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Portugal's 18 Districts

The Districts of Portugal (Portuguese: Distritos de Portugal), are the most important first-level administrative subdivisions of mainland Portugal. Currently, mainland Portugal is divided into 18 districts. The Portuguese autonomous regions of Açores 
and Madeira are no longer divided into districts.

As an administrative division, each district served mainly as the area of jurisdiction of a civil governor, who acted as the local delegate of the Central Government of Portugal.

What’s the Portugal map like?

Portugal is the most western country in mainland Europe, bordering Spain. It is located on the Atlantic coast and crossed by several rivers such as the Tagus river, measuring 1,038 km (645 miles) making it the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula originating from Spain and ending in the Atlantic ocean near Lisbon.

Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with a distinct wet season at the winters in Portugal. Depending on the region and the time of the year, Portugal offers plenty of sunshine. It is 16°C (61°F) and sunny here in Lisbon at the moment and it’s only the middle of February!

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1 Lisbon

Every city has its secrets and strange twists in the course of history. Lisbon is no exception. For example, can you guess how many football clubs are registered in the Lisbon district? Or what is that square manhole cover in the Rua da Prata?

We’ve got a number of these sometimes weird but always interesting facts about Lisbon for you.

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Source: Weheartlisbon


This region, where the sea is always present, is considered particularly interesting to live, study and work, not only for the quality of the economical and material resources, but also for the richness and beauty of natural and cultural, a characteristic of the region.

Leiria is the capital of the regional district and he region of Leiria and West is rich in historical and cultural heritage.

The beauty of the sea and the nature are perhaps the most beautiful things we have in this coastal region.

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Photo: Chris Condor   Source:

2 Leiria


3 Santarém

One of the best ways of discovering Santarém is through its cultural and artistic heritage. You can also visit the city during the events that serve to highlight some of the region's best features. In June, there is the National Agricultural Fair, where agricultural produce and instruments are displayed.

October is the month when the National Gastronomy Festival is held, the main gastronomic fair in Portugal. These events are complemented by exhibitions of handicraft and folklore from all over the country. If possible, make sure to take the opportunity to watch the traditional dance of the Ribatejo region: the Fandango. 

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Setubal is a city that has always had a close connection to the seas, and this is celebrated along the newly rejuvenated waterfront, which encompasses the colourful fishing harbour, the popular urban park and the Troia Peninsula ferry terminal.


Within the charming historic centre is a maze of narrow alleys, hidden plazas, and family-owned shops, along with Portugal’s largest fish market.

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Photo: Giovanni Prestige (flickr)   Source:

4 Setúbal


5 Beja

Beja, the main city of Baixo Alentejo, is a quiet and welcoming city. Despite having a beautiful walled centre and fascinating places within walking distance, it does not have many tourists.


Its picturesque squares, good restaurants and inexpensive lodging make it an ideal combination for a relaxing stay and a purely Portuguese experience.

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Photo: bildundso (Pixabay)   Source:


Faro is a historic and culturally rich city that boasts a variety of fascinating tourist attractions. Sadly, Faro is often overlooked, considered purely for its airport, but spend time in Faro, and you will discover a charming and authentic Portuguese city.

The delightful historic centre of Faro is encircled by ancient city walls and outside of the walls is the modern city centre, with its pedestrianised shopping streets, scenic plazas and variety of restaurants and bars.


Faro is a very likeable city.

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:

6 Faro


7 Évora

Évora dates back to Celtic times before the Romans arrived from 59 BCE onwards. Evora was also occupied by the Moors in the 12th century, who have left a lasting impression in some of the winding alleyways of the old town.

Evora's heyday was between the 14th-16th centuries when the city grew rich on the local wine trade and the patronage of the House of Avis. It was during this time that the impressive 3 km-long city walls were built, the Jesuit university was founded and many of the fine Renaissance palaces and churches built. 

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Photo: Sergei Gussev (flickr)   Source:


The Northern Alentejo – Portalegre – is an almost mythical region, a region where time is time and space is space. Reality lies here, waiting to be unveiled, in the endless plains and mountains, in the water that entertains and cures, in the great open spaces in the midst of nature or in those built by man both for ancient wars and for peace. Authenticity lies here, in the nobility that our forebear's lent to the stones of the dolmens and menhirs, to the armorial bearing of the manor houses and to the unique flavours generated in secret in the ancient convents and wineries. The truth also lies here, in the festival and the fair, in the music, the dancing, and in the local art, where tradition is maintained.

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:

8 Portalegre


9 Castelo Branco

The captivating district of Castelo Branco is an open-air museum enriched with magnificent vestiges of Portugal’s past and is home to some of the oldest traditions that characterise the country today.

Designated as the capital of the district, the city of Castelo Branco is internationally reputed for its intricate hand embroidery, regional cheese, olive oil and wine.

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Photo: Hans Pohl (flickr)   Source:

Castelo Branco

Discover the district of Guarda, a memorable destination where story-telling monuments guide you through Portugal’s earliest days.

Originally founded in the 12th Century. Serra da Estrela is regarded as the highest city in the country, standing at an impressive height of 1,056 metres (3,500 feet). Torre is the highest peak in the range (1,993 metres/6,500 feet), as well as the highest in mainland Portugal and is home to the famous ski resort of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. Nearby you can find the quaint mountaintop villages of Seia and Manteigas, splendid places to visit any time of the year, whether you prefer skiing on beautiful snow-covered hills or taking peaceful nature hikes by the Zêzere river.

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Photo: Turismoenportugal [CC BY-SA 4.0]  Source:

10 Guarda


11 Coimbra

Rising scenically from the Rio Mondego, Coimbra is an animated city steeped in history. It was Portugal’s medieval capital for more than a century and it's home to the country’s oldest and most prestigious university. Its steeply stacked historic centre dates to Moorish times and is wonderfully atmospheric, with its dark cobbled lanes and monumental cathedral.


On summer evenings, the city’s old stone walls reverberate with the haunting metallic notes of the guitarra (Portuguese guitar) and the full, deep voices of fado singers.

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Photo: Alice Maia (Pixabay)   Source:


Aveiro is a charming city that is famed for its canals, Nouveau architecture and colourful Moliceiros boats. The city has experienced both an illustrious and devastating past, inflicted with unimaginable hardship and flooded by immense wealth. Today, Aveiro embraces its history and deep-rooted heritage, to create a fascinating destination for tourists.

Aveiro is often boasted by tourist literature as being the Venice of Portugal, and this is partly true, having three canals and brightly painting boats that ply the waterways. 

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:

12 Aveiro


13 Viseu

Occupied since the Castro era, the History of Viseu is closely connected with the History of Portugal. If the mythical figure of Viriathus, the warrior who led Lusitanian tribes against the Romans, gave the old city vital importance during Roman times, King Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese King, established a close connection between the first years of the foundation of the country and this noble Beira Alta city. A place of high strategic and commercial importance since remote times, there are many traces which archaeology and, sometimes, chance have revealed here. 

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:


Bragança has been around for many centuries. Some of the archaeological findings show that human settlement in the area goes as far back as the Palaeolithic era. It was also once inhabited by the Celts and known as ‘Brigantia’ and later ‘Juliobriga’ during the Roman colonisation of the area.

Most of the historic sites around Bragança are still in their original condition from the way they were centuries ago.

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:

14 Bragança

Vila Real

15 Vila Real

Except for its border along the popular Douro Valley, the district of Vila Real in Northern Portugal is firmly off the tourist trail. The district features the fertile, rolling hills that the Douro Valley is becoming increasingly known for. Within this majestic landscape sits the city of Vila Real itself.

The best viewpoint of Vila Real however comes from the lookout behind the church and cemetery at Miradouro de Trás-do-Cemitério.

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:


Porto is a fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions, and a buzzing nightlife, and outstanding tourist facilities. There is a lot to see and do in Porto, and this diverse city will appeal to a wide range of visitors.

Porto is a historic and varied city, from the warren of narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district through to the grand plaza of the Trindade district. The region is famed for the production of Port, which is still stored and matured in the vast cellars.

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Photo: mat's eye (flickr)   Source:

16 Porto


17 Braga

Braga is a wonderful tourist destination that combines history and culture, with numerous outstanding tourist attractions. The city is often regarded as the religious centre of Portugal, and this is confirmed every hour when a cacophony of different church bells ring-out.

Braga is home to the oldest cathedral in Portugal, and a day’s sightseeing can provide a glimpse into the importance and extensive history of the city. Within the maze of narrow streets, Gothic churches back onto modern shopping streets and grand baroque buildings surround peaceful plazas.

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:


Viana do Castelo is a fascinating destination, which exemplifies the finest aspects of the Costa Verde and Minho regions. There are dramatic coastlines, beautiful natural scenery, and a city rich in history and Portuguese charm.


Viana do Castelo is primarily an industrial city, being a major centre for shipbuilding, but it is also a personable and likeable destination, which has a surprising amount of sights and activities to offer visitors.

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Photo: Vitor Oliveira (flickr)   Source:

18 Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo
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