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Places to escape to in Portugal off the beaten path

The news is full of worries and concerns. But the truth is, you can't get an illness on a hiking trail, a remote beach, an ancient hilltop  with a long-ruined castle - Portugal with its open countryside is a great deal right now. And, it is the shortest flight to Europe, with some amazing deals. Here is our getaway "away from the world" guide to Portugal. We offer you ESCAPE:


The Alentejo is almost 1/3 or Portugal with just 500,000 residents. No big cities, lots of tiny towns, and ancient sites. The Roman City of Ammaia was only rediscovered in the last century. It has since been excavated and investigated by scientists from around the world. It is now a museum site. This lost city only saw the first excavations in the 1950s and is a quite and haunting place.

Porto Santo 9copy

Porto Santo, Madeira has a little-known sister islandhas emerged as the best little beach in Europe. While Madeira is lush, green island, Porto Santo is a dry crescent with a six-mile long beach on its central bay. The light yellow sand is rich in magnetic rock and that same sand has a healing power. Plus, no crowds, no lines- no big high-rises-- just sandy and the sea.


Idanha-a-Velha is a tiny town in the east of Portugal with a population of 100 today. It may also be the most fascinating place in Europe that has never been written about. This modest hamlet among the olive groves encapsulates the history of Portugal.  Discreet signposts and explanations in Portuguese, French and English guide visitors through the landmarks of this living museum. Idanha-a-Velha was founded as a Roman garrison town called Egitanea in the first century and had more than 200,000 inhabitants at one time. The town was so important that it became a diocesan seat in 599 AD, with its own bishop until 1199. Idanha even had a center to coin gold. The Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Bishops' Palace all date from this period of development. 


Today, Portugal has its share of unique places that have been abandoned over the centuries. Here is a quick guide to the most interesting ghost towns in Portugal. Tiny beautiful places that have been given back to nature, and where time has stopped.


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