Picturesque Portugal's hidden gems

Picturesque Portugal's hidden gems

Portugal conjures images of the Algarve's golden beaches and world-renowned golf courses, but there are also hidden gems in Portugal. 

As tourism to Portugal heats up, you might be comfortable sticking to the main tourist destinations like the Algarve or might want to head off the beaten track away from the crowds seeking authenticity and peace.

Even if you do stay in a more touristic area, it’s easy to visit a place and miss some of the most beautiful scenery - beauty spots that will etch themselves in your memory and last a lifetime.

Where is Portugal?

Portugal is on the Iberian Peninsula towards the southwest of Europe, neighbouring Spain. Most of us know Portugal’s mainland, where Porto and Lisbon hold the majority of the population. Whereas the southern region, the Algarve, is known as the centre of tourism with long beaches, water sports, and championship golf courses. Then there is Braga in the north, Coimbra in the centre, and Amadora and Setúbal, near Lisbon.

Portugal also includes Madeira, which is an archipelago of four islands on the northwest coast of Africa. Funchal, the capital, is known for its volcanic fertile green landscapes and breathtaking cliffs. Another group of islands belonging to Portugal are the Azores, with São Miguel being the largest. You’ll find an abundance of floral colour, tiny fishing villages, and lakes on this island.

Portugal airports

Many of Portugal airports have a different layout to British airports, with passport control after the shop area. As passport control often has queues, it’s important not to get too carried away in duty-free and leave plenty of time to get through passport control - otherwise, you might miss your flight. The majority of UK holidaymakers fly into Faro for a beach holiday (in the south) or Lisbon for a city break.

Portugal weather

Head to Portugal in August, and you’ll find a temperature range of 19 ⁰ C to 28 ⁰ C  - an average of 24 ⁰ C, making it perfect for people who don’t like extreme heat. You’ll experience around 11 hours of sun every day, and rain at this time of the year only happens around twice a month.

What’s more, the sea is a balmy 20 ⁰ C. You will, however, need to pack a few layers, as Portugal can get a little breezy - with a 54% chance of a windy day. For this reason, you also need a good sun cream regime, as the wind often tricks people into thinking they won’t burn.

Portugal currency

If you need travel money for your Portugal holiday, you’ll need to purchase euros. You can buy commission-free Portuguese currency right here at NM Travel Money.

To give you peace of mind, NM Money also provides a buy-back guarantee from just £2 - allowing you to get the exact exchange rate you purchased at for up to 30% of your unused cash - down to a one euro coin.

What is Portugal famous for?

Portugal is famous for an alcoholic drink called Port, sumptuous food, football, and golf. 

So, you could try some Port, grab a game, and finish off the day with a taste sensation from an authentic Portuguese restaurant.

Places to visit in Portugal off the beaten path

Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

Ponta da Piedade, Lagos

Situated in the western Algarve, Lagos has all of the ingredients of a holiday to remember. From dramatic coastlines and picturesque beaches to authentic nightlife and water parks that make a family holiday fun for everyone.

The historic centre is cobblestone with Portuguese authenticity throughout, while the coast offers scenery and adventure.

Ponta da Piedade is, however, the cherry on top - the most beautiful coastal town in Portugal. It’s the cliffs, rock formations, marine arches, and hidden caves with a backdrop of turquoise blue seas that sneak into your heart. Navigate by boat or walk the steps to secret beaches. Add a sunset and the Ponta da Piedade rocks offer up yellow tones - truly magical.

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Alentejo, Portugal

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Alentejo

Located in the southwest of Alentejo and Costa Vicentine Natural Park - Vila Nova de Milfontes is a local secret. One of the least visited places by tourists, the beaches will charm you with their natural beauty.

You might think that this is a quiet place, but you’ll see locals hiking the trails, cycling, and enjoying the nightlife in the summer. From the authenticity of the local town to the watersports on the beach - Milfontes is the closest you’ll find to untouched Portuguese life. So, if you don’t mind hiring a car and prefer remoteness - this is the hidden gem for you.

Azenhas do Mar, Portugal

Azenhas do Mar

Head out of Lisbon, and in less than an hour, you’ll find yourself at a little fishing village named Azenhas do Mar.

Built right up to the edge of the coastal cliff, the glass-fronted restaurant often makes waves on social media from those who enjoy tracking a coastal path to find gems like this. Close by, Praia da Adraga also has some beach sunset shots to make your Instagram followers hit the hearts.

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra

While you're travelling around the sights that sit on the outskirts of Lisbon, you won’t want to miss Sintra. Sintra is full of 19th-century extravagant buildings, such as Quinta da Regaleira’s Palace and Pena Palace. 

Once you’ve absorbed the joy of the neo-gothic architecture, you can head out to the vast gardens. A world away from a British manor house garden - you’ll discover hidden cave passageways, secret staircases, and mythical areas.

It’s a fairytale destination that overflows with palaces and castles, which is perhaps why Madonna purchased a Quinta - fit for a diva. The Quinta da Regaleira was originally owned by a person who was obsessed with the stories of the Knights Templar and Freemasons, which explains the eccentric villa construction.

Once you’ve booked your holiday to Portugal, head over to check out our commission-free Portugal currency rates.

Found this interesting? Why not check out our Green List to see other countries to explore.