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Portugal is a beautiful country with incredible beaches. This year alone it has been listed as one of the cheapest European holiday destinations, as well as one of the most popular.
So it should come as no surprise that Portugal’s travel and tourism industry is on track to break records by 2023. Data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that by the end of the year, Portugal’s tourism industry will surpass its 2019 peak.
Places like Lisbon, Porto and Madeira are listed as the most popular destinations in Portugal and all draw huge crowds during the summer months.
But what if you want to explore Portugal without the record-breaking crowds?
Here are 5 lesser-known destinations in Portugal to explore:
Miramar is a small coastal town located between the towns of Gulpilhares and Arcozelo. Despite having a beautiful beach, Miramar does not attract the same level of crowds as the Algarve beaches. Even in high season, the beach here is pleasantly deserted.
If you are looking for tourist attractions, you will not be disappointed here either. Miramar houses the Capela do Senhora Pedra. This is a 17th-century chapel that looks striking against the wave-battered promontory jutting out from the beach.
Miramar isn’t far from Porto, so it’s not exactly off the beaten track. But it is much quieter than many of the other easily accessible resorts in Portugal.
If you want to explore the true heart of Portugal, Alto Alentejo is the perfect region to visit.
You won’t find luxury all-inclusive resorts here. And since it’s an inland destination, you won’t be able to spend your days lazing on the beach. But Alto Alentejo offers an incredible mix of pretty villages and medieval cities.
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It is the best place in Portugal to mingle with the locals and enjoy the history and culture of the country.
The best way to stay here is in small locally run hotels or farm stays. Alentejo cuisine is considered among the richest and best in Portugal.
Marvao is a small fairytale town with a population of only 2,972. Located on the mountaintops near the Spanish border, Marvao is a medieval town, and the castle here is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe.
Marvao has whitewashed houses and incredible views. People often stop in Marvao as part of a larger road trip through Portugal, but it’s less popular as a stand-alone holiday destination.
Marvao is a vacation destination that is small but perfectly formed and best suited to active and outdoor types. From hiking in the surrounding mountains to horseback riding and mountain biking, Marvao is best explored slowly, with plenty of stops to take in the stunning scenery.
The most secluded spots are the hardest to reach, and that’s true in beautiful Viseu.
There is no train station here, so you will need to rent a car to get to your destination. But the incredible views, cultural attractions, and lack of crowds are worth the effort.
Viseu is a medieval walled city that is home to a monumental cathedral, pretty cobblestone streets, and huge squares perfect for people-watching and relaxing after a busy day. As the location is in one of the main wine-producing regions of Portugal, you are in the perfect place to have a glass of red.
And art lovers will find Renaissance treasures to savor at the Museu Grão Vasco.
Ferragudo is known as the most beautiful town in the Algarve. And although there are no completely tourist-free places here, if you want to visit the Algarve, this is one of the best places to choose.
Ferragudo is a traditional fishing village filled with whitewashed cottages, hillside streets, and lovely river views. The squares and terraces here have a lively nightlife, and you’ll also find a host of excellent restaurants here.
One of the most unique features of this area are the many cliff top forts that you can explore. Ferragudo is at the mouth of a river rather than offering direct access to the beach.
While the famous Algarve beaches are close by, this distance makes Ferraguda a much quieter place to explore.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com