Best Hidden Gems in Portugal


In recent years, the cities of Lisbon and Porto have become the favourite destinations of travellers from around the world and have been experiencing the largest tourist growth in Europe. If you have already had the chance to visit these two exceptional cities and want to think outside the box, come and discover some of Portugal’s best-hidden gems.

They are among the most beautiful villages of Portugal or among the most beautiful secret places of Portugal. Often hidden, little known to travellers, they are real jewels and well worth a visit.

From the island of Farol via Casa do Penedo and the island of Flores, come and visit exceptional places in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.

Book your flights and accommodation at the best price today and discover the best-hidden gems in Portugal.

Costa Nova

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Costa Nova, Aveiro, Portugal, Copyright  Grace_ZZO   - European Best Destinations

Costa Nova is renowned for the beauty of its colorful houses and fish market.

The houses along the main avenue, Avenida José Estevao, are the main tourist attraction of this small town connected to Aveiro by a bridge. They were once used to store fishing equipment and over time have become vacation homes. Some are available for rent. Hurry up! These beautiful little colourful houses are sometimes booked months in advance.

Casa do Penedo

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Casa do Penedo copyright  Uwe Aranas - European Best Destinations

This strange house is located in “Moreira do Rei” near Fafe, in the north of Portugal; it was built in the middle of 4 big rocks similar to the outer walls of a castle and seems to come straight out of an episode of “Flinstones”.

Its owners had it built in the mid 70’s and still use it as a holiday home. It’s very rustic though: there is no electricity. Want to find the spot easily? Type “Rua Rally de Portugal n.º1610, 4800-000 Fafe” in Google Maps and follow the directions.

Azenhas do mar

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Azenhas do Mar -  Copyright   Stefano_Valeri - European Best Destinations

Only 50 minutes from Lisbon experience a total change of scenery. This small fishing village hung to the flank of the cliffs, will blow up your Instagram account.

Once you’ve taken your photo and posted it on your social networks leave your phone in your bag, put on your swimsuit and dive into the natural pool of seawater or lie on the sheltered beach. Are you a bit peckish? Typical Portuguese food and seafood restaurants await you in this authentic Portuguese village.

Quinta da Regaleira

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Sintra - Quinta de Regaleira Copyright  LALS STOCK  - European Best Destinations

This is where the most beautiful palaces and the most beautiful castles of Europe are. They seem to come straight out of a fairy tale and charm travelers, celebrities and crowned heads. from all over the world: Madonna, who lived in Lisbon for 3 years, also bought a “Quinta” in Sintra; she was seduced by the beauty of this city north of Lisbon. Finally, she did not take the time to renovate her palace and Queen Madonna left Sintra on a whim: the Municipality had refused her access on horseback to a historic palace for the needs of one of her music videos. Furious, she left Portugal.

Madonna is gone now but the beauties and riches of Sintra remain. Do not miss a visit to “Pena Palace”, you can book your tickets online today to avoid queues.

Berlengas Archipelago

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Berlenga Island Copyright  Tatiana Popova - European Best Destinations

You think that “Peniche” is already a hidden gem and that this small fishing town is already a little piece of paradise. Portugal is generous and always offers you more. Berlengas Archipelago is the icing on the cake.

Located just an hour’s drive from Lisbon (and a 10-minute boat ride from Peniche), the Berlengas Archipelago seems to have come out of a children’s fairy tale. Its fort and lighthouse, on the main island of Berlenga Grande, are the symbols of this archipelago.

This nature reserve is protected but visitable and accessible. You can even sunbathe on the small beach accessible only by boat.


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Santana Copyright  Balate Dorin  - European Best Destinations

Santana (north of Madeira) is often a little rainier than the south; it is known worldwide for its traditional triangular and colourful houses. To be honest, the village is not really typical on the island since only one house is inhabited and the others are transformed into souvenir shops. Anyway, it’s a lovely place to take pictures and discover some local handicrafts.

But Santana is much more than that: perched on the heights of the north of the island the village offers many hikes in the heart of lush nature.


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Sistelo - Copyright Food and travel Portugal - European Best Destinations

Located near the “Penada Geres” national park, 1.5 hours by car from Porto, Sistelo is one the best-hidden gems in Portugal. This village of 300 inhabitants, considered one of the 7 wonders of Portugal is also called “The little Portuguese Tibet”.

Like in the Douro Valley, the green terraces of Sistelo have been shaped by human hands: the flat parts are used for cultivation, a.o. corn. The harvested grains are stored in “Espigueiros” granaries, raised from the ground so that rodents can’t eat the precious harvest. The corn is then ground into flour thanks to the mills that run along the river.

During your stay in Sistelo, don’t miss the “Cha da Armada” viewpoint which offers the best views of Sistelo. Walk up the M1289 to Padrao and Porta Cova and enjoy exceptional views of the village of Sistelo.

If you like hiking in nature, Sistelo is the destination for you. “Brandas de Sistelo” is a small 11km trail that starts in the village and takes you to the most beautiful natural places of this incredible region. History buffs can visit Sistelo Castle. This cultural heritage and its exceptional landscapes are now protected since Sistelo has been classified among the national monuments and cultural landscapes of Portugal.

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Islet of Vila Franca do Campo  - Copyright De visu  - European Best Destinations

Facing the island of Sao Miguel, the main island of the Azores Archipelago, the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo will be the icing on the cake of your stay in the Azores.

Only 1 kilometre from the coast, this small island is actually the visible part of an incredible underwater volcano. Crystal clear waters and a small beach await you in this unique little corner of paradise.


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Odeceixe copyright ah-fotobox  - European Best Destinations

The parish of Odeceixe is situated on the steeply inclined topography that divides the Algarve and Alentejo regions; the south bank of the Ribeira de Seixe which runs through this parish is the dividing line for this frontier.

The parish includes Praia do Odeceixe at the mouth of the Ribera de Seixe. This has one of the few official naturist beaches in Portugal!


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Ferragudo Copyright  marcin jucha  - European Best Destinations

This beautiful fishing village is part of the municipality of Lagoa, one of the most beautiful municipalities in the Algarve that includes the cities of Porches, Carvoeiro, Ferragudo.

We advise you to get to the village by N125 (free) while passing by the city of Parchal. There is a vacant lot at the entrance of Ferragudo, you can park there and will get an amazing view of Ferragudo and Portimao, the nearby town.

The photo above was taken from that place. While strolling around in Ferragudo do not miss to rest on the beautiful beach of “Praia Grande”: it is less crowded than Carvoeiro and Portimao beaches. There is also a “nudist” part at the end of the beach which is not very crowded, but nudism is tolerated.

Ilha das Flores

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Flores Portugal Copyright  Lukasz Janyst - European Best Destinations

The island of Flores is located in the northernmost part of the Azores archipelago. For this reason, the island is less visited by tourists and is a real paradise on earth for nature lovers and hikers.

Do not miss to taste the guava jam: the microclimate of Flores Island is perfect for the guava.

Book your flights and accommodation at the best price as well as your tours and activities in The Azores

Bom Jesus

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Jesus do monte - Tenoes - Braga -  - European Best Destinations

Tenoes was a small parish connected to Braga. They call it a “freguesia” in Portugal. Since 2013 it has completely been attached to the city of Braga.

The beauty of the Sanctuary of “Bom Jesus do Monte” is breathtaking. Park your car below the sanctuary and climb the 116 metres of elevation of its sumptuous stairs.

These stairs are divided into 5 levels: they represent human senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Each sense is represented by statues standing on each level. Too tired to keep climbing? No problem, a funicular, classified among the most beautiful funiculars in Europe, will take you to the heights of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus in just a few seconds.

Culatra Island

You may have seen it from the plane to Faro. The island of Culatra is a small hidden gem accessible only by boat or catamaran from the city of Olhao.

The island is car-free, the air is pure, life is peaceful. The crystal clear waters of Culatra Island invite swimming and diving.


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Culatra Island Copyright  Miha Travnik - European Best Destinations

We love this one! Montsanto has nothing to do with the often criticized agricultural biotechnology firm in the US, Monsanto is a historic village in Portugal that received the title of “Most beautiful Portuguese Village” in 1938.

This small village is full of religious and historical buildings built by the Templars such as its castle. If you are not passionate about history this is not a problem, the panorama alone deserves a visit.

After a 3-hour drive from Lisbon, you will have the opportunity to rest at the “Adega tipica o cruzeiro” restaurant which offers exceptional panoramic views of the entire region.


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Monsanto - Nessa Gnatoush  - European Best Destinations

Carvoeiro is a beautiful fishing village located in the middle of the Algarve coast, between Sagres and Olhao.

What was once a small fishing village has now become a pretty, little, popular seaside resort with travellers from around the world. Carvoeiro, however, has not lost its soul and many Portuguese still live there.

The view from the school is incredible and tourists also enjoy the beautiful beach of Carvoeiro voted as the most beautiful beach in Europe.


Best hidden gems in Portugal - Carvoeiro Copyright  Sopotnicki - European Best Destinations

Recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal, Piodao is located in the “Serra do Açor”.

Piodao is proof of the incredible capacity of the Portuguese to adapt to nature. The village is part of this incredible landscape and the houses are nestled in this natural setting in a natural, sober way.

Arrabida Natural Park

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Piodao -  Copyright  Rolf E. Staerk - European Best Destinations

You will have a crush on Setubal! Located just 40 minutes drive from Lisbon, Setubal has it all: the sea, sublime beaches, a charming and authentic city centre, covered markets, traditional restaurants, trendy cafés and bars, hotels in a natural reserve, the sweetness of life under the sun…

Cross the magnificent 25th April bridge or the incredible and endless Vasco da Gama bridge (12 kilometres long) and get to Setubal. It is definitely worth a visit.

Spend a few days there and enjoy this exceptional place. Do not miss a visit to “Praia dos galapinhos” awarded the title of the most beautiful beach in Europe!

Ponte da Piedade

Best hidden gems in Portugal - Landscape Nature Photo - Copyright Landscape Nature Photo  - European Best Destinations

Ponta da Piedade could be ranked among the 7 wonders of the world and certainly among the 7 wonders of Portugal. Rocks cut by millennia of waves form an incredible lace of exceptional beauty.

You can reach Ponta da Piedade by car ( there is a car park at the foot of the lighthouse “Farol de Ponta da Piedade”) or by boat by booking your tours and activities in Lagos such as a Ponta da Piedade Kayak tour.

Lagos is a popular destination for travelers looking for a destination that combines outdoor activity, beach, bars and restaurants, the historic city center with souvenir and traditional shops and nightlife.


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