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

Peaceful Location. 5 Mins Drive To Beach, 10 Mins To Marina, 5 Mins Drive Into Town

Our beautiful villa comfortably sleeps 6/8 with 3 bedrooms, each with Sky TV/DVD and I-pod docking stations. TV Lounge also has Wii console. Wifi is also included. Each bedroom has it's own bathroom. It has been furnished with a modern look, to a...

Lisbon, Belem Cultural and Historical Center, along the Tagus River, Great Balcony with View to the River Tejo

Apartment balcony with superb panoramic views over the Tagus River. 3 rooms fully restored and furnished to debut. Room with Seating Area and Dining, 2 Bedrooms with Double Beds, kitchen, house-of-Bathroom with bath and balcony to enjoy the beauti...

Maison avec Jardin et place pour la voiture, á 7 minutes du centre

(Text automatically translated) Very peaceful, Ideally located, Tastefully decorated, Recent construction, Fully Renovated, Near Palace Marquis Frontier, near the Zoological Garden, the park of Monsanto and Metro Sete Rios, Zoo station, the metro ...

Lisbon Historical Center Beside the River Terrace apartment

In Lisbon Historical Center (Bethlehem area of the Portuguese Discoveries) by the river Tagus, Apartment recovered, ideal for two or three people, fully furnished and equipped with beautiful patio to enjoy the beautiful sun of Lisbon where you can...

Wonderful 3 bedroom villa with shared pool

Belle is a great villa for families or friends being located in peaceful Salir Do Porto and just 1.8 km from the soft silver sands of Salir Do Porto beach and also very close to Sao Martinho Do Porto - a stroll along the bay. The large sand dun...

Cliff - Side Cottage In Sub-Tropical Garden Just 80 Metres Above Sea

Nearly all self catering properties on the island of Madeira provide :- * sea views * Access to levada walking * A warm welcome CASAS NOLINA AND PALMEIRA are almost unique in that they offer all of the above plus :- *Best climate i.e. Most hours o...

3 bed Villa with private pool & gardens

VILLA BRISA MORNA, built in 2001, is tastefully furnished and suitable for up to 6 people with 2 twin bedrooms and 1 double which has en-suite facility. Two of the bedrooms have patio doors leading onto the terrace area and pool. Located upstairs...

Fantastic 2 Bed Apartment Lagos,Pool,Free WIFI- 25% discount for June 2014

This fantastic large ground floor apartment offers the ideal central location for a holiday in historic Lagos. Furnished to a high standard and family friendly with free Wifi, video entry system and underground parking. The apartment offers a pati...

Spacious house,village location with great beaches!

This spacious, modern townhouse is situated in countryside with stone built walls and only a minute walk into the historic village of Castro Marim. The house overlooks the Nature Reserve with views across to Spain. You can walk from the house to t...

Sea View two bedroom apartment with a large, private terrace

The apartment is in a secluded area, close to pools which have plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas. We have sea views from the kitchen, living and dining rooms, master bedroom and of course from the large terrace. There are two spacious bedrooms, on...

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