12 secret places to visit in Portugal for nature, food and culture; iNews
In the first of a three-part series, Lonely Planet’s Kevin Raub reveals some of the country’s lesser-known highlights.
1. Granite playground
Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres, Portugal’s only national park, can sometimes be hard to squeeze into an itinerary between wine-tasting in the Douro, port-imbibing in Porto and dining in Lisbon, which is a shame. Wandering among its 100 or so granite villages inhabited by farmers and shepherds gives a flavour of a life little changed since the 12th century. The park – in the country’s north-east – also has an abundance of hiking opportunities.
2. Rural retreat
One of Portugal’s most impressive, under-the-radar places to bed down is Aldeia da Mata Pequena, located just outside the former royal enclave of Mafra, 45km north-east of Lisbon. Former Lisbonite Diogo Batalha has restored 13 ruined structures of a 300-year-old village and flipped them into fabulous, historically accurate stone cottages.
The village’s former wineries, barns, bakeries and homes retain original elements, which you can now sleep in. Doubles from €60 (£52), aldeiadamatapequena.com
3. Hydroelectric hotspot
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