Four Portuguese Villages Win Best Tourist Village 2023

Written By Araci Almeida

The World Tourism Organization recently honored several Portuguese destinations, recognizing their excellence in the “Best Tourist Village 2023” and “Best Global Tourist Destination” categories. This recognition solidifies Portugal’s position as an outstanding and unique tourist hub.

In the “Best Tourist Village 2023” category, four charming Portuguese localities, namely Ericeira, Madalena, Manteigas, and Sortelha, received accolades. The announcement was made during the General Assembly and Executive Committee Meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, acknowledging several exceptional destinations across the globe.

Ericeira, a village not so distant from Lisbon that has recently become a massive attraction for digital nomads and a surfer’s paradise, has also been delighting visitors with its vibrant energy and stunning coastal charm, proving one more time its value with this international recognition. 

Ericeira. Photo by Adam Hornyak (Unsplash)

As for Madalena, situated on the scenic Pico Island in the Azores, beautifully showcases Portugal’s diverse and captivating beauty, bringing this Azorean island to the forefront. It also highlights how the Azores are increasingly gaining international recognition, both through the widely acclaimed Netflix series “Rabo de Peixe” (Turn of the Tide) and this prestigious acknowledgment that fills the Portuguese, particularly the Azoreans, with pride.

Meanwhile, Manteigas and the historic village of Sortelha, both in the district of Guarda, represent the nation’s rich cultural and historical heritage, showcasing the well-deserved distinction that the interior of Portugal and its people have to offer.

Madalena, Pico. Photo by David Stanley (Flickr)

These awards celebrate the finest rural destinations globally, promoting sustainable tourism aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Moreover, the accolades highlight the commitment of these distinguished localities to the promotion and preservation of their cultural and historical legacies, serving as exemplars of sustainable tourism while reflecting the mission of the Aldeias Históricas (Historical Villages) Association, dedicated to fostering genuine sustainability and innovation.

Manteigas, right in the heart of Serra da Estrela, has faced challenging times, enduring summer fires and heavy autumn rains in 2022. Yet, it has remained resilient, led by one of the youngest mayors in Portugal— a standout feat in a region where the elderly constitute the majority.

Nevertheless, Manteigas is more than just resilience. It’s a place where traditions are cherished, passed down, and lovingly preserved by its three-thousand-strong community, especially in the realm of wool production, ensuring the continuity of this cherished regional art. 

Snow in Serra da Estrela, Portugal. Photo by Luis Ascenso (Flickr)

Sortelha is an exceptional historical village that allows the visitor to step back into past centuries amidst a 13th-century castle, narrow streets, medieval tombs, and alleys that immediately transport you back to the medieval era. This beautiful and well-preserved place it is the third Aldeia Histórica de Portugal (Historical Village of Portugal) to receive the “Best Tourist Village” award, following the successes of Castelo Rodrigo in 2021 and Castelo Novo in 2022.

This stunning village stood out to the jury for its impressive architectural and natural heritage, along with significant improvements in accessibility and mobility. 

What makes these villages special?

All these accolades serve as a testament to the communities’ unwavering dedication to preserving their cultural legacy and promoting sustainable tourism. Collectively, they celebrate Portugal’s enduring commitment to safeguarding its rich heritage while embracing sustainable practices. 

This commitment further emphasizes the nation’s aspiration to showcase its breathtaking landscapes and historical marvels, solidifying Portugal’s position as a global pioneer in offering unique and sustainable travel adventures. 

Additionally, the development of alternative itineraries in lesser-explored regions underlines the importance of tourism in driving economic growth, particularly in the country’s interior, effectively diversifying the focus away from the conventional tourist hubs of Lisbon and Porto.

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