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5 Alternatives To Portugal's Tourist Traps

Algarve church

Portugal is one of the Mediterranean's most popular tourist destinations and is a beautiful country to explore. Over the past few years, tourism numbers have massively increased and a large majority of visitors tend to head to the same destinations and hotspots, which can make them feel overcrowded in the height of the summer months.

However, there are still plenty of different ways that you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the most of what Portugal has to offer. If you're planning a trip to Portugal and want to steer away from the busy tourist spots and instead enjoy the more laid-back vibe which the country is famous for, then here are 5 alternatives.

Coimbra

Many first-time visitors to Portugal are likely to head to Lisbon or Porto, which has resulted in increasing numbers of crowds over the past few years. As this is where tourists tend to stick to when they visit, the city centres have begun to adopt a more metropolitan feel, rather than the traditional vibe they once held. Sure, no trip to Portugal is complete without a visit to one, or both, of these two cities, but if you want to experience a truly authentic town, then head to Coimbra.

Coimbra was once the capital of Portugal, so it is filled with medieval, cobbled streets which lead towards the city's historical sites, including the burial sites of the country's first two kings. Coimbra is also home to one of the oldest Universities in the world, at 700 years old. It is famed for its unique traditions, history and Baroque library.

Swap Cities For Countryside

A lot of attention is focused upon Portugal's main cities, as there is so much to see and do, but the Potrugese countryside comes with its own set of perks. From hiking in the mountains to tasting traditional dishes in small villages, there are some low-key and fun things to do. Vineyards tend to take up a lot of the inner land in Portugal, so visiting one of the beautiful countryside regions to taste locally-produced wine or ports should be high up on your list of things you want to try.

For a taste of historical culture, you could also visit one of the many UNESCO protected villages which are dotted around Portugal, that gained their titles for protecting the country from past border invasions - Almeida and Castelo Novo are just a few worth mentioning.

Relax On A Secluded Beach

The Algarve, located in southern Portugal, is one of the most popular European holiday destinations. With over 160 kilometres of beaches and 300 days of sunshine each year, there's no guessing why, but this means that it can quickly become very crowded. Whilst there are plenty of hotels and apartments located in the main cities of the Algarve, these are mostly focused towards other holidaying Europeans and take some of the magic away from what the Algarve has to offer. If you want to get a true taste of this area, luxury Algarve villas, apartments and hotels are more focused to those looking to get away from it all.

Luckily, the Algarve is home to plenty of hidden beaches, tucked away from the tourist hotspots. Ilha da Barreta in Faro is a beach only accessible by boat, which means that most of the time it is deserted. The stretch of shoreline is just 11 kilometres long, but it is home to a natural and protected nature park and is home to flocks of flamingos. Completely unspoilt, this beach is ideal for those who want to escape the crowds of tourists and find peace to relax.

Algarve market
Go Shopping At The Mercado do Livramento

Portugese markets are a true feast for the senses. The Mercado da Ribeira is perhaps Lisbon's most famous food markets and has been around since 1892. However, since Time Out Magazine have converted it into a food court combined with remote working offices, the market has become a popular spot for visitors. Although the market offers a truly unique experience, combining so many different flavours and tastes in one place, it is also easy to get quite distracted as there is so much going on.

Luckily for foodie fans, the Mercado do Livramento market in Setúbal is just 31 miles away. Considered to be one of the best food markets in Portugal, there are rows upon rows of fresh produce which makes it so appealing for visitors. With cheeses, fresh olive oil and sausages just some of the offerings here, it's no wonder why people from all across Portugal come to visit.

Viana do Castelo

Sintra is one of Portugal's fairytale towns, famed for its streets and neighbourhoods which are filled to bursting with unique buildings and romantic castles. This makes it one of Portugal's most popular destinations, as it is located just a stone's throw (17 miles) away from Lisbon. Thanks to its convenient travel routes, this means that, particularly in the summer months, it can get rather busy.

But, Viana do Castelo is equally as stunning as Sintra and sits in the north of Portugal. It is considered to be one of Portugal's most beautiful cities and it lacks the extreme crowds you may find in Sintra, other than local tourists at the weekends. With plenty of architectural wonders, the most impressive of them all is the 20th-century church, Byzantine Santuário de Santa Luzia, which looks over Viana do Castelo from its place on top of a hilltop. You can take in the panoramic views of the city and coast. Entrance to the church is free, but if you want to access the rooftop dome, then you can pay just €2.



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