Choosing the most beautiful villages in Portugal is no easy task. After all, there are many to choose from. However, they are pieces of our country’s history and to visit them is to make an actual return to the past. From time to time, it feels good to remember our origins, to recall the habits and traditions of our ancestors, and to think that we are really at home.
The villages of Portugal keep in themselves the essence of what the Portuguese are as a people. From North to South of Portugal, it is in the villages that we still feel and experience the most genuine part of ourselves. It is in the Portuguese villages that still resist the true Portuguese spirit. And that is why we can not abandon them.
To make this list, we chose the best preserved, most authentic, and genuine villages. Discover some of the most beautiful villages in Portugal! And be amazed! 🙂
1. Castelo Novo
The landscape in shades of green and gray of the Serra da Gardunha welcomes us to Castelo Novo, a village wrapped in an aura of mysticism. And it is not by chance: Moors and Templars passed through here, leaving traces that can still be appreciated today.
The village structure, typically medieval, is characterized by architectural elements of Manueline and Baroque styles. Highlights include the Largo do Pelourinho (and the Pelourinho itself), the Town Hall, the jail, and the fountain. The Largo da Bica also deserves some time to be appreciated.
They call it the “most Portuguese village in Portugal”. Whether it’s a reality or just a tourist slogan, the truth is that the beautiful village of Monsanto is well worth visiting. In recent years it has attracted more and more national and foreign tourists, not by chance.
Its houses were built in communion with the surrounding nature. I mean… in harmony with the huge rocks that abound here. The vast boulders serve as walls to many houses and, in some cases, as roofs. The charm of this village is indisputable. Rural and beautiful at the same time, it reminds us that the motivation and ingenuity of man can very well dominate the surrounding landscape without damaging it.
This is one of the most beautiful and famous schist villages in the Serra da Lousã. Talasnal captivates by the layout of its houses and also by the many ongoing restoration projects that are slowly starting to give a new life to a once almost abandoned village.
A fountain, a pond, and the vines that decorate the houses and provide shade to those who visit are some of the fascinating details of this village. But the best is to live the experience of spending a few days of peace in communion with the surrounding nature.
A medieval village on the border with Spain, Sortelha is on the list of Historical Villages of Portugal with all the merit. It is perhaps the best preserved medieval village in Portugal and one of the most beautiful. The town is within the circular walls of the castle, and its location was crucial in the country’s defense.
To walk through the village’s streets is to return to the past. Almost everything here is still the same as in the medieval times of the 13th century when its castle was built. The streets and houses, all made of granite, are restored, and many of them can be rented out for rural tourism.
5. Rio de Onor
Half Portuguese, half Spanish. No man’s land and everyone’s land. This is the mythical village of Rio de Onor, at the heart of the Montesinho Natural Park, in the municipality of Bragança. It is one of the few Portuguese villages where community habits, once common in many villages in northern Portugal, are still practiced.
The population explores the land together, the herds are cared for by all, and decisions that affect the community’s life are made by agreement of all the inhabitants. Rio de Onor is a history lesson. The inhabitants even have their dialect due to their isolation and close contact with their Spanish neighbors.
Cerdeira is one of those abandoned villages that has been able to reinvent itself. Fruit of the dedication of some enthusiasts, this beautiful schist village in the Serra da Lousã is today a center dedicated to the arts. Some of its houses have also been restored for rural tourism.
Walking through Cerdeira is a magical experience: right at the entrance, you are presented with a small bridge that gives access to the village. Its slate streets wind around the houses built on the hillside, leaving the flat land free for agriculture.
7. Castelo Rodrigo
The small village of Castelo Rodrigo is one of those places stopped in time that make us feel in another place and in another time. Everything here is preserved down to the smallest detail, and all its alleys and alleyways tell stories of our history. Today, it is part of the network of Historical Villages of Portugal. It is also one of the most beautiful and peculiar villages in Portugal.
A walk through its steep and winding streets will reveal many small details that deserve to be appreciated with calm and attention. Manueline and even Arabic houses dot its alleys and lanes, where you can also find the clock tower and the old water cistern.
This is perhaps the most special village on this list. Located in Vila do Bispo, it once had more than 100 inhabitants. Gradually they all left, and only nine people remained, living in neglected or poorly maintained houses. But Pedralva was reborn!
After a long process, all the houses in the village were bought and restored for rural tourism. In addition, the municipality saw the idea as a unique opportunity to promote the more typical Algarve and install electricity and sanitation. As a result, today, Pedralva can be your village: you can rent one of its many houses and spend a few days here, in communion with nature.
Alte is a charming Algarve village in the municipality of Loulé. A little far from the sea and all the urban chaos of the coast, it still preserves the “açoteias” (traditional chimneys) and the streets paved in Portuguese “calçada”.
And if you think that being far from the sea means you can’t take a swim, get ready to discover the “Fontes de Alte”. This wooded area is right next to a stream of crystalline water where you can cool off. You can also have barbecues and picnics.
This is another one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal, and you will hardly find another one like it in the country. Piódão is classified as a Historical Village but also a schist village. It belongs to the municipality of Arganil and lies on the slopes of the Serra do Açor. Nevertheless, it is perhaps one of the most famous villages in Portugal.
Getting to Piódão involves wandering the winding roads of the mountains, but the visit is well worth it. Its schist houses arranged along the mountainside give it the nickname “crib village”. Wander through its winding streets, and discover its blue-painted windows and its church that is like no other in Portugal.
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