Portugal is one of my favorite destinations in the world. It has a collection of stunning beaches, fairytale palaces, delicious wines and some incredible villages that still preserve their charm and traditions.
Every traveler that chooses Portugal as a destination knows about Lisbon, Porto or Algarve, but Portugal has a lot more to offer than these popular places. If you’re willing to step off the beaten track, you’ll discover some breathtaking places still unknown to most tourists.
In this post, I’ll share with you the 20 most beautiful hidden gems in Portugal that should be on any traveler’s bucket list. Let me show you how diverse and special Portugal really is!
Top 20 Portugal hidden gems
20. Berlengas Islands, Leiria
One of the most beautiful hidden places in Portugal, the barren and dramatic islands of Berlengas are truly picturesque. Located close to the town of Peniche, they feature thriving seagull colonies, as well as other species of birds and rich marine life.
The highlight of this small rocky archipelago can be found on the bigger island of Berlenga Grande, where the old fort of Sao Joao Baptista sits on a small rocky outcrop reachable over a stone bridge. Apart from visiting the fort, you can also take a boat or a canoe around the islands to discover stunning caves.
19. Porto Moniz, Madeira
One of Portugal’s secret places, Porto Moniz is truly an unforgettable destination, located on the northwestern extremity of Madeira Island. The true wonder and the main draw of Porto Moniz are the unique lava pools created by the rising tide, where travelers can relax in one of the most fascinating environments.
These black basalt pools are safe for swimming and a perfect destination for those looking for a unique experience. If you want to spend more time in the area, choose one of the hotels located right on the shore. You can visit this unique place with a guided tour from Funchal. Check out this top-rated tour that includes stops Cabo Girao, Paul da Serra and others.
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18. Buracas do Casmilo
The stunning Buracas Valley is located in central Portugal, close to the city of Coimbra and near the village of Casmilo. The destination features impressive caves and karst formations created over millions of years along a narrow gorge that can be explored on foot.
It is one of the unknown places in Portugal, a destination where you enjoy the beauty of nature without worrying about crowds of people. For those passionate about geology and not only, this is a must-see.
There are many unique destinations in Portugal that travelers don’t know about and one of them is the breathtaking village of Piodao. This secluded little settlement is perched along a steep mountain range, surrounded by forests and river valleys.
The tightly packed houses are entirely built out of a rock named schist, creating an idyllic image that resembles a fairytale in the middle of the mountains. Apart from experiencing the authentic atmosphere while walking on the narrow cobblestone alleys, you should also visit the white Parish Church.
16. Covao dos Conchos
One of the alternative things to do in Portugal, Covao dos Conchos is somewhat surreal, looking almost like an otherworldly portal. Located in the middle of an artificial lake in the remote Serra da Estela Mountains, this sinkhole is actually an artificial funnel.
It leads into an underground tunnel that is part of a hydro-electric system that provides water for nearby communities. There are no other manmade structures nearby and the opening looks almost natural.
Many years ago, this authentic settlement was voted as “the most Portuguese village in Portugal” and much of its character has been preserved to this day. Those who wish to discover Portugal off the beaten path should definitely travel to Monsanto, a small village located deep in the countryside close to the Spanish border.
The traditional granite houses were built among huge boulders that are part of the rural landscape itself, being integrated into the houses. The narrow streets are also paved with granite. If you have enough time, visit the interesting ruins of an old castle and chapel at the top of the hill.
14. Costa Nova do Prado
One of the most amazing Portugal hidden gems is the seaside destination of Costa Nova do Prado, located close to the town of Aveiro. Brightly colored holiday huts are lined along this picturesque beach. They were built by fishermen and used as storage in the past.
Located on a long stretch of sand between the ocean and a lagoon, this fascinating place is a haven for surfers and those who love the wild side of Portugal’s coast.
13. Sao Miguel Island
This gorgeous destination’s surname is the “Green Island” due to the dense forests surrounding mountain peaks and azure lakes formed in former volcano calderas. The largest island of the Azores Archipelago is an astonishing place where everything looks like a postcard, from the dramatic coast created by the Atlantic Ocean to the twin blue-green lakes at Sete Citades.
Among the most interesting sights on this island are a few thermal pools, towns with a rich cultural heritage and breathtaking panoramic views that can be admired from the mountain tops. You can also go whale watching or explore the incredible western part of the island with a guided tour.
The small town of Obidos is located in the Oeste Region and is one of the secret places in Portugal. Located on top of a hill and surrounded by medieval walls, the town features a majestic castle and impressive medieval architecture, as well as an enchanting atmosphere.
The main sights in Obidos include the well-preserved castle, the traditionally painted houses, the blooming alleys, several splendid churches and entertaining festivals. There are also beautiful beaches located on the coast nearby.
11. Terceira Island
The third largest and second most populated island of the Azores is also known as the “Lilac Island”. This green and paradisiac destination features exceptional pristine beaches and superb little towns in the middle of nature.
Nevertheless, the highlights of Terceira are the inspiring hiking paths leading to marvelous sights like the Algar do Carvao lava tunnel or the Serra de Santa Barbara Peak. The views are simply incredible! I recommend booking a guided tour of the island like this one to see as much as possible of this place at an affordable price.
10. Ponta do Bode Madeira
Located in the western part of Madeira Island, this stunning tiny and rocky peninsula is one of the unknown places in Portugal, a truly beautiful place with astonishing views of the dramatic coast of the island and the ocean. Located close to the town of Canical, it’s worth exploring mostly for the stunning sunset panoramas. While in the area, you can also explore the astonishing natural wonders of the Canical Peninsula.
The medieval jewel Marvao is one of the best unique things to do in Portugal, offering an inspiring experience deep in the countryside. The old castle of Marvao stands on a rocky cliff above the splendid whitewashed stone cottages and lovely cobblestone streets of the medieval town.
With its troubled history due to the closeness to the Spanish border, the town of Marvao is mostly known for its castle, but it also features a little museum, several hiking paths and other interesting sights nearby.
Located in the countryside far north, the marvelous town of Amarante is one of the less-known places in Portugal. Nestled at the foot of the mountains and crossed by the charming Tâmega River, the town sits on several hills and is surrounded by woodland.
The main sights of this medieval destination include the Sao Goncalo Bridge, the Sao Goncalo Church, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Sao Domingos Church and the Aquatic Park. If you decide to visit this town, take a day trip to the Serra do Marao Mountains.
One of the most underrated places in Portugal, the charming city of Coimbra is often overlooked in favor of Lisbon or Porto, yet it offers the same fascinating experiences. Today a thriving university city, it was once the medieval capital of Portugal.
Apart from one of the oldest universities in the world and a vibrant cultural life, Coimbra also features several exceptional attractions, including the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral, the Botanical Garden, the Santa Cruz Church, the Machado do Castro National Museum, the Portugal dos Pequenitos theme park and many others.
Located in the remote northeastern extremity of the country, the medieval town of Braganca is one of the most fascinating destinations in Portugal. Its perfectly conserved medieval castle with tall stone walls surrounds the town.
Braganca is a wonderful discovery, featuring several interesting things to see such as the Medieval Castle and the Military Museum, the old Domus Municipalis building, the Old Cathedral, the Santa Maria Church and the old town area with charming streets and workshops.
Located in the center of the country, the town of Tomar is truly stunning. Back in the 13th century, this was one of the most important and influential places in Western Europe. It used to be the religious headquarters of the Knights Templar.
The Convent of Christ was their main temple and it’s still the most famous sight in Tomar, although there are also other interesting places to see, like the Tomar Castle, the Pegoes Aqueduct, Sao Joao Baptista Church, or the charming old town area.
One of the oldest cities in the country, Braga is one of the offbeat places in Portugal. Regarded as the religious center of Portugal, the city is home to magnificent churches and monasteries, like the Bom Jesus Church, the Old Cathedral, the Santa Cruz Church, the Our Lady of Sameiro Sanctuary and others.
Also many museums, gardens, and palaces are waiting to be discovered. Braga is also one of the best places to try the traditional “green wine”, also known as “young wine”.
3. Cascata das 25 Fontes, Madeira
The stunning 25 Fontes Waterfalls are truly impressive. Located in the wild heart of Madeira, these falls can be explored along a hiking path, passing through some exceptional scenery. The stunning Cascata do Risco is over 100 meters high but the others are equally beautiful, compensating through their uniqueness or beauty.
2. Praia da Adraga
Considered one of the most scenic beaches in Portugal, Praia da Adraga is located close to Lisbon. The main draw of this wild and idyllic beach is the stunning high cliffs that drop into the ocean, creating a breathtaking scenery. It has perfect golden sand and there is an excellent restaurant at the entrance, where you can enjoy a delicious meal.
One of the oldest and best preserved medieval towns in the country, Sortelha is one of the unknown places in Portugal. With its majestic castle perched on a 760 meters high rock and its old granite houses that stand between boulders and rocks, this small town makes for an unforgettable countryside trip in eastern Portugal.
Portugal is one of the most beautiful and colorful destinations in the world. With its charming villages and natural scenery it attracts millions of tourists each year. If you want to avoid the crowds, I hope you found this list of the best hidden gems in Portugal useful.
By: Aurelia Teslaru/ dailytravelpill.com