Portugal is known for its mild climate, rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, superb cuisine, and warm hospitality. Beyond its historical attractions and natural beauty, Portuguese cities boast a vibrant creative scene.
Among them, nine have been recognized by UNESCO as Creative Cities for their outstanding contributions to various fields of arts and culture. They are: Óbidos for Literature; Amarante, Idanha-a-Nova, and Leiria for Music; Barcelos and Caldas da Rainha for Crafts and Folk Art; Braga for Digital Arts; Covilhã for Design; and Santa Maria da Feira for Gastronomy.
Óbidos, a medieval town with cobbled streets and ancient walls, is a UNESCO Creative City of Literature, a paradise for book lovers. Dive into a world of words as you explore the several bookshops, libraries, and literary events, such as Folio, the International Literary Festival of Óbidos, the Literary Village Program, and the Poetry Festival.
For music enthusiasts, visit Amarante, Idanha-a-Nova, or Leiria, all UNESCO Creative Cities of Music. Amarante delights visitors with improvised street performances and festivals such as the MIMO Festival. Idanha-a-Nova preserves and promotes its musical traditions such as the adufe, a square frame drum played by women, and hosts renowned events such as the Boom Festival. While in Leiria, explore its historic streets and vibrant cultural spaces where music is a way of life, and don’t miss the Festival A Porta.
There are also Barcelos and Caldas da Rainha, both UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts and Folk Art. In Barcelos, you’ll discover the vivid world of pottery, embroidery, and the famous Cockerel of Barcelos — a symbol of the town’s rich artisanal heritage. Meanwhile, in Caldas da Rainha, the Bordallo Pinheiro Factory dazzles with unique pottery creations, which are also displayed along a city route.
Covilhã, nestled in the stunning landscape of Serra da Estrela, is another UNESCO Creative City of Design. It is a former textile hub with a strong emphasis on wool, which is used in various artistic and cultural projects, such as the Wool Festival, the Urban Art Center, and the New Hand Lab.
Braga, one of Portugal’s oldest cities, embraces the digital age as a Creative City of Media Arts. Here technology and creativity are tools for social transformation and urban regeneration with a network of cultural creative spaces and events, such as GNRation, the House of Knowledge, the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, and the Braga Media Arts Festival.
Santa Maria da Feira invites you to savor the flavors of Portugal as a Creative City of Gastronomy. The city hosts major gastronomic festivals that connect local gastronomic heritage with creativity, urban regeneration, and community participation.
Plan your journey to Portugal to immerse yourself in the cultural and artistic riches of these cities. Your adventure awaits in a land where creativity knows no bounds!
Arte Urbana: Igreja Santa Maria, Covilhã
Loja Bordallo Pinheiro, Caldas da Rainha
Livraria Santiago, Óbidos.