Twenty kilometres east of Belmonte, SORTELHA rises dramatically amid an unearthly, undulating highland plateau strewn with giant glacial boulders. It’s an ancient place that, for most of its existence, has gone about its business quietly, though the wonderful rock-built fortress suggests some frontier excitement in times past. Today it presents itself as a museum piece – with some beautifully restored lodgings available – since the number of permanent residents in the old town barely struggles into double figures. From the modern quarters on the Sabugal road it’s a five-minute walk uphill (follow “Castelo” signposts) to the fascinating walled old town – or you can drive up and park outside the main gate. A tight web of cobbled lanes wends between squat stone houses with red-tiled roofs, while rough carved steps in the castle keep offer a grandstand view over the valley below and the rock-speckled hillsides beyond.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

Heading to the Portuguese capital this year? Lisbon’s accommodation scene has exploded in recent years, so there is no shortage of places to stay, from histor…

08 Mar 2018 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
Porto versus Lisbon: which should you visit first?

Porto versus Lisbon: which should you visit first?

Porto and Lisbon have much in common – both are hilly cities, with attractive riverside quarters and winding warrens of old lanes and alleyways. Portugal's tw…

07 Mar 2018 • Amanda Tomlin insert_drive_file Article
An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Porto

An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Porto

Porto’s cityscape of narrow streets and stepped alleys spreads up the steep slopes of the Douro river to a centre full of broad squares, Neoclassical building…

13 Feb 2018 • Amanda Tomlin insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right