There are so many things to do and beautiful places to visit in Portugal, that deciding on what to fit in seven days can be a challenge. If big touristic cities aren’t exactly your thing, you’ve come to the right place.
Below you can find a thorough, diverse trip itinerary with seven, often overlooked and lesser known spots and towns from North to South – carefully planned in order for you to have the best and most authentic Portuguese experience possible.
Ready to go on an adventure through the off-the-beaten-path areas of Portugal?
Guimarães is a historic city in northern Portugal, which you can easily get to from Porto Airport, if you are flying from abroad. It’s the city where Portugal’s first king, D. Afonso Henriques, was born, thus people often refer to it as the birthplace of Portugal itself. So what better spot to start your trip?
Nowadays, Guimarães has become a popular tourist destination, although still quiet and keeping a very traditional Portuguese spirit. The city’s medieval castle and ancient walls are some of its most popular attractions. But Guimarães is also home to a number of museums, art galleries and various other cultural institutions, all within walking distance. Plus, the northern cuisine is very prevalent here. We recommend you try Rojões à Minhota com papas de sarrabulho and Toucinho-do-céu for dessert.
Amarante is a city of love, sweets and art by the riverside. Since it’s a little more to the centre of the country, it holds that local, authentic, northern Portuguese spirit but its recent investment in culture and general living has made it even greater a city to visit. And it’s only a 40 minute drive from Guimarães.
If you go on a Wednesday or Saturday, you can have a very traditional start of your day by going to the local Mercado Municipal. Then, since the city is small, you can walk around to the beautiful Ponte de São Gonçalo, eat the popular phallic pastry Caralhinhos de São Gonçalo in a local café, visit the various cultural sites and churches. Then you can end your day with a whiff of nature at Parque Florestal.
Lamego is truly a hidden pearl and one of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal. This small town is located in the Douro Valley and is known for its history and production of various wines. The town is home to the Santuário da Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, a delightful baroque church that sits atop a hill overlooking the valley. Lamego is a particular good option for architecture and history enthusiasts, for its many old monuments and churches, but also definitely for foodies. While you’re here you should undoubtedly go to a tasca (local Portuguese restaurant) and try enchidos like presunto and chouriço for starters, accompanied by a local wine.
The route to Lamego is extremely scenic over the Douro River, overlooking the vines. A lot of people come here from Porto via boat trip or on a Douro cruise.
Aveiro is a charming city in Portugal that’s often referred to as the “Venice of Portugal.” The city is located on the Aveiro Lagoon and is known for its canals and colorful boats (moliceiros). Visitors can explore the city by taking a boat ride, visiting the Museum of Vista Alegre (the famous Portuguese Azulejos), or enjoying the views from one of the many bridges. If you’re a food enthusiast you should also definitely visit the Salinas (sites of traditional salt production) and try a fresh fish dish, followed by the typical Ovos Moles or Tripa de Aveiro for dessert.
Located on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Nazaré is a stunning town known for its huge waves and beautiful beaches. Visitors to Nazaré can enjoy plenty of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. There are also numerous restaurants and cafes to relax in after a long day of exploring. It is fairly touristic during the summer months, however, it’s still a quiet, peaceful area, holding a lot of its traditional Portuguese fishing village culture and ways.
Reguengos de Monsaraz is a typical small Alentejo town located in the south-central part of Portugal. With the building of the Alqueva Dam, this whole region, which was already magnificent for its history, came even more to life. To the already existing attractions Castelo de Monsaraz; various megalithic monuments; handmade potteries of São Pedro de Corval, and regional wines, were added even more breathtaking landscapes and a big lake of pleasant temperature, allowing for a lot of water activities and pleasant swimming.
The Alentejo region is known for its slow pace of living, so while you’re here you should try to mostly relax, enjoy the nature and relish the typical cuisine. We recommend you try Carne de Porco à Alentejana and Migas à Alentejana, obviously with some local wine, like Carmim, to drink.
Your Portugal trip couldn’t end without a visit to the Algarve. Although the region itself is very touristic, there are some smaller, less popular towns that have kept the local spirit. One of them is Aljezur, located in the hills of Costa Vicentina and known for its breathtaking views and sandy beaches, like Monte Clérigo and Arrifana, sought-after by many surfers all over the world.
The town itself is very calm, endowed with beautiful architecture and some historical sites. While you’re here you should surely try a seafood dish like Arroz de Mexilhão or Feijoada de Búzios in a local restaurant by the sea.
Aljezur puts you an hour away from the Faro Airport, perfect if you pass through some other Algarve towns on your way back.
Now that you have a list of places to fill your 7-day trip, all that’s left to do is make your dreams a reality. Soon, you’ll be exploring the country’s hidden gems as if you were a local living in Portugal yourself! For any questions on your trip, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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