When people think about Portugal, they probably imagine Lisbon, Porto or the beaches in Algarve. But drive inland, and you will discover the most charming places. Here are 5 of the best villages in Portugal you should not miss on your itinerary.
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The best villages in Portugal
Portugal counts a high number of historical villages, especially close to the Border with Spain. Many of them are located on hills and fortified making them very scenic. If you can stray from the big hub of Lisbon - Sintra - Porto - Algarve, I recommend taking a road trip and exploring the countryside to discover those little gems of Portugal.
Here is my selection of the most charming ones, "the best villages in Portugal ", based on how scenic they were from the outside and the inside.
- Monsanto and its huge boulders
- Obidos where you can walk on the fortification wall
- Mertola off the beaten path in the South
- Monsaraz where the white houses inspire many artists
- Marvao and its amazing views
They are all awesome for those who love photography 🙂
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#1 - Monsanto, the most Portuguese Village
About the Portuguese village of Monsanto
Monsanto was my absolute favorite village in Portugal. From the outside it is not the most impressive one because its houses are not white, but walk inside and you will discover wonders after wonders.
The village has indeed been built around the large boulders covering the hill and with a castle at the top. So, you get funny structures where they tried making it work around them.
Definitively a unique location not to be missed!
Note: It received the price for "Most Portuguese village in Portugal" in 1938, yet it was the most unique one!!!
Planning a visit of Monsanto
LOCATION: Monsanto, one of the best Villages in Portugal, is located near the border with Spain, roughly, on the Mid-East section.
DISTANCE: Lisbon to Monsanto = 3h drive
MORE: Many photos, a video and info to plan your visit in the Monsanto Portugal Village article
STAYING IN MONSANTO: Few accommodations are available in the village and around it - Check out the options
#2 - Obidos
Obidos is one of the most famous villages in Portugal as it is located not far from Lisbon. It is a town, but the fortified center is like a village. This very picturesque town has a small center full of white houses, cobbled street and surrounded by a wall. At the top stands a castle overlooking the village.
The best part is that you can walk on the wall all around the town for amazing views!
Note: every year Obidos has a chocolate festival and a medieval fair. The Town is then crowded. Check out the dates here.
Planning a visit to Obidos
LOCATION: Obidos is located just North of Lisbon - it takes a 1h drive to reach it
DISTANCE: Lisbon to Obidos = 1h20 drive
MORE: Many photos, a video and info to plan your visit in the Obidos Portugal article
STAYING IN OBIDOS: Few accommodations are available in the village and around it - Check out the options
#3 - Mertola
Mertola is rarely mentioned in the lists of best villages in Portugal and yet it is quite a place to visit!
Nestled between River Guadiana and one of its arms, this Portugal village is stunning with the white houses against the dry landscape.
Climbing to the top of the castle provides you with wonderful views of the region.
Planning a visit to Mertola
LOCATION: in the Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana, near the border with Spain, just north of the Algarve region
DISTANCE: Lisbon to Mertola = 2h45 drive
MORE: Many photos, a video and info to plan your visit in the Mertola Portugal Article
STAYING IN MERTOLA: Few accommodations are available in the village and around it - Check out the options
#4 - Monsaraz
Even though it is built with a similar structure as the other villages in Portugal with white houses, a castle and all of it on top a hill, I think that Monsaraz has a very different atmosphere. It is difficult to explain but painters sure know about it. They sprinkle the streets, drawing and painting this stunning Portugal village.
This hilltop has been occupied by different people for a long time making it one of the oldest settlements in the region.
Plus, from the strategic hilltop location of the village, you get wonderful views of the huge water system surrounding it
Planning a visit to Monsaraz
LOCATION: at the border with Spain, East of Lisbon and Evora
DISTANCE: Lisbon to Monsaraz = 2h20 drive
MORE: Many photos, a video and info to plan your visit in the Monsaraz Portugal Article
STAYING IN MONSARAZ: Few accommodations are available in the village and around it - Check out the options
#5 - Marvao
Marvao is another one of the most famous villages in Portugal, probably because the New York Times included it in the 1000 places to see before you die.
The castle is not the most interesting one in Portugal, but the village sure has a lot of charm and the views from up there are wonderful. On a clear day you can see all the way to Serra de Estrela.
The remote Marvao has been a settlement for a long time. Dolmens and other ancient structures can be found in the area.
Planning a visit to Marvao
LOCATION: Marvao is located by the Border with Spain in the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, North East of Lisbon
DISTANCE: Lisbon to Marvao = 3h drive
MORE: Many photos, a video and info to plan your visit in the Marvao Portugal article
STAYING IN MARVAO: Few accommodations are available in the village and around it - Check out the options
Other suggestions of Charming Villages in Portugal
Those are my top 5 of the best villages of Portugal.
Of course there are many more to discover such as the 12 protected under the Historical Villages of Portugal program.
As you drive around Portugal, you can spot them on the side of the road:
Want to see more of the best of Portugal? Head to my list of Top Portugal Attractions to see the best palaces, castles, monasteries, beaches...
Want to see more of PORTUGAL?
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