Explore inland Portugal’s towns and cities

Get ready for a fascinating journey through the cities and towns of inland Portugal, where authenticity can be found on every corner and history comes alive in every monument. Read on for ten invitations to explore, discover, and fall even more in love with the country. 

Travel to Porto and Northern Portugal

Miranda do Douro
On the banks of the majestic Douro River lies Miranda do Douro, home to enchanting cultural heritage and inspiring landscapes. Be sure to explore the Douro International Natural Park, where you can enjoy breathtaking views and see some of the region's unique wildlife. Also take the opportunity to savour the local cuisine, where traditional flavours are revealed through unique dishes sure to invigorate your senses.

Known for its thermal springs and ancient history, Chaves invites you to visit the castle - an impressive fortress that provides panoramic views over the city and its surroundings. While there, don't forget to try the famous Chaves pastéis, or pasties, a delicacy you won’t want to miss.

Venture to Central Portugal

Castelo Branco
Castelo Branco is part of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network, listed in the crafts and folk art category, thanks to local embroidery practices. Symbolised by its iconic castle, the city invites you to immerse yourself in the history and culture of the region, visit the Bishop’s Palace Gardens (Jardim do Paço Episcopal)- an oasis of tranquillity in the heart of the city - and learn more about local handicrafts. Visit the Francisco Tavares Proença Júnior Museum, which houses a collection of Portuguese art, painting, sculpture, archaeology, and folk art, as well as the Contemporary Culture Centre. The cuisine served in Castelo Branco reflects the richness of its regional flavours, so treat yourself to traditional dishes such as maranho (goat’s stomach sausage) and bucho recheado (pig’s stomach sausage).

In addition to preserving ancestral traditions, such as handicrafts and the region's typical cuisine, Idanha-a-Nova stands out as an important cultural centre, hosting internationally renowned music events. Preserving and celebrating its musical heritage, the sound of the traditional adufe can be heard playing in the streets. The unspoiled nature of the region can also be explored through trails, rivers, and mountains sure to appeal to every sense.

Lying on the slopes of the Serra da Estrela hill range, Covilhã has a long tradition of operating in the wool industry, as well as combining history and culture thanks to the vibrant academic life provided by the University of Beira Interior. Explore the city’s historic centre, admire the traditional architecture, and climb to the highest point of the Serra da Estrela hills to enjoy inspiring views over the region and try your hand at outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. Not to be missed: indulge in local delicacies such as Serra da Estrela cheese, sausages, and roast lamb and kid.

Explore the serenity of the Alentejo

Known for its carpets hand-embroidered with geometric patterns, centuries-old olive trees and landscapes, the town of Arraiolos is home to a well-preserved historic centre and deep-rooted traditions. Looming over the town's skyline is one of the few circular castles in Portugal, Arraiolos Castle, a 13th-century circular fortress that hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year. In addition to the castle, this Alentejo town is also known for its historic walls and the aqueduct encircling them. This is the place to go if you want to fully delve into the peace and serenity of southern Portugal with your family, where the simplicity of rural life blends in with nature.

The hilltop town of Marvão is a medieval treasure that defies the passage of time and seems to have come straight out of the pages of a fairy tale. The castle stands out in the landscape, a fortress that has served as an important defensive structure over the centuries, providing a panoramic view over the plain and magnificent sunsets over this area of the Alentejo. Wander through Marvão’s narrow streets, where whitewashed houses and colourful flowers come together to create a picturesque setting, or opt for a bike ride along local nature trails. From tranquil squares to ancient churches, there's no shortage of reasons to put this destination on your map.

As a 2027 European Capital of Culture and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Évora breathes heritage and culture. Explore some of the city’s most imposing monuments, such as the 1st-century Roman Temple, gothic-style Évora Cathedral, and the harrowing Church of São Francisco/Bone Chapel,which stand as significant testimonies to the past. Stroll through the streets to discover local craft stores and sample Alentejo food and wine, visit the Eugénio de Almeida Art and Culture Centre, and take a few hours to explore the nooks and crannies of the University of Évora and Évora Public Library. In the area around the city, go for a walk through the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park,enjoy the region’s natural beauty, and watch the unique wildlife that thrives here.

In Southern Portugal, the Algarve

Located on the banks of the River Guadiana, Alcoutim is home to a historical secret: a smuggling legacy, which, for several centuries, led to the local inhabitants defying political and economic rules to maintain the region. José Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in Portugal, expressed his curiosity about the ancient history of this riverside area in the Algarve in his book “Journey to Portugal”. A revised note was published more recently by writer José Luís Peixoto in the project Journey to Portugal Revisited, which highlights the activities of smugglers and the history of fishermen between the riverbanks. Between peaceful boat trips to Sanlúcar, visits to the walled castle, and river beaches such as Pego Fundo,explore lush green landscapes and taste the local agricultural products and fresh fish caught from the river itself. 

Castro Marim
Known for its high-quality salt pans, medieval castle, and unspoiled beaches, Castro Marim invites visitors to get to know the heart of the Algarve and escape the hustle and bustle of its bigger cities. Explore the village’s imposing fortress, which provides breathtaking views over the region, and discover the secrets of its history on a visit to the Regional Archaeological Museum. Go on a walk through the salt pans, taking in their unique ecosystem, and take some time to relax in this coastal refuge as you enjoy the sun and sea.

Plan your getaway and embark on an unforgettable journey through inland Portugal’s towns and cities, where you and your family can escape the hustle and bustle of larger urban centres.

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