5 unmissable foodie destinations in Portugal

Taste fresh seafood, crumbly custard tarts, rich meats and cheeses and fine wines and beers in Portugal, one of Europe’s gastronomic highlights. These five destinations, which range from the capital Lisbon to hill towns and beach getaways, are unmissable destinations for visiting foodies.


Portugal’s capital is famed as a foodie destination and doesn’t disappoint! Traditional cafés with classic snacks sit beside contemporary restaurants serving fusion cuisine, and you’ll find several food markets selling local produce. There are also plenty of bars for chilled-out evening drinks, uplifted by DJs and live music.

There are many things to eat in Lisbon, and carnivores especially are spoiled for choice. Most unique is the Alheira, a game sausage with a tart, smoky taste, best eaten deep-fried with homemade chips and a runny-yolk egg. You’ll also find meat sandwiches around every corner: choose between the ‘bifana’ (pork loin steak and red pepper paste), the ‘prego’ (beef steak in a sweet potato bread) and the saucy ‘sandes de leitão’ filled with shredded suckling pig and a well-seasoned sauce.

Vegetarians still have plenty to go at, particularly cheese – a Portuguese craze. Sample sheep, cow and goat’s cheese ranging from hard and salty to soft and strong, served with unusual jams and chutneys. Remember to visit Belém to buy ‘Pastel de Nata’, the nation’s iconic egg custard tart.


Drive 30 minutes out of Lisbon and you’ll reach Sintra, a town backed by cool hills that was a favourite summer retreat for Portuguese royalty and nobility. Its lush landscapes, fairytale architecture and picturesque streets and squares make it a popular day trip for tourists too.

Start your food tour of Sintra with the town’s unique dish ‘Queijada de Sintra’ which has similarities to the ‘Pastel de Nata’. A thin pastry shell surrounds a filling of curd cheese, egg yolks and sugar, thickened with ground almonds and lightly spiced with cinnamon. Sintra bakeries also sell a wide range of other pastelaria, cakes and biscuits with similar flavours in a host of different textures.

Given its royal legacy, it’s unsurprising that Sintra also offers opportunities for fine dining with two Michelin-star restaurants and less artisan but equally glamorous venues like Incomum by Luis Santos, handily located by the train station. Travellers on a budget will be happy to know that there are great hole-in-the-wall eateries here too where local dishes are served in rustic heritage buildings.


Next up is Porto – sometimes called Oporto – which is a port city on Portugal’s west coast. As a tourist hotspot, there are many culinary experiences in Porto such as guided market visits, wine and craft beer tours and cooking classes.

Touring Portugal’s second-largest city should start in the Ribeira, a riverside promenade made iconic by its colourful buildings, heritage architecture and restaurants with authentic dishes. Once you’ve drunk your fill of history and charming squares and shops, relax with a beverage and ‘petiscar’ – small portions of Portuguese specialities served as bar snacks.

Head just outside the city and discover vineyard-covered valleys where port, the region’s wine, is produced. You can cruise along the Douro River for a unique perspective of this stunning landscape before enjoying a vineyard tour and lunch with different wine pairings in sensational surroundings.


Experience glorious seascapes and mouthwatering fish dishes in Albufeira on Portugal’s spectacular south coast. Alongside exploring its excellent food scene, the best things to do in Albufeira include relaxation and water sports on the beautiful beaches, the lively nightlife and walking the historic centre.

Its journey from a fishing village to a coastal city means that Albufeira now has a wealth of restaurants with international cuisine sitting side-by-side with cafés specialising in traditional dishes. This makes it a great destination for families keen to ensure that options will be available for children who might not be enamoured with local cuisine.

Seafood is the highlight and can be sampled in a variety of ways. Try ‘cataplana’, a rich stew with a white wine, garlic and olive oil base, mixed seafood and meat and red and green peppers and tomatoes. More simply, eat fresh sardines and ‘cadelinhas’ which are similar to clams but smaller, adulterated with nothing more than garlic, coriander and lemon.


Further along the south coast is another Algarve hotspot with fantastic food. Served by a separate airport, Faro is a direct hop from many main destinations across Europe and is blessed with beach weather from spring into autumn, making it a popular choice for low-season holidays. You can pre- book private Faro airport transfers for a smooth and stress-free journey into the city centre or out to the coast.

As in nearby Albufeira, seafood champions traditional cuisine here and Faro is known for a variety of unique dishes. Most loved is the thick soup Xarém which has a base of white wine and cornflour and can contain meat such as smoked bacon and cured ham or seafood favourites like clams. Arroz de Lingueirao is another must-try, a creamy risotto with garlic, white wine and ‘conquilhas’.

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