The Most Beautiful Towns in Portugal (Parte I)

Post Date 19-Feb-2024 09:30:44

Identifying the most enchanting cities in Portugal is a challenging task, given the country's diverse landscapes and architectural styles. The northern region, characterized by mountains and rich biodiversity, contrasts sharply with the southern part, where breathtaking coastlines and picturesque whitewashed villages prevail. Despite the difficulty, we've endeavored to compile a list of the 20 most beautiful cities, and to make it more manageable, we've divided it into two parts. Feel free to save it for future reference.

The Most Beautiful Towns in Portugal (Parte I) (24)Azenhas do Mar

While the bustling cities like Lisbon and Porto, as well as the picturesque Algarve coastline and trendy beach clubs in Comporta, showcase Portugal's undeniable beauty, there's a wealth of hidden treasures beyond these popular destinations. Unexplored gems invite you to traverse scenic forests, and cherished locales come alive with vibrant activity during the summer months. Portugal's allure extends far beyond its well-known attractions.

In addition to the renowned destinations, Portugal boasts alluring villages and charming towns waiting to be discovered. Here are our top picks from various regions across the country.


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Amarante, nestled along the banks of the River Tâmega in northern Portugal, is a city steeped in history and charm. Known for its picturesque scenery and well-preserved architecture, Amarante captivates visitors with its cobbled streets, historic bridges, and colorful buildings adorned with wrought iron balconies. Amarante, nestled along the banks of the River Tâmega in northern Portugal, is a city steeped in history and charm. Known for its picturesque scenery and well-preserved architecture, Amarante captivates visitors with its cobbled streets, historic bridges, and colorful buildings adorned with wrought iron balconies.

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The heart of the city is dominated by the Church of São Gonçalo, an architectural gem known for its intricate woodwork and tile panels. Crossing the old bridge that spans the River Tâmega offers breathtaking views over the city and its surroundings.

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Monsanto, often referred to as the "Most Portuguese Village in Portugal," stands as a unique and captivating destination. Situated atop a granite hill in central Portugal, Monsanto is renowned for its distinctive architecture that harmoniously integrates with the natural landscape.


Characterized by stone houses built between giant boulders, this medieval village exudes an authentic charm. The cobbled streets wind their way through the village, leading to the impressive medieval castle that crowns the hill. From the castle, visitors are treated to panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Beira Baixa region.

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Monsanto's historical significance is evident in its well-preserved landmarks, including the Chapel of São Miguel with its Manueline-style door and the Romanesque São Salvador Church. The village's unique blend of history, folklore, and natural wonders make it a compelling destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience in Portugal.


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Sortelha, a hidden gem in the heart of Portugal, is a medieval village that seems frozen in time. Perched atop a granite hill in the Beira Interior region, Sortelha boasts a unique charm with its well-preserved stone houses, ancient walls, and cobblestone streets. Enclosed by a medieval castle, the village exudes an atmosphere of historical significance and tranquility.

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As visitors wander through Sortelha, they are transported to a bygone era, discovering architectural details that reflect the village's rich history. The imposing castle, dating back to the 13th century, stands as a silent witness to centuries of Portuguese heritage.

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Sortelha's authenticity, preserved through the ages, creates an immersive experience for those seeking a step back in time. This captivating village invites travelers to explore its narrow alleyways, visit the medieval castle, and soak in the tranquil ambiance that defines this historical haven in Portugal's interior.


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Tavira, a coastal town in the Algarve region of Portugal, beckons with its timeless charm and picturesque surroundings. Renowned for its well-preserved historic architecture, Tavira sits on the banks of the Gilão River, connected by a Roman bridge and surrounded by lush landscapes.


At the heart of Tavira is its historic center, characterized by cobbled streets, traditional whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful azulejo tiles, and an array of charming squares. The town is crowned by the Tavira Castle, offering panoramic views of the red-tiled rooftops and the surrounding countryside.

Praia-de-taviraIberian Escapes

Tavira's rich history is reflected in its landmarks, including historic churches such as the Santa Maria do Castelo Church with impressive ceilings and the Gothic-style Igreja da Misericórdia. The town is also known for its traditional Portuguese charm, with cafes, markets, and artisan shops lining its streets.



Perched majestically atop a granite peak in the Alentejo region of Portugal, Marvão stands as a medieval jewel with breathtaking views and historical significance. This fortified village, surrounded by ancient walls, offers a captivating journey through time, inviting visitors to explore its narrow cobblestone streets and well-preserved architecture.


Marvão's strategic hilltop location served as a defensive stronghold throughout the centuries, and the imposing Marvão Castle is a testament to its historical significance. The castle provides panoramic vistas of the rolling hills and valleys of the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, creating a spectacular backdrop for the village.

MarvãoComunidade Intermunicipal do Alto Alentejo

Marvão is not just a visual feast; it also boasts cultural richness. The Igreja de Santa Maria, a medieval church with intricate details, and the Ammaia Roman ruins nearby, add layers to the village's historical tapestry. For those seeking tranquility and a connection with nature, Marvão provides a serene escape. The surrounding natural park offers hiking trails and opportunities to appreciate the Alentejo's unspoiled beauty.


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Belmonte, nestled in the rolling hills of the Beira Baixa region, is a town that beautifully blends history, culture, and a rich Jewish heritage. Best known for its well-preserved medieval charm, Belmonte invites visitors to explore its narrow streets and discover a unique tapestry of architectural gems.

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The iconic Belmonte Castle, perched atop a hill, offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. This medieval fortress has witnessed centuries of history and stands as a symbol of the town's strategic importance. One of Belmonte's distinguishing features is its connection to the Crypto-Jewish community. The town is recognized for preserving the Jewish heritage, and the Jewish Museum of Belmonte provides insights into the history and traditions of this community. The Synagogue Beit Eliahu, restored to its former glory, serves as a poignant reminder of Belmonte's role in Jewish history.



Guimarães, often referred to as the "Birthplace of Portugal," is a city steeped in history, culture, and architectural splendor. Nestled in the verdant Minho region, Guimarães holds a special place in the heart of Portugal as it played a pivotal role in the country's foundation and identity.


The city's historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a testament to its rich past. Labyrinthine streets reveal medieval buildings adorned with intricate details, showcasing a harmonious blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and Manueline architecture. The iconic Guimarães Castle, perched on a hill, and the nearby Palace of the Dukes of Braganza are enduring symbols of the city's historical significance.


Beyond its architectural and cultural heritage, Guimarães is a city that embraces modernity while preserving its authenticity. The contemporary cityscape blends seamlessly with the historical backdrop, creating a dynamic and inviting atmosphere.

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Azenhas do Mar

The Most Beautiful Towns in Portugal (Parte I)

Azenhas do Mar, a coastal village nestled along the cliffs of the Portuguese coastline, is a postcard-perfect destination that captures the essence of seaside charm. Situated in the Sintra region, Azenhas do Mar is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and unique architectural appeal.

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The village is perched on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the azure waters and rugged coastline. Azenhas do Mar is characterized by its whitewashed houses with terracotta roofs, clinging to the cliffs in a picturesque cascade. This architectural arrangement creates a captivating contrast against the deep blue of the sea and the lush greenery that surrounds the village.

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Azenhas do Mar is also notable for its natural seawater pool carved into the cliffs, providing a refreshing spot for locals and visitors to swim while enjoying the ocean views. The crashing waves and the sound of the sea add to the coastal ambiance, creating a serene atmosphere.



Aveiro, often referred to as the "Venice of Portugal," is a charming coastal city celebrated for its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. Situated along the Ria de Aveiro lagoon in the central part of the country, Aveiro seamlessly blends its maritime heritage with a modern and lively atmosphere.


The city's iconic moliceiro boats gracefully navigate the canals, adorned with colorful artwork that reflects the local culture and traditions. These waterways wind through the historic center, where Art Nouveau buildings, traditional Portuguese houses, and lively squares contribute to Aveiro's unique character.

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Aveiro is home to the University of Aveiro, fostering a dynamic and youthful energy. The university's influence can be felt in the vibrant arts and music scene, as well as in the diverse culinary offerings found in the city's restaurants and markets.


One of Aveiro's most recognizable landmarks is the Aveiro Cathedral, a striking example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The nearby São Gonçalinho Chapel, known for its annual "Feast of São Gonçalinho," adds a touch of local tradition to the city's cultural calendar.


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Elvas, a fortified city in eastern Portugal near the border with Spain, stands as a testament to military engineering and historical significance. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Elvas boasts an impressive array of military structures, making it one of the most well-preserved fortified towns in the world.

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The star-shaped fortifications of Elvas, including the iconic Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça, showcase the city's strategic importance throughout history. These defensive structures were instrumental in protecting Elvas during conflicts and are now admired for their architectural prowess.


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Tomar, nestled along the banks of the Nabão River in central Portugal, is a town steeped in history, renowned for its medieval charm and cultural significance. Dominated by the imposing Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Tomar showcases a captivating blend of architectural splendor, religious heritage, and a rich Templar history.

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The Convent of Christ, initially a Templar stronghold and later transformed into a Renaissance masterpiece, is a focal point of Tomar. Its intricate Manueline window carvings and the Charola, a circular Templar church, are among the architectural highlights that transport visitors to a bygone era.

jez-timms-aCgM_7B-cNk-unsplash-1Circular Templar church

Surrounded by lush landscapes, Tomar invites exploration of its natural surroundings, including the nearby Castelo de Bode reservoir and the Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes park. In essence, Tomar stands as a captivating destination, inviting visitors to delve into Portugal's medieval history, marvel at architectural wonders, and experience the cultural richness of this enchanting town.

Sete Cidades

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Sete Cidades, located on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, is a place of mystical beauty and natural wonders. The centerpiece of this enchanting region is the twin lake complex, Lagoa das Sete Cidades, which is often referred to as one of Portugal's most breathtaking landscapes.

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The two interconnected lakes, one green, and the other blue are nestled within the crater of a dormant volcano, creating a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of colors. The legend behind the distinct hues involves a love story between a princess and a shepherd, adding a touch of romance to the already picturesque setting. The charming village of Sete Cidades, with its white-washed houses and traditional architecture, adds a quaint and idyllic atmosphere to the area. Visitors can explore the narrow streets, visit the historic church, and enjoy the tranquility of this rural retreat.

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Beyond the natural beauty, Sete Cidades is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails wind through the hills, providing opportunities to immerse oneself in the Azorean flora and fauna. The region's peaceful ambiance, combined with its breathtaking vistas, makes Sete Cidades a must-visit destination for those seeking a connection with nature and the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Azores.

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Manteigas, situated in the heart of the Serra da Estrela mountain range in Portugal, is a charming town known for its stunning natural surroundings and alpine beauty. Nestled in a valley surrounded by majestic peaks, Manteigas is a gateway to the highest mountains in mainland Portugal.

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Surrounded by the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, Manteigas offers a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The town serves as a base for exploring the park's diverse landscapes, including lush valleys, dense forests, and cascading waterfalls. The iconic Torre, the highest point in Portugal, is easily accessible from Manteigas and provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Whether exploring the natural wonders of the Serra da Estrela, enjoying the tranquility of the town, or indulging in the local flavors, Manteigas offers a serene escape into the heart of Portugal's highest and most picturesque mountains.

The Most Beautiful Towns in Portugal (Parte I) (23)View of Sete Cidades near Gruta do Inferno Viewpoint

The first part of our exploration took us to a plethora of charming towns that showcase the diverse beauty of Portugal. From the historic charm of Sintra to the medieval allure of Monsanto, each town tells a unique story and offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of this captivating country. Whether they're perched on hilltops, nestled along the coast, or surrounded by lush landscapes, these cities are a testament to Portugal's timeless allure. Join us in Part II and continue our journey to uncover more of the most beautiful cities that make Portugal a true jewel in the heart of Europe.

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Topics:   Travel Algarve Culture & Heritage Getaways Travel Experiences Alentejo Tours Algarve Tours Adventure Travel Portugal

Margarida Gonçalves

Written by: Margarida Gonçalves

Margarida is a journalist, but it was in digital marketing that she found a way to combine her communicative and creative veins. At Wine Tourism in Portugal, she puts into practice all her knowledge of communication and marketing with a strategic focus! Come travel with her and discover all about Portugal and its heritage!

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