Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Portugal Travel Guide

Portugal is the westernmost sovereign state on mainland Europe, with two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean – the Azores and Madeira. Established early in the Christian Reconquista, Portugal is one of the oldest nation states in the world. The name Portugal comes from the Roman name for what is today Vila Nova de Gaia, then Portus Cale. The country has an impressive from the Stone Age art in the Côa Valley and the intriguing megalithic sites throughout Portugal to the impressive hill-forts of the Iron Age. Since these early times Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians have all left their mark on an enormously diverse landscape.

Reasons to Visit Portugal

Foz Coa Rock Art Museum

Rock Art,

Almendres Cromlech Evora Portugal


Roman Temple Evora
Roman Ruins,
Traditional boats with barrels of wine, on the Douro River in the Portuguese city of Porto.

… and port from Porto.

About Our Portugal Travel Guide

Interesting Things to Know About Portugal

Before Portugal’s emergence as an independent nation, the area it now encompasses was ruled by successive foreign empires. Like the rest of Iberia, it was part of the Roman Empire, with Roman sites like Conímbriga remaining popular heritage sites. Later, in the 8th century the region was absorbed by the Muslim Umayyads. Christian control was gradually reasserted, although Arab influences remain apparent.
The formation of Portugal as a distinct state is often traced to 1139, when Dom Afonso Henriques, the count of Portugal, began referring to himself as king following a military victory. This status was subsequently recognised by Alphonse VII, King of León and Castile. Further territories were conquered in the 12th and 13th centuries, largely resulting in the borders of present-day Portugal.
Portugal boasts the world’s oldest bookstore. Established in 1732, Bertrand Bookshop in Lisbon remained at its original premises until 1755, when an earthquake destroyed the building and resulted in a relocation in 1773. Many famous Portuguese writers, such as Fernando Pessoa and Alexandre Herculano, are known to have frequented the shop over the years.
The Portuguese were the first people to settle on Madeira, an island off the coast of Northwest Africa that is now one of Portugal’s two autonomous regions. Settling predominantly on its southern side, the Portuguese colonists established an elaborate system of levadas, or stone channels, to bring the water down from the rainy northern mountains to the settlements below.
Portugal is a comparatively small country, but in the 15th and 16th centuries its maritime capabilities allowed it to become a world power. Portuguese explorers like Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco de Gama achieved major successes in maritime exploration while imperial expansion resulted in a Portuguese Empire spreading across Africa, Asia, and South America, parts of which survived until the late 20th century.

Find Places to Visit in Portugal

Five Popular Attractions in Portugal


Palace of Sintra

Foz Coa Rock Art Site

Foz Côa

Evora Chapel Of Bones

Evora Chapel of Bones

Jeronimos Monastery Lisbon

Jerónimos Monastery

Batalha Monastery Portugal

Batalha Monastery

Explore Portugal more deeply

Where to Go in Portugal

Vast open plains, the region is best known for its cork, Neolithic cromlechs and picturesque hilltop towns fortified during the battles of the Medieval period.
Long, wide sandy beaches, with many port towns that were key Moorish settlements that went on to play a crucial role in Portugal’s Age of Discovery.
From frontier castles and historic, mountain villages in the east, to the Roman and Medieval settlements in the plains along the ‘Silver Coast’ in the west.
Portugal’s capital city is on the Tagus River estuary that forms a natural harbour that has played a crucial role in the development of the city and the nation.
The mountainous north has an extraordinary history, including the founding of modern day Portugal in Porto, or Portus Cale as it was called in Roman times.
View of old castle Fortaleza de Sao Tiago. Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Madeira Islands

The discovery of these uninhabited islands in 1419 is thought to be the first territorial discovery of the period known as the ‘Age of Discovery’ in Portugal.
Sao Miguel Azores

The Azores

An archipelego of nine volcanic islands about 1400 km west of Lisbon, that first appeared on European maps in the 14th century.

Historic Cities in Portugal






What to See in Portugal

Foz Coa Rock Art

Rock Art

The Côa Valley has an extraordinary collection of rock art sites, discovered during construction for a dam. Ranging in date from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age, the images are engraved onto rock surfaces that were rubbed smooth by glaciers. There is more Stone Age rock art to see at Escoural Cave in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
Almendres Cromlech Evora Portugal

Megaliths & Cromlechs

Portugal is home to an impressive collection of  prehistoric megalithic sites. As with much of western Europe they are associated with the advent and development of farming communities, from the 6th to the 4th millennium BC. Megalithic sites can be found throughout the country, but there are concentrations in Alentejo and northern Portugal. In these areas you will find the ubiquitous dolmens, but also the enigmatic ‘cromlechs’ – clusters of many standing stones of all shapes and sizes.

Mosaic representing the labyrinth with the Minotaur in Conimbriga Roman ruins, Portugal

Roman Ruins & Museums

During the Roman period Portugal was known as Lusitania. The Romans arrived in Portugal in the 2nd century BC and left a lasting legacy that can still be seen in the country’s architecture, language, and culture today. Roman cities such as Conimbriga, Ammaia, and Milreu showcase the impressive engineering and urban planning skills of the Romans, while the use of Latin in the Portuguese language is a testament to the enduring influence of Roman culture.
Evoramonte Castle

Castles & Palaces, Watch Towers & Tower Houses

Castles are the quintessential symbol of Medieval Portugal, they had and still have a deep impact on the psyche of everyone that comes across their imposing figure. These warriors of stone have shaped the country’s landscape and helped in defending its territory since the establishment of the Portuguese Kingdom and throughout the Middle Ages.
Belem Tower Lisbon

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As of 2021, there are 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal. Of these, 16 sites are recognised for their cultural significance, and one for its natural importance. There are a further 19 sites, including the historical centre of Lisbon and the Santiago de Compostela Routes in Portugal, on the tentative list.

Popular Tours & Activities in Portugal