Portugal has some of the most stunning landscapes and its postcard-like small towns and villages offer splendid views, authentic local culture, hills and beaches and all the peace and quiet you might need.
After you fall in love with the beauty and charms of Porto (it’s inevitable…) and have a good time in wonderful Lisbon, head out of the city to explore some more.
I asked travel bloggers to recommend the most beautiful places to see in Portugal. The result is a lovely mix of quaint little towns and enchanting villages that you want to add to your Portugal bucket list.
What are the best villages and small towns to see in Portugal?
The views out of Monsaraz are as delightful as those within it. Sat high on a hill in Eastern Alentejo, overlooking Guadiana River and Lake Alqueva, this small village is one of the oldest in the area, and has been populated since prehistoric times.
To one side is the medieval Monsaraz Castle, built to defend the area from nearby Spain.
To the other is the white washed village, a charming maze of cobbled streets and pretty buildings.
These days, most are run as bars, restaurants and shops, including an excellent local winery’s shop located in the former village school.
Whilst driving or walking up to the village (note that parking is very limited), take a moment to see artist Joaquim Inacio Coelho Neves Cardoso’s 2015 artwork representing local choral singers.
Just two hours drive from Lisbon, Monsaraz is well worth visiting as a day trip, or fits into a trip exploring the Alentejo region.
You can also take a train from Lisbon to Evora, from which you’ll need to take two buses or a local taxi to reach the village.
The peaceful town of Amarante in the north of Portugal is a cultural hotspot where there is so much to see, do, and learn.
From the Ponte de São Gonçalo which leads travelers into the town to the numerous churches, museums, and parks, there really is something for everyone in Amarante.
Lying between the Serra do Marão and the Tâmega Valley, Amarante is part of the Romanesque Route of Spain and Portugal which highlights stunning buildings and sites of significance from the Romanesque period.
The Igreja de São Gonçalo, the Mosteiro do Salvador in Travanca, the Igreja de Santo André in Telões and the Mosteiro do Salvador in Freixo de Baixo are all examples of this beautiful Romanesque architecture.
Aside from artists and architecture, Amarante is also famed for wine, particularly Vinho Verde, or green wine.
This is a tasty traditional drink from the vineyards around Amarante is a must-try and is great served alongside local Portuguese cuisine.
While Amarante is an excellent year-round destination, it is particularly good to travel in spring and autumn for a temperate climate and clear, dry days, or during the Festas de São Gonçalo (the first weekend in June) for some exciting local celebrations!
By Chrysoula from Travel Passionate.
Sagres is a small windswept town on the south-westernmost coast of Portugal, in the Algarve.
The unspoilt beaches are surrounded by rugged cliffs and wild seas, it’s a landscape photographers dream.
If you’re looking for epic sunsets, Sagres produces some of the best. Head out of a coastal walk, cliff top hike or cycle the coastline to experience the sun slowly dip into the Atlantic ocean.
It’s a popular spot for surfers and body boarders with favourable conditions all year round.
A visit to Sagres wouldn’t be complete without exploring Cabo de São Vicente, the storm battered headland that juts out over the sea.
It was once thought that this was the edge of the earth and was the last piece of land that Portuguese sailors would see before venturing out into the unknown.
Sagres is a superb little town to stay if you’re looking to take some time out and explore nature.
There are some great little restaurants, cafes and bars. Sagres is small, so expect a small town, laid back vibe.
The best time to visit is out of season (mid-September/October) when it’s still warm enough but also quiet and peaceful.
Santana is a small town along the northern coast of the island of Madeira.
It has about 8800 inhabitants, but every year lots of tourists visit this place, because of its typical thatched houses.
These homes were traditionally built with sloping triangular rooftops and they were covered with straw.
Originally local farmers lived in them, but nowadays they function as small shops with local products and traditional crafts for tourists to buy.
There are 4 traditional houses in the centre of Santana near the City Hall. They are free to visit.
However, if you want to immerse yourself more into the history and culture of Madeira, then you should visit the Madeira Theme Park.
This place has lots of interesting exhibitions and attractions for children and adults as well.
Santana makes a great day trip from Funchal. The easiest way to get around on the island is by car, but this cute, little village can be also accessed by the local bus.
The town doesn’t have many restaurants, so you need to plan for that. Santana is also the beginning of several Levada walks.
Hiking in Madeira is a great way to see the island, so bring your hiking boots for your visit!
By Eniko from Travel Hacker Girl. Follow her on Instagram.
Sete Cidades, Sao Miguel Island
The small parish of Sete Cidades can be found on the west side of the Azores island of Sao Miguel. It sits in the centre of a huge volcanic crater alongside Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde, the blue and green coloured lakes.
There are a few restaurants and shops in Sete Cidades but what’s really worth going for are the views.
There are several viewpoints, or ‘miradoura’, around the rim of the volcanic crater that overlook the parish and lakes.
The best views can be found at Miradouro da Vista do Rei and Miradouro da Grota do Inferno. At the Vista do Rei viewpoint, you’ll also find the abandoned Monte Palace Hotel, a former five-star resort.
The hotel is a popular place for urban explorers and is fascinating to look around.
After checking out the viewpoints, you can head into Sete Cidades itself and hire a canoe from the shores of Lagoa Azul to take around the volcanic lakes.
Although the whole island of Sao Miguel is full of incredible scenery, Sete Cidades is easily one of the most beautiful and iconic.
The area can be very misty first thing in the morning so it’s best to go a bit later and on a very clear day for the best views.
To find the most stunning place in Portugal is not an easy task. There are just so many beautiful towns and villages. One of the best villages to visit is Benagil in Algarve.
The beautiful region of Algarve is a paradise on earth, where summer lasts almost all year. Numerous beaches and colourful cliffs attract many tourists from many parts of the world.
Benagil is a small village on the Atlantic Ocean coast, located 5 km from the famous Carvoeiro.
Until recently, the inhabitants lived exclusively on fishing, tourism is currently the main source of their income. And there is one main reason why so many visit this village – the Benagil cave!
About 150 m from the beach of Benagil there is this large grotto with two entrances. Its vault collapsed in one place many years ago – and thanks to that the sun’s rays reach the interior.
Among the rock walls is a small beach, which probably belongs to the most amazingly situated in the world!
Cave Benagil cave, also called Algar de Benagil, is the most popular cave on the Algarve coast and without a doubt one of the most impressive caves in Europe.
Being in this part of Portugal, visiting Benagil village is a must. You just can’t miss the opportunity to see the famous Bangil cave.
By Darek from Darek & Gosia.
Portugal is full of charming villages but the pretty little town of Cascais may be one of the cutest.
Located 30 minutes north of Lisbon by train locals and in the know visitors head to Cascais for an easy, laid back beach experience.
With three beaches and a prime position on the Atlantic coast Cascais is the perfect place to take a dip to escape the heat of the Portuguese sun.
If you can tear yourself away from the golden sands you’ll find plenty to do. The Old Town of Cascais features a wavy street mosaic in its central square that’s flanked by palm trees and pastel buildings.
Spend some time exploring the narrow alleys filled with cute shops and sip some Portuguese wine at an outdoor cafe.
Experience the cultural side of Cascais by exploring the Cidadela de Cascais, a fort that’s been guarding the harbor since the 15th century and check out modern art at the nearby Cidadela Art District.
Cascais has a fleet of bikes available to visitors that are perfect for exploring the Ciclovia bike path.
While in Cascais be sure to head up to Cabo da Roca, the western most point of Europe, for some great hiking and views of the windswept coast.
Tucked away in the southeast corner of Alentejo near the border with Spain, Mértola, Portugal is a beautiful whitewashed town surrounded by medieval walls.
Its most distinctive features are the many visible traces of the Moorish Empire, during which it was known as Martulah.
While at one time all of Portugal was ruled by the Moors, there are not as many visible reminders of this part of history as there are in Spain.
Mértola is the exception, and it shows off its Islamic heritage with pride.
The Igreja Matriz, a.k.a the town’s main church, was originally built in the 12th century as a mosque, and the mihrab and other distinguishing architectural features remain intact.
There’s also a Museum of Islamic Art and an archaeological site showcasing buildings and various artifacts from Mertola’s Islamic period. The best time to visit is during the Islamic Festival in May, but this only takes place every other year (in odd years, so the next one will be in 2021).
Otherwise, spring and autumn are when Mértola is at its most pleasant. Summer can be uncomfortably hot, especially given that you’ll be climbing up and down a lot of stairs while exploring the town.
Due to Mértola’s strategic position on top of a hill overlooking the Guadiana and Oeiras Rivers, some of its streets are pretty steep.
Obidos is a tiny but beautiful village in Portugal just an hour or so away from Lisbon.
The best time to visit is July, when the town holds its annual medieval festival and you really feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s known for its well-preserved medieval architecture with the remains of an old castle and a long stone wall encircling the town.
You can still walk around these walls, from which you get a simply breathtaking view of the Portuguese countryside.
At the town’s entrance, you’ll be met with a stunning arched gate which is decorated on the inside with classic azulejos which are iconic in Portugal.
Then you can wander through the town’s narrow streets, which are made up of colourful walls and bright flowers.
They are lined with shops run by locals selling souvenirs as well as Obidos’ famous ginjinha drink, served in a small chocolate cup.
Lastly, Obidos is a UNESCO city of literature and boasts over 10 bookshops despite its small size.
You can visit a bookshop in a former market, old church, wine cellar and more. It’s also home to the largest literary hotel in the world, The Literary Man Hotel, which holds over 65,000 books!
The beautiful village of Carvoeiro is located 3 hours south of Lisbon in Portugal’s Algarve.
While many popular destinations in the Algarve are all-inclusive party destinations, Carvoeiro is a small, quiet village with a beautiful beach that is in an ideal location for exploring some of the most stunning beaches and cliffs in the Algarve.
Unlike many of the local beaches, Carvoeiro beach is accessible without stairs or hills.
Just a simple walk from the town centre, Carvoeiro beach is located in a sheltered cove which makes it great for swimming.
Above the Carvoeiro beach is the start of a scenic boardwalk that takes you along the incredible orange cliffs that border the Atlantic Ocean.
The views are incredible and along the way, you can step off the boardwalk to explore the peaks and ridges closer to the ocean.
Boat tours leave directly from Carvoeiro to the famous Benagil Cave and one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, Praia da Marinha. It is such an incredible experience to see the majestic rock formations surrounding these beaches from the water.
If you plan to visit the beaches, and you really should, there are many within a short drive from Carvoeiro including Praia de Vale Centeanes, Praia da Marinha and Praia do Carvahlo which is accessible by walking through a stone cave!
There are so many more amazing things to do in Carvoeiro and every one of them comes with views that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
This slice of heaven is a beautiful fishing village on the south coast of the Algarve.
Burgau alone is the reason I want to move to Portugal. It is the first place I’ve been to where it felt like home. It’s main attraction is it’s beach Praia de Burgau, small and peaceful surrounded by hills, which protect you from strong winds with a beach hut bar situated at the top for when you get thirsty. It has coastal walks so you can walk along the cliff tops and go to neighbouring villages all the way to Lagod if you really wanted!.
Burgau is the place to go for a nice relaxing holiday, it is nice and small, everything is close together and unlike some holiday places, it hasn’t been ruined by huge skyscraper buildings and hotels. I cannot recommend this place enough.
The province of Santarem where the Zezere and Tejo rivers is where you’ll find the glorious town of Constancia. Most well-known in Portugal as the home of the famous poet Luís de Camões, you’ll find a statue of him on the riverbank.
Here you’ll also find whitewashed houses, narrow and cobbled streets that all lead down to the river, where the area comes alive with festivals throughout the year.
There are cottages to rent in the area, and a fabulous guest house on the main square, the Casa Joao Chagas.
The rivers provide for activities and entertainment here, there’s kayaking from Castelo do Bode Lake and also situated in the centre of the river, the stunning and magical Almourol Castle is just 5 kilometres distant.
Public transport links are available from nearby Abrantes or Tomar, but Constancia is also easy to reach by road, via the A23 to the east of Torres Novas.
Pinhão sits pretty on the banks of the Douro river in Northern Portugal. It is one of the main port wine-producing towns in the Douro Valley.
The drive from Porto to Pinhao is scenic and considered one of the best drives in the world. The road takes you along the river and through the terraced hills where grapes, citrus and olives are grown.
Another way you can get to Pinhão is by taking a river cruise from Porto.
Pinhão makes for a great place to spend a few days in Douro valley and explore the region. There are several vineyards nearby that you can visit.
Once you cross the bridge from Peso da Régua into Pinhão, don’t miss a stop at the train station. You can take the scenic train from here, it runs from Porto to Pocinho, high up in the Alto Douro.
Or just stop by to admire the beautiful Portuguese blue and white tile works. There are several pretty hand painted tiles at the Pinhão train station that depict scenes from the Douro valley.
We had a lovely lunch in Pinhão before driving up the valley to find a few scenic viewpoints in the Douro Valley.
Before your trip to Portugal
- Get travel medical insurance
- Find flights to Portugal from anywhere
- Find vacation rentals or hotels in Portugal
- Find guided tours and activities in Portugal
- Get a Portugal guide book