Portugal features all the perks of modern European travel-euros, easy transcontinental connections and no visa requirements for US citizens-while still maintaining an easygoing charm. The country’s Western orientation has also helped its people develop a natural ease with international visitors, and most residents speak English in addition to Portuguese.
Located on the banks of the Tagus River, Lisbon is a hilly city with endless vistas and viewpoints. Many of these views are best enjoyed from Castelo de Sao Jorge, a medieval castle built on top of even older structures, or the more recently constructed Lisbon 25 de Abril Bridge, which is modeled on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge in Los Angeles. Alternatively, head to the city’s oldest neighborhood, Alfama, where narrow streets, historic buildings and street art are a feast for the eyes.
Lisbon’s tucked-away sister city of Porto offers a different feel to its capital city. This UNESCO World Heritage–listed town is a maze of red tile roofs, tight streets and quirky storefronts. Visit the opulent Palacio de Cristal (modeled on London’s Crystal Palace monument) and its adjacent gardens of tree-lined walkways, sculptured topiaries and an overlook of the Douro River. Sample Porto’s prized wine and dine on local seafood, including the classic bacalhau, a salty cod fish popular throughout Europe.
Get to know the most iconic attractions in Portugal with a day trip from Lisbon. Combine a ferry and bus ride to Cristo Rei, and see the 25 de Abril Bridge from above along the way.