8 Off-the-Beaten-Path Escapes in Portugal: A Nature Lover’s Paradise From Glamorous Camping to Rustic Estates

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Portugal Nature Getaways

Produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK), this article dives deep into Portugal’s hidden gems.

  1. Senses
    Ditch the hustle and bustle and make your way to Serra da Estrela Natural Park in northern Portugal, home to the nation’s loftiest peaks and valleys filled with the music of sheep and goat bells. Senses, located alongside the Mondego River, offers a choice between basic camping under fruit-laden trees or more luxurious “glamping” in bell tents, safari lodges, and yurts. Take a wild swim in the river, sharing the waters with native otters, or go for a hike into the craggy granite elevations. Upon your return, a farm-to-table eatery awaits. At night, gaze at the Milky Way in some of the darkest skies in Portugal. Camping starts at €15 (£13), and tents begin at €45 (£39), including breakfast.

  2. Quinta da Pacheca
    The landscape here is a bottle-popping beauty, featuring steep terraced vineyards that stretch up the verdant hills overlooking the Douro River. This transformed 18th-century wine estate now boasts a high-end hotel, restaurant, and spa. For an authentic experience, stay overnight in a wine barrel, its deck providing breathtaking views of the vineyards. Borrow a bike, get a picnic lunch, join a tasting tour or partake in grape-stomping if you visit in the fall. Double rooms start at €250 (£216), breakfast included.

  3. Gavião Nature Village
    Nestled among the cork forests and olive groves of Alto Alentejo, this nature getaway offers environmentally-friendly, cork-wrapped cabins and bohemian glamping tents. Solitude is the name of the game here—walk through remote mountain trails, unwind in a vineyard, paddle down the Tagus River or opt for a sunset picnic hamper filled with local treats. Amenities like a pool, playground, organic garden, and farm animals make this an instant hit with the younger crowd. Rates start at €150 (£130) for a double, including breakfast.

  4. Salema Eco Camp
    Located along an undisturbed stretch of the Algarve’s southern coast, this camp is set back from the roaring Atlantic waves of Praia da Salema. Set up your tent under the shade of pine trees or opt for glamping in safari tents or lodges perched on hills. The camp offers an array of activities, from surf lessons to dinosaur footprint hunting, cliffside hiking trails, kayaking, diving, and mountain biking. In-house yoga classes help to reset your inner balance, and a restaurant offering homemade pizza adds a tasty touch. Camping starts at €16 (£14), while safari tents are €60 (£52), room only.

  5. Quinta das Lavandas
    Just east of Lisbon in Serra de São Mamede Nature Park, this idyllic quinta is reminiscent of an impressionist canvas, featuring sprawling fields, orchards, vineyards, and mountains. Lavender gardens come alive in a sea of purple during the summer months. Rooms decorated in tranquil hues mirror the natural surroundings. Guests can learn about lavender oil production, rent bikes or explore the scenic hills on foot or horseback. Double rooms are priced at €99 (£86), including breakfast.

  6. Lima Escape
    Awake to the chorus of birds at Lima Escape, situated in Peneda-Gerês National Park. Camping and glamping options range from tipis and bell tents to lodges with panoramic glass fronts. Spend your days exploring—whether that’s canyoning, kayaking, paddleboarding, or wild swimming in nearby waterfalls and lagoons. Nature trails lead into pine and oak forests, ascending to rocky peaks where you might spot wildlife like ibex, eagle-owls, and wild ponies. Prices start at €15 (£13) for camping pitches, with double glamping tents and lodges from €55 (£47), room only.

  7. Casas na Areia
    This unique retreat rises out of the Atlantic-influenced sand dunes, pine forests, and rice fields in the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve. Transformed fishermen’s huts designed by architect Manuel Aires Mateus blend effortlessly into the environment, featuring sandy floors and thatch-lined walls. Morning meals celebrate fresh farm produce. Days can be spent swimming, horse riding, or wildlife spotting—think flamingos and dolphins. Double rooms start at a luxe €500 (£432), including breakfast.

  8. Quinta Alma
    Just a stone’s throw from the Moorish castle in Aljezur, this eco-friendly haven welcomes you to an organic farm furnished with a variety of handcrafted accommodations—from mountain shelters for couples to stylish safari tents adorned with vintage furniture. Roam the gardens, feed farm animals, swim in the natural lake or catch some surf. For those looking for ultimate relaxation, yoga and massages are available. Minimum two-night stay recommended, but you’ll likely want to double that. Doubles begin at €98 (£85), including breakfast.

Published in the September 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK). To get your hands on a subscription, click here (available only in selected countries).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Portugal Nature Getaways

What regions in Portugal are covered in this article?

The article spans several regions of Portugal, including Serra da Estrela in the North, the Douro River valley, Alto Alentejo, Algarve’s southern coast, and areas near Lisbon such as Serra de São Mamede and Sado Estuary Nature Reserve.

What types of accommodations are highlighted in this guide?

This guide shines a spotlight on a diverse range of accommodations, from glamorous camping spots and bell tents to converted 18th-century wine estates and contemporary eco-friendly cabins.

How budget-friendly are these getaways?

The price ranges vary widely, starting from camping pitches at €15 (£13) and going up to luxury stays at €500 (£432) for a double room, including breakfast in most cases. There’s something to suit every wallet.

Are these places kid-friendly?

Many of the locations mentioned in the article offer amenities such as pools, playgrounds, farm animals, and organic gardens, making them suitable for a family getaway.

Are these accommodations eco-friendly?

A majority of the options like Gavião Nature Village, Quinta Alma, and Casas na Areia emphasize sustainable and eco-friendly practices, including the use of organic gardens, cork-clad shelters, and nature-conscious designs.

What kinds of activities can I expect at these getaways?

From wild swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding to hiking, horse riding, and wine-tasting, these Portuguese retreats offer a broad spectrum of activities to immerse yourself in nature and local culture.

Is there a best time of year to visit these places?

The article doesn’t specify a best time, but activities like grape-stomping at Quinta da Pacheca are seasonal (autumn). Likewise, lavender gardens at Quinta das Lavandas are a summer highlight.

How do I subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) to read more articles like this?

You can subscribe to the magazine by clicking on the link provided at the end of the article. Note that subscriptions are available only in select countries.

Is a minimum stay required for any of these accommodations?

Quinta Alma recommends a minimum stay of two nights, but the article suggests that you’ll probably want to extend that given the richness of the experience.

Are meals included in the prices?

Most accommodations offer breakfast included in the price, but some, like Lima Escape and Salema Eco Camp, offer room-only options. It’s best to check each individual listing for details.

More about Portugal Nature Getaways

  • Discover More About Portugal’s Serra da Estrela Natural Park
  • The Ultimate Guide to Portugal’s Douro Valley
  • Alto Alentejo Travel Tips and Highlights
  • Exploring the Algarve’s Untouristy Stretches
  • Serra de São Mamede Nature Park: What to Know Before You Go
  • Peneda-Gerês National Park: Portugal’s Adventure Hub
  • Sustainable Tourism in Portugal: Eco-Friendly Destinations
  • The Rise of Glamping in Europe
  • Manuel Aires Mateus: The Architect Behind Casas na Areia
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting in Portugal

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