Portland (Oregon): 10 beautiful places and sights

Portland is the capital of the US state of Oregon. The city is also called ‘city of roses’ and is one of the most beautiful, greenest and most livable cities in the US. Here there is none of the hustle and bustle of California’s metropolises and the city is less popular as a tourist destination. Yet there is a lot to experience and Portland is teeming with sights, beautiful places and fun activities. The city offers beautiful parks and gardens such as Washington Park with its beautiful Japanese Garden. But you will also find excellent museums and impressive historic buildings. What can you see and do during your visit to this nice city?

  • Sights and beautiful places in Portland: what to see and what to do?
  • Pittock Mansion
  • Washington Park
  • Lan Su Chinese Garden
  • Malls and bookstores in Portland
  • Portland Art Museum
  • Oregon Museum of Science and History
  • Forest Park
  • Portland Building and Portlandia
  • Saturday Market
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square


Sights in Portland

A . Pioneer Courthouse Square
B . Portland Art Museum
C . Saturday Market
D . Pittock Mansion
E . Washington Park
F . Japanese Garden
G . Oregon Zoo
H . International Rose Test Gardens
I . Forest Park
J . Portland Building
K . Powell’s City of Books
L . Oregon Museum of Science and History

Sights and beautiful places in Portland: what to see and what to do?

What to see in Portland?

Like Seattle, Portland is a quiet and livable city in the northwest US. Quite a difference from the busy major cities south along the west coast, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Portland has no world-famous sights, but still offers many beautiful places and fun attractions to spend a few pleasant days in the city. There are beautiful parks and gardens, as well as imposing historic buildings and some excellent museums.

Public transport

Parking in Portland is no joke. It is therefore useful to travel by public transport. For example, use the MAX Light Rail (Metropolitan Area Express) trams.
Pittock Mansion, one of Portland’s landmarks / Source: Cacophony / Tiptoety, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion is one of Portland’s most beautiful landmarks and historic buildings. It has no fewer than twenty-two rooms. Pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock lived there from 1914 to 1919. Henry Pittock came to Portland as a sixteen-year-old boy in 1853 and started working as an assistant in a printing shop. Eight years later he started his daily newspaper ‘The Oregonian’, still an influential newspaper in the twenty-first century.
A visit to the building is worthwhile, not only for the impressive interior but also for the spectacular views over Portland from the garden. You can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the city with the top of Mount Hood in the background.

Washington Park

Portland is a city of beautiful gardens and parks. The crown jewel is Washington Park, which is home to numerous attractions. You can easily spend a whole day at this park and its many attractions.

International Rose Test Garden

This enormous rose garden is part of Washington Park. The garden is one of Portland’s most beautiful sights and contains more than eight thousand roses, including some rare varieties. You walk in an overwhelming decor of scents and colors. Not only are the flowers beautiful, the location with the magnificent view also makes this one of the most beautiful places in Portland. The garden is also a test site for rose growers. New varieties are planted here to test them for color and shape for two years. May to September are the best months to admire the roses in their full glory.
The Japanese Garden of Washington Park / Source: Melissa Wilmot, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0) Portland Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden is one of Portland’s most beautiful sights and is ideal for a relaxing stroll. Here you stroll through a landscape of rippling water, ponds with koi fish, flowers, a tea house, a sand garden and spectacular views of Mount Hood.

Oregon Zoo

Washington Park is also home to the Oregon Zoo, where you can see more than two thousand animal species from around the world. The zoo is especially famous for its Asian elephant breeding program. You can reach the zoo along Highway 26 West from downtown. You can also take the MAX Light Rail to the Washington Park stop.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden is a beautiful garden right in the center of Downtown Portland. It was built by Chinese craftsmen in an authentic manner, similar to the gardens from the Ming dynasty. In this beautiful landscape you will find covered walking paths, bridges and pavilions. There is a photogenic lake in the middle of the garden. The tea house serves light snacks and a variety of traditional teas. There are also many events taking place. For example, the Chinese New Year is celebrated for two weeks and numerous concerts take place in the summer.
Powell’s City of Books, the largest bookstore in the world / Source: Cacophony, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-3.0)

Malls and bookstores in Portland

You can shop tax-free in Portland, which makes it a real shopping paradise. The residents are also known as avid readers. You will find many bookstores here.

Downtown Portland

In Downtown Portland you will find both small boutiques and large chain stores. The main shops are in Northwest-Nob Hill and Lloyd District-NE Broadway. You will also find many shops in the Pearl District next to Downtown.

Lloyd Center

Lloyd Center is Portland’s largest shopping paradise. Here you will find more than one hundred and fifty shops under one roof. There is also a cinema and an ice skating rink. The enormous shopping complex is accessible by MAX.

Powell’s City of Books

Bookworms should definitely take a look at ‘Powell’s City of Books’. It is the largest bookstore in the world, where you literally need a map to find your way. The shop has been around since 1971 and occupies an entire city block, housing more than one million books spread over 3,500 departments. The bookstore also has a cafe where you can relax with a cup of coffee and a book.

Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum has the largest art collection in the city. Moreover, the museum is one of the twenty-five largest in the US. It has been around since 1892, making it one of the oldest museums in North America. However, since then it has been continuously renewed and expanded.
Especially popular is the art of Indian tribes. Here you will find thousands of objects and works of art from ancient tribes, such as beautiful colorful masks. The museum also has many canvases by American and European masters.

Oregon Museum of Science and History

In this excellent museum you will discover fun facts about astronomy, technology, science and geography. The largest planetarium in the US is also located here. The showpiece of the museum is the ‘USS Blueback’, an old US Navy submarine that you can walk through.
The museum is a fascinating and interactive experience. After all, you can try many of them yourself. You can participate in demonstrations in laboratories, but also experience an earthquake or test your weight on Mars.
Forest Park, one of Portland’s most beautiful sights / Source: EncMstr, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Forest Park

Forest Park is one of Portland’s most beautiful parks and many consider it one of Portland’s most beautiful sights. The two thousand hectare park is the largest urban forest area in the US: it looks like a forest in the middle of the city. Forest Park is therefore very popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists.
The park is located on the hills to the west of the city and overlooks the Willamette River. There are many hiking trails through Forest Park. One of the most popular hikes is the ‘Wildwood Trail’. It is thirty miles long and runs straight through the dense forest. Following this path is ideal for exploring Forest Park.

Portland Building and Portlandia

Portland Building

At the intersection of Madison Street and 5th Avenue lies the imposing Portland Building, one of the city’s most beautiful buildings.
It was built by the famous architect Michael Graves in the 1980s. The building houses the offices of the city council. This beautiful building with pastel colors was one of the first buildings in the world in a postmodern style.


Particularly impressive is the enormous copper statue of ‘Portlandia’ above the main entrance. It represents the goddess of commerce. She is kneeling with a trident in her hand, while her other hand reaches toward 5th Avenue. It is the second largest copper statue in the world, after the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Saturday Market

Portland’s Saturday market is a special attraction. The market takes place in the area around Skidmore Foutain (SW 1st Avenue) and Ankeny Street, under the Burnside Bridge. The name is a bit misleading, because the market is also open on Sundays. This Saturday Market is the largest open-air market in the country. There is a cozy atmosphere with lots of entertainment and an enormous diversity of stalls and food stands.
Portland’s beautiful Pioneer Courthouse Square / Source: Cacophony, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Pioneer Courthouse Square is one of the most beautiful squares in the city and is located in the center of Downtown. In the summer there are often concerts and festivals. A fountain and a large signpost showing the distances to famous world cities complete the decor.
The square is named after the Pioneer Courthouse. This was the first federal building in the northwest of the US, built in an Italian Renaissance style around 1875. Don’t miss the Jackson Tower, a beautiful building from 1912. The square is a nice area to hang out and relax. downtown Portland.