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The 22 best things to do in Portugal

Here are the best things to do in Portugal, a gorgeous rectangle of land between the sea, the mountains and the plains

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It is at the tip of Europe, between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, and has a bit of everything that’s good: beaches, mountains, lively cities like Porto and Lisbon, quiet villages full of history and ancient traditions—are you ready to tackle the best things to do in Portugal?

With a coast that stretches 943 kilometres and almost the equivalent of that in beaches, this rectangle of land is a world waiting to be discovered. It has a little over 10 million inhabitants, spread between the continent and the two beautiful archipelagos located in the middle of the ocean: the nine island paradise called Azores, and the almost tropical Madeira (with its sidekick Porto Santo, a small island that practically has a single season all year round—the summer—and where Christopher Columbus lived and got married).

Land of good food and good wine, we give you 22 reasons to discover Portugal.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

Best things to do in Portugal

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Ride the cable car down to the Fajã dos Padres in Madeira

What may look like a descent into hell becomes a trip to paradise when you get to this piece of land that broke off the mountain and into the ocean. There you will find an estate owned by the same family since 1921, and a grape variety once believed to be lost to phylloxera, the Malvasia. You absolutely should have lunch at the restaurant, led by Amândio Gonçalves.

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Take the Soajo entrance and search for the Mezio Horse Riding Centre, where professional jockeys will take you on a ride through one of Portugal's most beautiful nature parks: Peneda-Gerês. The track is rough and you can take trips of one, two or three hours - three, seven or eleven kilometres, respectively. Those of a more adventurous disposition can join a one- or two-day trek (which means five hours per day of riding).

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The rockstar among the Azorean "fajãs" - flat coastal rock formations typical of the Azorean islands -, it is well know because of surfing (the nearby waves are richly praised), clams (picked in the area) and its highly romanticized supposed isolation. There is no road leading to it, and it is said that, once upon a time, only on Sundays was the electrical generator switched on, to play mass on the church's radio.

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Fill your cart in Porto’s with the traditional chocolate makers
Photograph: Courtesy CC Carlos Oliveira

18. Fill your cart in Porto’s with the traditional chocolate makers

The oldest brand, born in 1914, is called Avianense and its top product is the Imperador bonbons; another classic is Imperial, which sells Regina umbrellas and Jubileu almonds; at Arcádia you’ll have to try their “línguas de gato” cookies.

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