Lonely Planet recently let me take over their Instagram account for a weekend to showcase some of my favourite off-the-beaten-path places in Portugal. In case you missed it, here are my pics (including a photo that turned out to be one of Lonely Planet's most liked photos of all time), plus a few extras :-)
The picture above is of Berlenga Grande Island, which you'll find off the coast of Peniche, reachable by a 45-minute boat ride. It's quite a sparse island, but as you can see, the water is stunning and it's also where you'll find Portugal's iconic Forte de São João Baptista das Berlengas (Fort of Saint John).
Find out more about Berlengas.
The Peneda-Gerês National Park is undoubtedly a local favourite in northern Portugal. There are incredible hiking trails, crystal clear streams, rolling mountains and deep valleys, plus sprinkles of snow in winter. The park is also home to adorable towns like Soajo and Lindoso (pictured), where you can find these granite structures called espigueiros, which were built to keep rodents and water out of local grain supplies (complete with a bit of divine protection on top).
Find out more about Lindoso.
This photo turned out to be one of Lonely Planet's highest performing posts ever. Who doesn't like pretty umbrellas?! Águeda is a small city just under an hour’s drive from Porto, but every summer it shines with big personality. During the AgitÁgueda festival hundreds of coloured umbrellas are strung above the streets as part of the Umbrella Sky Project and the cultural agenda also includes music, dance and other performances. Other cities around the world have since copied the concept.
Find out more about Águeda.
Did you know Portugal was hiding such beauty? You’ll find this untouched paradise flung off Portugal’s coastline on São Miguel Island in the Azores. This shot is of the crater lake Lagoa do Fogo, and in the summer, the hillsides pop with greenery and colourful wildflowers. On the island you can hike, surf, swim, canyon, whale watch, fish, or just drive around and ogle at the scenery … it’s a nature lover’s nirvana.
Watch my video about São Miguel Island.
Drive just 45 minutes from Lisbon and you can throw your towel down here (after a bit of a steep rock scramble, mind you). This stunning beach is called Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo and is hidden along the coastline just outside the town of Sesimbra. Beautiful huh?
Find out more about Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo.
It might come across as not much at first, but I adore the little town of Aljezur. It's traditional and untouched, but also holds an important place in history, as its castle is thought to be one of the seven on the Portuguese flag. It's also a good launch point to walk the Rota Vicentina Fisherman's Trail (see pic below).
Find out more about Aljezur.
Isn't this coastline stunning? This is the type of scenery you can expect if you hike Portugal's Fisherman's Trail, which forms part of the Rota Vicentina network. I took this photo on a hike between Aljezur (above) and Arrifana.
Find out more about the Rota Vicentina.
Ponte de Lima is super cute and also happens to be Portugal's oldest village. It's located in the north of the country slightly west of Viana do Castelo.
Find out more about Ponte de Lima.
Piódão is so adorable it almost looks fake. This schist village is located high up in the mountains in eastern Portugal.
Find out more about Piódão.
There are so many other places I could mention, but so this post doesn't get too unwieldy, I'll let you now browse through my 'Places to visit' galleries to find more untapped beauty in Portugal. I've divided the places into north, central and south to hopefully make it easier for you to plot your next itinerary.
top Portugal travel blog to follow right now by The Culture Trip (2017)
The Portugal Wire is the blog of Australian travel writer and photographer Emily McAuliffe.
Things you might not know about Portugal
A brief history of Portugal
Who was the first person to sail around the world? (Hint: he was Portuguese ... and then he wasn't)
A quick overview of Portugal's economy
25 April: a shared day in history for Australia and Portugal
Portugal's bridges: go big or go home
Portugal and Spain: same same but different?
Interesting facts about Porto
Traditional Portuguese food: what to eat and drink in Portugal
Who are they? Famous names on the streets of Portugal
Interesting facts about Lisbon
Uncovering Porto's secret gardens
Lonely Planet Instagram takeover: sharing some of my favourite hidden spots in Portugal