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2017-05-17

12 Best Places to Visit in Portugal

Compact yet diverse, there’s no doubt Portugal has a lot to offer. From pre-historic dinosaur footprints to some of the world’s most delectable wines, there is very little you won’t find here. But that only makes it much more difficult to answer the question: which region of Portugal should you visit? Read below to find some of our top suggestions to enjoy the very best that Portugal has to offer you.

Gerês National Park

Best for: A peaceful nature getaway

Home to some of northern Portugal’s most beautiful landscapes, the mountains and valleys of Gerês National Park are dotted with traditional villages, centuries-old monasteries and ancient Roman cement roads. Spreading between these man-made structures, you’ll find stunning oak forests, 300-million-year-old granite mountains and mesmerizing waterfalls. Here, it’s easy to leave behind the stress of the daily grind and enjoy a truly peaceful getaway among nature’s very best.

Douro Valley

Best for: Wine with a view

The Douro Valley is renowned worldwide for its award-winning port wine, but did you know this is also one of Portugal’s most scenic places? Rolling hills of perfectly sculpted terrain line the Douro River’s steep and twisted canyons, making for unique walking and cycling trips. And when you need a break to refuel, you can’t go wrong with any of the local delicacies. Every dish here is prepared with fresh local produce and pairs perfectly with a glass of port. It’s not hard to see why the locals brag that “God made the Earth, but Man made the Douro”.

Porto

Best for: An active city break

Nestled among the hills of northern Portugal, Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and one of its most picturesque. The ancient churches, elegant squares and beautiful monuments that fill Porto’s historic centre all swoop down to Ribeirinha, the riverside area protected as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In Porto, it’s not hard to find your way (you can always spot Torre dos Clérigos on the horizon if you do get lost!) making it the ideal city to explore on foot.

The Atlantic Coast

Best for: Cycling adventures

Portugal’s longest cycling path will take you all along the country’s West Coast through pristine beaches, charming towns and ancient historical sites. Take advantage of the safe and comfortable trails to explore at your own pace and immerse yourself in Portugal’s coastal traditions. Enjoy the fresh air of the region’s pine tree forests and take in the breath-taking scenery, all the while with the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean by your side.

Schist Villages

Best for: Discovering ancient traditions

Step back in time as you hike the trails that connect some of Portugal’s oldest and most traditional villages. Here, it seems like time has stood still for the last centuries preserving stone villages, ancient traditions and stunning landscapes in pristine condition. Set off on an adventure and discover roe deers, wild boars, delicious foods and villages full of history. Hidden creeks and crystal-clear river beaches will freshen you up along the journey.

Serra da Estrela

Best for: Mountain adventures

The Top of Portugal, Serra da Estrela is the perfect destination for lovers of the outdoors. Here, you’ll find incredible landscapes from deep U-shaped valleys to unique glacial lagoons. Follow the ancestral steps of shepherds, go birdwatching, or camp out underneath the stars. Easy-to-navigate hiking and trekking trails abound, making Serra da Estrela ideal for mountaineers of all levels who want to fully immerse themselves in the breath-taking landscapes of Europe’s oldest mountains.

Aire & Candeeiros Natural Park

Best for: Exploring pre-historic ruins

Sixteen trekking trails cover the granite hills of Aire & Candeeiros Natural Park, taking you through landscapes you won’t easily find anywhere else. Looking around, you might find it difficult to find a river or creek but don’t let this fool you: the region is bursting with wildlife. Its true treasures, though, can be even more challenging to spot for the untrained eye: ancient caves and pre-historic dinosaur footprints are just some of the things you can explore on a cycling or hiking trip through this natural park.

Historical Villages of Portugal

Best for: Hiking through history

With the oldest European border, Portugal’s history dates back almost 1,000 years. And nowhere is that easier to see than in its historical villages. Spread out through the Centre of Portugal, these 12 villages are a testament to Portugal’s long history, unique traditions, vibrant colours and diverse tastes. Travel back in time and explore them at your own pace on a long-distance trail (GR22) that connects them all in a loop, by mountain bike or by foot.

Lisbon

Best for: A taste of Portugal

One of Europe’s most beautiful capitals, Lisbon has everything you need from a city break: delicious food, ancient monuments, trendy cafés, charming neighbourhoods, and a stunning riverside view over the Tagus make this the perfect destination to get a small taste of Portugal. Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills, though, so bring comfortable shoes and be prepared for a few steep climbs – the views from the top will make it worth your while!

Alentejo’s Inland (Alto Alentejo)

Best for: A countryside getaway

Nestled among the plain fields of Alto Alentejo you’ll find plenty of historical sites and villages to discover. From ancient castles to Roman ruins, Alto Alentejo beautifully combines a cultural journey into Portugal’s past with a scenic cycling ride through gorgeous wheat fields. It doesn’t hurt that this region is also known for its excellent local cuisine and wines! In Alto Alentejo, you have everything you need for the perfect countryside getaway.

Vicentine Coast

Best for: A quiet beach escape

Extending for over 120km, the Vicentine Coast is Portugal’s most pristine stretch of coastline with deserted beaches and untouched landscapes dotting the scenery along the Atlantic Ocean. With its rugged rocks and steep cliffs, the Vicentine Coast offers both an adventurous getaway and a quiet escape among nature, all in one. Hike to your heart’s content along the Vicentina Trail and discover the charming fishermen towns that dot Portugal’s West coast.

Algarve

Best for: Beaches and Cycling

One of Europe’s top summer destinations, the Algarve’s magnificent coast is lined with excellent beaches and the perfect Mediterranean climate to enjoy them. But the Algarve is much more than just great weather and beaches. Cyclists of all levels can head to one of the many trails and car-free roads to discover the rolling hills of Serra de Monchique and picturesque villages in the countryside.

From towering granite mountains to cosmopolitan cities and deserted beaches, it’s easy to see how the scenery in Portugal is ever-changing. There is, however, one thing that remains the same wherever you go: hundreds of kilometres of trails await you to hike, trek or cycle your way through some of Portugal’s most beautiful landscapes. (And in case you’re wondering when you should visit Portugal to enjoy its outdoors activities in perfect weather conditions, check out this article!)



 

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