A paradise in both winter and summer, the European treasure trove of Portugal is one of the continent's favorite cultural, historic, and beach holiday destinations. Warm weather, excellent food, world-class Atlantic beaches, welcoming locals, and low prices have all collectively led to Portugal becoming an enticing vacation retreat that's impossible to resist - whether one's there for a weekend or a week.

Many of the country's top hotspots can indeed be overbearing in peak season, with the likes of Lisbon and the Algarve seeing hoards of tourists in summer. Fortunately, though, Portugal has many more places and experiences to behold, plenty of which are off-the-beaten-path and are just as worthy as the most popular Portuguese gems. Beautiful, cultural, fun, and still mostly undiscovered by the crowds, these are some of Portugal's most authentic things to do on the road less traveled and should be on any discerning traveler's to-do list when visiting this marvelous nation.

8 Relish A Castaway Experience At Berlenga Island

Located about 10 kilometers offshore and accessed via a half-hour boat ride from the Peniche region, the Berlengas Islands should be on the Portugal itinerary of especially-intrepid travelers. The largest island of the bunch - Berlenga - may only be two and a half square kilometers, but its insane amounts of pristine, raw, and natural beauty make up for its size. Berlenga is quite possibly the most off-the-beaten-road as one can get in Portugal, and it's baffling why it's so free of crowds when it's simply so stunning.

The entire island is a mesmeric nature reserve and the home of many a protected bird and plant species. There are also a number of postcard-perfect bays boasting impossibly turquoise waters, along with rugged cliffs and remote beaches with not a single soul in sight. And when visitors have finished enjoying all that to themselves, the island's shipwrecks await to be explored, opening up some memorable snorkeling and scuba diving possibilities to those who're up for a swim.

Related: Portugal Has Beautiful Beaches And These Are The Least Crowded

7 Beach-Bumming It In Comporta, Troia Peninsula

At just an hour from Lisbon, there's no excuse not to stop by this off-the-beaten-track village, which is known amongst locals - not tourists - as one of Portugal's top beach holiday destinations. White beaches, amazing Portuguese resorts, dolphin-watching, and plenty of seafood abound in this beautiful oasis that doesn't see many crowds by comparison to more popular beach hotspots - like the oh-so-famous Algarve.

Esteemed personalities, including José Mourinho, and Monaco’s Royal Family, are said to own numerous properties in Comporta, though despite having caught the eyes of said A-listers, the town's atmosphere remains trendy, yet humble. Overall, the area is charming and fun, but the real draw is its 13 kilometer-long stretch of fine golden beach set against an extraordinary backdrop of lush forest and sprawling rice fields.

6 Exploring São Miguel And Its Volcanic Lakes

As the largest island in the Azores Archipelago, São Miguel and its sensational scenery are something to behold. The Azores themselves are a group of volcanic islands perfect for nature-lovers and thrill-seekers alike, with their stupefying cliffs, lovely lakes, and heated hot springs promising a wealth of adventure.

But what makes São Miguel one of the best of the bunch is the addition of the Lagoa do Fogo - a huge crater lake and one of the region's largest bodies of water, and the Sete Cidades, which are twin lakes nestled in the crater of a dormant volcano. Both are best explored by guided day trip, which sees visitors exposed to the island's intense landscapes, and stunning flora and fauna, all of which are nothing short of spectacular.

5 Enjoying Outdoor Adventures In Peneda-Gerês National Park

Set in the far northeast of Portugal, the Peneda-Gerês National Park boasts a whopping 70,000 metric acres of untouched vegetation, rapid rivers, and cascading waterfalls. Many Portugal-bound tourists have never even heard of this breathtaking wilderness, which is amongst the country's most incredible and authentic places to indulge in fun outdoor activities, such as rafting, rock climbing, zip-lining, and hiking.

Related: A Travel Guide To Portugal: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 11 Things

4 Instagram Shots Galore In Aveiro, Costa Nova do Prado

Visiting the coastal neighborhood of Aveiro, Costa Nova do Prado, is a different kind of experience to many of Portugal's towns and cities. This is an old fishing village - which Portugal has no lack of - except this one has an adorable charm that is utterly unique. It boasts a year-round bright summery feel, and just one stroll through the streets is enough to fall in love with the place and see why it's such a treat.

The main street runs parallel to the beach, which is an idyllic setting for any seaside town. However, what truly stands out are the vibrantly colored buildings that resemble dollhouses, making this one of Portugal's most Instagrammable seaside spots. These colorful buildings used to be used by fishermen to house their equipment but now serve as summer holiday cottage rentals to tourists.

3 Be Bewildered By Boulders In Monsanto

Monsanto is one of 12 historic villages that played a major part in Portugal's transformation from a mere county into a whole country of its own. It's undoubtedly one of the nation's most underrated destinations, with many travelers even being unable to find its place on a map. It may be a tricky place to reach, however, those that do make the journey are rewarded with bizarre but amazing sights unseen anywhere else in the country - or perhaps even the continent.

Walk through Monsanto's picturesque cobbled streets and old-world roads, and one can marvel at mighty boulders that are dotted around the village in seemingly odd and hair-raising places. It's as if the entire village - that wouldn't look out of place in a fairy-tale fantasy film - was built around these huge boulders, which make the entire area incredibly unique and very photogenic. These features are super mind-blowing and are strangely beautiful as they blend in with the village's buildings that seem unscathed by their presence, whilst the locals remain unbothered. Baffling yet wonderful, one thing's for sure: these fascinating giant rocks make for some interesting photography.

Related: This 'Stonehenge' In Portugal Is Even Older Than The U.K. Site

2 Surfing And Seafood in Nazaré

Nazaré is one of Portugal's most traditional fishing villages and should be on any off-the-beaten-trail tour of the country. Located around the mid-point of the Atlantic coast, the rustic town is as colorful as it is historic and overflows with ancient tales, beautiful culture, and interesting traditions - such as the women with seven skirts.

Nazaré is also a superb surf spot thanks to the powerful Atlantic waves here, which have led to a number of surf camps being established that complement its local surfing community. If that sounds too exciting, then the sumptuous local seafood to be savored should be enough of a draw for anyone in this sublime little seaside village.

1 Be Charmed By History in Évora

Évora with its visible Roman history in the form of impressive cathedrals, chapels, and many more ancient remnants, is gaining the attention of discerning travelers on the hunt for crowd-free Portuguese gems. The city is actually the capital of one of Portugal's top wine regions - Alentejo - but wine isn't necessarily the main attraction, for it's the Temple of Diana, Chapel of Bones, and the Cathedral of Évora (to name but a few) which attract and fascinate visitors to this historically significant region. The city's central square is also UNESCO World Heritage Site, which says enough about the place as a historic and cultural diamond that enchants history buffs from around the globe.

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