Photo: dsearls

Want to get off the beaten track in Portugal? Time to let your GPS do the guiding.

For those who seek out special places only the locals know about, geocaching is the perfect activity. If you’re not familiar with this modern-day treasure hunt, check out the official website, or let Matador take you to school with Geocaching 101.

People who hide the caches almost always live in the area, and they tend to choose spots that are special to them and will offer something memorable to the geocacher: a hidden viewpoint, a quiet meadow, an overlooked urban nook.

If you’re traveling around Portugal, you can browse a database of caches using the geocaching site. Or, to make your life a bit easier, follow this list of the top 6 caches in the country.

1. The End of the World [Sagres] – GC12CRJ

Photo: Selma90

To find this cache, you’ll have to make your way to Cabo de São Vicente, in Sagres, the southwestern-most point in Europe.

Its attraction as “the end of the world” means there are a lot of “muggles” around at all times. Retrieving the cache from its secret location won’t be an easy task.

I suggest arriving at sunset to enjoy the ocean view.

2. Last Home of Gertrude [Mafra] – GC54DD

I lived about 50 km from here for 23 years and was still stunned by the discovery of the abandoned village of Broas while searching for this cache.

The village, sitting on top of a hill in the outskirts of Lisbon, has been empty for over three decades. To get to it, you’ll need to do a bit of uphill walking, but the reward is worth it. You can stroll the village streets and even poke around the old houses.

You won’t find Broas marked on a map (not even a military one), and if you ask most people in Lisbon they likely won’t know it exists.

3. The Treasure Island [Abrantes] – GC9F38

Photo: Rui Ornelas

Almourol is a little island 50+ km north of Lisbon in the middle of the Tagus River, barely big enough for the castle that was built on it back in the 12th century.

What better setting for a treasure hunt?

The boat ride from Vila Nova da Barquinha will run you a euro or two, but entrance to the castle is free of charge.

4. The Jewell of Sapphire – GCED4F

If you thought the Last Home of Gertrude was cool, you’re gonna love the Jewell of Sapphire. The search for this geocache will lead you to an abandoned village called Safira, in the Alentejo.

After signing the cache logbook, take your time to marvel at the house ruins, the old cemetery, and the Church of Our Lady of Sapphire, built in the 15th century. The church was badly damaged by the great earthquake of 1755, restored in 1874 and again in 1903.

5. O Naufrágio do San Pedro de Alcantara [Peniche] – GCX69C

Back in the 18th century, a Spanish warship named San Pedro de Alcantara, overloaded with silver, copper, and gold, hit the rocks of Peniche. It sank immediately.

Not a lot of people know this historical tidbit, and the sight sees next to no visitors. Perhaps that’s what makes it so special and earns it a spot on this list.

6. Linhas de Torres – Forte da Aguieira [V. F. Xira] – GCMK7A

Not too far west of the capital you’ll find Forte da Aguieira, the remains of a fortification charged with protecting Lisbon during the third French invasion in the 19th century.

A visit at sunset is rewarded with a commanding view of the Tagus River and the city of Lisbon in the distance. You can almost see French soldiers marching over the horizon.

There’s a whole series of caches related to this long fortified structure — don’t stop with this one!

Community Connection

If you’re just getting into geocaching and don’t yet have a GPS receiver, check out our review of 5 Handheld GPS Receivers.

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Or, better yet, connect with these Matador community members, each of whom is fired up on geocaching:

Darren Alff
imagejin
GeoMan3

You’ll also find some great resources on Portugal here at Matador. Make sure not to miss Beyond Lisbon and Algarve: Exploring the Lesser Known Portugal and Eat, Pray, Love in Portugal.

Surfers will want to check out Ericeira: Portugal’s Surf Mecca and Surfers’ Guide to the Algarve Coast, Portugal.

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