most highly rated options.
Lisbon by Eco Tuk Tuk
Considering Lisbon is known as the City of Seven Hills, you might like some assistance in exploring it. Why not take a quirky electric tuk-tuk ride around the city? You’ll be able to see some of Lisbon’s top attractions, including the impressive gothic Jerónimos Monastery. Zip through the steep cobbled lanes of the picturesque Alfama and Chiado districts without even breaking a sweat, stopping to browse one-off boutiques or refresh yourself at quirky cafés.
Sintra & Cascais
You’ll fall in love with Sintra, a royal sanctuary located in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains. It’s only half-an-hour from Lisbon but it feels like another world with its surrealist architecture, Moorish fortresses and pastel-coloured palaces surrounded by fairytale forest. On the way there you’ll stop off in Cascais, a lively fishing resort with some pretty beaches and a marina lined with traditional restaurants.
Quaint Fishing Villages
When you visit Portimao, chances are you’d love to relax on one of the region’s stunning beaches. On this excursion, you’ll get to visit beautiful Praia da Rocha, a beach of turquoise seas, golden sand and striking reddish-coloured cliffs. You’ll also explore two unspoilt fishing villages, Ferragudo and Alvor, where whitewashed houses rise from the blue waters of the Atlantic.