The Prettiest Villages in Portugal

If cobbled streets, castles and panoramic views are your thing, then you should add these Instagram-worthy picturesque villages of Portugal to your bucket list. Many can easily be reached within a few hours from either Porto or Lisbon. Here are nine of the prettiest villages you should visit in Portugal.

Aveiro

Boats on the Aveiro lagoon (Ria de Aveiro).
Boats on the Aveiro lagoon (Ria de Aveiro).

Characterised by its canals, pedestrian bridges and colourful barcos moliceiros (boats, similar to gondolas), Aveiro is loosely known as the Portuguese Venice. Located on what is known as the Silver Coast; between Coimbra and Porto, Averio also boasts some gorgeous sandy beaches – São Jacinto, Barra and Costa Nova.

Porto to Aveiro in roughly an hour for 3€ via train from Sao Bento and Campanha stations.

Casal de Sao Simao

Image from Ruralea.com
Image from Ruralea.com

One of 26 historic schist villages in Central Portugal (between Coimbra and Castelo Branco), Casal de Sao Simao is a one street village home to a chapel, village store, and restaurant. If you’re looking for an active weekend break, the local community has recently started offering walking tours between the pretty villages.

Marvao

Marvao Castle. Image from wiki commons.
Marvao Castle. Image from wiki commons.

Marvao is a mountaintop village enclosed within a medieval castle in the Alentejo Region of Portugal. The 13th-century castle sits atop 960-metre peak – Serra de Marvao. The castle offers superb views of the mountainous terrain and towards the Spanish border, less than 15km away.

Monsanto

Monsanto, Portugal

Monsanto sits atop a granite mountain (also called Monsanto) near the Spanish border. The village is thought to have been inhabited since the Early Stone Age. The village itself is built in around giant granite boulders and rocks and at the very top sits medieval Castle of Monsanto. In 1938 is was christened “the most Portuguese village of Portugal”. I’m not sure what makes it more Portuguese than any of the other villages in the country but it’s certainly one of the prettiest and one of the most unique. If you have time try, walk to the Castle for exceptional views of the Portuguese countryside.

Nazare

Old Buildings on the Promenade, in Nazare, Portugal.
Old Buildings on the Promenade, in Nazare, Portugal.

A popular beach resort in the summer months, Nazare is also a traditional fishing village and a mecca for surfing. The village itself reminded me of Essaouira, with its colourful fishing boats and equally colourful locals. Nazare is actually split into 3 separate districts – Praia (meaning beach), Pederneira and Sitio. Sitio sits atop a cliff, 100m above the main part of the town and can be reached by winding path or for a small fee, a funicular carriage.

Lisbon to Nazare in roughly two hours for 10€ via bus. 

Obidos

Obidos, Portugal. Image from Wiki Commons.
Obidos, Portugal. Image from Wiki Commons.

If you love whitewashed buildings with narrow cobbled streets, vineyard vistas and quaint little shops you’ll love Obidos. Once the wedding present of a queen, Obidos is an excellent example of a medieval Portuguese village. If you’re feeling particularly flush, you can stay in the 700-year-old castle that sits atop the village.

Lisbon to Obidos in roughly three hours for under 10€ via train.

Piodao

Piodao village. Image from Wiki Commons.
Piodao village in Central Portugal. Image from Wiki Commons.

Like Casal de Sao Simao, Piodao is also a historical schist village, the buildings only offset by the vivid blue of the windows and doors of some of the village houses. Why the uniformity you may ask? It’s said that due to the village’s isolation, the only paint available in the only shop in the village was blue and so the villagers had no other choice! The isolation also made the village an ideal location for fugitives. Rumour has it that one of the murderers of Inês de Castro went into hiding here, thus escaping the wrath of Pedro I in the 14th century.

Sintra

Sintra. Image from wikipedia.
Sintra. Image from Wikipedia.

Sintra is one of the most famous and therefore one of the most popular places in Portugal. The town is chock-a-block with 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, decorative gardens, unique palaces and impressive residences.

Lisbon to Sintra in roughly an hour for under 5€ (return) via train.

Sortelha

The village of Sortelha, Portugal. Image from Wikipedia.
The village of Sortelha, Portugal. Image from Wikipedia.

Sortelha is one of the oldest, most beautiful towns in Portugal. Built in a circular formation, the town is enclosed within a defensive ring that is watched over by a lofty 13-century castle. Like most ruined castles in Portugal, you are free to roam its walls at your own risk!

Need more Portuguese village inspiration? Check out our Perfect Portuguese Villages Pinterest board.

Do you agree with our suggestions above? Add you pretty Portugal village suggestions in the comments below.

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