Marvão, Portugal: Discovering Portugal’s Hidden Gem

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Have you ever heard of the village of Marvão, Portugal?

During a Google search of places to visit in Portugal, Marvão emerged as a standout destination, captivating us with images of a medieval village perched atop a mountain, crowned by a majestic castle.

Intrigued, we embarked on a road trip from Porto, a journey of almost four hours, to unravel the secrets of this enchanting destination.

In this blog, we’ll show you everything you need to know about Marvão: how to get there, the best places to visit, and tips on where to eat. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Marvão has something to offer every traveler.

However, we’ll let you in on a little spoiler – we not only loved the road trip filled with treasures along the way to Marvão, but also the beautiful views that include other cities like Castelo Branco.

So sit back, relax, and let us be your guide to Marvão: Portugal’s Hidden Gem. Get ready to be enchanted by this captivating destination as we embark on an unforgettable journey together.

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Table of Contents

How to Get to Marvão, Portugal: Tips for Your Journey

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First things first, let’s talk about how to get to Marvão, Portugal.

Whether you’re starting your journey from Lisbon or Porto, getting to this enchanting village requires a bit of planning but is definitely worth the effort.

From Porto:

We from Discovering Destinations started our adventure from Porto. The road trip to Marvão is a bit long but incredibly scenic. The drive takes around 4 hours, covering approximately 340 kilometers. Google Maps is your best friend here, guiding you through the most efficient routes. The journey from Porto offers stunning views of the Portuguese countryside, and you might even spot some fortified cities like Castelo Branco along the way.

We totally recommend taking your time, driving safely, and most importantly, enjoying the road full of history. Along the way, you’ll encounter amazing sights like the historic water fountain we saw and other beautiful views, as shown in the picture below.

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In summary, getting to Marvão from Porto:

By Car: Renting a car is highly recommended as it gives you the flexibility to explore not just Marvão but also the beautiful landscapes and other towns along the way.

By Bus: There is an option to travel by bus from Porto to Marvão, though it requires a transfer in Lisbon or another major city. Buses are less direct and take significantly longer than driving, but they offer a budget-friendly alternative.

By Train: Unfortunately, there are no direct trains from Porto to Marvão. You can take a train to Lisbon or a nearby town such as Castelo Branco and then switch to a bus or arrange a transfer to Marvão.

By Transfer: For those who prefer not to drive, Get Your Guide offers transfer services from Lisbon to Marvão. This is a convenient and stress-free option, ensuring you reach Marvão comfortably.

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From Lisbon:

If you’re beginning your trip from Lisbon, you have a couple of options. Driving is the most convenient way to reach Marvão. The drive takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, covering a distance of approximately 225 kilometers. Along the way, you’ll pass through some beautiful landscapes, making the journey part of the adventure.

By Car: Driving is the most flexible option. Rent a car and enjoy the scenic route, stopping at picturesque towns along the way.

By Bus: There are direct buses from Lisbon to Marvão. The journey takes around 4 hours and offers a comfortable and cost-effective way to travel.

By Train: Similar to Porto, there are no direct trains to Marvão from Lisbon. You can take a train to Castelo Branco and then switch to a bus or transfer service to reach Marvão.

By Transfer: For those who prefer not to drive, Get Your Guide offers transfer services from Lisbon to Marvão. This is a convenient and stress-free option, ensuring you reach Marvão comfortably.

Double check the deals

We usually double check a couple of platforms when looking to rent a car. Sometimes you’ll find a better deal, a closer pick-up spot or a Better Vehicle !

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Feel free to check between our links below for Skyscanner and AutoEurope.

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Additional Tips:

  • Plan Your Time: Start your journey early to make the most of your day in Marvão. Aim to arrive by late afternoon to catch the stunning sunset over the village.
  • Enjoy the Scenery: Whether you’re driving or taking a bus, the journey through the Portuguese countryside is beautiful. Keep your camera handy for unexpected scenic spots.

We totally recommend taking your time, driving safely, and most importantly, enjoying the road full of history. Along the way, you’ll encounter amazing sights like the historic water fountain we saw and other beautiful views, as shown in the picture below.

For those considering bus or train options, please note that our information is based on our personal experience driving from Porto. We recommend checking updated schedules and routes on websites such as Rede Expressos for bus options and CP – Comboios de Portugal for train options. These resources will provide the most accurate and current information for planning your journey.

To book a transfer service through Get Your Guide, visit their website and search for transfers to Marvão from either Porto or Lisbon for a seamless travel experience.

So, buckle up, enjoy the drive, and get ready to discover the hidden gem of Marvão!

Where to Stay When Visiting Marvão, Portugal

Marvão is a captivating destination with a range of accommodation options that cater to various tastes and budgets. Here are some of our pick of the best places to stay when visiting this charming village:

1. Estalagem de Marvão: A Charming Retreat

We from Discovering Destinations had the pleasure of staying at Estalagem de Marvão.

Estalagem de Marvão pleasantly surprised us with its central location in Marvão village. While finding it initially posed a slight challenge, the owner provided detailed directions to the nearby parking lot.

The apartments, nestled above a quaint store, require climbing stairs, but the effort is rewarded with a tastefully decorated space that seamlessly blends historic charm with modern amenities.

Our room on the second floor offered stunning views, and the inn’s proximity allowed us to explore the village on foot within minutes.

The inclusive breakfast was delightful, complemented by nearby cafes, restaurants, and local shops selling souvenirs and art. Managed by a friendly family, our stay was a memorable experience, and we enthusiastically shared our positive feedback on Booking.com.

2. Hotel Dom Manuel, Marvão

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Hotel Dom Manuel would have been our second choice. The hotel is ideally located in the highest village in Portugal, housed in a beautiful historic building.

The views look stunning over the landscapes of Portugal and Spain.

Back in 2019, our budget didn’t allow us to stay at the hotel.

However, since Estalagem de Marvão was just a few minutes away from Hotel Dom Manuel, we had a delicious dinner there.

We highly recommend that even if you cannot afford to stay at the hotel, you should at least dine at their delicious restaurant.

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Tips for Choosing Accommodation:

  • Book Early: Marvão is a small Village and a popular destination, especially during peak tourist seasons. To secure your preferred accommodation, it’s advisable to book early.
  • Consider Your Preferences: Whether you prefer a historic setting, a luxurious stay, or a budget-friendly option, Marvão has something to offer. Consider what amenities and experiences are most important to you when choosing your accommodation.
  • Location: We recommend staying in Marvão Village. This charming, walkable village allows you to easily access all attractions, including restaurants and the castle. You’ll not only enjoy stunning views of both Portugal and Spain but also experience gorgeous sunsets.

Marvão’s charm extends beyond its medieval walls, and choosing the right place to stay will enhance your experience in this hidden gem of Portugal. Whether you opt for the historic ambiance of Estalagem de Marvão or the luxurious comfort of Pousada de Marvão, you’re sure to enjoy a memorable stay in this enchanting village.

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Discovering things to do in Marvão, Portugal

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Marvão is a small fortified village atop a mountain. While it may seem like there’s not much to do, Marvão offers numerous historical sites worth visiting.

Discover Historical Sites with a Tourist Map

Marvão provides a Tourist Map available throughout the narrow streets. This map highlights all historical sites, including houses of notable figures, churches, inns, ATMs, restrooms, taxis, and other tourist spots. Additionally, the village has well-placed signs to help you navigate.

A great tip is always talk with locals, specially if you stay in local inns, where the hosts offer valuable tips on major attractions and the best restaurants.

Take Your Time and Enjoy

Don’t rush. Bring your camera or phone, and capture every charming detail of this unique village. Besides taking photos and videos, sit by the walls and enjoy the stunning views of the region. It’s like traveling back in time, surrounded by endless natural beauty.

Now, discover some of the best sights to see in Marvão and tips for things to do.

The Castle of Marvão, Portugal

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The Castle of Marvão is undoubtedly the main attraction. Visiting hours are usually from 10 AM to 7 PM, but it’s best to check Google or ask at your hotel. The entrance fee was less than two euros per person in 2019, and it’s well worth it.

According to local sources like “Visit Évora” and Wikipedia, the castle’s history dates back to Roman times, with significant events occurring during the Muslim invasion between 876 and 877. It was reclaimed by D. Afonso Henriques between 1112 and 1185. Now classified as a National Monument since July 4, 1922, the castle offers beautiful views, castle-worthy gardens, and guided tours of its archaeological armory.

Other Must-Visit Sites – Marvão, Portugal

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  • Convento Nossa Senhora da Estrela: This Gothic-style convent, established in 1448, is celebrated on September 8th. For more information, visit the CM Marvão Website.
  • Chafurdão: Unique circular structures found in Marvão, possibly dating back to the early Middle Ages. For more details, check the CM Marvão Website.
  • Igreja do Espírito Santo: Founded in 1573, this chapel features a unique Renaissance granite portal. Visit the site of Visit Portugal for further information.
  • Igreja de Santa Maria: Dating back to 1321, this church was transformed into a Municipal Museum in 1987, featuring Gothic architecture and exhibits on local history. More details are available on the the site of Visit Portugal.
  • Praça do Pelourinho: Praça do Pelourinho, though small, offers amazing views of Marvão’s landscape. This charming square is perfect for a leisurely stroll, taking in the historic ambiance, and capturing stunning photos of the surrounding scenery. A must-visit spot!
  • Explore the local shops selling products and handicrafts. The Estalagem de Marvão, where we stayed, has a also a store offering local products and souvenirs. You can check more about it in their official website Clicking Here.

Capturing the Sunset in Marvão, Portugal

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A final tip, if you can spend at least one night, or an evening to watch the sunset in the village of Marvão, you certainly won’t regret it.

Whether you’re visiting for just one night or staying for a leisurely evening, witnessing the sunset in Marvão is an experience not to be missed.

The entire village is bathed in the warm hues of the setting sun, offering breathtaking views that make for incredible photos.

It’s a serene moment, perfect for simply sitting back and soaking in the tranquil energy as the sun dips below the horizon—an open-air meditation.

Moreover, Marvão boasts numerous magical spots to catch the sunset, and depending on the season, you might have the chance to witness this natural spectacle all to yourself, completely free of charge.

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Embrace the Charm of Marvão

The best way to experience Marvão is to wander its cobblestone streets and walk along the city walls. This will reward you with breathtaking and unforgettable views. For more information about Marvão, visit the CM Marvão Website.

Explore Marvão: Watch Our Vlog for Trip Planning Inspiration!

Dive into our new YouTube vlog on Marvão! Discover charming streets, where we stayed, local eateries, breathtaking sunsets, exploring Marvão Castle, and tips on pricing and events.

Let the adventure begin! < CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW! >

How Long to Spend in Marvão, Portugal

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Planning a trip can be challenging, especially when deciding how long to stay in a specific destination. When it comes to a European trip, with so many beautiful places to explore just hours or even minutes away, the length of stay depends on several factors:

  • How much vacation time you have
  • How many places you want to visit at this destination
  • Your budget
  • Your travel style: are you seeking peace and tranquility, or would a quick visit suffice?

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    Let’s share our experience, which might help you plan how long to stay in Marvão.

    We arrived in Marvão in the late afternoon and managed to visit some historical sites. The highlight was witnessing the sunset in absolute peace, followed by dinner at a traditional restaurant, savoring the delicious cuisine of the Alentejo region.

    The next morning, we woke up early, enjoyed the breakfast included in our stay, and leisurely headed to visit the Marvão Castle. Along the way, we visited other tourist spots, and after spending several hours at the castle, we were ready to hit the road towards the Algarve region.

    So, for those just passing through, we suggest arriving in the village in the morning or around lunchtime. You can explore the village in a few hours, including the castle, and enjoy a lovely lunch at one of the local restaurants perched high in the village.

    For those seeking absolute peace and tranquility to rest, enjoy fresh air, and take in beautiful views, Marvão is ideal for spending a few days. Remember, there are other walled towns nearby worth visiting during the day.

    For more information and detailed planning tips, consult the official tourism site for Marvão.

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    Where to Eat in Marvão, Portugal

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    The village of Marvão offers a few great restaurants, and you can check their reviews on Google.

    Since we arrived in Marvão in the late afternoon, after a long walk exploring the village and watching the sunset, we stopped at “O Castelo – Café Lounge” for a quick coffee.

    The place was nice and also offered sandwich options, which is ideal for those spending just a day in the village or looking for a place to have breakfast.

    After a shower and some rest, we had dinner at “Restaurant Dom Manuel,” located in Hotel El Rei Dom Manuel.

    The restaurant is quite simple but nicely decorated and offers typical cuisine with friendly service, so we totally recommend.

    What to Eat in Marvão, Portugal

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    For those who eat meat and seafood, a must-try dish in Marvão, located in the Alentejo region, is “Carne de Porco à Alentejana.”

    Carne de Porco à Alentejana is one of the most traditional and popular pork dishes in Portuguese cuisine. It combines pork and clams with potatoes and coriander. You might think this combination wouldn’t work, but it totally does, and it’s delicious!

    Here are two more local dishes you should try if you have a chance:

    • Açorda Alentejana: This is a bread soup made with garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and poached eggs. It’s a simple yet rich dish that perfectly captures the essence of Alentejo’s rustic cuisine.
    • Ensopado de Borrego: A lamb stew cooked with white wine, garlic, onions, and herbs. It’s a comforting and aromatic dish that showcases the robust flavors typical of the region.
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    Capturing Memories: Photography Tips for Marvão, Portugal

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    During our Trip to Marvão, Portugal, Serge from Discovering Destinations has captured the beauty of Marvão through his lens, and his stunning photos are available on Shutterstock and our website, in case you want to buy one of Marvão’s pictures for your home, office, or computer wallpaper, and start getting inspired for your trip to Portugal.

    However, Serge also shared some of his photography tips, as Marvão is one of the most picturesque places we have visited in Portugal.

    Here are his top 10 tips to help you photograph this enchanting village.

    1. Sunset Magic: The golden hour in Marvão offers stunning light. Capture the village and the surrounding landscapes bathed in warm, soft hues. Head to high points like the castle walls for panoramic shots.
    2. Castle Views: Take advantage of the elevated position of Marvão Castle. Shoot wide-angle shots to encompass the impressive structure and the vast scenery beyond.
    3. Historic Architecture: Focus on the unique Gothic and medieval architecture. Use a mix of wide shots and close-ups to highlight intricate details like the granite portals and ancient stonework.
    4. Streets and Alleys: The narrow, winding streets of Marvão offer charming, picturesque scenes. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to capture the essence of the village’s quaint alleys.
    5. Natural Framing: Use archways, doorways, and windows to frame your shots. This technique adds depth and context, drawing the viewer’s eye into the scene.
    6. Local Life: Capture the essence of daily life in Marvão. Photograph locals going about their day, market scenes, and cultural events to add a human element to your collection.
    7. Seasonal Changes: Visit Marvão during different seasons to capture a variety of landscapes. Spring blossoms, autumn foliage, and winter’s muted tones each offer unique photographic opportunities.
    8. Blue Hour: Don’t pack up your camera right after sunset. The blue hour, just after sunset and before sunrise, provides a magical, soft blue light perfect for atmospheric shots.
    9. Details and Textures: Look for interesting textures and details in the stone walls, cobblestone streets, and historic buildings. These close-up shots can add variety and richness to your photo collection.
    10. Nature Shots: The natural surroundings of Marvão are just as captivating as the village itself. Capture the rolling hills, lush greenery, and distant mountains to showcase the village’s beautiful setting.

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    By following these tips, you’ll be able to capture the best of Marvão, Portugal, in your photographs, from its stunning sunsets to its rich historical charm.

    Planning Your Trip: 10 Top Tips for Visiting Marvão, Portugal

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    Before you set off to explore Marvão hidden gem, here is a summary and a few essential final tips to make the most of your visit.

    1. Getting There

    Marvão is accessible by car, and the drive offers scenic views of the Portuguese countryside. The village is about 230 km from Lisbon and 160 km from Évora. Public transportation options are limited, so renting a car is recommended for flexibility and convenience.

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    2. Driving and Parking in Marvão, Portugal

    Even though you can reach Marvão by car, it’s important to note that Marvão is a medieval village with very narrow streets, making it impractical to explore by car. Therefore, drive into the village and immediately park your car.

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    The village of Marvão offers free parking spots at its entrance, which is convenient if you’re visiting for the day, or inside the village if you decide to stay overnight.

    You can check for free parking locations using Google Maps, or if you’re staying overnight, just ask your hotel for directions as we suggested in our New Marvão, Portugal’s Hidden Gem Vlog.

    In our case, we found free parking just a few minutes from our hotel next to Pelourinho Square, near our hotel Estalagem de Marvão and Dom Manuel Hotel. From there, we walked to all the places we wanted to visit.

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    3. Marvão Travel Essentials You Need to Know

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    This leads us to the next tip: comfortable walking shoes are a must for visiting Marvão. The village’s cobbled streets and steep inclines require good footwear to ensure a pleasant walking experience.

    Additionally, pack layers to accommodate the varying temperatures, especially if you plan to visit during the shoulder seasons.

    For example, we visited Marvão in October 2019, and even though it was a beautiful sunny day, it was a bit chilly in the city. We found ourselves wearing scarves and winter jackets.

    This said, the following items will help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip to Marvão.:

    1. Comfortable Walking Shoes: The village’s cobbled streets and steep inclines require sturdy, comfortable footwear.
    2. Layered Clothing: Pack layers to accommodate varying temperatures, especially if visiting during the shoulder seasons.
    3. Scarf: Since Marvão can be quite windy, a scarf will help keep you warm and comfortable.
    4. Portable Charger: Ensure your devices stay powered up for navigation, taking photos, and staying connected.
    5. Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated while exploring the village and its surrounding areas.
    6. Camera: Capture the stunning views, historic sites, and beautiful landscapes of Marvão.
    7. Charger for Cellphone with European Adapter: Ensure you have a charger to keep your phone powered for taking photos, navigation, and staying connected, along with a European adapter to fit the local outlets.
    8. Personal Care Items and Medications: While Marvão has a pharmacy, it might not carry all the specific products or brands you are used to. Ensure you bring:
    • Prescribed Medications: Enough supply for the duration of your trip;
    • Basic First Aid Kit: Including band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers;
    • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc;
    • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: To protect against sun exposure.

    And final, but most important, don’t forget to bring a big smile and happiness to relax and enjoy your trip to Marvão, Portugal!

    By following this tip, you’ll be prepared to explore Marvão comfortably, no matter the season.

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    4. When to Visit Marvão, Portugal

    We have visited Marvão during autumn (October – 2019), and according to our researched the best times to visit Marvão are during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are smaller.

    Summers can be hot, and winters can be quite cold due to the village’s elevation.

    However, we totally recommend to check a reliable forecast local website before your trip.

    5. Where to stay in Marvão, Portugal

    As already mentioned above, We from Discovering Destinations had the pleasure of staying at Estalagem de Marvão, and Hotel Dom Manuel would have been our second choice. 

    However, Marvão offers a range of accommodation options, from charming guesthouses to historic inns.

    Booking in advance is advisable, especially during peak tourist seasons and local festivals.

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    6. Exploring the Village

    Marvão is best explored on foot. Take your time wandering through the narrow streets, visiting historic sites such as the Marvão Castle, Convento de Nossa Senhora da Estrela, and the village’s various churches and museums.

    Upon arrival, check out the village map which highlights all the main attractions and essential places such as the pharmacy, market, and restaurants.

    Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning views and charming architecture. Enjoy every moment in this enchanting village!

    7. Dining in Marvão

    Treat yourself to the mouthwatering flavors of Marvão and the Alentejo region!

    Enjoy the local cuisine at one of Marvão’s traditional restaurants. Dishes to try include Carne de Porco à Alentejana and various other regional specialties. Also, don’t miss out on local glass of amazing Portuguese wine.

    Check out our new Marvão, Portugal’s hidden gem vlog and get amazing tips on where to eat while visiting the village, including our breakfast spots and our dining experiences in Marvão.

    Enjoy every delicious bite and sip in this charming village!

    8. Marvão, Portugal – Local Culture and Etiquette

    The pace of life in Marvão is relaxed, and the locals are friendly and welcoming. Learning a few basic Portuguese phrases can help to enhance your experience and also show respect to the residents.

    Here are some useful Portuguese phrases to get you started:
    • Hello / Good morning: Olá / Bom dia
    • Good afternoon: Boa tarde
    • Good night: Boa noite
    • Please: Por favor
    • Thank you: Obrigado (if you’re male) / Obrigada (if you’re female)
    • You’re welcome: De nada
    • Excuse me: Com licença
    • Yes / No: Sim / Não
    • How much does this cost?: Quanto custa?
    • Where is…?: Onde fica…?
    • Do you speak English?: Você fala inglês?

    By using these phrases, you can connect more with the locals and make your visit to Marvão even more enjoyable.

    You can always download the FREE Google Translate app in your smartphone that will help you to communicate!

    9. Sunset Views

    One of the highlights of Marvão is the stunning sunset. Find a good vantage point along the village’s walls or at the castle to watch the sun dip below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the landscape.

    By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Marvão, Portugal. Whether you’re there for a day or a longer stay, Marvão promises a memorable and enchanting experience.

    Don’t forget your camera!

    10. Our recommended Travel Affiliate Links for Travel

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    In conclusion, Marvão, Portugal, is a mesmerizing destination filled with historical charm and stunning views. We from Discovering Destinations had an unforgettable experience exploring this enchanting village.

    We’d love to hear about your adventures or any questions you might have! Please leave a comment below and feel free to contact us for further information.

    Also, don’t miss our other blogs about Portugal!

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      Happy discovering!

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