The Estremadura region is probably the most popular tourist destination in Portugal. Don’t miss any of the highlights!

Lisbon

Of course, Lisbon is the hub of the Estremadura region, and of the entire country. This beautiful hilly city with orange rooftops and what looks like an exact copy of the Golden Gate Bridge will leave you breathless (mainly from the trekking up all the hills, but also from the views). While you’re in Lisbon, don’t miss the Castle of Saint George, which is a medieval structure overlooking the city and sea. Nearby the castle, make sure to visit the Mirador das Portas do Sol, which is a lookout point above the city.

Views from castle

Views from the castle.

Near the castle is the Alfama neighborhood, which is the area of Lisbon that was built up by the Muslim occupiers of Iberia. Wander the winding cobblestone roads and pop into the Club de Fado to hear some authentic Portuguese music and eat some of the seafood that Lisbon is famous for.

Lower Alfama

Lower Alfama.

I also recommend visiting Belem Tower (but make sure to get there before 6 PM to take a tour of the inside of the tower—don’t be like me and get there just minutes too late).

Belem Tower

Belem Tower.

Head to the western part of town to see two architectural masterpieces. The first is the Jeronimos Monastery, where Vasco de Gama happens to be buried. The second is the Monument to the Discoveries, which is a giant stone figure celebrating Portuguese colonizers of the Americas. The only drawback of this site is that though the monument is massive, there is no piece of it devoted to acknowledging the death, disease, and destruction those colonizers wreaked on the Americas. Maybe that’ll be the next statue they erect!

Discovery Monument.

Discovery Monument.

And of course, you have to go to Rua Augusta and the nearby Alfama area. Rua Augusta is one of the most famous streets in Lisbon, with artfully designed and decorated sidewalks leading up to an ornate archway and then a wide square, Praça de Comércio, adjacent to the sea. When you’re there, though, do not talk to any strangers. They’re either trying to pickpocket you or sell you drugs, 100% of the time.

Praça de Comércio

Praça de Comércio.

Sintra

Put on your walking shoes and take an hour-long train from Lisbon to Sintra, which is a national park including several castles. When you get to the train station in Sintra, walk past all the tour guides and take the 434 bus up the mountain and get off at the Moorish Castle. There, you’ll find beautiful gardens, tall stone staircases, and incredible lookout points.

View from the path to the Moorish Castle

View from the path to the Moorish Castle.

Moorish Castle

Moorish Castle.

After the stone Moorish Castle, move onto the colorful Romantic Peña Palace. Don’t bother buying a ticket for the inside of the palace though, because it’s a little underwhelming. The real spectacle is the outer view of the palace, so just wander through the courtyards and balconies of the palace.

Peña Palace

Peña Palace.

Cascais

A sandy beach only a forty-minute train from Lisbon—need I say more?

These three locations in Estremadura are the must-visit spots in the area. So grab a pastel de nata for some snacks, hop on a plane, and check them off your bucket list!