Travel is expensive: Both in time and money. If you are heading to Portugal, you want to get the most out of your time and experience. So, why follow in the well worn paths of others? Why explore the same three of four places that the crowds go to? Why not find the real Portugal? Where lines are non-existent, and where you find peace and wonder! Here is our guide to discovering the real Portugal - but keep it to yourself!
Skip the crowds and postcard shops of Óbidos, and head to Monsaraz and Marvão: Set in the Alentejo region, Monsaraz is a medieval hilltop village with sweeping views of the surrounding olive groves, winelands, and massive lake. Its cobblestone streets are lined with ancient whitewashed houses, and lead to a centuries old castle. No crowds, few souvenir shops, and lot's of charm! Marvão is another picturesque walled mountain top village in the Alentejo. Marvão is set on a mountain right on the Spanish border. Its medieval walls, charming streets, and breathtaking vistas make this a place of wonder, but no masses and lines.
Trade Lagos for Aveiro - a delightful coastal city famous for its canals, colorful Moliceiro boats, and preserved Art Nouveau architecture. Take a fun Moliceiro ride through the canals and explore the charming streets lined with tiled houses. Great beaches, wines, salt pans, and fresh seafood are so close, and it is a great base to explore!
Skip Sintra and head to Viana do Castelo: Set in the north of Portugal, Viana do Castelo is a coastal city with a rich seafaring heritage. It offers beautiful beaches, a medieval town center, and the iconic Basílica de Santa Luzia, which offers panoramic views of the city and the Lima River. Good food, charming architecture, and a lively food scene - all without the lines.
Swap the Lello Bookstore for the Joanina Library within the University of Coimbra. Constructed in the 18th century. It is named after King João V of Portugal, who funded its construction. The library is a prime example of Baroque architecture and is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
The library houses a vast collection of books, manuscripts, and historical documents. It is renowned for its stunning interior, adorned with intricate woodwork, elaborate bookshelves, and ceiling frescoes. The shelves are made of exotic wood, and the library's collection spans various disciplines, including theology, law, medicine, and philosophy.
Take a trip to Porto Covo over the busy Benagil caves. Porto Covo is a charming fishing village set in the Alentejo. There are several sea caves and stunning rock formations in the area. The Cave of Furnas is located approximately 10 kilometers south of Porto Covo, near the beach called Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro. This impressive sea cave is known for its beautiful rock formations and crystal-clear waters. You can explore the cave by taking a boat tour or swimming inside during low tide.
Another notable sea cave near Porto Covo is the Cave of Inha. It's situated around 12 kilometers to the north of Porto Covo, close to the beach of São Torpes. The cave is accessible by boat and offers a fascinating exploration opportunity. Its unique rock formations and secluded atmosphere make it a popular spot for visitors.
Trade Lisbon for a few days in Tomar: Known for its Templar history, Tomar is a charming city in central Portugal. Its main attraction is the Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its impressive architecture and beautiful gardens that was built by the mysterious Order of the Templars. Great food, lovely gardens, a well preserved city center, and very good hotels make this a great base to explore the Tejo River Valley and lots of small and charming nearby towns
These lesser-known places in Portugal offer a chance to discover the country's hidden treasures, immerse yourself in local culture, and enjoy a more off-the-beaten-path travel experience. You are welcome!