Portugal has some the most beautiful countryside in the entire Europe. The aged appearance and culture attract tourists from all over the world. These villages not only preserve their unique charm and medieval look, they also represent the real insight to the Portuguese culture. Come with us to explore 15 beautiful schist villages which are just waiting to enchain your heart!
1. Marvao, Portalegre
Marvao is the medieval village situated on the top of the mountain in Serra de São Mamede Mountains. The village still preserves its impressive medieval houses and churches and also its significant castle from the 13th-century. Absolutely beautiful to explore and with enchanting sceneries to be seen here in every single step.
Address: Marvao, Portalegre, Alentejo, Portugal
2. Almeida, Guarda
Almeida was originally built as a major fortification of Portugal to the Spanish border. Walking through Almeida will take you along the fortified walls and moat defenses that were built in the 12th-century to stand against the Spanish attacks. The village lies in the district of Guarda, only 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) west of the border with Spain.
Address: Almeida, Guarda district. sub-region Beira Interior Norte, Portugal
3. Sortelha, Sabugal
The charming village that still keeps its historical legacy will bring you back in time. The village connects beautiful nature with impressive architecture. Sortelha is characteristic for the rural granite houses built into the rocks. Some of its gems are the important Gothic gateway and parish church with Spanish-Arab decorating, which was built in the 14th-century. The charm of this village is mainly its medieval atmosphere. The surroundings of Sortelha offer some breathtaking landscapes with the beauty of granite boulders and the chestnut groves.
Address: Sortelha, Sabugal, Portugal
4. Monsaraz, Evora
Monsaraz is a charming village that retains its ancient atmosphere. The whitewashed houses which were built between the 16th and 17th-century are settled along the main street, Rua Direita. Walking along the streets of Monsaraz is like going back to the medieval age for its calm and tranquility, that have been forgotten in the present. Every year in July the city becomes an open-air museum, showing visitors their culture and habits. The highlights of the town are the medieval castle and parish church of Nossa Senhora da Lagoa, which are both considered the city’s architectural heritage.
Address: Monsaraz , Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal
5. Monsanto, Idanha-a-Velha
Monsanto is a small village that was called the most Portuguese village in Portugal in 1938. The fortified village is filled with houses and streets packed from the rocky cliffs. The huge granite boulders surround the town and offer beautiful scenery. On top of the village is located the Monsanto Castle, that provides a fantastic view over the Serra de Estrela Mountains.
Address: Monsanto, Monsanto e Idanha-a-Velha, Portugal
6. Piodao, Serra do Açor
Piodao is a charming village hidden deep in the Serra do Acor, preserved landscape area, which is full of fantastic overlooks. The old houses here are built into the steep slopes and are settled into the narrow, picturesque streets. The specific element for the village is shicht, a stone which was used more than often for constructions of houses and pavements. Throughout the city is seen only blue colored windows and doors. The story tells that in the only one shop that the city had, only blue colors were available.
Among the small houses, you can find here the parish church, which was dedicated to Our Lady of the Conception. The population built it in the early 19th-century. Piodao has never played a significant role in the Portuguese history, but despite that fact, the village becomes more and more famous because of its stunning sceneries.
Address: Serra do Acor, Portugal
7. Covas do Monte, Serra do Açor
In the mountain range of Serra da Gralheira is situated the real Portuguese village, Covas do Monte. To the village leads mountainous roads and offers real insight into the mountain village of Portugal. The stone houses are still occupied with the population that lives here. This old village is full of history and culture.
Covas do Monte
Address: Covas de Monte, Serra da Gralheira, District of Viseu, Portugal
Website: Covas do Monte
8. Aigra Nova, Serra da Lousã
Aigra Nova has been brought back to life and nowadays is a popular stop for those who travel around. You can join many organized hikes that take you to the places such as Maternity of Trees. Aigra Nova is a place for those who want to explore memories, heritage and traditions at Serra da Lousã.
Address: Serra da Lousã, Central Portugal
Website: Aigra Nova
9. Candal, Serra da Lousã
Candal is a village located next to the national road that connects Lousã to Castanheira de Pêra. Candal is a very easily accessible village, characteristic of shichst houses. Many elements from the rural world have been preserved here such as a local chapel, and a fountain or public washing tank. Besides, you will meet the lovely local people.
Address: Candal, Portugal
10. Casal de Sao Simao, Figueiró dos Vinhos
Casal de Sao Simao is a picturesque village situated in the Portuguese mountains. The village itself is situated on the edge of a hill, surrounded by mountains which protect it from the strong winds. The breathtaking scenery of the village is accompanied by the beautiful views and the sound of streams, Ribeira de Alge and Ribeira de Fato, which lead to the bottom of each slope. There are no longer many cultivated areas, but you can still find olive trees from the old times, when people would make their home-made olive oil.
In the surroundings can be found a few groves of cork-trees and chestnut-trees, which make this place so lovely. Recently, Casal del S. Simao became part of the “Aldeias do Xisto” (Schist Villages) Program, and so great changes have happened. The village now has better electricity, public lamps and also Wireless Internet, which makes it easier for locals and tourists. There are a lot of things to do around the village. Many beaches can be found as well as great trails for hiking.
Casal de Sao Simao
Address: Figueiró dos Vinhos, Portugal
Website: Casal de Sao Simao
11. Comareira, Góis
Comareira is a great spot to launch a trip to Serra da Lousã Mountains. The charming village offers many activities and possibilities for discovery. Set off to one of the local beaches of Peneda, Escuro or Canaveias. Climb the sharp cliffs of Góis or explore Oitava Park. If you are up for something less adventurous, you can also take part in a pedestrian walk organized by the Lousitânea Association, which represents some of the species in danger of extinction. The village itself is a beauty as well. You can walk through the streets filled with old houses, take a rest in any of verdant gardens or explore one of the viewpoints that open to magnificent landscapes.
Address: Comareira, Góis, Central Portugal
12. Gondramaz, Miranda do Corvo
Gondramaz is a village with the unique color of its shichst houses. The village with its renovated houses is nowadays the home for many international plastic artists. Every step while walking in the middle of the houses and streets made out of schist is a pleasure. The floor you will step on is a real work of art! If you follow the pedestrian path which leads beyond the houses, you will get into the woods on the way to Penedo dos Corvos.
Address: Gondramaz, Miranda do Corvo, Portugal
13. Talasnal, Serra da Lousã
Talasnal is the largest village of the Serra da Lousã Schist Villages. Talasnal connects the beautiful natural environment with many entertainment and active sport possibilities. The natural green surroundings, dark houses, traditional olive trees and the old fountain all create the perfect spirit and representation of central Portugal. In Talasnal is a must to try the local specialty by a native family - Talasnicos, the small convent cakes.
Address: Talasnal, Lousã, Portugal
14. Sobral de São Miguel, Pombal
The Sobral de São Miguel is one of the largest settlements of slate buildings in Portugal. However, the vast majority of houses were plastered and painted to a white color. In the village, you can taste some traditional cuisine and specialties such as chorizo, sardine, delicious wood oven bread or cod fish.
Sobral de São Miguel
Address: Sobral de São Miguel, Pombal, Portugal
Website: Sobral de São Miguel (in Portugese)
15. Aldeia da Pena, Serra da Gralheira
The village of Pena is a typical Portuguese village located in a deep valley of Gralheira Mountain. The houses are traditionally built from shichst stone. Surrounded by the Góis Mountains, this place features many hiking paths that lead to the Serra da Lousã. Among villages of Aigra Velha, Aigra Nova and Comareira, Pena is a part of a group of Schist Villages included in the panoramic road which leads to Trevim. The abundant vegetation with waterfalls and lakes makes this place a peaceful oasis. There is also the spring of Pena, which offers a refreshing bath.
Aldeia da Pena
Address: Covas do Rio, São Pedro do Sul, Pena, Portugal
Website: Aldeia da Pena
16. Janeiro de Cima
Janeiro de Cima is located in the municipality of Fundão on the river Zêzere. The small townhouses about 300 occupants. The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is a main feature in the village. Chapels and forested surroundings make for a quiet and idyllic setting. Rock engravings at Poço do Charquinho are worth a visit.
There are plenty of walks and trails in the area for you to explore. A must-do is to visit the Casa das Tecedeiras (Weavers House). When you are not relaxing in the lovely refurbished village, there are opportunities to ride on ATVs, go climbing, or canoeing and enjoying the river park.
17. Martim Branco
When you step into Martim Branco, a Schist village, you will be greeted with the aroma of freshly baked goods. Take a look around, and you will spot the old ovens that were fully restored and have become a traditional meeting place for the community. Fountains, woodsmoke and delicious smells waft across the town. Beautiful Schist houses overlook the river, where you may idle away your day.
Visit the Arts and Crafts House where the windmill has been restored, and buy some mementos to take home with you. The linen and loom culture that dates back centuries is fascinating. If you feel energetic, take on the hiking trails that wind through the forests and hills.
Not big, but significant!
Even though Portuguese villages are just small dots on the map, they have changed the fate of the entire country. Strategically settled close to the Spanish borders, Portugal’s villages successfully stood against many attacks. However, it’s not only history that Portuguese countryside offers. The breathtaking landscapes, nature, adventures, and insights to the inhabitant’s lives will enchain your heart.
Historical Villages Program in Portugal Just like the ancient times when the villages united to fight, today, they join to stand against the passage of time. The Historical Villages network created an environment based on history, culture, and Portuguese heritage values. The recovering of the villages itself supported the urban development, improved the access and recovered many monuments. Due to the Historical Villages Program, the villages were able to improve the local economy and gave the opportunity for a better life for locals. Now, all you need to do is go, have adventures and appreciate the local charm that the villages create.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.