Portugal: The five holiday spots that make it Europe's most underrated travel destination

The 3 best places in Portugal you must holiday to.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Europe has always been a popular continent for Kiwis travelling abroad.

But while countries like France, Italy, Spain and the UK tend to take the spotlight - often for good reason - that can be at the detriment of many others deserving of equal attention.

One of the nations that ought to be higher up New Zealanders' 'must-visit' lists is Portugal.

Perched on Europe's Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is inexpensive and authentic; a place of stunning beauty, deep tradition and rich history.

It's also a surfer's paradise.

Here's where to go to squeeze the most out of this extraordinary country.

Belém

Located 15 minutes east of Lisbon's city centre is bright-tiled Belém, one of the country's best spots to spend a day.

Most tourists will visit the Tower of Belém or Jerónimos Monastery - however these are both, frankly, disappointing, and there are many better ways to spend your time.

Belém, Portugal.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Instead, take a few hours to look through the Museu Coleção Berardo - it's a must-see for anyone who wants to appreciate modern art but doesn't quite get it. There's a step-by-step explainer on each contemporary art movement and how it came about, plus plenty of Picasso and Warhol.

Next, head to the uber-hip LxFactory, an entire street packed out with shops owned by Lisbon's trendiest artists, designers and restaurateurs. There are countless highlights here, but Ler Davagar Bookstore's show-stopping floor-to-ceiling bookcase is worth a visit all by itself.

Food-wise, the area is home to a number of authentic and well-priced restaurants, and the incredibly popular Pastéis de Belém is a hit thanks to its legendary custard-filled delicacies.

Alternatively, hit up the local McDonald's - the Belém one is guaranteed to be the most aesthetically pleasing fast food joint you'll ever see.

Ericeira

An hour north of Lisbon you'll find yourself in a little seaside suburb that more closely resembles a Greek island settlement than a typical Portuguese town.

The township is beautiful and uniform - all the buildings are white with terracotta roofs - and it sits high above the sea, with sharp cliffs plunging dramatically onto the white-sand beach below.

European holidaymakers must put Ericeira, Portugal on their destinations list.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The fishing village is close to a handful of the world's best surf beaches, and that is reflected in the feel of the place. For every seafood restaurant run by locals (there are a lot), there seems to be a surf shop run by enthusiastic Aussies or Brits.

Best of all? Outside the peak months, there are hardly any tourists around - they're all in Lisbon, or checking out the nearby Sintra palace.

Praia do Camilo

Disclaimer: Praia do Camilo is hardly a secret spot.

In fact, like many of the paradisiacal beaches in the Algarve, it's overrun with tourists - and you may find it hard to even find enough space to lay your towel and parasol.

But the reason it makes this list is because a lot of tourists make the mistake of visiting Camilo's more famous neighbour, Praia da Dona Ana, instead - the latter has a bridge strung between two cliffs and is closer to the city of Lagos.

Praia do Camilo, Portugal.
Photo credit: Newshub.

But Praia do Camilo is even more stunning. Its fluorescent blue waters are unparalleled the world over - and if you're desperate to get away from the crowds, you can wade through it to a tiny but less busy bay a few metres from the main stretch.

Odeceixe

Portugal's entire west coast is a treasure trove for surfers, and one of the absolute best patches of ocean for clean, huge waves is Praia do Odeceixe.

An hour's drive north of Lagos, this charming beach caters not just for surfer bros but also for families, on account of the child-friendly estuary that runs along its northern end.

Odeceixe is a charming beach that caters not just for surfer bros but also for families.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Once you've spent long enough amongst the waves, the village above has a handful of restaurants, bars and shops that'll keep you busy for a couple of hours, and the similarly impressive Praia do Monte Clerigo and Arrifana are just short drives away.

If ocean swims aren't your thing (that Atlantic Ocean water does get rather chilly, after all), make a stop-off at the moody and deserted clifftop walk in Samouqueira, brimming with rugged rock formations and native flora.

Samouqueira, Portugal.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Sagres Point
 

Better known for being Portugal's national beer, Sagres is also the southwestern-most tip of Portugal and the entire continent of Europe.

Sagres Point boasts plenty of interesting indigenous animal species and the impressive Lighthouse of Cabo de Sao Vicente, marking the entry point to the Mediterranean, one of the world's busiest shipping trade routes.

Sagres Point, Portugal.
Photo credit: Newshub.

But it's the scenery that'll truly take your breath away. With no land for thousands of kilometres in any given direction, this area is overexposed to the elements, with spectacular results.

Chaotic seas pound the colossal, 75m-tall cliffs, and there is an ever-present gale that will knock you over if you forget to lean into it.

The area is also a history buff's dream, brimming with tales of ancient magic and epic naval battles and housing a tomb and monastery dedicated to martyred deacon Sao Vicente.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz