5 March 2024

Amidst the timeless landscapes in central Portugal are some of its best-kept secrets. A collection of enchanted historic villages seems to have escaped from the pages of a fairy tale book, where time sits still. While Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve stand out as the most popular and cosmopolitan destinations of Portugal, these little treasures stand as testaments to an era steeped in rich heritage and cultural significance. Picturesque hamlets, where the past seamlessly intertwines with the present, adorned with cobblestone streets, schist houses and medieval castles, enticing travellers to uncover the mysteries concealed within.

When visiting Portugal, you should not miss out on these little gems! Grab a car and drive through rolling hills, lush greenery and stone buildings. We invite you to embark on a voyage through the beautiful Portuguese villages that deserve a place on your bucket list.

Castelo de Vide

Castelo de Vide

Castelo de Vide perfectly combines medieval charm with natural beauty. This picturesque destination, located in the heart of the Alto Alentejo region, invites visitors to embark on a journey through time, exploring its narrow streets and its rich cultural heritage.

The castle, dating back to the 13th century, stands out in the landscape surrounded by the typical whitewashed houses. From above, the Alentejo landscapes acquire all their splendour! Small villages in the middle of the fields are lost sight; nearby, Marvão lurks, and a little further away you can see the lands of Spain.

Strolling through the historic city centre, you are surprised by the picture-perfect scene. The Jewish Quarter, known as the Judiaria, reflects the cultural diversity of Castelo de Vide and is a reminder of the city’s once-thriving Jewish community dating back to the 14th century.

Castelo de Vide has always been known for its natural wealth, namely the thermal baths, whose water has therapeutic properties. You can find several sources, such as Fonte da Vila or Fonte da Mealhada. However, to believe the popular sayings, those who drink water from Fonte da Mealhada will return to Castelo de Vide to marry!



Marvão final

Perched majestically on a granite crag, Marvão is a 9th-century jewel with ancient roots. Its strategic location atop the Serra de São Mamede not only provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes but also hints at its historical significance.

Often referred to as “Eagle’s Nest” due to its lofty position,Marvão’s well-preserved medieval castle stands out as a highlight with its imposing walls and towers. The monument offers visitors a journey through time, back to an era when such strongholds were crucial for defence.

Wandering through the village’s narrow cobblestone streets, visitors are enveloped in an atmosphere of antiquity. The whitewashed houses, adorned with vibrant flowers, exude a timeless charm. The quaint shops and local eateries add to the village's allure, providing a taste of traditional Portuguese hospitality.

Whether admiring the sunset from the castle walls or strolling through its charming alleys, Marvão beckons those in search of history, beauty, and a profound connection with Portugal's medieval past!



Monsanto 2-2

Crowned as the "Most Portuguese Village in Portugal", Monsanto is a unique and charming destination that captivates visitors with its surreal, almost otherworldly atmosphere. Perched on a hill, the houses, apparently emerging among massive granite rocks, show the resourcefulness of the residents who adapted their dwellings to the natural environment.

Strolling through the labyrinthine streets of Monsanto, you find charming alleys and staircases carved into the rock formations. Every step reveals quaint houses and cosy taverns where traditional Portuguese cuisine is savoured. This village is also known to have served as a setting for the television series House of the Dragon, the prequel to the acclaimed Game of Thrones. In its true essence, Monsanto is indeed a magical and timeless scenery.  

Towards the border with Spain (12km away), you can visit Penha Garcia. Its winding and steep streets take you to the Castle from where you can enjoy unforgettable views. Going down you will be surprised by a natural pool swallowed by the rocks.




Continuing to the North, Belmonte offers a blend of historical charm, cultural richness, and natural beauty. Situated in the district of Castelo Branco, holds a significant place in Portugal's history and is renowned for its preservation of the past.

The town has a well-preserved Jewish Quarter, and it was one of the few places in Portugal where a Jewish community survived through centuries of persecution. The Jewish Museum of Belmonte stands as a testament to this rich history and the 15th-century Belmonte Synagogue (one of the oldest in Portugal) is a symbol of religious tolerance and cultural diversity.

Beyond its historical and cultural significance, Belmonte is embraced by the scenic beauty of the countryside. Up in the Castle of Belmonte, an imposing medieval fortress from the 1200s, you can appreciate a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes.




Sortelha's claim to fame is its remarkably well-preserved medieval architecture. The village, with its labyrinthine streets and granite houses, adorned with rustic charm and traditional details, evoke the essence of Portugal's medieval history. Located in the Beira region, near Guarda, is a historical gem surrounded by impressive stone walls.

Just 760 metres up is the medieval castle, dating back to the 12th century, standing as the crowning jewel. Climbing to the castle's ramparts rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views. The Serra da Estrela mountains loom in the distance, adding to the picturesque setting.

Wandering through Sortelha is like stepping into a living museum. The houses, constructed from the same granite that forms the castle walls, create a harmonious blend with the natural surroundings. The narrow streets paved with uneven cobblestones, lead to hidden corners where historical secrets seem to linger in the air. It is a place where the past and present converge.

Castelo Rodrigo 

Castelo rodrigo 2

This historic village, situated in the borderlands of the Douro region, is a medieval jewel that whispers tales of bygone eras. The centrepiece of Castelo Rodrigo is undoubtedly its well-preserved castle - a sentinel overlooking the village and the vast plains below. Built in the 12th-century, the castle's weathered stone walls and watchtowers tell a story of strategic importance during Portugal's medieval history.

The village is a testament to the past, with its traditional granite houses, adorned with wrought-iron balconies and flower-filled windowsills. The medieval charm is enhanced by the ancient pillory in the main square, where justice was once meted out, and the Church of São Miguel, which boasts Gothic and Manueline architectural elements.

Beyond its architectural richness, Castelo Rodrigo is renowned for its resilience throughout history. The village was occupied by Romans, witnessed periods of Moorish rule, and lived through the Christian reconquest.



Trancoso 2

Trancoso was a frontier land and the scene of striking battles which were key for the formation and independence of the kingdom of Portugal. Steeped in history, this walled town has preserved its architectural heritage and cultural landmarks.

Start by admiring the grandeur of the surroundings and you will quickly come across the Porta d'El Rei, the entrance of the medieval wall. Further ahead, is the castle, a formidable structure from the 900s.

Descending from the castle, walk through narrow streets and admire how stone houses merge with the medieval wall. In the charming historic centre is located the Pillory Manueline style. Right in front, D. Dinis Square is a vibrant gathering place and a stage for local events and festivities.

Trancoso is also renowned for its well-preserved Jewish Quarter. In the Isaac Cardoso Interpretation Centre, you can have insights into the Jewish heritage of the city and its historical significance during the Middle Ages.



Piódão 2 EDITED

In the heart of Serra do Açor, a mountain range in central Portugal, Piodão is a hidden gem that captures the imagination with its unique charm. This historic village is often referred to as the "Nativity Scene Village" due to its picturesque setting.

Perched on a hillside, Piodão unfolds like a fairy tale village, with its stone houses stacked against each other, creating a harmonious mosaic of earthy tones. The traditional architecture is characterized by narrow winding streets and charming houses, decorated with doors and windows painted blue. The architectural uniformity of Piodão, using the local schist, gives the village a unique and cohesive aesthetic that blends perfectly with the natural environment.

The scenery of Piodão, surrounded by lush vegetation, increases the village’s fascination. The landscape is dotted with chestnut and oak trees, creating a peaceful atmosphere that invites you to explore the winding paths and discover hidden corners.



Lousã 2

Continuing south, in the direction of Coimbra, you cross the breathtaking landscapes of the Lousã mountain range, adorned with a collection of picturesque hamlets named “Schist Villages” – small towns built predominantly with schist, a metamorphic rock abundant in the region. The warm earthy tone blend in with the traditional fountains, quaint cottages and winding cobblestone streets that evoke a sense of magical tranquility.

Lousã's Schist Villages, including charming places like Cerdeira, Gondramaz or Talasnal, are a testament to the region's commitment to preserving its cultural and historical identity. Many of these villages have undergone careful restoration, maintaining the authenticity of the original structures while providing a glimpse into the traditional way of life in the Lousã mountains.

Surrounded by lush greenery, the Schist Villages invite exploration along well-marked hiking trails. The region's natural beauty, with its dense forests and cascading waterfalls, complements the historic charm of the villages. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will certainly appreciate to immerse yourself in these pristine landscapes.


Let’s explore Portugal's historic villages!

These historical places are not mere relics, but living entities that show Portugal’s commitment to sustainable tourism and cultural preservation. The sprinkling rolling hills, stone houses and castles of these villages are guardians of centuries-old stories and evoke an atmosphere of bygone eras. Its panoramic views that extend through valleys and mountains, invite contemplation on the passage of time. These are a historical treasure that you should visit when travelling to Portugal. Even if your stay is short to visit them all, be sure to explore two or three (or four!) and thus create magical memories. Let us know if you need a head start to travel through these beautiful Portuguese villages!



Topics: portugal, self-drive, Visit Portugal, travel agency, self-guided, vacations, villages, tourtailors, Travel Portugal, Historic towns, holidays, central portugal, portuguese villages

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