Portugal has so many options for amazing holidays. With an average of 300 sunny days per year, amazing coastlines and stunning towns and resorts, it is easy to see why it is so popular as a holiday location.
But sometimes the last thing you want, is to be in a holiday resort, with lots of other tourists.
Even more so, now than ever, when we travel we want to know we can be away from crowds and this is where Central Portugal really shines, almost as brightly as the sun.
If you are looking for a holiday that will give you total relaxation and space, then a rural villa or cottage maybe just the thing for you. Imagine sitting in a garden, sipping a glass of wine and just gazing at a view that stretches for miles, no neon lights, no rowdy bars and no fried breakfasts with a pint of beer.
Having the opportunity to experience traditional Portuguese life, staying in a rural village or out in the countryside, sitting at a local café bar with the friendly villagers and trying the amazing food that has been eaten for generations and not adapted for modern tourist tastes.
Here are our top choices for having the perfect idyllic rural holiday.
Casa do Mel
Casa do Mel is a pretty stone house, set in the tiny, hillside village of Bocado. With 2 bedrooms and an outside eating area this cottage gives you the opportunity to really live like a local in Central Portugal.
You will need a car to get to Casa do Mel, but once there, you can hide the keys and forget all about it until it is time to go home.
There is no reason to rush for anything, sit back, relax and watch the world go by. Enjoy your break without having to do anything.
This cottage is perfect if you want to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy walking, the area has fabulous country walks, which can end with a coffee in a local café (approx. 4km), where you can sit and chat with the local villagers. There is no better way of getting a feel for an area than chatting with the older people who have lived there for generations. However, unless you can speak Portuguese, you may not have the same conversation, but it doesn’t stop the locals from chatting to you! Central Portugal is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
If you would like to try something different, then a visit to the local river beach, Praia Fluvial de Folques, is a must. Enjoy swimming in fresh water surrounded by nature. There is even a café by the river.
Relax by the river beach - Praia Fluvial de Folques
Further along the river you will find the Medieval Folques Monastery, with the oldest elements dating back to the 14th Century. Each of these locations can be accessed by foot and form part of your walking holiday.
Rural holidays are not always about cozy cottages, they can also be large villas with swimming pools and total luxury, such as Casa Mondora.
Casa Mondora is a stunning modern villa set in the breath taking Serra do Acor mountains of Central Portugal by the banks of the River Alva and gives you everything you could possibly want on a rural holiday.
There is private parking, a swimming pool, games room and it is located in a fantastic area. Just lie down and sunbathe or enjoy an alfresco BBQ on the terrace.
There are stunning views of the mountains and forests and miles and miles of tracks and paths for walkers, you will truly be able to relax and unwind.
If you are looking for days out, a visit to the Serra de Estrela mountains is a must, This area has striking mountain views and a landscape that oozes beauty. At almost 2000 metres these are the largest mountains in Portugal, and did you know there is even a ski slope there in winter? During the summer, this mountain range gives you the opportunity to view the diversity of plants and birds and you might even get to see the flocks of sheep being herded by Estrela dogs, a breed of dog named after the Region.
If you are looking for swimming, again there are a selection of River beaches within easy reach.
If you want a day away from the rural life, a visit to Coimbra, the original capital city of Portugal, is only 45 minutes away so you could easily combine a rural holiday with a trip to the city. Coimbra has much to offer from the UNESCO heritage site of Coimbra University, through to the wonderful historical centre of the great selection of cafes and restaurants.
Casa do Sobreiro
For the perfect family rural holiday in Portugal, Casa Sobreiro is ideal. A 3 bedroom south facing house with private swimming pool, set in the country with a large garden that is perfect for children to play in and an outside terrace with beautiful views of the mountains.
Where scenic walks start from your doorstep through the forest and to nearby villages, there is a local bar just a few minutes away and river beaches within 15 minutes.
Here you can enjoy real family holidays without worrying about losing children on the beach or in a crowded pool, sit back and relax whilst the children amuse themselves with exploring the garden, playing games and enjoying the simpler things in life.
Located 500 meters from the old road to the Spanish/Portuguese boarder, you could be in Spain in about an hour and half, not many holiday locations make it easy to visit 2 countries on a week long break.
The house is in the triangle of Arganil, Oliveira do Hospital and Tabua, which means you can visit larger towns easily for day trips or just to experience other aspects of Portugal or for a great selection of cafes, restaurants, shopping and markets.
For trips out Oliveira do Hospital has attractions for all the family, such as the Ruínas Romanas de Bobadela, which are the ancient roman remains or Miradouro de Varandas de Avô, which gives some of the best views of the region or even the Museu do Azeite (a museum dedicated to Olive Oil), this museum is located on a small hill above the roman remains.
Sometimes, when you want a rural holiday, you also want to make sure you are near to everything you could need.
A holiday located in a valley, surrounded by countryside and vineyards with lovely walks and river beaches close by for swimming. You know you will be safe on your holiday, away from the crowds, but if you need it, there is a town close by for shopping and eating out after a day hiking, fishing and kayaking.
Are you looking for the holiday that gives you everything? If so then Quinta Lamarinho is perfect.
A quiet character farmhouse nestled in a valley next to a new vineyard, with it's own private pool and 5 acres of surrounding land.
Spend your days walking, horse riding, kayaking or even rock climbing there are many activities nearby. But if you want total relaxation why not lay on the on the sunbathing deck and maybe take a dip in the private pool?
If you want even more, a trip to the local town of Arganil is a must. Here you can enjoy a great meal or experience an authentic Portuguese town.
Alternatively, take a short drive to Coimbra to enjoy city life. It is not often a city and rural holiday can be so easily mixed, but a stay at Quinta Lamarinho, gives you just that.
Visit the stunning city of Coimbra
Lameira da Longra B&B, Longra, Tomar
Are you a couple who want to enjoy a rural holiday, that gives you peace, relaxation and solitude? If so a room at Lameira da Longra Bed & Breakfast is perfect, located in a little village called Longra, less than 10 minutes to the city of Tomar, the region of the Templars.
Spend the day lounging on a hammock in nature with a good book, reviving your mind and soul from all the stresses of life.
The relaxation does not end there, enjoy the breakfast that is served to you in the morning on the patio, listening to the birdsong and the sounds of nature.
If you are looking for more activity there are some fantastic walking trails. The owners will be able to assist you with interesting routes, such as a visit to Fungalvaz natural pool, where you can enjoy a meal at the traditional lunch time restaurant or just a cold drink at the friendly bar, to help you on your walk.
If you would like to try a larger river beach, A Praia Fluvial Agroal is located approximately 15 minutes away and has a selection of amenities including cafes, changing facilities, toilets, shops and a restaurant.
Enjoy a day at Agroal river beach
If you do want to venture out, the City of Tomar is a picture perfect location with the UNESCO world heritage site of the Convent of Christ.
A rural holiday in Portugal is an amazing experience for families, couples and groups and during the current situation, holidays away from crowds are the safest holiday you can take.
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