Portugal off the beaten path – Looking for off-the-beaten-path attractions in Portugal? Portugal has a growing interest in all kinds of travelers. Portugal is cheap, has warm weather, good food, top-notch Atlantic beaches, and even welcoming people have turned this little Atlantic-bordered country into a tourist hotspot. Fortunately, Portugal has a lot more tourist attractions than just its two largest cities, Porto and Lisbon, and most definitely a lot more than just the congested Algarve. Many locations are still off the beaten tourist path and are still completely real.
Portugal off the beaten path, the most stunning hidden jewels that should be on everyone’s bucket list is endowed with collections of unique places, old beautiful traditions and beaches which is not yet discovered by many tourists. Have you ever wondered or imagined finding yourself in one of Portugal off the beaten path locales? We guess so, well let’s walk you through.
Portugal, as one of the favorite spots for tourists in the world, is endowed with so many collections of beautiful beaches, fairytale palaces, tasty wines, and some magnificent communities that have managed to retain their beauty and traditions. Every visitor who picks Portugal as a destination is familiar with Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve, but the country has much more to offer than these well-known destinations. If you’re ready to see the Portugal off the beaten path , you’ll find some stunning locations that are still relatively unknown to most tourists.
Portugal, a European treasure trove, is one of the continent’s most popular cultural, historic, and beach vacation spots. It is a paradise in both the winter and the summer. Portugal has evolved into an irresistible vacation destination thanks to its warm climate, top-notch cuisine, world-class Atlantic beaches, friendly locals, and affordable accommodations. In this post, we’ll share with you the 25 unique places to visit in Portugal ( Portugal off the beaten path ), that should be on any traveler’s bucket list. Let us reveal to you the uniqueness and diversity of Portugal!
The genuine charm of Portugal is found in its untamed, thrillingly lonely places: from granite highlands where you may climb from one sun-bleached town to the next, to raw, rough coasts carved by the turbulent Atlantic. Allow me to show you some few off-the-beaten-path Portugal locations.
Where do you get off the Beaten Path in Portugal?
Portugal’s undiscovered regions are surprisingly easy to locate. From Lisbon Airport, head east instead of west. The Vasco da Gama bridge is a must-see. You’ll be in a panorama of cork trees, vineyards, and nesting storks in no time. When looking for a genuinely off-the-beaten-path Portugal vacation, I’d recommend travelling to Terceira Island instead of the larger and more popular island of São Miguel.
Without the throng, you’ll find pure nature as well as a rich culture and customs. All year, there are daily flights from Lisbon to Terceira Island. It takes around 2.5 hours to get from the mainland to the Azores. Renting a car and exploring the island at your own pace is the ideal method to go about the island.
We propose that you remain for at least four days. Although you might easily spend a week or more on Terceira, four days should be plenty to see everything the island has to offer.
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Here are the Portugal off the Beaten Path: Portugal’s Hidden Gem
The barren and mountainous islands of Berlengas are extraordinarily stunning and one of Portugal’s most attractive secret spots(the Portugal off the beaten path location). They are adjacent to Peniche and have robust seagull colonies, as well as various bird species and a diverse marine life.
The historic fort of Sao Joao Baptista stands on a small rocky outcrop accessible through a stone bridge on the larger island of Berlenga Grande, which is the showpiece of this little rocky archipelago. Aside from seeing the fort, visitors can also take a boat or canoe around the islands to see the beautiful caverns.
The Berlengas’ Islands archipelago is made up of three unique islands: Berlenga, Estelas, and Farilhes, with Berlenga Island being the largest and most famous. Distinctive animal and plant species, as well as unique beauty and environment, may be found on these islands.
Berlenga Island has been inhabited since the Roman era, but at a small scale. On this island, you can see the Duque de Bragança Lighthouse, which is powered by solar energy, and the S. João Batista Fortress, where you may stay in a fascinating style.
The most important forms that permitted this region to be classified as a Natural Reserve, where the bocage lizard and other lizard species are threatened, as well as the airo, shearwater, maritime crow, and the famed seagulls that populate and threaten the whole island.
Maritime lobularia, poppies, marigolds, and a variety of other plants may be found among the flora. A modest camping site, two restaurants, and a mini-market are all located on Berlenga Island. On the island, power is generated via an active generator that is only available at certain times of the day.
Portugal off the beaten path: How to get to Berlengas Islands from Lisbon
The only way to reach these islands is via boat, which departs from Peniche Port on regular cycles to Berlenga. Before you go any further, keep in mind that the main island is only accessible from May to September, so keep that in mind while planning your vacation to Portugal.
Peniche is a one-hour drive from Lisbon and may be reached by vehicle or bus. If you’ve never been to Peniche and enjoy surfing, you should definitely go. You must take a ferry from Peniche to Berlenga Grande Island, which costs roughly 20€ for a round trip ticket on the same day.
Nazaré is Portugal’s most traditional fishing hamlet. Its location, roughly in the middle of the Atlantic coast, evokes ancient and vivid customs (including women with 7 skirts). This is one of the interesting off the beaten path in Portugal If you enjoy surfing, the wild Atlantic waves and the large community of surf campers should be ideal. Seafood and fish are delectable. Nazaré is also a great place to party!
During the summer, sit on the seawall at the end of the day on Saturdays to see the spectacular “Arte Xávega” (Drag Nets) show, in which nets packed with fish arrive from the sea and women yell out their items for sale. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the language; they often utilize codes that only they comprehend.
On the right, facing the sea, is an outstanding headland. This is Stio, one of the most well-known vistas of the Portuguese coast. It’s a 318-meter rock face with a precipitous drop to the sea that can only be reached on foot or by using the funicular. The Ermida da Memória church, located at the summit, is famed for the narrative of Our Lady’s miraculous in preventing the nobleman’s horse, D. Fuas Roupinho, from plunging over the edge.
True or not, one of the horse’s feet left an impression in the rock on that misty morning in 1182, as seen by the Suberco Belvedere. The Shrine of Our Lady of Nazaré is also located in Stio, as well as the Dr. Joaquim Manso Museum, which provides further information about Nazaré’s traditions.
3. Porto Moniz, Madeira
Porto Moniz, on the northern tip of Madeira Island, is definitely an outstanding location and one of Portugal’s hidden gems. The unusual lava pools generated by the rising tide are the actual marvel and major appeal of Porto Moniz, where visitors may rest in one of the most intriguing landscapes.
These black basalt pools are safe for swimming and a great place to visit if you’re seeking for something different. Choose one of the hotels located right on the beach if you wish to spend more time in the neighborhood. A guided excursion from Funchal may take you to this fascinating location.
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Short History of Porto Moniz, Madeira:
Francisco Moniz O Velho, one of Madeira’s early inhabitants, was honored with the name Porto Moniz. He was a member of the Algarve aristocracy. Porto is the Portuguese word for port. Porto Moniz was separated from the rest of the island for a long time due to the island’s topography. Until the 1980s, it was a whaling town. The town now has a population of roughly 1700 people.
4. Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês
The Serra da Peneda and Serra do Gerês, located in the extreme north-east of Portugal, between the Alto Minho and Trás-os-Montes, are the only protected areas in Portugal that have been designated as National Parks. It’s a different world, where human activity coexists peacefully with nature, while ancient values and traditions are preserved in the community villages of Pites das Jnias and Tourém.
This 703-square-kilometer national park, nestled away in Portugal’s far north, is the stuff of fantasies for those seeking off-grid seclusion. Granite mountains rise above oak and pine woods, mountain streams carve valleys, and eyrie-like settlements and espigueiros (granaries constructed on stilts) sit atop hillsides overlooking terraced fields create breathtaking scenery. Because there is so much unspoiled wilderness here, ibex, deer, wild horses, and Iberian wolves have plenty of places to hide.
A holly bush wood – unique on a national level – and endemic species such as the Gerês lily, whose blue-violet colors grace the fields, are among the exuberant vegetation covering the mountains. Rapidly flowing rivers and streams, including many waterfalls, cut through the rugged mountainous terrain, eventually slowing their pace in dams like Caniçada, Vilarinho das Furnas, and Portela do Homem. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking.
Keep your eyes peeled for a roe deer (the Park’s symbol) or its predator, the Iberian wolf. Garrano ponies, which are small wild horses that roam freely through the hills, are more common. There are also Barros cattle and dark-haired Castro Laboreiro dogs, which look after the flocks of goats and sheep that migrate between the “brandas” and “inverneiras” throughout the year.
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5. São Miguel island
São Miguel island is the largest island in the Azores archipelago, which is located in the middle of the North Atlantic. This volcanic chain of islands is a wonderful jewel for nature enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunity to explore lakes, cliffs, and hot springs. The beautiful scenery of Lagoa do Fogo and Sete Cidades, in particular, are not to be missed in So Miguel.
The greatest part is that plane tickets were prohibitively expensive until recently (2015), thus the general public has yet to discover this natural paradise. Now is the ideal time to fly to the Azores.The true reason to visit São Miguel island is the call of the verdant terrain that gives it the nickname ‘Ilha Verde’ (Green Island), and its dramatic coastline battered by the wild Atlantic Ocean.
Comporta, in the northwest corner of Alentejo’s rural area, is the type of spot you’ll miss if you’re not paying attention and sneeze while driving. Comporta is made up of three villages: Comporta, Carvalhal, and Pego, which are located north to south.
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The succession of white-washed towns, located just off the major roadway that runs along to the Atlantic Ocean, are mostly residential, with each having its own modest business sector (with the exception of Pego). Until recently, the region around Comporta was mainly protected from development, owing to the fact that the majority of the property was held by a single family.
In 2014, their estate and land holdings were separated due to bankruptcy, prompting rumors that further development was on the way. Six years later, Comporta is still the same, with minimal new development due to environmental and structural constraints that make investment and construction more difficult. (Within 500 meters of the shore, development is prohibited.)
There are no all-inclusive resorts, major beachfront hotels, strip malls, movie theaters, or discos in the area. Comporta, on the other hand, exudes simplicity with a handful of modest, high-end boutique hotels and a plethora of individual residences for rent.
7. Buçaco Palace
The Buçaco Palace, located in the ancient Buçaco Forest, is a picturesque sight not to be missed. The forest itself is home to one of Europe’s most outstanding collections of trees (some of which are over 400 years old), as well as the Order of Discalced Carmelites monks.
The gardens and other portions of Buçaco Palace were originally part of a monastery founded by monks in 1628. The palace was then erected for the last Kings of Portugal in the late 19th century, but it was quickly converted into a luxury hotel. Buçaco Palace will not disappoint you if you enjoy ancient sites, Gothic architecture, and lovely gardens.
Marvo, a little hilltop town in the Alentejo area, should undoubtedly be included on this list of Portugal’s off the beaten path. It is only accessible by automobile and is located 234 kilometers northeast of Lisbon, but the trip up the mountainside and last stroll into the walled town are well worth the effort.
Marvo is a little town where the primary attraction is the beautiful castle. Given that this town was previously a mountaintop bastion against Spanish invaders, it affords spectacular views across the Alentejo area and into Spain. After seeing the castle, take a stroll around the tiny, cobblestone streets and stop at a café for a pastel de nata and a cup of coffee before heading back on the road.
9. Misarela Bridge
Misarela Bridge is a medieval bridge in Gerês, Portugal’s northwestern region. It’s a small but lovely bridge with a lovely waterfall just a few meters away. Despite its popularity among locals, it remains one of Portugal’s off the beaten path ever visited.
The Devil’s Bridge is another name for the Misarela Bridge, which is said to have been built by the Devil and is surrounded by interesting myths and legends. The bridge, which stands 13 meters tall, was constructed in the early 1800s.
How to get to the Portugal off the beaten path: Misarela Bridge
You will need a car to visit this Gerês region. To get to the bridge from the main road, you’ll have to hike a beautiful trail for about 20 minutes, but it’s well worth it. We also recommend visiting Peneda-Geres National Park, which is close by and Portugal’s only national park.
Óbidos is a living legacy. This historic settlement is a maze of Portugal’s medieval cobblestone lanes, tiny handcraft stores, and bakeries that provide for this wonderful environment. Walking the perimeter walls provides a unique perspective of the city (on one side) and the hills (on the other) . Around the narrow lanes, are exquisite handcraft stores.
While Óbidos is still an off-the-beaten-path resort, it may grow crowded during the summer months of July and August. If you want to have the entire wall to yourself, go during the off-season or early in the morning. Ah! Also, don’t miss out on ginja, a local specialty consisting of ginger in edible chocolate cups.
11. Buracas do Casmilo
In the heart of Portugal, close to the towns of Casmilo and Coimbra, is the breathtaking Buracas Valley. The area has stunning karst rocks and caves that may be explored on foot that were formed over millions of years along a confined gorge. It is one of Portugal’s lesser-known locations, a spot where you can take in the natural beauty without being concerned about a throng of tourists. This is a must-see for anyone who is passionate about geology and not only that.
The picturesque village of Piodao is one of the many uncommon locations in Portugal that tourists are unaware of. This remote small town is perched on a rocky outcrop and encircled by wooded areas and river valleys. The densely populated dwellings are totally made of quartzite rock, resulting in a picturesque scene that looks like it belongs in a fairytale in the middle of the mountains. You should not only stroll through the winding cobblestone streets to experience the real ambiance, but you should also stop by the white Parish Church.
13. Covao dos Conchos
Covao dos Conchos, one of the unusual things to do in Portugal, is a little bizarre and like an ethereal portal. This sinkhole is actually a constructed funnel and is situated in the middle of a man-made lake in the far-off Serra da Estela Mountains. It enters a subterranean tube that is a component of a hydroelectric system that supplies water to local settlements. The entrance appears almost natural because there are no other man-made buildings nearby.
This real historical community was named “the most Portuguese village in Portugal” many years ago, and much of its charm has remained throughout time. Monsanto, a tiny community tucked away in the Spanish borderlands, is a must-visit for anybody looking to experience Portugal off the beaten path.
The massive stones that are a part of the rural environment itself and have been incorporated into the typical granite homes were used for construction. Granite has also been used to pave the winding streets. Visit the intriguing church and medieval castle ruins at the top of the hill if you have time.
15. Costa Nova do Prado
The seaside resort of Costa Nova do Prado, which is near to the town of Aveiro, is one of the most incredible undiscovered jewels in Portugal. Along this lovely beach, there are vacation houses in a variety of vibrant colors. In the past, they were constructed by fishermen and used for storage. Surfers and those who enjoy the wilder side of Portugal’s coast flock to this unique location, which is situated on a lengthy stretch of sand between the ocean and a lagoon.
16. Terceira Island
The “Lilac Island” is the third-largest and second-most populous island in the Azores archipelago. This lush and paradisiacal location offers outstanding, unspoiled beaches and wonderful, rural small villages. However, Terceira’s best features are its breathtaking hiking trails that lead to places like the Serra de Santa Barbara Peak and the Algar do Carvao lava tunnel. The vistas are just breathtaking, and to see as much of this location as you can, we advise scheduling a guided tour of the island.
17. Ponta do Bode Madeira
One of the lesser-known locations in Portugal, this spectacular little and rocky peninsula offers breathtaking views of the island’s rugged shoreline and the ocean. It is situated in the western part of Madeira Island. It’s worth checking out because of the breathtaking sunset views; it’s close to Canical. You can also tour the Canical Peninsula’s astounding natural treasures while you’re there.
One of Portugal’s lesser-known locations is the wonderful town of Amarante, which is situated in the country’s far north. The town is situated on numerous hills and is surrounded by forest. It is located at the foot of the mountains and is crossed by the picturesque Tâmega River.
The Sao Domingos Church, the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, the Sao Goncalo Bridge, the Sao Goncalo Church, and the Aquatic Park are some of this medieval destination’s top attractions. Consider making a day trip to the Serra do Marao Mountains if you decide to visit this town.
The picturesque city of Coimbra, one of Portugal’s most underestimated locations, is frequently passed over in favor of Lisbon or Porto even though it provides the same exciting experiences. It was originally Portugal’s capital during the Middle Ages and is now a thriving university city.
The Old Cathedral as well as the New Cathedral, the Botanical Garden, the Santa Cruz Church, the Machado do Castro National Museum, the Portugal dos Pequenitos theme park, and numerous other outstanding attractions are just a few of Coimbra’s outstanding features in addition to having one of the oldest universities in the world and a thriving cultural life.
One of Portugal’s most fascinating attractions is the ancient village of Braganca, which is situated in the far northeastern region of the country. The village is encircled by a superbly preserved medieval castle with high stone walls. The old Domus Municipalis structure, the Old Cathedral, the Santa Maria Church, the Medieval Castle, the Military Museum, and the Old Town with its picturesque alleyways and shops are just a few of the fascinating sights in Braganca.
The town of Tomar, which is in the middle of the country, is absolutely beautiful. This was one of the most significant and prominent locations in Western Europe in the 13th century. It once served as the Knights Templar’s religious headquarters. Although there are other noteworthy locations to visit, such as the Tomar Castle, the Pegoes Aqueduct, the Sao Joao Baptista Church, or the quaint old town area, the Convent of Christ served as their primary temple and is still the most well-known landmark in Tomar.
Braga, one of the oldest cities in the country, is a unique location in Portugal. The Bom Jesus Church, the Old Cathedral, the Our Lady of Sameiro Sanctuary, the Santa Cruz Church, and other exquisite churches and monasteries can be found in this city, which is thought to be Portugal’s ecclesiastical hub. Numerous palaces, gardens, and museums are also just waiting to be explored. One of the finest sites to experience the traditional “green wine,” often referred to as “young wine,” is Braga.
23. Cascata das 25 Fontes, Madeira
Stunning 25 Fontes Waterfalls are awe-inspiring. These falls, which are found in Madeira’s deep interior, can be discovered by hiking through some breathtaking terrain. Although the spectacular Cascata do Risco is almost 100 meters tall, the other structures are also stunning and make up for it with their individuality and beauty.
24. Praia da Adraga
Praia da Adraga, one of Portugal’s most picturesque beaches, lies near to Lisbon. The beautiful steep cliffs that descend into the ocean, producing a breathtaking view, are the beach’s major attraction. It boasts flawless golden sand, and just at the entrance is a great restaurant where you can have a delectable dinner.
Sortelha is one of Portugal’s lesser-known regions despite being one of the oldest and finest maintained medieval towns in the country. This small town in eastern Portugal offers an amazing rural experience with its beautiful castle built on a 760-meter-high rock and its historic granite cottages that stand amid stones and rocks.
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Travelers can enjoy a variety of amazing experiences in Portugal, but some of the best are found off the beaten road. In fact, several of the country’s greatest tourist destinations may become excessive during the summer months, with Lisbon and the Algarve seeing throngs of visitors. Portugal is one of the world’s most stunning and vibrant countries. Millions of people visit each year because of the picturesque villages and surrounding landscape.
Fortunately, Portugal offers a wide variety of additional locations and activities that are both equally worthwhile and off the beaten path as the country’s most well-known attractions. These are just some of Portugal’s most authentic things to do on the road less taken and should be on any traveler’s to-do list when visiting this wonderful country. They are beautiful, cultural, enjoyable, and still mostly undiscovered by many.
Portugal is one of the world’s most beautiful and colorful regions. It attracts millions of tourists each year due to its charming villages and natural scenery. We hope you found this list of the Portugal off the beaten paths and some best hidden gems in Portugal useful. More travel guides about Portugal can be found here. Please feel free to ask us any questions using the comments section below.