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

Town House In Beautiful Landscaped Gardens, Superb Location Close To Beach And Clubhouse

A luxurious and spacious 3 bedroom townhouse furnished to a high standard in the exclusive Vila Dos Principes gated community at the prestigious golf and country club resort of Praia d’el Rey. The property; ideal for families is set in a quiet sec...

ApartmentsApart Belem Burgundy - One Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 4

The Belem Burgundy apartment is situated in the beautiful Belém district of Lisbon, and is a second-floor, 1-bedroom property, located in a renovated building with elevator.

The full-length windows in the living room allow ...

ApartmentsApart Apartment Parque Europa - Three Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 5

This modern and very spacious 3 bedroom apartment comfortably sleeps up to 5 guests. Located in a well facilitated condominium the residents can enjoy use of the gym, swimming pool, private park and secure garage with direct access from the ap...

ApartmentsApart Alecrim 33 - Two Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 5

This spacious apartment, with balcony and large dining room, is full of light and life.

The large living room with wood floor features two doors, each of which lead onto a balcony with views of the city center, as well as a dining table...

ApartmentsApart Casa Convento Rossio - Three Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 8

This apartment, perfect for large groups, is located in the Pena neighborhood next to the Baixa downton area, one of the oldest parts of Lisbon. The district is distinguished by its diversity of buildings, constructed as parts of different arc...

ApartmentsApart Bairro Luz Apartment - Two Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 4

The Bairro Luz apartment is a third-floor (no lift) bright, stylish property in the famous Bairro Alto district of central Lisbon, and has 2 double bedrooms to accommodate up to 4 guests. The modern, funky decor of this property uses light col...

ApartmentsApart Belem Vintage - One Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 4

This ground floor apartment with lovely modern and vintage decoration is set in a completely refurbished building dating back to the beginning of the last century. The apartment is very spacious and full of natural light throughout, with fresh...

ApartmentsApart Casa Calcada de Santo Andre - Two Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 6

This 1st-floor apartment is great for a family or group of friends, with 1 double bed, 2 bunk beds and a double sofa-cama, allowing up to 6 guests to stay in this renovated 18th century building close to Lisbon's downtown area, the S&atild...

ApartmentsApart Caetano - One Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 4

Hardwood flooring and edgy industrial roof beams make for a nice contrast of traditional and contemporary, while the kitchen and bathroom fittings are both stylish and modern.

Enjoy a cosy supper at home before heading out on the ...

ApartmentsApart Casa Calcada - Three Bedroom Apartment, Sleeps 7

This spacious apartment has a total area of 95m2 and possesses 3 bedrooms allowing up to 7 guests to stay here comfortably. It is situated on the third floor of a property located in the traditional Pena area of Lisbon, and has corresponding t...

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