EAT, EXPLORE AND EXPERIENCE

Whether it be the cool waters of the river beaches, the extensive forests and mountains, the historical villages and UNESCO World Heritage sites, or just magical places off the beaten path, there is plenty to explore and experience.

Central Portugal and the Silver Coast is the fascinating and diverse region situated between Porto and Lisbon. This varied and historic region incorporates the remote mountains of the Serra da Estrela, the stunning beaches of the Silver Coast, the historic cities of Tomar and Coimbra and the pilgrimage destination of Fatima.

The infrastructure is excellent, English widely spoken and restaurants amazingly cheap. For those intrepid tourists who take the time to discover this varied region will be rewarded with a land rich in culture, history and beautiful natural scenery. 

 This is the real Portugal.

WHAT TO DO

Swimming, Hiking, Biking, Canoeing, to name a few of the many activities on your doorstep. So many ways to spend time in nature.

WHAT TO SEE

UNESCO Heritage sites, Fortified towns and Monasteries, Historical villages of granite and schist. Learn about the medieval history of Central Portugal, including the Knights Templar.

EATING & ENTERTAINMENT

Artisan cheeses, traditional Portuguese custard cakes (pasteis de nata), fresh produce from local markets, combined with Fado, the traditional folk music. Traveling is also about getting to know the local food and music.

COOL OFF AT A RIVER BEACH

There are countless river beaches, grassy banks and shared woodland areas to enjoy swims in beautiful natural surroundings. A walk, cycle or short drive takes you to the historic centre of Góis and the Peneda/ Pego Escuro river beach (3km). This famous river beach has an extensive grassed area and is surrounded by an imposing landscape with majestic mountains. There is a river bar which serves simple snacks and a boardwalk that takes you along the river past multiple swimming spots. Other sites include the Fraga da Pena waterfall and pool in the ancient woodland of Mata da Margaraça and Cabril do Ceira where the deep green river moves slowly through a stone gorge.

GO KAYAKING, CANOEING OR CANYONING

Experiencing Central Portugal from the many rivers that cross the region, such as the Ceira, Ava or Mondego rivers, is an awe-inspiring and wonderful experience. The combination of the natural beauty of the Mondego valley – with its cliffs, forests and river beaches and yearlong stable water levels – makes the Mondego an amazing river for canoeing and kayaking in Portugal. For more information visit: - www.transserrano.com - www.opioneirodomondego.com

VISIT THE SEASIDE

Figueira da Foz, the seaside city at the mouth of the Mondego River, has extensive beaches of soft white sand, a promenade, an old fishing port and excellent surfing. Only 1 hr away, it makes a good day trip for those wanting to visit the coast - although only a few brave souls venture past their knees, even in summer, due to the bracing temperature and strong waves.

GET ON A BIKE

The “Ecopista do Dão” has 49 km of easy cycling in a beautiful landscape in the center of Portugal. Once an old railroad, there are no steep slopes and it is very easy to cycle, although it goes through the mountainous areas of Santa Comba Dão, Tondela and Viseu. The "Serra da Gardunha" is an extensive network of mountain bike trails of various difficulties over 250km. For more information see: - www.ecopista-portugal.com - www.aldeiasdoxisto.pt/category/bicicleta

VISIT A NATIONAL PARK

The Serra da Estrela national park has the highest peak in Portugal, with its endless landscapes and glacial lagoons. At 1,993 metres at its highest point in Torre, Serra da Estrela is an area of rare landscape beauty, with striking mountain drops, where you can have a deep experience of the silence of the heights. Serra da Estrela, along with the three other National Parks - Serra do Caramulo, Serra da Lousã and Serra do Açor - offer hiking, biking, rock climbing, abseiling, rafting and canoeing. All are within 1 to 1.30 hours drive away.

WALK TO SCHIST VILLAGES

The Góis Schist Villages Trail is on your doorstep, a traditional walking path that links the four schist villages of the region - Aigra Nova, Aigra Velha, Comareira and Pena. In addition to the Penedos de Góis crags, along the trail there can be seen ovens, mills, a threshing floor, barns, animal pens, pigsties and wine cellars. While in Aigra Nova, visit the Eco-Museu to learn about the experiences and traditions of these villages, the Tree Nursery where you can sponsor a tree, and the Regional Products Shop which sells unique produce from the region. For further information visit: - www.visitportugal.com/en/node/195746 - www.visitportugal.com/en/content/schist-villages - www.aldeiasdoxisto.pt/category/caminhos-do-xisto

VISIT A HISTORIC TOWN

Visit one of the many historic towns in the region, such as Coimbra and its UNESCO World Heritage listed University; Piódão, sitting on a slope hidden in the wilds of the Serra do Açor or the seaside town of Aveiro with its canals and gondola rides. For a taste of medieval Portugal, visit Tomar, World Heritage listed and home to the Knights Templar castle; Óbidos, one of the most picturesque and well preserved in Portugal or the Holy Shrine at Fatima and nearby beautifully lit caves. For further information visit: - www.aldeiashistoricasdeportugal.com/en/ - www.visitportugal.com/en/destinos/centro-de-portugal/73751

DISCOVER AN ANCIENT FOREST

Bussaco Forest (Mata Nacional do Buçaco) is an ancient forest in Luso and home to one of the finest tree collections in Europe, with over 700 plant species, from huge Mexican cedars to tree-sized ferns. With six pedestrian paths, the wood invites you to discover its mesmerizing botany, serene exuberance, and magical intense green colour. Once a monastic retreat, you can visit the Palace Hotel do Bussaco and Convent of Santa Cruz or just sit and have a picnic. This enchanted green paradise has something different and exciting to explore behind every corner. Further information: www.fmb.pt/v2/pt/ Take a virtual tour: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzAZtSFGk58

EXPLORE UNDERGROUND CAVES

The Caves ‘Grutas de Mira de Aire’ are a great place to visit for families. Descend 110m below the ground and explore more than 600m of incredible underground chambers. And don’t worry about having to climb back up – there is an elevator to take you back to the surface. Information can be found on: - www.grutasmiradaire.com/pt/3/grutas

SPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN

'Portugal Pequinitos' is a fantasy model village of Portugal's great buildings and monuments in miniature. Some houses are large enough to walk through, others are accessible only to children. Further information: - www.fbb.pt/pp/en/

VISIT A LOCAL MARKET

Most of the nearby towns have community markets on select days where locals sell their home grown produce and wares. See here for a (very) broad list of what is happening in Central Portugal: - www.cometoportugal.com/markets-flea-markets-central-portugal.html

EAT LOCAL ARTISAN CHEESES

Portugal boasts of various high-quality artisanal cheeses, which are primarily produced in the central mountainous and plateau regions using sheep’s and goat’s milk. Travelers should go out of their way for the rich sheep's cheese known as Queijo da Serra, from the Estrala Mountains. With a yellow colour and intense flavour, Serra da Estrela cheese is made exclusively with milk from Bordaleira breed sheep. Another favourite is Azeitão, an unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese hand-crafted at the foot of the Arrabida Mountains. Made with thistle flowers, rather than animal rennet, it is vegetarian-friendly.

EXPERIENCE FADO

Fado is traditional folk music originating in Portugal. Melancholy by nature, the music includes instruments like guitars and mandolins with one Fadista singing poetic lyrics related to darker elements of love, death and sadness. There are two types of Fado; the style heard in Lisbon is the most popular, while in Coimbra, it is a more classic style. Many Fadistas perform in restaurants so you can get a great meal while enjoying this moving music. The Cultural House “aCapella” is housed in a 14th century chapel in the Jewish quarter of Coimbra, and offers a pleasant terrace, bar and tapas service. - www.acapella.com.pt/index_eng.html “Fado ao Centro” is a cultural centre where you can also watch a rehearsal or ask questions about the fado of Coimbra or the Portuguese guitar. - www.fadoaocentro.com/