8 things to do in Portugal off the beaten track

A winter or summer paradise, Portugal’s European treasure is one of the continent’s favorite cultural, historical and seaside holiday destinations. Warm weather, great food, world-class Atlantic beaches, friendly locals and low prices have all made Portugal an attractive holiday retreat that’s impossible to resist, whether you’re there for a weekend end or a week.

Many of the country’s top hotspots can indeed be overwhelming in high season, such as Lisbon and the Algarve which see hordes of tourists in the summer. Luckily, however, Portugal has many more places and experiences to see, many of which are off the beaten path and just as worthy as the most popular Portuguese gems. Beautiful, cultural, fun and still undiscovered by the crowds, these are some of Portugal’s most authentic things to do on the road less traveled and should be on any discerning traveler’s to-do list when visiting Portugal. this wonderful nation.

8 Savor a castaway experience on Berlenga Island

Located about 10 kilometers offshore and reachable in half an hour by boat from the Peniche region, the Berlengas Islands should be on the Portuguese itinerary of particularly intrepid travelers. The largest island in the group – Berlenga – may be only two and a half square kilometers in size, but its insane amounts of pristine, raw and natural beauty make up for its size. Berlenga is probably the most off-the-beaten-track road you can find in Portugal, and it’s baffling why it’s so uncrowded when it’s just so beautiful.

The whole island is a fascinating nature reserve and home to many species of birds and protected plants. There are also a number of postcard-perfect bays with stunningly turquoise waters, as well as rugged cliffs and secluded beaches with no soul in sight. And when visitors are done enjoying it all for themselves, the island’s wrecks are waiting to be explored, opening up memorable snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities for those ready to take a dip. .

Related: Portugal has beautiful beaches and these are the least crowded

seven Beach-Bumming It in Comporta, Troia Peninsula

Just an hour from Lisbon, there’s no excuse not to stop by this off-the-beaten-path village, known to locals – not tourists – as one of the top beach holiday destinations in the world. Portugal. White-sand beaches, amazing Portuguese resorts, dolphin-watching and plenty of seafood abound in this beautiful oasis that doesn’t see many people compared to more popular beach hotspots – like the Si famous Algarve.

Esteemed personalities including José Mourinho and the Royal Family of Monaco are said to own many properties in Comporta, although despite having caught the eye of said A-listers the town’s atmosphere remains fashionable, but humble. Overall, the area is charming and fun, but the real draw is its 13-kilometre-long stretch of golden beach against an extraordinary backdrop of lush forest and vast rice paddies.

6 Explore São Miguel and its volcanic lakes

As the largest island in the Azores archipelago, São Miguel and its sensational landscapes are something to behold. The Azores themselves are a group of volcanic islands perfect for nature lovers and thrill seekers, with their staggering cliffs, beautiful lakes and heated hot springs promising plenty of adventure.

But what makes São Miguel one of the best of the bunch is the addition of Lagoa do Fogo – a huge crater lake and one of the largest bodies of water in the region, and Sete Cidades , which are twin lakes nestled in the crater of a dormant volcano. Both are best explored on a guided day trip, which exposes visitors to the island’s intense landscapes and stunning flora and fauna that are nothing short of spectacular.

5 Enjoy outdoor adventures in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Located in the far northeast of Portugal, Peneda-Gerês National Park has 70,000 metric acres of untouched vegetation, fast-flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Many tourists to Portugal have never even heard of this breathtaking wilderness, which is one of the most incredible and authentic places in the country to indulge in fun outdoor activities, such as as rafting, rock climbing, zip lining and hiking.

Related: A Travel Guide to Portugal: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 11 Things

4 Instagram photos galore in Aveiro, Costa Nova do Prado

Visiting the coastal district of Aveiro, Costa Nova do Prado, is a different experience than many cities in Portugal. It’s a former fishing village – which Portugal has no shortage of – except this one has a very uniquely adorable charm. It exudes a bright summer atmosphere all year round, and just one stroll through the streets is enough to fall in love with the place and see why it is such a treat.

The main street runs parallel to the beach, which is an idyllic setting for any seaside town. However, what really stands out are the brightly colored buildings that look like dollhouses, making this one of the most Instagrammable seaside spots in Portugal. These colorful buildings were once used by fishermen to house their gear but now serve as summer holiday cottage rentals for tourists.

3 Be amazed by the rocks of Monsanto

Monsanto is one of 12 historic villages that played a major role in transforming Portugal from a mere county into a country in its own right. It is undoubtedly one of the most underrated destinations in the country, with many travelers unable to even find its place on a map. It may be a hard place to reach, however, those who make the journey are rewarded with some strange but amazing sights never before seen elsewhere in the country – or perhaps even on the continent.

Wander the quaint cobbled streets and old-world roads of Monsanto, and you can marvel at the mighty boulders that dot the village in seemingly strange and hair-raising places. It’s as if the whole village – which wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy fairy tale movie – is built around these huge rocks, which make the whole area incredibly unique and very photogenic. These features are super jaw-dropping and are eerily beautiful as they blend into the village buildings that seem unscathed by their presence, while the locals remain indifferent. Baffling but wonderful, one thing is certain: these mesmerizing giant boulders make for interesting photographs.

Related: This ‘Stonehenge’ in Portugal is even older than the UK site

2 Surfing and Seafood in Nazaré

Nazaré is one of Portugal’s most traditional fishing villages and should be part of any off-the-beaten-track visit to the country. Located halfway up the Atlantic coast, the rustic town is as colorful as it is historic and full of ancient tales, beautiful culture and interesting traditions – such as the women with seven skirts.

Nazaré is also a great surfing spot thanks to the powerful Atlantic waves, which have led to the establishment of a number of surf camps that complement its local surf community. If that sounds too exciting, then the sumptuous local seafood to savor should be enough to entice all the locals to this sublime little seaside village.

1 Let yourself be charmed by history in Évora

Évora, with its Roman history visible in the form of impressive cathedrals, chapels and many other ancient remains, attracts the attention of discerning travelers looking for crowd-free Portuguese gems. The city is actually the capital of one of Portugal’s best wine regions – the Alentejo – but the wine is not necessarily the main attraction, as it is the Temple of Diana, the Chapel of Bones and the Évora Cathedral (to name but a few) which attract and fascinate visitors to this historically important region. The city’s central square is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which says enough about the place as a historical and cultural diamond that enchants history buffs everywhere.

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