Portugal is a country that never fails to amaze me. It is a great destination for exploring, finding hidden gems, and tasting delicious food… Oh, and we can’t forget their amazing wine too.
This country is so much more than its famous places like the Algarve and Lisbon. Portugal has stunning beaches, great hiking trails, fascinating history and incredible scenery spread across the country.
Although Portugal is a popular destination, it is one of the most affordable places in Europe. Eating out can cost as little as 10euros per person, some local restaurants do special lunch deals, meaning you can end up spending less.
While there are so many great towns to choose from, the good news is, travelling through Portugal is easy. Meaning you don’t have to spend all your time in just one place. You can see as much as possible.
Spending a couple of nights in different towns is the best way to get a real taste of Portugal.
The best option is to rent a car and go on a road trip. Stopping over at many beautiful towns and villages along the way.
The second option is to do a train journey. Most towns and even small villages have a train station so it is super easy to get from one place to the other.
Portugal has 3 international airports, Porto, Lisbon and faro airport. Each airport is easy to get to and has hundreds of flights arriving and departing daily. To find affordable flights check it out here.
Where To Stay
Booking.com is my favourite website to find accommodation. It shows me everything that is available in each location with competitive prices. It is easy to book and most places you can book and pay later.
Keep reading to find out the top 11 most beautiful towns in Portugal that deserve more attention.
Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês
Peneda-Gerês is situated in Northern Portugal close to the Spanish border and it is the only national park in Portugal.
It’s home to over 100 small villages which have not changed much since the 12th century. One of the best villages to visit is Castro Laboreiro as it offers some of the most breath-taking views of the national park. There is also a lot of history to discover in this tiny village.
You will also be able to swim in one of the many waterfalls located in the heart of Gerês or go on a hike with or without a guide and discover everything this place has to offer.
Braga & Guimarães
I have put these two towns together as they are nearby to each other and both can be visited on the same day.
Guimarães is a medieval town and it’s an important part of the country’s history. It is known as the birthplace of Portugal. There is even an old tower with the words ‘Aqui nasceu Portugal’ which translates to ‘Portugal was born here’.
You can visit palaces and the Guimarães castle to learn more about the history and why it is so important.
One of my favourite things to do here is to take the cable car up to Penha mountain and enjoy the panoramic views of the city. Once you are at the top in Penha you can spend some time there by going for a walk and enjoying nature.
Approximately a 20-minute drive from Guimarães you will find the religious city of Braga. Braga is known for its beautiful gardens, historical buildings, and most importantly ‘Bom Jesus Braga’ which is a sanctuary at the top of a hill with a long staircase leading to it.
On your way up the stairs, you will see beautiful themed fountains. This is the main attraction of Braga and worth spending a couple of hours exploring the historic sites.
The Douro Valley has a mixture of incredible scenery and amazing wine. Going on a boat tour along the Douro River is a must.
You can either go on a short 45-minute tour through the mountains just to appreciate the scenery or you can go on a day trip, stopping over at some of the most beautiful nearby towns. Some tours even include wine tasting.
For true nature lovers, hiking and cycling trails are available here and should not be missed.
Amarante is a picturesque town situated between vineyards and the Tâmega River. Its history and traditions are not to be missed. Take a walk across the famous Ponte de São Gonçalo (bridge) and visit the beautiful church right beside it.
Or spend some time by the riverfront and taste some delicious green wine in one of the local cafes.
Aveiro is definitely underrated. It is known as the Venice of Portugal with its beautiful canal and colourful traditional boats, minus the massive crowds.
But the true hidden gem is in Costa Nova, a 10 minute drive from the town centre. Costa Nova is the coastal area of Aveiro, with crystal clear lagoons and wonderful beaches.
If you hate crowded beaches, then you will love this beach.
There is also a stunning strip, with amazing restaurants serving delicious & fresh seafood and also cute striped painted houses. This is a beautiful colourful town.
Serra da Estrela
This is the highest mountain range in Portugal. Things to do depend on what time of year you visit. In the winter it becomes the best location for skiing. It is one of the few places where it snows and temperatures can go as low as minus 20 degrees.
The ski resort is usually open from November to April and welcomes beginners and experienced skiers.
During the summer many people visit Serra da Estrela to hike. Most hiking trails are for intermediate and expert hikers. Depending on how high up you go, you will be met with breath-taking views.
One of the prettiest places in Portugal I have ever seen is Marvão, an incredible village located at the top of a hill surrounded by walls. The medieval sites, white-washed houses and the Marvão castle are the main attractions here.
Once you arrive, you will enter through a gate into the village and be met with cute narrow cobblestone streets and rich history.
If you walk towards the castle you will see stunning views of the surrounding mountains and villages.
Remember those classic movies that you use to watch on TV of ancient buildings, temples, and a horse and carriage?
Well, Evora, in the heart of the Alentejo is exactly like that today. When you arrive the first thing you will see is the ruins of the Roman Temple of Evora.
The temple was built in the 1st century but was destroyed a few centuries later. This is the most important landmark in Evora due to its long history.
Across from the temple, you will find the Evora Cathedral. From the outside, it may just look like another plain old building, but inside it is beautiful and the architecture is amazing. It surely deserves a visit.
Make sure to also explore the main square. You will find many shops selling items made of cork (cork is what the Alentejo is known for).
I will be honest, I didn’t even know this place existed and I had not planned to visit. I can’t even remember how I ended up here but I am so glad I did.
Even though it is a small village it has a lot to offer. It has history, culture, art, wine tasting, hiking trails, and beautiful views of the valley.
Inside the Evoramonte walls, you can visit a fascinating 16th-century castle as well as explore the beautiful streets with hand-painted stones while admiring the natural beauty of the village.
120km from Lisbon you will find one of Portugal’s best kept secrets, the village of Comporta. Imagine going on a luxurious beach holiday, with no loud music coming from the nearby cafes or bars and no crowds.
Well, that’s what you get in Comporta. It is miles of beautiful white sand beaches, restaurants serving amazing local food, and a peaceful atmosphere.
This makes the perfect place go get away from the real world and recharge.