With few big-name destinations to boast of, the Beiras often slip under the radar. But this wonderfully varied region, traditionally divided into the Beira Litoral, Beira Alta and Beira Baixa, is a fascinating and often dramatically beautiful part of the country.
The headline act is Coimbra, a cultured city renowned for its historic university. To the west, the Atlantic crashes in on wild sandy beaches, luring surfers and sunseekers to resorts such as high-rise Figueira da Foz.
Move inland and the crowds thin as the landscape becomes increasingly dramatic. Stoical schist villages cling to wooded slopes, while winding roads snake up Portugal’s highest mountains in the Serra de Estrela. Below, vineyards flourish in the lush Dão valley.
Continue east and you'll come to the far-flung borderlands. Few people venture this far, but make the effort and you’ll discover a strange, almost otherworldly area of sun-browned plains, medieval castles and hilltop fortress towns.