Discover the Charms of Portugal’s Coastal Towns

Boats floating on bright blue water in harbor near hillside village.

If Portugal tops your list for must-see destinations, it’s no wonder why. From its rich history and captivating culture to charming cities and beautiful beaches, there’s a lot to enjoy. Here’s a look at some of the best places to visit on a Portugal cruise:


Attracting explorers from all over the world and named after a sweet-smelling herb, Funchal is on the coast of Madeira, an archipelago of Portugal. If you enjoy exploring new flavors throughout your travels, you’ll love it here. Foodies often delight and indulge in Madeiran gastronomy, savoring the taste of local ingredients and recipes. With sloping hills as its backdrop overlooking the harbor, you can soak up plenty of sunshine as you roam the farmer’s market or take in the view from a cable car. And if you love nature, consider exploring the Monte Palace Tropical Garden with exotic plants from all over the world as well as swans, ducks and peacocks. You may also enjoy visiting Madeira Botanical Gardens, where you’ll also find exotic plants and beautiful flowers from around the globe, including endangered species.

Fun fact: When Portuguese explorers stepped foot on the island of Madeira in 1419, they were convinced they were in the Garden of Eden. The sun-kissed coast and blanket of lush tropical flowers over mountains give visitors the same vibe all these years later.

View of multicolored botanical gardens in Portugal surrounded by a green lush landscape.
Explore the beautiful botanical gardens of Funchal.


As the fourth most-visited marina in the world and an archipelago of the Azores in Portugal, Horta has welcomed seafarers and wanderlust travelers for generations. This even dates back to the 15th century when Portuguese sailors embarked on a quest to find the lost continent of Atlantis. Here you’ll find the volcanic cone of Caldeira and its lush green slopes occasionally accented with hydrangeas, the official flower of the Azores. If you marvel at wildlife, you’ll love Horta’s diverse sea creatures, including sperm whales and dolphins.

Fun Fact: Along the walls of the port, you’ll find colorful paintings – new and old – representing the many yachts that have docked there before continuing along their journey.

View of white, orange and blue buildings with red roofs and the ocean and cloudy skies in background.
Enjoy architecture, music and shopping through the streets of Lisbon. 


Recognized as one of Portugal’s major seaports, Leixões is a must-visit destination for wine lovers. Serving the city of Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, this charming coastal town is known for its undeniably delicious port wine. If wine is one of your favorite things, make time to visit local port wine cellars where the city’s famous export is blended and stored. If you travel toward the banks of the Douro River, you’ll discover cobblestone streets, laundry lines stringed across narrow pathways, and stone stairways. Enjoy local flavors and relax outside at cafes on the plaza. You can also kick back and soak up the sights on a Douro River Cruise shore excursion.

Fun Fact: Leixões is 2.5 miles north of the of the mouth of Douro River, the highest-flowing river in the Iberian Peninsula.


Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is known as the City of Seven Hills. From locals sharing their passion for music through impromptu neighborhood performances, to the sights of São Jorge Castle, this coastal city offers a unique immersive experience. If you have a heart for history, visit Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making Lisbon one of the best places to visit in Portugal. Belém Tower is also known as the Tower of St. Vincent, and it served as a gateway to Lisbon for 16th-century explorers. History lovers may also be interested in the fact that construction of the Jerónimos Monastery began in the early 1500s, and it’s known for being an important example of Gothic Manueline style, a rich and extravagant style of architecture. Speaking of style, if you like shopping at trendy and elegant boutiques, swing by Chiado, Lisbon’s hub for those who love shopping and theater.

Fun Fact: Construction of São Jorge Castle dates back to the second century BC.  

Discover these charming locations and more on a Portugal cruise with Holland America Line. We look forward to sailing the world with you.


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