Stand high on the battlements and absorb the stunning views across Portuguese wilderness. Eagles swoop above this castle and lizards scuttle underfoot. It runs canyoning trips in the nearby Laboreiro waterfall. Keep an eye out for red squirrels.
The turquoise and emerald sea certainly lives up to its name and there are sea caves, islands, clifftop monasteries and delicious wine produced in its many vineyards. The whole stretch is dotted with caves and, with hundreds of colourful fish and crystal-clear water, this is a great spot for snorkelling or sea kayaking rent from vertentenatural. Just metres offshore is the island of Pedra da Anixa , where crabs, conger eels and bream hide in its cracks and cavities.
It can be reached by swimming or by canoe. This is all hungry work and, thankfully, this area is famous for its cheese and wine. In the morning, make a pilgrimage to the dramatic coastal peninsula of Cabo Espichel a mile drive west.
Here, explore the grand lighthouse and the 17th-century white church perched on the cliff-edge looking out across the sea. Stone dinosaur footprints, said to be m years old, run up the cliff-side and were once thought to be the footsteps of the Madonna. Look out for the bottlenose dolphins that might chase alongside the boat, as they come here to feed on the cuttlefish, too. A short hop along the shore are several more lively and equally ancient fishing communities.
The village harbour at Carrasqueira is built on wooden stilts and alive with fishermen returning with their catch. Or a minute drive further on, the Oeiras river at Morgadinho curves through thick meadows. A minute drive to the north-west is Castro da Cola , a bronze age necropolis crowning hills blanketed in thick pelts of wild thyme, lavender and roses.
Strategically positioned with views across the Guadiana valley, this is a perfect place for wild campers to watch the sunset and the moonrise. Here, the giant Guadiana river gushes through a rocky gorge and the waterfall roars, swirls and beats the stone banks which, over the millennia, have formed strange twisted shapes. Swim in the more gentle downstream pools and watch for eagles soaring above this wild and rugged landscape.
Gaze out across fields which, in , rang with the cries of the Battle of Ourique when Afonso Henriques defeated the Moorish kings. Some of the best bread in Portugal is to be found in this area, and delicious tosta mista , ham and melted cheese in crusty rolls, is ubiquitous. This article was amended on 28 April Topics Portugal holidays Holiday guides.
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