Located at the southwestern tip of Europe in the Iberian peninsula, Portugal is a perfect honeymoon destination. It is one of those destinations that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For many years it has been in the shadow of its popular neighbor Spain, the second most visited country in the world, and even though it’s not as famous, little by little it’s gaining popularity.
With roughly 13 million visitors every year (vs the more than 80 million that Spain receives) and an area 295 miles long and 140 miles wide, Portugal offers the whole package in a small space with an impressive coastline, beautiful cities with centuries of history, stunning scenery, and some of the best beaches and surf spots in the world. The variety makes a Portugal honeymoon a great option.
Apart from its great variety, it’s one of the cheapest countries in western Europe making it a top choice for those looking for a world-class honeymoon destination for an affordable price.
When to Have a Honeymoon in Portugal
Portugal enjoys agreeable weather year round with temperatures rarely going below 45ºF or above 95ºF. Considering that crowds flock in July and August -especially to the Algarve region and the south- and that in winter days are shorter and it tends to rain more, the best time to visit Portugal for a honeymoon is May, June, September, and October.
During these months the weather is still pleasant, hotel rates aren’t as high as in summer, there are fewer crowds and water is still warm making it a perfect option for those who want to enjoy their Portugal honeymoon in both cities and at the beach.
If you plan on staying around Lisbon and Porto for your honeymoon, it’s easy to get around with buses and trains. However, if you want to explore smaller places, travel around the south or do a road trip, it’s advisable to rent a car. This would give you the opportunity to enjoy more freedom and reach hidden gems not easily accessible by public transportation.
There are many electronic tolls on national roads in Portugal so when renting a car, tell the rental company your route so that they give you a car with an automated payment method if needed.
If you plan to rent a car to move around and you’re not an EU citizen, keep in mind that most rental companies will ask you for an international driver’s license so remember to bring it with you.
Where to go during your honeymoon in Portugal
Most tourists that come to Portugal go to Lisbon, Porto, or Algarve for their honeymoon. However, there are many other places around these cities to explore and enjoy a wonderful honeymoon. Below you’ll find some of the top choices.
It’s not a coincidence that 6 million tourists visit the Portuguese capital every year. Lisbon combines a rich traditional heritage with beautiful sites, buzzing nightlife, and some amazing day-trips making it a top choice for honeymooners. Some of the must-sees in Lisbon are:
- Alfama, Bairro Alto, Baixa, and Chiado neighborhoods in the historic center
- Take the famous elevators such as Elevador da Glória, Elevador da Fica, or Elevador de Santa Justa
- Ride Tram 28 for one of the most scenic routes in the city
- Visit the historical city of Belem with the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower, and eat one of the famous pasteis de Belém (custard tarts)
- Visit the Lisbon Cathedral, San Jorge Castle, and some of the hundreds of churches
- Go to one of the many miradores (viewpoints) and admire beautiful views of the city
Lisbon offers a wide range of accommodation options perfect for a honeymoon and some of the best ones are Lisbon Downtown Inn in Baixa with rooms starting at $120, and Hotel Convento do Salvador in Alfama for $130 per night.
Lisbon is also a fantastic base to explore the center of Portugal and offers amazing day-trip options perfect for honeymooners.
Located only 45 minutes away, Sintra is the most popular day trip from Lisbon. This town is famous for its amazing scenery and its numerous palaces and castles, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the most famous spots are Palácio da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio dos Moros, and the Sintra-Cascais Nature Park. If you’re in Lisbon for your honeymoon, Sintra is definitely a must-see during your honeymoon trip!
Cascais & Estoril
Located only 18 miles west of Lisbon, Cascais is a popular resort town famous for attracting members of royalty such as King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom or King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who had summer mansions here.
Next to Cascais there’s Estoril, a famous destination home to the Casino Estoril. Both Cascais and Estoril are some of the most expensive places to live in Portugal but are great towns to spend an afternoon on your honeymoon in a luxurious atmosphere.
Évora is a medieval city that serves as the capital of the Alentejo region and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 2 hours east of Lisbon (roughly 85 miles), it’s famous for its Roman ruins, a big aqueduct, and the Capela dos Ossos, a capel made with 5000+ bones!
Setúbal is a port town located nearly 30 miles south of Lisbon. Apart from its old town and its numerous churches, some other interesting places are the Fort of Sao Felipe, Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, Serra da Arrábida Nature Park, and the Tróia peninsula.
Porto is the second biggest city and receives more than 4 million tourists every year, making it the second most visited destination in Portugal. Located 195 miles north of Lisbon, Porto has a rich history, a beautiful historic center that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a stunning promenade, and port wine. Some of the top activities for your honeymoon are:
- Visit the picturesque Ribeira neighborhood with all its steps and small streets
- Porto wine: there are many port wine cellars in Gaia, just across the Douro River
- Clérigos Church and Tower, Palácio da Bolsa, São Bento Train Station, and Porto cathedral
- Boat tours along the Douro River
When you’re in Porto, try to stay in the city center to make the most of your visit. Some of the best hotels in the area are The Gate, that offers rooms that start at $100, and Olive Nature with apartments that will set you back $120.
If you’re planning to explore the north of the country, Porto serves as a great base with several excellent destinations nearby:
Located at only an hour by train from Porto, Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal for its numerous canals and boats. There’s also a famous local sweet delicacy called ovos moles.
The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its wineries and unique vine-terraced landscapes. The valley is located 80 miles east of Porto and can be reached by a picturesque train ride along the river.
If you want to enjoy a wine tour and a romantic night amidst beautiful scenery, the small town of Pinhao is a perfect choice.
Coimbra and Guimarães
Guimaraes is located 35 miles northeast of Porto, and it can be combined with a visit to Braga. Some of the most attractive places are the castle of Guimarães which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary.
Algarve is the southern region of Portugal and is home to beautiful towns, stunning beaches, and some of the best surfing spots in the world. Some of the must-visit places include Faro, the famous Benagil Caves, Praia da Marina, Praia do Amado, Praia do Arrifana, and the beautiful town of Sagres. Public transportation isn’t the best down here so if you’re planning to explore a few places it’s worth renting a car.
If you’re not a big fan of crowds and want a romantic stay, try to avoid July and August in Algarve as most tourists flock to the beach during the summer months.
Some of the best honeymoon accommodation options are Opus One in Faro that offers luxury rooms for $160, and Vale d’El Rei Hotel & Villas, a 4-star hotel in Carvoeiro that starts at $120 per night.
Portugal Travel Tips
- Portugal is part of the European Union, so if you have an EU passport, you don’t need a visa to go to Portugal. Citizens from the United States, Australia or Canada can travel visa-free for up to 90 days within the Schengen area.
- Most major Portuguese cities and tourist destinations offer tourist cards, such as the Lisbon Card, Porto Card or Algarve bus pass, which usually allow you to enjoy unlimited or discounted public transport and also discounts in museums and main attractions.
- When you go to a restaurant, waiters will typically bring a selection of starters such as olives, cheese, butter, and bread while you have a look at the menu. Keep in mind that these things aren’t free! Whatever you have will be added to your bill so tell the waiters to send them back if you don’t want them to avoid being charged.
- Even though most touristy places accept cards, small restaurants and shops usually don’t, so always carry some cash with you.
All in all, Portugal is a great option for a honeymoon. With a variety of beautiful places in a very small area, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning cities, picturesque towns, unique landscapes, some of the best beaches in the world, and port wine! If you’re planning to visit the whole country, stay at least 2 weeks to have at least 5 days in each of the 3 main regions (Porto, Lisbon, and Algarve).