As summer 2018 was giving its last breaths, I headed to southern Europe again. It was time to reach Spain to visit a friend and discover more of the Iberian peninsula. I went to southeast Spain to see Extremadura for the first time. This enchanting region of wine, olive oil, and ham gave us the chance to road trip. And so, once again, we found ourselves in Portugal. We visited Monsaraz, Évora and Silves, three places to visit in Portugal. A visit to any of these three villages, I can truly recommend you to add to your list of things to do in Portugal.
Road Tripping – A Favorite Among Things to do in Portugal!
I’ve had a love affair with Portugal since last spring when I visited romantic Lisbon and the Algarve Coast. This time around, I got to see another side of this beautiful country on the western edge of Europe and three new places to visit in Portugal. And once again, I was mesmerized by the history and sights! Monsaraz, Évora and Silves are all worth a visit and yet very different!
You can visit all three villages the same day as it is only 1 hour drive between Monsaraz and Èvora and around 2 hours between Èvora and Silves. However, if you want to enjoy the surroundings and not stress I suggest you check in at a hotel in any of these gems and enjoy some relaxing days in Portugal!
Portugal is full of sweet little villages from all phases of the country’s rich history. If you love small towns with a lot of charm, Portugal will become your favorite country and a village visit you should put on the list of things to do in Portugal. Here are my 3 favorite Portuguese villages!
Monsaraz – A Must on Your List of Places to Visit in Portugal
Monsaraz – a must on your list of places to visit in Portugal. Located very near the Spanish border, Monsaraz is a an old and hidden gem. This place overlooks the world atop a hill, lending a magic 360 view of its surroundings. Monsaraz is a place with millions of years in history; it’s been populated since prehistorical times. There are remains of neolithic structures on the hill, some of the oldest in the region and is smaller than Évora and Silves.
Monsaraz has the upside of being a bit hidden from tourists, while offering magnificent views. The tiny village, with its picturesque streets, cobblestone paths and white-washed houses is full of photo ops. Like it happens with many Portuguese villages, the narrow streets are rather labyrinthic. That’s part of the charm and getting lost here is one the best things to do in Portugal!
The Magic Viewpoints
There are lots of lovely viewpoints and a beautiful castle here. It’s from the early Middle Ages, reminiscent of the Arab invasion of the Iberian peninsula. A testament to the mix of cultures in the region! The church in Monsaraz, on the town square, is a white marvel from the 13th century that has survived earthquakes.
Monsaraz was a surprising breath of fresh air. A truly authentic village from past times, you can get lost here easily. It’s a beautiful place to really feel the Portuguese country! I fell in love with the local boutiques, full of consumables and beautiful handicraft.
Évora – The Roman Beauty to Put on Your Things to do in Portugal List
An hour away from Monsaraz by car, Évora is wildly different. Still another must on your places to visit in Portugal list. Where Monsaraz screams Middle Ages and Arabic throwbacks, Évora is all Roman. It was first a Celtic settlement, later a Roman colony, then a Moor city and finally a Portuguese town. However, it’s the feel of the Romans that is almost palpable.
There’s a unique charm to Évora. It’s a lot bigger than Monsaraz, with an almost hipster vibe. The narrow streets are full of artsy boutiques with one-of-a-kind souvenirs, like things made from cork. Other cute little items I loved were the sardines in cool designs with your birth year on them! A visit here is another must things to do in Portugal!
Once in Évora, the first thing you should do is head to the square, the heart of town. Its fountain, from Renaissance times, is a gorgeous sight. After that, get lost in the narrow little streets! The local houses from years past are lovely, many with the traditional Portuguese tiles in white, blue and other colors. They’re a design feature I always fall back in love with whenever I visit the country!
Once you’ve gotten to know the hidden little houses, take in the sunset up the hill and enjoy the Roman ruin. From up there, you’ll get an astonishing view of the surrounding valley. An invigorating sight and a famous one among places to visit in Portugal!
A must among things to do in Portugal, is eating and enjoying the lovely food and wine, If you’re having lunch in Évora, be sure to avoid tourist traps by going beyond the square. Walk away from there and head over to the small street of Beco da Espinhosa, where Páteo awaits at the number 53. A traditional restaurant serving Portuguese and Spanish flavors, it’s located in a backyard! Here, you’ll try Iberian cuisine under the olive trees, surrounded by beautiful old buildings. A vibrant place with great service, we loved the authenticity here, away from crowds.
Then, go ahead and treat yourself to some ice cream at nearby Fabrica dos Gelados!
Silves – The Instagram-Friendly Haven
Silves might be Portugal’s most famous village, and with good reason! This place is almost too cute for words, straight out of a Pinterest pin. Everywhere you look, there’s pink and pastels, especially on the walls of old homes. If you like to take photos or an an Instagram lover, then Silves is a must among the places to visit in Portugal.
Throughout history, Silves has been an important bastion and port in the Algarve Coast. Now, it’s a village to have some peace and quiet, charging your batteries before returning to hectic city life and a stop you should put on your list of things to do in Portugal!
The Castle with a View
When you get to Silves, the first thing you should do is head up to the local castle. It might not be the most impressive of its kind, but the view is downright incomparable from here. Then, head down to the village and get acquainted with its most unique inhabitants: the storks!
The most inspiring thing is however to get lost in the streets and admire all the colorful and tile dressed buildings. There are even houses with trees growing out of the window. The streets are lined with restaurants, bars and ice cream places so you can easily spend half a day in this pretty little one in the mountain!
Portugal is full of hidden gems and there are so many places to visit in Portugal, so get out on the roads and I am sure you will fall in love with this country even more! Find your favorite among the three; Monsaraz, Évora, and Silves.
Travel with a Silver Lining: More Things to Do in Portugal & Beyond
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Booking Support & Input
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- Tours. Find incredible experiences beyond your wildest dreams in Portugal thanks to GET YOUR GUIDE. This Silves, Caldas and Monchique: Full Day Tour is a lovely experience for exercise lovers, as they get to climb the tallest mountain in Portugal. For more lovely activities in Algarve, be sure to check out their Faro city guide!
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