When it comes to the many attractions of Portugal, cities like LisbonPorto, and Coimbra, along with regions such as the Algarve, seem to get much of the attention. But down between Lisbon and the Algarve lies a low-slung, low-key region –actually making up some 30 percent of the country’s territory – which combines a coast boasting some of Europe’s best – yet very much undersung – beaches with a bucolic hinterland of rolling hills and plains (photo at bottom), dotted with farmland and cork forests as well as charming villages and towns.

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