1. Cacela Velha
The small village of "Cacela Velha" sits on a hill at the eastern end of the beautiful Ria Formosa Natural Park and is sheltered by the ruins of an 18th century fortress. The whitewashed houses are painted blue to ward off the devil and are topped by ornate chimneys characteristic of the Algarve - just one of the many signs of the Moors' long occupation of this place.
Amarante is one of northern Portugal's hidden treasures, where rows of 17th-century mansions with brightly painted balconies adorn narrow streets. Next to the 16th-century church of St Goncalo - a saint who holds a special place in the hearts of locals for his skills as a matchmaker - is the Amadeo de Sousa-Cardoso Museum. Yet Sousa-Cardoso was one of the most important Portuguese artists of the 20th century. He came from Amarante, which is why a collection of his cubist works can also be seen here.
The home of Pedro Álvares Cabral is best known for its strong Jewish connections. It seems to be the only place on the Iberian Peninsula that has preserved its Jewish heritage and culture, albeit in secret, from the 16th century to the present day. You can learn more about it at the Belmonte Jewish Museum.
The Moorish-occupied Monsanto was conquered by the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques. He gave it to the Knights Templar, who completely rebuilt the old Roman castle, now in ruins. Monsanto is so authentic that it was voted "the most Portuguese village in Portugal" in 1938. Yes, there is such a thing! Small houses are squeezed between huge granite boulders and gardens seem to sprout from the rock.
Alte is a dreamy mix of whitewashed houses, cobbled streets and red bougainvillaea. In the summer heat, you can refresh yourself with a dip in the Fonte Grande - one of the village's natural springs, known for its purity and now a river pool.
By the time you arrive at the walls of Marvão, the most beautiful 13th-century village in the Alentejo, you will probably have fallen for its charm. The village is situated at an altitude of 862 metres on a majestic escarpment facing Spain.
Lindoso is located in the Peneda do Gerês National Park, one of Portugal's greatest natural attractions, and is known for its collection of over 50 "espigueiros" ("little granaries"). They look like miniature tombs with crosses on the roof and are made of granite, stacked on pillars and slatted for ventilation. In this way, grain and maize are stored at the right humidity.
This small village is set amidst pine forests, rice paddies and dunes near Comporta and has a beautiful white sand beach that provides the perfect backdrop for a sunset gallop. So hire a horse in nearby Cavalos na Areia and ride across the dunes to the turquoise waters.
The nearly 27 slate villages that have miraculously survived in the centre of Portugal are spread throughout the country, with the most important cluster in the Lousã Mountains. The historically important villages are linked by footpaths and give an impression of the cuisine and crafts of the region.
Sortelha is perched on a granite rock and offers a breathtaking view of the countryside from the high keep of its castle. Just outside the castle entrance is a 16th century pillory with an armillary sphere on top. Bizarre-looking granite formations surround the village; one is called The Old Woman's Head because of its resemblance. Another is called The Eternal Kiss.