Cultural holidays in Portugal

Shun the beach in favour of Portugal’s cultural gems

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert

Lisbon cityThe word culture, now more so than ever, can be used to represent such a wide spectrum of pursuits. In the modern age, the term can be conjoined with anything from retail outlets to video games and mass media. In its classical and most prominent domain, however, we tend to associate culture with the more traditional fields of art, architecture and history. Think Paris, London and Vienna and you’re on the right track. And although it usually invokes more audible connotations of beach-orientated breaks in the sun, Portugal has a few unheralded gems to rival the best.

Even away from the stunning capital city of Lisbon, you’ll find a host of UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered throughout the country. Every region presents their own unique cultural qualities, all set amidst the temperate Mediterranean climate that attracts visitors in their droves.


Top five destinations for Portugal cultural holidays


Cultural holidays in Portugal: Lisbon Cultural holidays in Portugal: Lisbon

Lisbon is naturally the first place that springs to mind when considering a visit to Portugal – and in terms of cultural significance, the capital is a veritable goldmine. The Berardo Collection Museum should be your first port of call, with works by Picasso and Warhol among the 4,000 on display. Elsewhere in the city, be sure to check out the Church of Sao Roque, inconspicuous from the outside but secreting an interior that will surely take your breath away. Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery are also worthy of a visit.

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Porto Cultural holidays in Portugal: Porto

It speaks volumes for Porto that the main cultural attraction here is, for all intents and purposes, the city itself. Its historic centre is one of the oldest in Europe, and blessed with some of the continent’s most mesmerising buildings into the bargain. Whether there is an event taking place there or not, the eye-catching Casa da Musica is an inspired architectural masterpiece, likewise the Serralves Museum and the magnificent park that encircles it. The Soares dos Reis Museum, meanwhile, is home to the symbolic O Desterrado, the most revered work of the eponymous sculptor. 

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Guimaraes Cultural holidays in Portugal: Guimaraes

It’s a widely held belief in Portugal that Guimaraes is effectively the birthplace of the country – and when you take a stroll through the town, it’s easy to see why this is the case. The 10th-century castle still dominates the centre to this day, testament to the medieval roots that shaped a nation. To really absorb the aura of the place, head for a coffee or cold drink in Olive Square, flanked by the charmingly constructed Olive Church and Padrao do Salado. 

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Douro Region Cultural holidays in Portugal: Douro Region

Culture comes in many formats, and one of the largest elements of Portuguese culture is its rich wine-growing heritage. The northern region of Douro is arguably responsible for some of the country’s finest produce, with the terraced vineyards as beautiful as they are bountiful. Vila Real is the main municipality of the region, and a splendidly picturesque city in which to base yourself for a tour of the vines. Whilst there, why not treat yourself to a tour of the Solar de Mateus, the stately home depicted on the label of the famous De Mateus wine?

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Cultural holidays in Portugal: Braga Cultural holidays in Portugal: Braga

You won’t see much in the way of fanfare for Braga in most travel guides. But what the northern city boasts is an understated class and charisma. The most striking feature is the Bom Jesus do Monte, an aesthetically remarkable church perched atop a mountain just outside of the city. Whilst ascending the stairs, you’ll stumble across a series of chapels before you reach the 18th-century building itself. Whether you love or loathe football, you should make the trip to see the Braga Municipal Stadium, an incredible feat of engineering with a cliff face incorporated within its stands!

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Portugal Holiday Homes

Secure Condominium Minutes From The Town Centre And Well Positioned For The Marina And Beaches

This is a modern 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom air-conditioned first floor apartment built in a secure condominium development in central Lagos within 5 mins walk of the marina, promenade and town center with it's shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars...

Secure Peaceful Location in the Heart of One of the Most Beautiful Towns in the Algarve

Apartment Romy is a well presented 2 bedroom apartment on the ground floor overlooking the children's pay area in a stylish well maintained secure gated Horta Poca do Bispo development with a shared swimming pool and the flat's own underground sec...

Quiet Villa for Relax

Two bedroom villa in a quiet and familiar ambiance. From a distance of 3kms to the famous sunset beaches and the city center. Restaurants and supermarkets from 400 meters. All you need for relax and quiet, but in the same close to the nightlife an...

Breathless Views of the Natural Park of Arrábida, Pool, Car Rental

Casa do Vale is a 4 bedrooms house with has private outdoor spots and facilities, such as the terrace, dinning area, barbecue, parking and entrance. The living room has a snooker table. It's located at the Chalets of the Windmills Route, a privat...

Family club-Ideal place for family vacations, and mature people long stay.

Newly constructed, modern, good sun, view of the castle, garden area with trees where you can read or relax, and children can play. The gym is equipped with various machine allowing cardiotraining for those who cannot miss workouts. The complete p...

Full equipped Loft close to the Bica Funicular, Chiado and Bairro Alto

Bica Loft is a full equipped apartment located in the centre of Lisbon at 300 metres from Bairro Alto and 500 metres from Chiado. The picturesque Bica Funicular is only 3 minutes walking and Lisbon International Airport is 14 km away. It feature...

Astonishing views of the River Tagus, at the heart of Alfama

At the heart of Alfama district, this self-catering studio offers astonishing views of the river Tagus and also of the picturesque streets of Alfama. The decoration is a mix of the modern with traditional Portuguese style, providing a unique iden...

House in Alfama

House of Crows: Located in the heart of Alfama, right in the historic city centre of Lisbon, the House of Crows is a small, carefully restored house where you will find comfort and an unforgettable experience of living for a few days in the most a...

DOWNTOWN - Cosy Family Flat

Very comfortable apartment in OPORTO City Center near Quinta do Covelo. Living Room - 1 Double Sofa-Bed, comfy seating for 4 people Dining Room - Table, seating for 4 people Bathroom - Toilet, Bath with Shower, Bidet Bedroom A...

Albufeira Family Apartment

This beautiful apartment located on the private and peaceful condomin with-in 15 min. walking distance from beach. With lovely view , a large main pool, and a kids pool, bar and restaurant all offering uninterrupted ocean views....

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