Guide: the best getaways in central Portugal

Excelente gives you an opportunity to rest with one of the options present in this guide for getaways in the centre of Portugal.

Escape

For those who live daily in big cities, the hustle and bustle of everyday life, constant traffic and stress can mean a lack of time to take a breather.

And for that reason Excelente gives you an opportunity to rest with one of the options present in this guide for getaways in the centre of Portugal.

The mountains, the Schist Villages, the river beaches of the Zêzere or the walking routes are some of the points that can be part of your itinerary and that you will not forget.

Don't miss this opportunity to see lovely places.

The best places to visit in Central Portugal

Tomar

Visiting Tomar is to enter an experience of great artistic and cultural richness that does not go unnoticed by anyone. Just start with the Convent of Christ. The monument, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is an architectural gem that mixes Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance styles.

The castle of Tomar and the Torre de Menagem offer you a beautiful journey into the past that culminates with an incredible view of the hill and the convent. Also in the historic centre, let yourself be infected by the history of the Tomar Synagogue and Judiaria, the Convent of São Francisco and the Praça da República. Then, take the opportunity to enjoy a quiet walk in the Mouchão Park, where the Nabão River is highlighted.

See accommodations options in Tomar
Source - Turismo Tomar - Convent of Christ, Tomar

Castelo Branco

Castelo Branco is another amazing city that you can choose as a destination for your getaway in the Centre of Portugal. It is the capital of Beira Baixa and not only Portuguese but also  foreigners increasingly seek it either for its extraordinary Paço Episcopal Garden, the Cargaleiro Museum or the Clock Tower. Portugal's most Portuguese - Monsanto. In Monsanto, you can feel yourself being transported to the past.

See accommodations options in Castelo Branco
Castelo Branco, Portugal

Leiria

Leiria has a great mix of mediaeval and modern influences. This city, increasingly dynamic and lively, offers incredible places to visit. The imposing Castle of Leiria is one of those places that you should really discover. On a hill next to it, you will find the Senhora da Encarnação viewpoint, an ideal place to go for a walk or rest.

In the historic centre, the doors of the city open at Rodrigues Lobo Plaza. Towards the Cathedral, you can visit the streets that inspired the writer Eça de Queiroz, and in the same district, you will find Alcobaça, another beautiful city full of its own charms.

Here, the Monastery of Alcobaça is a place of mandatory passage, where the love of D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro was immortalised. Their tombs were placed face to face so that the two lovers meet again on the Day of Resurrection.

See accommodations options in Leiria
Leiria, Portugal

Coimbra

Coimbra, known as the city of students, love and Saudade, is one of the cities with the most history in the country, having been occupied by Romans and Arabs. In addition to being the birthplace of D. Afonso Henriques, Coimbra was also the scene of Pedro and Inês's love.

Quinta das Lágrimas, the Old Cathedral, the New Cathedral or Portugal dos Pequeninos are amazing places to visit, but the Monumental Stairs, the Garden of the University of Coimbra and the Monastery of Santa Cruz do not come in second. A little farther from the city, you will find Penacova and the beautiful shale villages, as is the case of Piódão.

See accommodations options in Coimbra
University of Coimbra, Portugal

Santarém

Santarém is nicknamed the “viewpoint city” since it is high on a plateau. Here, you can find an interesting historic centre, with many Gothic monuments and bustling streets, making it a perfect place for a getaway in the Centre of Portugal.

In the historic centre, the tiled facades paint the city as is the case of the Municipal Market, and in Santarém, there is also the beautiful town of Dornes, where you can observe beautiful views.

See accommodations options in Santarém
Santarém, Portugal

Aveiro

The well-known Portuguese Venice is a city of great beauty. Here a moliceiro ride through the canals of the Ria or tasting the famous ovos moles is something you will not want to miss.

The Arcadas square is also a beautiful place to start exploring the history of the city, without forgetting the old town where you can find the recently refurbished Fish Market. Along the São Roque canal, let yourself be infected by the magic of the old salt warehouses and find out more about this industry that has declined in recent years. In the salt flats of Aveiro, you can enjoy the sunset and record the moment with beautiful photographs.

See accommodations options in Aveiro
Aveiro, Portugal

Peniche

Visiting Peniche is to enjoy a perfect communion between the sea, beautiful landscapes, cliffs, colours and different flavours. In this beautiful city, you will find one of the largest traditional fishing ports in Portugal, as well as a large centre of maritime-tourist activities.

In this coastal city, be sure to visit the historic centre, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies, the Churches of S. Pedro and Misericórdia and the Fort of Peniche. n addition to all this, a visit to the island of Berlengas is also mandatory, where the Fort of São João Batista does not go unnoticed. This is the ideal destination near the capital that will promote all your senses.

See accommodations options in Peniche
Berlenga Island - Peniche, Portugal

Nazaré

Filled with traditions, Nazaré is a perfect destination for those who want to know a little more about this fishing village, where the women have seven skirts and the waves are giant.

Beaches, incredible viewpoints, monuments, a rich culture and tasty gastronomy are some of its strengths.

Here, be sure to visit places such as the Chapel of Memory, the Fort of São Miguel Archangel, the Suberco Viewpoint and the Natural Grotto of the Forno d'Orca.

In addition to all this, Nazaré is considered one of the best places to surf and catch incredible waves, so if you like water sports, you will love this destination.

See accommodations options in Nazaré
Nazaré, Portugal

Viseu

The city of Viseu is full of history waiting to be enjoyed by all those who visit it. In Viseu, you will find the ideal place to take a break in central Portugal while taking a trip to the past: the Palácio de Gelo Shopping Centre, the Church of the Third Order of São Francisco, Rossio (Republic Square), the Soar Gate, the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Viseu (Cathedral), the Grão Vasco National Museum, the Funicular de Viseu and the Market 2 de Maio are places you won't want to miss.

See accommodations options in Viseu 
Church of Mercy, Viseu

Guarda

Built around a castle, the city of Guarda still preserves some traces of its mediaeval walls and towers; in Guarda, you can visit the Guarda Museum, the Jewish Quarter, the Luís Camões Square and the Church of São Vicente.

In this area, Serra da Estrela is also a must-visit place, where you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding during the winter. Almeida and Loriga are also two very interesting historical villages to visit in the municipality of Seia.

See accommodations options in Guarda
Source - City Council - Guarda

Best accommodations/hotels in central Portugal

Do you want to enjoy your getaway with all the comfort you are entitled to? Then take a look at our amazing accommodation suggestions in various locations in Central Portugal.

Peniche Surf Lodge 1

Located three kilometres from Supertubos Beach, Peniche Surf Lodge 1 is the ideal place to relax. Here, you can enjoy the view over the city and take part in surf lessons or rent equipment.

View prices and availability
Source - Facebook - Surfers Lodge Peniche

Lam Hotel Serra da Estrela, Covilhã

Luna Hotel dos Carqueijais is located in Covilhã and is a great place to spend the night. Here, you will have a privileged view over the valley of Cova da Beira. You can enjoy the Hotel's two restaurants - Cova da Beira and Taberna Serrana -, an outdoor swimming pool and a tennis court.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Luna Hotel Serra da Estrela

Marnix’s Apartament, Nazaré

Located less than a kilometre from Nazaré Beach, Marnix's Apartment has excellent conditions for spending the night. Here you can enjoy a good time in the garden or in the outdoor swimming pool. São Miguel Arcanjo Fort is 1.5 kilometres from the hotel.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Marnix's Apartment, Nazaré

H2otel Congress and Medical Spa, Unhais da Serra

The H2otel Congress and Medical Spa is located in Unhais da Serra, a village within the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. In this hotel you can enjoy great comfort and amenities such as a landscaped pool and a spa. The hotel's restaurant, Alquimia, has healthy dishes and slow food so you can contemplate all the flavours without haste.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - H2otel Congress & Medical SPA

Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas, Coimbra

The Quinta das Lágrimas Hotel, in Coimbra, is a 5-star hotel that has been recently renovated and located in the heart of the historic mediaeval palace. In addition to a state-of-the-art spa and incredible views of the city, you can enjoy botanical gardens of great beauty at this hotel. In the hotel there is also a golf course and two restaurants.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas, Coimbra

Pousada de Viseu, Viseu

This 4-star guest house is housed in a large 19th-century building in Viseu. Here you will find a spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, panoramic views of the city and an elegant restaurant.

At the hotel's restaurant, you can enjoy the traditional dishes of the region, prepared with natural ingredients and local specialities, such as Beira Alta apples and Serra da Estrela cheeses.

Ver preços e disponibilidade
Source - Booking - Pousada de Viseu

Hotel do Mercado

Located 250 metres from Fórum Aveiro Shopping Centre, Hotel do Mercado offers comfortable and stylish rooms. Boasting a fitness centre ideal for exercising, this property is 190 metres from the riverside area. The hotel offers activities such as trips on the moliceiros boats, city tours on a tourist train and guided tours.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Hotel do Mercado, Aveiro

Vila Galé, Coimbra

In Coimbra, Vila Galé offers incredible views of the Mondego River, a spa, indoor and outdoor pool. This hotel is ideal if you want to spend a few very quiet days resting from hectic days. The hotel has a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you want a quiet getaway in Coimbra, you know where to stay.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Vila Galé, Coimbra

Quinta do Rio Noémi, Guarda

Located 3.4 kilometres from Guarda Castle, Quinta do Rio Noémi is the ideal place to spend the night away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The farmhouse offers family rooms with a private bathroom with shower. The cosy and familiar space make this property an excellent alternative for a deep communion with nature.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Quinta do Rio Noémi, Guarda

Quinta da Gafaria, Santarém

In the Centre of Portugal, you will find fantastic delicacies, from the traditional Leitão à Bairrada to Lampreia à Bordalesa (a characteristic dish of the Ria de Aveiro). There is no shortage of gastronomic diversity and these are the best places to discover all the flavours.

View prices and availability
Source - Booking - Quinta da Gafaria, Santarém

The best restaurants in central Portugal

In the Centre of Portugal, you will find fantastic delicacies, from the traditional Leitão à Bairrada to Lampreia à Bordalesa (a characteristic dish of the Ria de Aveiro). There is no shortage of gastronomic diversity and these are the best places to discover all the flavours.

Os Americano’s, Peniche

Os Americano's in Peniche is one of the best positioned restaurants on Tripadvisor. With affordable prices, good service and a comfortable atmosphere, this restaurant delights those who pass through the city.

Among the best appreciated dishes are the Lamb Chops with mint jam, the Grilled Salmon, the Cod with nutmeg cream sauce and the filo pasta for the Russian salad.

Source - Tripadvisor - Os Americano’s, Peniche

Rei dos Leitões, Mealhada

With a Michelin star, Rei dos Leitões is a family restaurant of traditional cuisine, where the roasted suckling pig delights its customers. Located in Mealhada, this restaurant offers a panoply of excellent dishes and desserts that will make you mouth-watering.

Source - Facebook - Reis dos Leitões, Mealhada

Restaurante Coa Museu, Vila Nova de Foz Côa

In Vila Nova de Foz Côa, in addition to being able to visit the incredible Côa Museum, you can also enjoy a beautiful meal in its restaurant, which has a fantastic panoramic view.

This restaurant is a worthy ambassador of the gastronomy of the Douro and Transmontana regions. In addition, it is also an excellent choice for lunch or dinner during your getaway, since this locality, although  still belonging to the Northern region, is very close to the Central region.

Source - Booking - Restaurante do Museu do Côa, Vila Nova de Foz Côa

Puro Restaurante, Serra da Estrela

At the top of the mountain is the Puro Restaurant in Serra da Estrela. Here you will find the ideal space to enjoy your meal while enjoying the scenery.

This restaurant offers you different dishes, such as the Confit Octopus, the Boar Tenderloin and Brás de Alheira or the Risotto of Fresh Mushrooms and coconut Milk, for a vegetarian option.

Source - Tripadvisor - Puro Restaurante, Serra da Estrela

O Túnel, Oliveira do Hospital

Near Coimbra, you will find O Túnel, a restaurant highly appreciated by its visitors. In this space, you can enjoy Chanfana, cod Tunnel, “chop on the tile”, lagareiro octopus and roasted kid in the oven. For desserts you can order bowls, sweet rice and Serra da Estrela cheeses.

Source - Booking - O Túnel, Oliveira do Hospital

O Burgo, Lousã

O Burgo is a Lousã restaurant located next to the hermitage and the river beach of Nossa Senhora da Piedade. This restaurant features rustic décor and mainly serves flavours from the region. Among the most acclaimed dishes are the Talasnal stew served in bread, the wild boar with chestnuts or the kid in the bowl.

Source - Booking - O Burgo, Lousã

Ó Balcão

With a good location and excellent service, the restaurant Ó Balcão is in the mouths of tourists and also in Michelin. The grilled eggplant with vegetable broth and tomato as a starter and the Linzeirão Rice  for main course are some of the examples that you can taste in this space. The restaurant excels for its innovative environment, combining traditional flavours with a touch of modernity.

Source - Tripadvisor - Ó Balcão

O Abrigo da Montanha, Sabugueiro

At Sabugueiro, in Seia, you can choose O Abrigo da Montanha, a restaurant and former inn with four decades of existence. Here, you can eat regional snacks from Serra da Estrela, such as carqueja rice with sausages, roasted kid or cod with bread.

Source - Booking - O Abrigo da Montanha, Sabugueiro

Taberna a Laranjinha

The Taberna a Laranjinha is the ideal space to taste the flavours of the Covilhã region. Well located and with good prices, this restaurant offers a tasting experience that will remain in your memory.

Here, you will find the Orange Cod, the Tuna Steak or the Shepherd Steak. When it comes to desserts, you can enjoy yourself with the famous beer pastries, cherovia fidalgos or nun's throat.

Source - Tripadvisor - Taberna a Laranjinha

Restaurante Cova da Loba, Linhares da Beira

In Linhares da Beira, you can choose the Cova da Loba restaurant, one of the most creative restaurants in the region. Here, you will find comfort food always with a regional inspiration, using local products.

Among the most acclaimed dishes are partridge soup with boletus and shitake in puff pastry, game alheira and red onion jam or breaded goat cheese with forest fruit compote.

Source - Booking - Restaurante Cova da Loba Linhares da Beira

Best activities you can do in Central Portugal

Visit the Schist villages

In the centre of the country, you will find the twenty-seven villages that are part of the Schist Villages network. Planning a visit to these villages is an excellent getaway option. In these villages, hiking, mountain biking or getting to know the river beaches are great activities. Among the options, we highlight the villages of Piódão, Aigra Nova, Candal, Chiqueiro, Benfeita, Pedrógão Pequeno and Covas do Monte.

Source - Facebook - Visit the Schist Villages

Discover one of the beautiful river beaches

In the Centre of Portugal, you will find several very beautiful river beaches. For example, the river beach of Bogueira in Lousã, is a great option to go to baths surrounded by nature. This beach follows the course of the Ceira River and includes all the necessary infrastructure for an afternoon well spent - playing fields, picnic tables and even a river pool for the youngest.

Source - City Council (Lousã) - River beach of Bogueira

Walking routes

Probably the most popular walkways in Portugal, the Paiva walkways are located in the Central region. Therefore, if you love nature walks, this walkway must be inserted in your getaway plans to the Centre of Portugal. In addition to this route, you will find others, equally interesting, such as in Idanha-a-Nova, the Vultures Route, the Egitania Route and the Fossils Route in Aveiro, the Salreu Route, the route between Casal de São Simão and Fragas in Figueiró dos Vinhos or the Walkways of Foz do Arelho in Caldas da Rainha.

Paiva walkways, Portugal

Take a picture on Trevim's swing

In the Serra da Lousã, more specifically at the highest point of this mountain, is the Trevim swing. This swing has been a great success on Instagram, being visited every day by a lot of people looking to take that amazing photo. This is a giant swing that sits at 1,200 metres of altitude, which allows for an amazing and also frightening view while swaying on it. If you decide to visit this swing, also take a look at the Serra da Lousã Biological Park, surely you will not regret it.

Source - Facebook City Council Lousã - Trevim's swing

Religious tourism

For those who are Catholic, one visit a year to the Sanctuary of Fátima is part of the plans. In addition to the Sanctuary of Fátima, there are other basilicas, chapels, cathedrals, convents, churches, monasteries and museums of sacred art in Central Portugal. If religious tourism is something you appreciate, the Centre has a lot to offer you.

Sanctuary of Fátima, Portugal

Take a ride on a moliceiro of Aveiro

In Aveiro, an experience you should not miss is a trip through the canals in a moliceiro. On this tour, you will get to know the Portuguese Venice better, since, during the tour, the guides will tell a little about the history of the Aveiro estuary.

Moliceiro of Aveiro, Portugal

Ski in Serra da Estrela

If you like winter sports, Serra da Estrela can be a getaway option. Why not do some skiing during the winter in Central Portugal? The resort has been recently renovated, so you have one more reason to visit it.

Ski in Serra da Estrela

Visit the caves

In the Central region of Portugal, you will find limestone mountains between Rio Maior, Alcobaça, Porto de Mós, Batalha, Leiria, Ourém, Torres Novas and Alcanena. There are two main mountains, Aire and Candeeiros. Why don't you visit one of the two during your getaway?

Source - Serras de Aire e Candeeiros - Visit the caves

Visit Águeda and its umbrella

If you want to walk through streets sheltered by colourful umbrellas, you can consider a visit to Águeda between July and September. If you go in July, you'll be able to enjoy the city's annual urban art festival - AgitÁgueda.

Águeda - Colourful Umbrellas

Visit the colourful houses of Costa Nova

If you have never visited Costa Nova, in Aveiro, this getaway to the Center may be your opportunity to have this amazing view. Here, you will be able to see several colourful houses and enjoy the local beach.
 

Houses of Costa Nova
Guide: the best getaways in central Portugal
Escape
Guide: the best getaways in central Portugal