Have you ever been to Portugal? No? You definitely should get that flight ticket and go there, now! It’s one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit, it has 800 years of history as a nation plus a few other hundreds of culture and heritage. Lisbon, the capital, is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe! Even older than Rome!
The average temperature in Lisbon, during Winter, is 17º! That’s like Summer for most of European Northern countries! And in average, we have only 82 rainy days, that’s even less than three months a year!
Portugal has culture, has history, has beaches (a loooot), has mountains, you can have adventure and relaxation! You can find it all in that tiny country next to Spain.
So, after this not so short introduction, here’s my list of 5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day.
5th – Douro Vinhateiro
Douro is the second longest river in Portugal, in the north with its mouth in Oporto city. The Douro Vinhateiro is a long valley which is the region where you can find the vineyards of the famous Porto wine, and where it is produced. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
You’d need a few days to properly explore the region, and to make your life easier, you can find several touristic plans and tours. My recommendation to visit this region is by car, but if you’re a new driver or not used to drive on the right side, then you should be extra careful. Almost all roads are two-ways lanes and quite narrow, through the edge of the valley cliffs. There is also the option to do this route by train or by boat on one of the several river cruises that you can find in Oporto city or Vila Nova de Gaia.
4th – Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo is a small city right in the very north of Portugal, also the seat of the district with the same name. If you like small and cosy cities, Viana do Castelo should be on your list to visit. Besides all that you should expect from a city to relax, certainly you will be surprised by some familiar architecture.
The Saint Luzia Basilica will for sure catch your attention, placed in a very high and visible part of the city, it is quite similar to the famous Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris, however, unlike most people think, this one isn’t a copy as the project for this Basilica was draft before Sacré Coeur being even built.
Those that are more into architecture might also notice that there is another landmark with characteristic lines, the railway bridge, which is also a work of Eiffel’s house.
3rd – Almeida
I don’t remember when was the last time I visited this small town, but I still remember that I was quite impressed by it. It is for sure a place to visit by all of those that like warlike architecture. Almeida is a star shape fort-village part of a group of 3 medieval villages (from the same municipality), located to form a strategic defense of the Côa river’s valley.
Despite its cultural importance, this village isn’t an UNESCO World Heritage, however it is recognized as National Heritage since 1928.
After your visit to the Douro Vinhateiro, you can do a detour to Almeida, I can assure you won’t regret it.
2nd – Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast
A really nice area in Portugal for those who like less crowded beaches even desert beaches, with several cosy villages and small towns, a huge natural park and much more to explore. It is an amazing area for those who love Nature, and tanking into account Portugal’s climate, it is also really inviting for ciclo-tourism.
On of my favorite places in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast is the Pessegueiro Island (direct translation would be peach tree) where you can find a 500 years old fort. On the opposite side of the Natural Park you can find the Cape St. Vincent, in Portugal’s Southwest, very close to Sagres Fort.
1st – Óbidos
I left my favorite town for last. Since I was a kid that I go to Óbidos, my summer holidays were spent very close to this beautiful town, so often we used to go there to spend just a few hours. Óbidos is a castle-town, the name comes from the latin ópido which means citadel.
It is easy to get there from Lisbon either by train or car, the trip by train takes a while, but it totally worths the waiting. The ideal would be letting yourselves get lost through the narrow streets, walk through the walls and visit the castle. Outside the walls you can also visit the Aqueduct. And if you go in March, don’t miss the Chocolate Festival, it is getting very touristic nowadays, but it is still an experience mostly for those who love chocolate. But who doesn’t anyway?
I hope you like this list, it is just a list of a few places to visit in Portugal besides the most popular ones, which also should be visited. They are popular for a reason.