There's so much more to Portugal than Porto and Lisbon - more than the Algarve's golden coast and hippie beach bars from Comporta. Beyond the famous names, there are charming villages and lovely towns to visit in this lovely country; here are our top ten picks from around the country, which you definitely need to visit on your next Trip to Europe:
Lindoso, located in the Peneda do Gerês National Park, is well-known for its collection of more than 50 espigueiros, or small granaries. They are composed of stone, placed on columns, and slatted for ventilation, and resemble little tombs with crosses on top. The design maintains the proper humidity level for grain and maize. Because of its location on the Spanish border, the settlement sits in the shadow of a historic castle that played a role in the Portuguese Restoration wars. The park is home to wolves and golden eagles and is surrounded by wild, spectacular terrain and forest-clad peaks.
This tiny community is guarded by the remains of an 18th-century fortress and is located on a hill at the eastern edge of the stunning Ria Formosa Natural Park. One indication of the lengthy Moorish occupation here is the whitewashed buildings, which are edged in blue to fend off the devil and are capped by elaborate Algarve chimney pots. After Portugal's disastrous earthquake of 1755, the village church from the sixteenth century was reconstructed and now features a portico in the style of the Renaissance. Golden beaches beneath it are home to inviting lagoons at low tide and are arguably the nicest undeveloped beach in the Algarve.
One of the undiscovered beauties of northern Portugal is Amarante, where rows of homes from the 17th century with colorfully painted wooden balconies border the sidewalks. The Museum of Amadeo de Sousa-Cardoso is located next to the 16th-century church of St. Goncalo, a saint with a special place in the hearts of the locals for his matchmaking abilities. Amarante-born Sousa-Cardoso, one of Portugal's most prominent 20th-century artists, has a selection of his Cubist works here. At one of the eateries that straddle the Tâmega River, sample the regional specialties of northern Portugal like grilled goat or duck rice.
The lofty keep of Sortelha's 13th-century castle offers mesmerizing views of the surrounding environment since it is perched atop a granite outcrop. A pillory from the 16th century with an armillary sphere on top lies right in front of the castle gate. The settlement is surrounded by strange-looking granite formations, one of which is known as The Old Woman's Head because of its resemblance. One more is known as The Eternal Kiss. The dwellings, which are encircled by a protective wall and have not changed much since the Renaissance, give off a sense of time travel and serve as the ideal setting for the annual mediaeval fair.
The Lousã Mountains contain the largest concentration of the 27 schist (shale) settlements, which are wonderfully maintained and dispersed over the region. They offer a sample of the local cuisine and crafts and are historically significant. They are connected by walking routes. The most beautiful illustration is regarded to be Talesnal, which is home to the renowned Ti Lena restaurant. Try the goat that has been baked with local mountain chestnuts, or visit one of the village shops for a talasnico, a pastry prepared with honey from the area, chestnuts, and almonds. Lets check more of the most beautiful towns in Portugal:
Carvalhal - the most beautiful towns in Portugal
This tiny town near Comporta has a lovely white sand beach that is the ideal location for a sunset gallop and is surrounded by pine forests, rice farms, and dunes. Hire a horse at the adjacent Cavalos na Areia and ride over the dunes to the blue waves flecked with froth. Alternatively, go to the Comporta Beach Club on Praia de Carvalhal and have the freshest oysters while relaxing with your feet in the sand. After that, make your way back through the hamlet through homes with the distinctive thatch and reed vernacular architecture and storks nesting on telegraph poles.
You will already be charmed by Marvo, Alentejo's most picturesque hamlet, by the time you reach its walls from the 13th century. Its walls and buttresses are indistinguishable from the granite of the mountain it rests on, and it is situated at an elevation of 862 meters on a magnificent cliff facing Spain. The modest white-washed homes, cobblestone lanes, and 15th-century churches that make up Marvo are totally enclosed by these walls. Take a few days off and stay at the quaint small pousada on the main drag to take in the scenery from its terrace.
Strong Jewish ties can also be found in Pedro lvares Cabral's home town. Unusually, it appears to be the only location on the Iberian Peninsula that has kept its Jewish history and culture alive, if covertly, since the 16th century. To find out more, enter the Belmonte Jewish Museum. The small church of So Tiago with its appealing Romanesque simplicity and the fortress from the thirteenth century are also worthwhile stops. Keep an eye out for the stunning stone pietà.
Occupied by the Moors D. Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king, captured Monsanto. He donated it to the Knights Templar, who reconstructed the now-destroyed ancient Roman citadel. Monsanto, which is remarkably realistic, was chosen as "the most Portuguese village in Portugal" in 1938. Huge granite boulders are interspersed with little cottages, and the rock itself appears to be sprouting gardens. The village center is off-limits to cars, so make your way up to the castle ruins for the greatest views before having lunch at Petiscos and Granitos restaurant. Be sure to try the traditional wide bean and coriander soup.
Alte is a quaint neighborhood filled with whitewashed homes, cobblestone streets, and vibrant bougainvillaea. Take a plunge in the Fonte Grande, one of the village's natural springs noted for their purity and now river pools, to cool yourself in the summer heat. Visit one of the many cafés for some snails and a Sagres beer, or have a picnic on the grassy banks. Alternatively, get some carob brownies and go sit in the museum's shade.