Yes Travel: Off the Beaten Track in Portugal

EmmaBy Emma  •  6 Apr 2015 at 6:51am  •  Places, World Travel

by Christina

This post is a bit of a trip down memory lane. It’s actually been almost 2 years since Miles and I joined his parents for a trip to Portugal. I dutifully wrote this as soon as I got home for a Year of the Yes post on Emma’s previous blog, and then I forgot to share it.

But the content is still as true as it was then, and I’d still recommend you put Portugal on your list of places to say Yes to. So here are my top 5 things to do on a Portuguese holiday:

Summer holiday tips, portugal, yes to travel, year of the yes, yearoftheyes.com1. Stay in the mountains. Most people who visit Portugal tend to head to the beautiful Algarve on the southern coast. However, our hosts had opted for a peaceful and beautiful villa in the mountainous village of Casa Nova in Arega – around 90 mins North of Lisbon. The location was quiet and tranquil, with not another tourist in sight, perfect for a relaxing family holiday.

We were still within easy reach of historic towns and tourist attractions, but we had the pleasure of knowing that we could escape back to our beautiful villa each evening. And, the villa ‘Casa da Floresta’ was incredible. A lovely white stone building, with a patio area and very inviting pool. The owners lived next door and were always on hand to make sure we got the most out of our stay.2. Visit a ‘Praias Fluviais’, or a river beach to you and me. As the Atlantic Coast can be quite a drive (and very windy when you get there!) Portugal has a network of river beaches to explore. We chose a trip to San Simao River Gorge, which was just stunning. A short walk from the car park brings you out at the beautiful gorge. There is a man made pooled area – perfect for cooling off, rocky sections for sunbathing, a BBQ area and a poolside bar. What more could you want?

Well. If I’m going to be really picky – the water temperature could do with rising a degree or 2! I was too chicken to go in, but Miles looked cold. We were there in early summer though, so perhaps it warms up later on in the year. With plenty of these Praias Fluviais all across the area, they are well worth exploring.
Summer holiday tips, portugal, yes to travel, year of the yes, yearoftheyes.com3. Visit historic Tomar. All good holidays need an element of sightseeing and Tomar is a good place to start. It is a beautiful, historic town packed with windy shopping streets, open parks and impressive monuments. I would highly recommend a visit to Convento de Cristos. A huge convent dating back to the 12 century, with room after room to explore. From there, we picnicked in a park and took a walk down the picturesque shopping street Rua Serpa Pinto.

Summer holiday tips, portugal, yes to travel, year of the yes, yearoftheyes.com4. Visit a local festival. Most villages have festivals throughout the year, so it’s just a case of doing some research to see what’s on locally. We visited the San Juan festival in nearby Figueiro dos Vinhos. We sampled some traditional food in a lovely local restaurant, wandered round the market stalls and listened to the live music. A great way to get a taste of the local culture.

5. Take a trip to the coast. Although it was a 90 minute drive, I think it was definitely worth our trip out to Vale de Parades. After all, it’s not really a holiday without a trip to the seaside is it?

The Atlantic coast is rugged and very very windy – a surfer’s paradise with huge waves, and a spectacular sight. We found a fairly sheltered spot, and enjoyed the day exploring the coastline and sunning ourselves of course! There are plenty of beachside cafes serving fresh seafood – perfect for all fish lovers. The coast is well worth a visit – but don’t forget your windbreak!
So there are my top 5 things to do to have an ‘off the beaten track’ experience of Portugal.
We booked our villa through owners direct, who have similar places around the area.
About the Author

Emma loves sunshine and flip flops, prosecco, chocolatey treats, things that sparkle, trips to the beach, reading and blogging.

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  1. Emma

    This post has totally made me put Portugal on my travel yes list! xxx

  2. It is good to hear more about the hidden Portugal. Very enticing 🙂

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