As Portugal as a whole is growing in popularity as a holiday destination, many people are looking to see what else the country may have to offer away from the traditional hot spots of Lisbon and the Algarve region.

Some holidaymakers who have already visited these places still want to return to Portugal again for holidays – to take advantage of the incredibly good weather, for example – but want to see something new.

Others are taking their first trip to the country and are keen to see something a little off the beaten track.

Whatever the appeal is, this list highlights three of the best cities to visit for a break in Portugal.

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And we start with:

Lisbon

Ok, hold up – I know what we just said about finding new things to do!

However, there is a reason that Lisbon is held up as potentially the best place for a European City Break.

In fact, it almost seems remiss to have a list like this and not include Lisbon on it at all. For one thing, if you have never been to the country before, then as a condensed version of Portugal you can’t go far wrong to visit its capital city.

If you have been to Portugal before, heck even if you’ve been to Lisbon before, then it is hard not to recommend the city again. There is simply such a wealth of attractions, you can’t possibly see it all in one trip.

If you have been before, then the trick is to find things to do that you may have missed before. If, for example, you went on a regular sightseeing bus last time, on you next visit eschew that and instead take a ride on Tram 28, the somewhat rickety, World War II era tram that still plies its trade here, meandering up through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city.

That is the key to returning here – seeing things in a different light, and looking for experiences that may be that little bit more hidden.

Coimbra

There is no way to describe Coimbra other than as one of the prettiest cities you will ever see.

Built high on the banks of the Mondego River, this relatively small city is all about history – including being home to one of the oldest universities in the entire country.

The old university, which lies at the top of its own hill and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well worth the visit, but it is not the only attraction in this charming city.

The Biblioteca Joanina is a 16th century library that has to be seen to be believed. There are monasteries and cathedrals that are just breathtaking in their architecture, and a number of outstanding museums dedicated to the arts and histories, as well as the preserved remains of some of the oldest Roman era buildings in the country.

For culture vultures with an interest in history, it’s hard to go wrong in Coimbra!

The Azores

So, instead of picking one city, how about choosing an island chain instead?

Yes, that is technically cheating, but the fact remains that the Azores islands are well worth a recommendation as a great place to visit in Portugal.

These 9 volcanic islands sit in the Atlantic Ocean some 900 miles to the west of Lisbon, and all 9 are fully inhabited. In fact, each one of the nine very much has its own personality, and each one is worth a visit in its own right.

Each island boasts hot springs and attractive coastal towns and villages, and the waters that surround the islands themselves are renowned as some of the finest for whale watching in the world.