Life

A Visual Tour Of Portugal’s Best Kept Secrets

Portugal doesn’t get the heavy tourism of France, Italy, or even Germany. It’s tucked away at the edge of Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula, largely minding its own business — an agriculture and aquaculture dependent nation, where life feels pretty laid back (all drugs have been decriminalized, which helps). If you know a few things about Portugal, you’re probably thinking olive oil, wine, salt cod, and trams humping up one of Lisbon’s seven hills. And all of which is reason enough to plan a visit. But we like to go deeper, to dig a little, so here are a few lesser-know reasons why Portugal is on every backpacker’s hot list:

LIVRARIA LELLO

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Bookshops feel a bit like a dying breed. We went from mom and pops in every town, to the big and largely soulless Barnes & Nobles era, and now, with the rise of Amazon, we’re left with few brick and mortar options. So when a bookshop like Livraria Lello still exists, it becomes a must-see destination for any visitor to Porto. You can spend a whole day in the stacks, just absorbing culture. The grand facade of the building, its sweeping staircases, and the overflowing shelves transport you to places that are otherworldly but retain a cozy and welcoming feel.

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MONSANTO VILLAGE

A walk around Monsanto village is one of the most unique strolls you can take in any town anywhere in the world. The denizens of this old town decided to live amongst the giant boulders that peppered the hillside, instead of heaving them away to clear the space. It gives Monsanto a quaint charm and individuality that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on earth. Just try not to make too many ‘between a rock and a hard place jokes.’ You can be sure the locals have heard them all.

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CAPELA DO SENHOR DA PEDRA

The small chapel was built on a rock outcrop in the sea where pagans are said to have worshipped and sacrificed for their gods. It was common practice for early Christians to monopolize pagan sights to assimilate the locals. What makes this particular chapel stand out are the coven of cloaked witches who still march through the city to the chapel to protect the rock during seasonal cycles.

Most likely it’s just locals playing it up for the tourists, but still, it’s kinda cool and creepy all at the same time.

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BOCA DU INFERNO

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These might be the original Cliffs of Insanity! At the very least they look as though they’ve conquered many a weary traveler. They were made ever more famous when noted kook and occultist Aleister Crowley faked his death here. Admittedly, if we’re being honest, these cliffs seem like a baller place to fake one’s death. Go big!

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HOTEL MONTE PALACE

This abandoned hotel is pure dystopia-porn. The earth is slowly reclaiming all that man once built. It’d also make a pretty awesome set for a horror movie — so move over Detroit. Be warned, this hotel is out on the Azores, you’re going to have to take an extra trip from mainland Portugal to hit this one.

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ERICEIRA

Most of us probably don’t think Portugal when we think world class surfing destinations. That’s a shame as Portugal has plenty of Atlantic coast and great surfing for those in the know (expect very cold water even during the high season from April to September). Ericeira is a secluded and bountiful seaside town where you can camp, relax, and surf every day all while enjoying the more well-known treats Portugal has to offer — dank red wines, luscious olive oil, and amazing seafood.

Thinking of taking a trip? Check out some of our recent Uproxx Travel destination guides:

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