Portugal is famous for its stunning seafood dishes, tranquil beaches and tourist attractions, including striking castles, monasteries, exclusive golf courses and breathtaking natural landscapes – but there are also plenty of hidden gems to discover in the country with or without your children.
Let’s start with a little known restaurant in the area of Lagos, selling delicious dishes cooked freshly by the family who own it. Relatively hidden away, on the side of a busy street, most would walk past Arc’da Velha and not get to try its renowned chorizo dish, which is cooked in liquor and oil and creates a striking flame when set before you.
When heading to Portugal most expect to spend most of their time by the pool or a beach, but might find most places a crowded mess of tourists and locals in peak season. Praia do Carvalho beach in Lagoa is a hidden gem which you may find quieter than most sandy shores due to the steep steps that lead down to it. The beach is set in a cove, surrounded by jagged cliffs which act as an excellent windbreak, meaning that even on a cooler, breezier day you can enjoy a swim in the sea. If your children are old enough to cope with the steps then this beach will be great for a family day out.
Rio Formosa in the Algarve is also another tranquil hidden gem when looking for a beach. Unspoiled and relatively far away from tourists, it is set amongst the quiet fishing town of Olhão. Get there quick though, because developers are starting to move in to build hotels and take advantage of the stunning setting.
If you’re looking for more than a tan on your trip to the country, then a trip to Arouca and its Geopark is the perfect way to spend the day hiking. It’s a hidden gem, out of the way of all the tourist traps and offers 14 marked hiking trails to explore, perfect for when you fancy doing something a little more active to burn all those calories you’ve consumed on ice cream. For those of you with older children what better way to introduce them to the area.
For those more into their medieval architecture and secluded spots rich in history, Castelo de Almourol is a must visit. Set on an island in the middle of the Tagus River, the striking stone building is only accessible by boat and kids love to arrive at an Island in an exciting way.
Head to Alentejo, a huge area of the country completely overlooked by tourists who usually head to the popular Algarve. This area remains unspoiled and quaint featuring historic sites such as the Century Tempolo Romano (a Roman temple), beautiful but unusual convent buildings and small villages featuring cobbled streets, locally made pottery shops and bars that look out over the ocean.
Portugal has so much to offer and not just for holidaymakers, it has fast become a popular destination for those looking to move overseas, with many searching for houses for sale in Portugal as soon as they return home!
NB: This is a collaborative post.