The most beautiful towns and villages in Portugal are home to stunning landscapes and charming architecture.
When you think about Portugal, it’s not just Lisbon, Porto and the beaches of the Algarve. Portugal has so much more to offer once you get off the beaten track. Here’s a route through the most beautiful Portuguese villages that everyone must visit at least once in their life. And even if the coronavirus pandemic means that we have to wait a little bit longer to travel in 2021, nothing is stopping us from planning a picture perfect trip to the prettiest towns in Portugal.
From a small fishing villages, to a fortified castle town ready for attack by the Spanish, passing through the majesty of the palaces of Sintra, this route is sure to make you want to get your camera out and fill your Instagram feed with colourful buildings and charming landscapes.
Sintra, just half an hour by train from Lisbon, is a must see as soon as you set foot in Portugal. With its spectacular palaces, gardens and walls, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and is worth every minute you spend walking through its beautiful streets.
From the 16th-century National Palace in the centre of the village, work your way outwards, flanked by colourful houses which gradually lead you to the town’s other wonderful monuments: the Castelo dos Mouros, built in the 9th century, and the Palacio Da Pena (Pena Palace), residence of the Portuguese royal family during the 19th century.
Estremoz, located about 30 miles west of the Spanish border near Badajoz, is a small but charming village in Portugal. The old town is situated on a hilltop surrounded by picturesque walls and has two access gates, Francina and Santarem. What stands out most within the walled enclosure is the castle and the 28-metre-high tower.
Estremoz is also one of the best representatives of the wine tradition in the Alentejo area of Portugal, making it a great place for an enotourist getaway.
The medieval village of Óbidos, in the Leiria area, is especially famous for its spectacular Arabian castle, one of the 7 wonders of Portugal, and its ring of medieval walls. If you get the chance to visit Óbidos, then the best way to visit the walled town is to enter through the door of Santa Maria to really appreciate the impressive array of 18th century azulejo tiles. Once inside, be prepared to walk and be amazed by the gleaming white facades and the heady scent of beautiful bougainvilleas "paper" flowers.
Make sure to pay a visit the Chapel of São Martinho, the Parish Church of Santa Maria and the Church of Senhor da Pedra.
Portugal has an incredible tradition of fishing villages, and Ericeira, near Mafra, is one of the most beautiful fishing villages in Portugal. You're in for a treat, ad will best enjoy the village by strolling through its cobblestone streets and photographing its little blue and white houses.
In addition to its seafaring roots and devotion to the patron saint of fishermen, Ericeira is famous for being part of Portugal's living history: from the port located in the area, the Portuguese royal family went into exile in Brazil more than a century ago.
In Monsaraz, a small hilltop village close to the border between Spain and Portugal near the province of Badajoz and in the Alentejo region, things have a medieval vibe. Because of its location on the border, the Portuguese built a castle here centuries ago to watch over the river Guadiana and protect against possible attacks by the Spanish.
The streets of Monsaraz are an authentic time machine that transport you to another era, one with more peace and tranquillity, but also with unique expressions of music, theatre and dance. Don't forget to check out some of the local food, and wash down your meal with some Monsaraz wine.