Pristine sand beaches, stunning coastlines, historical cities, and blue skies year around – yep, that's Portugal! Top it off with delicious local cuisine, some of Europe's best wines, and affordable prices, and it makes for the perfect destination.

You might naturally think only of Lisbon and Porto when it comes to Portugal, but there is so much more to discover! Let me tell you about Portugal's picturesque wine regions and stunning islands, which are definitely worth exploring.

To help you plan where to stay in Portugal, I have put together a list of my favorite areas as well as the best hotels to stay at. This guide will also provide you with useful information about each location to help you decide where to stay during your visit.

The best places to stay in Portugal

Are you interested in visiting Lisbon for a city break, exploring Porto and the Douro Valley to taste Portugal's best wines, or having an all-inclusive beach holiday in the Algarve?

In Portugal, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Depending on your individual interests, there are various specific destinations within the country that are ideally suited to your preferences.

After road-tripping all around Portugal, I'll show you my 10 favorite cities and areas to make your choice easier, and I'll make sure that we will find the right spot for you!

1. Where to stay in Portugal for the first time & a city break: Lisbon

Where to stay in Portugal - Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal's capital, is all you need and more for your first time in Portugal or for a quick city break.

It is the perfect combination of history, charm, and modernity. You can find beautiful old buildings, cobbled streets, and monasteries, as well as some of Europe's trendiest restaurants, bars, and nightclubs!

Don't forget that Lisbon also has a beach, so you can even enjoy some beach time if the weather allows it.

If you want to know more about Lisbon and its different areas, check out my guide on where to stay in Lisbon.

Best things to see & do in Lisbon

For those visiting for the first time or just staying the weekend, I highly suggest going sightseeing. You can visit the well-known Belem Tower, explore the historic corridors of the Jerónimos Monastery, or be wowed by the Castelo de São Jorge.

Although I love sightseeing in Lisbon, my favorite part of the trip revolves around something a little different – Pastel de Nata! These delicious custard tarts are available at almost any pastry shop in Lisbon, but I recommend getting them from Manteigaria or Pastéis de Belém for the real deal!

Best hotels in Lisbon

($$$) MYRIAD by SANA Hotels

($$) Melia Lisboa Oriente Hotel

($) TURIM Europa Hotel

2. Where to stay in Portugal for foodies & culture: Porto

Where to stay in Portugal - Porto

Porto might not be as big as Lisbon, but it definitely packs a punch! It is a wonderful place to enjoy the delightful food and stunning culture of Portugal away from the crowds that sometimes overwhelm Lisbon.

The town is known for its beautiful architecture and cobbled streets, but it also boasts a fantastic food scene. From the traditional Francesinha (a delectable cheese-filled sandwich) to some of Europe's finest wine, Porto should not be missed by any foodie!

If you want to know more about Porto and all the different areas in the city, check out my guide on where to stay in Porto.

Best things to see & do in Porto

When you're in Porto, make sure to visit the Livraria Lello – a historic bookstore lined with gorgeous woodcarvings and stained glass. It is said to have inspired JK Rowling when writing Harry Potter!

If you're not a fan of Harry Potter, you might enjoy taking one of the six bridge river cruises instead. I personally had a wonderful experience relaxing and admiring the beautiful scenery of Porto and the Douro Valley while sipping on a glass of wine.

Best hotels in Porto

($$$) Pur Oporto Boutique Hotel

($$) TURIM Oporto Hotel

($) Castelo Santa Catarina

3. Where to stay in Portugal for nightlife: Albufeira

Where to stay in Portugal - Albufeira

Albufeira, in the Algarve region, is the ultimate nightlife destination in Portugal.

With its many nightclubs and bars (especially along “The Strip”), Albufeira is THE place to be for a lively night out.

Of course, there is more to Albufeira than just the world-class nightlife; there is much more to explore in and around town. Take a few days to explore the various activities in Albufeira, including wandering through the charming streets of the village and driving along the coastline.

Best things to see & do in Albufeira

If you're in Albufeira, make sure to visit the Benagil Cave, a stunning natural attraction in the Algarve that can only be reached by boat, SUP, or kayak. To get there, you can take a boat trip from Albufeira Marina, but keep in mind that boats are not permitted to enter the cave, so you won't be able to see the inside of the cave. Nonetheless, it's still an enjoyable experience.

For those who are looking for some beach time, there is no shortage in Albufeira. Praia da Marinha and Praia dos Pescadores are two of my favorites!

Best hotels in Albufeira

($$$) NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico

($$) 3HB Golden Beach

($) Sao Rafael Holidays

4. Where to stay in Portugal for a romantic getaway: Sintra

Where to stay in Portugal - Sintra

If you are looking for a romantic getaway or a place for your honeymoon, Sintra is the perfect destination.

If you're short on time, I suggest taking a day trip to this ancient city near Lisbon. Although not many people stay here overnight, Sintra is a hidden gem and a UNESCO World Heritage site for good reason. So if you do have the time, come and explore its 19th-century palaces and picturesque castles!

Best things to see & do in Sintra

The Pena Palace and Park is the most famous and popular attraction in Sintra because of its bright yellow and red colors and unique architecture dating back to 1854. It may seem unreal, but the palace is a real historic site and not just a Disneyland-like fantasy!

I also had a great time exploring Quinta da Regaleira. The Gothic villa there is very impressive, and the surreal Initiation Well was particularly fascinating. It's a deep vertical tunnel with spiral staircases inside, and exploring it was a unique and atmospheric experience. If you get the chance to visit, I highly recommend taking a picture from the bottom looking up – it's a spectacular view and would make a great addition to your Instagram feed!

Best hotels in Sintra

($$$) Vila Gale Sintra

($$) NH Sintra Centro

($) Hotel Sintra Jardim

5. Where to stay in Portugal for the best wine tastings: Porto & Douro Valley

Where to stay in Portugal - Porto & Douro Valley

Porto and the nearby Douro Valley are known for their delicious wines, so it's no surprise that this is one of the best places to stay in Portugal if you want to sample some of the best vintages.

To get the full wine-making experience, I recommend spending time in both the Douro Valley and Porto. The Douro Valley has many traditional vineyards and distilleries, making it an excellent place to visit and indulge in local dishes and wines.

In Porto, you can focus on port wine and enjoy tastings in historical wine cellars.

Best things to see & do in Porto & the Douro Valley

Explore the numerous wine cellars in Porto, where you can taste various types of port wine and discover everything about this exquisite beverage. With more than 60 caves around, at least 20 of them are accessible to visitors. My top picks and the most well-known producers are Sandeman, Cálem, Graham's, and Quinta do Noval.

When you opt to stay in the Douro Valley, you can visit the various wineries and discover how they make port wine. It's a great way to learn about the history and traditions of Portuguese wines, as well as sample some delicious local flavors.

Best hotels in Porto & the Douro Valley

($$$) Quinta Nova Winery House

($$) The Wine House Hotel

($) Quinta de la Rosa

6. Where to stay in Portugal for surfing: Ericeira

Where to stay in Portugal - Ericeira

Did you say laid-back surfer town? Then Ericeira is the place for you. This coastal city, which is only 40 km north of Lisbon, has managed to keep its authentic charm and remains one of Portugal's best-kept secrets.

Ericeira is a paradise for surfers; with unique beaches surrounded by stunning cliffs, it offers some of the best waves in Europe. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer, Ericeira is the perfect place for you to enjoy some time in the waves.

FYI, Even if you don't surf at all, it's a great place to enjoy some chill vibes, good food, and unbeatable sunsets!

Best things to see & do in Ericeira

Catch some waves! With its extensive beach break, reef breaks, and the iconic Ribeira de Ilhas wave (known among surfers as one of the best in Europe), Ericeira has many surfing spots. The best surf shop in town is 58 Surf Shop!

If you're looking to explore beyond the waves, then visit Dear Rose Café or VIBES Ericeira for the best breakfast and coffee in town!

Best hotels in Ericeira

($$$) Immerso Hotel

($$) Vila Gale Ericeira

($) Reserva FLH Hotels

7. Where to stay in Portugal for beaches & families: Algarve

Where to stay in Portugal - Algarve

A coastline of limestone cliffs and rock formations, endless white-sand beaches, cozy little towns to explore, and plenty of resorts that make for a stress-free vacation, all of this can be found in the Algarve, making it the perfect destination for your next family holiday!

Here you will find some of Portugal's most exclusive resorts while still being surrounded by traditional fishing villages such as Faro or Lagos and beautiful beaches such as Praia da Marinha or Praia do Camilo.

If you want to know more about the Algarve's best places, check out my guide on where to stay in the Algarve.

Best things to see & do in the Algarve

My favorite activity to do in the Algarve is to take a boat trip along the beautiful coastline. You will have the chance to discover hidden coves and caves. I recommend exploring the caves and rock formations on the Costa de Ouro (“Golden Coast”) between Lagos and Albufeira. This area is named after the color of the cliffs and rocks, which are golden in appearance.

It's also worth exploring some of the beaches, such as Praia da Rocha or Praia da Marinha, which are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Best hotels in the Algarve

($$$) 3HB Faro

($$) Hotel Baia Grande

($) Guest House Dom Manuel

8. Where to stay in Portugal for nature & hiking: Madeira

Where to stay in Portugal - Madeira

Is this still Portugal, or are we in Hawaii? That's how I felt when I explored the volcanic island of Madeira. Not only is it known for its breathtaking landscapes and lush vegetation but also for its great selection of outdoor activities.

If you're looking to go hiking in Portugal, then this island should be at the top of your list! From levada walks (traditional irrigation trails) to more challenging hikes, Madeira is a great place for exploring.

One little town that is particularly great for exploring by foot and going hiking is São Vicente!

Best things to see & do in Madeira

In Madeira, there are two types of hiking trails: Levadas and Veredas. Levada walks are well-kept paths next to artificial water sources, providing a peaceful experience with beautiful nature and stunning views. While Vereda trails are located in the mountains, offering incredible vistas, they can also be more difficult to navigate.

Vereda do Areeiro is the most popular hiking trail in Madeira that takes you to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak in Madeira. I must warn you that it is a challenging hike and can take up to 8 hours, but the views along the way and at the peak are absolutely stunning!

Best hotels in Madeira

($$$) The Cliff Bay

($$) Hotel Porto Mare

($) Aqua Natura Bay

9. Where to stay in Portugal for history: Guimaraes

Where to stay in Portugal - Guimaraes

The charming city of Guimaraes is often referred to as the “birthplace of Portugal”, and it's not hard to see why!

This small town in northern Portugal, just outside of Porto, has a rich history and amazingly preserved architecture, making it feel like you're traveling back in time. The rural village is home to many historical monuments, such as the 11th-century Castle of Guimarães and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança!

Best things to see & do in Guimaraes

Exploring the medieval streets of Guimaraes and its stunning architecture feels like wandering through Venice and is something you could do all day long. The Castle and the Palace of the Dukes Braganca are must-see places when exploring the town.

While many visit Guimaraes for a day trip from Porto, I highly suggest spending a couple of nights to enjoy the full experience.

Best hotels in Guimaraes

($$$) Pousada Mosteiro

($$) Hotel da Oliveira

($) Stay Hotel Guimarães Centro

10. Where to stay in Portugal for volcanic landscapes: Azores Islands

Where to stay in Portugal - Azores islands

If you like Madeira, then you will love the Azores Islands! They are essentially like Madeira but on steroids; an archipelago of nine islands full of volcanic landscapes even further out in the Atlantic Ocean than Madeira is.

It is one of the few places in Europe that offers such a variety of volcanic landscapes and activities, from hiking through lush forests and bathing in hot springs to whale watching or sailing on crystal-clear waters.

Best things to see & do in the Azores

One of the most popular activities in the Azores is whale-watching and with good reason! These giants of the sea can often be seen swimming close to the islands, making for an incredible experience. There are many companies that offer whale-watching tours from various ports across the islands.

You can go whale-watching from April to October to see various species of whales around the Azores. However, if you are unable to make it during this season, don't worry, as sperm whales can usually be spotted throughout the whole year

Best hotels in the Azores

($$$) Terra Nostra Garden Hotel

($$) Senhora da Rosa

($) Atlantida Mar Hotel

Where to stay in Portugal – Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Is it worth visiting Portugal?

Absolutely! Portugal is a beautiful country with so much to offer; it has sandy beaches, medieval villages, great city life, and volcanic islands – you'll never be bored when visiting Portugal!

📅 How many days should I stay in Portugal?

It depends on what you want to do and see. If you only have a few days, it is better to focus your time in one place or region rather than trying to cram too much into a short amount of time. However, if you have more time, you can explore the different areas of Portugal and can spend at least a week or longer in the country! My favorite way to see different parts of Portugal is by going on a road trip or traveling in a campervan.

📍 Where should I go for my first time in Portugal?

If it is your first time in Portugal, I would definitely suggest exploring Lisbon. It is Portugal's cultural hub and full of history, with plenty of sightseeing opportunities, great food, and nightlife. Additionally, there are lots of day trips you can take from Lisbon!

🏖️ Where are the prettiest beaches in Portugal?

The Algarve region is known for its stunning beaches! From Praia de Marinha to Praia da Rocha, there are plenty of beautiful beaches in the area. Let us not forget Madeira and the Azores; Portugal's volcanic islands also have incredible beaches.

💸 How much money do you need to travel to Portugal?

It depends on what type of trip you are looking for. If you plan to stay in budget accommodations and cook your own meals, then a daily budget of €50-€60 per person should be enough. However, if you want to stay in mid-range hotels or luxury resorts and eat out more often, then I recommend a daily budget of €80-€150 per person.

❓ Should I visit Portugal or Spain?

That's a tough one! Both countries have so much to offer, and it depends on what type of trip you're looking for. Portugal has good surf, cheaper prices, and stunning volcanic islands, while Spain is filled with more Mediterranean landscapes and amazing nightlife. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference – and why not visit both?!

Where to stay in Portugal – Final Words

So, where is the best place to stay in Portugal? Well, that all depends on what type of holiday experience you're looking for.

Whether it's exploring the stunning beaches in the Algarve, hiking around Madeira's volcanic landscapes, or wandering through the medieval streets of Guimarães, you will have an amazing experience either way. I hope this guide made it a little easier for you to decide where to stay in Portugal!

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