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5 reasons to visit Central Portugal

 
5 reasons to visit Central Portugal

Mainland Portugal is an amazing country, with so much to do and see. Each region has its main attractions such as the Algarve for holidays, Lisbon and Porto are top European cities to visit and the wonderful wine from the Alentejo.

But this leaves the central region, is this generally not popular?

No, this region is stunning, there is culture, amazing food, stunning architecture, incredible monuments and castles and so much more.

You will no doubt recognise many of the photos without realising that they are in Central Portugal.

So what are our top 5 favourite places (that is the difficult bit, just picking 5)

First we have:

Bacalhôa Buddha Eden

Now this is an attraction you really wouldn’t expect to find in Portugal - The Buddha Eden – which is the largest oriental garden in Europe.

Based on a 35-acre site, you will find Buddha’s, pagodas, terracotta statues and various sculptures throughout the gardens.

Obviously this would not be possible to walk and luckily the site provides a small open tourist train that tours the gardens and sculptures, this is a hop on and hop off train, so you can spend time exploring the different aspects on foot, or stop to enjoy a drink and ice cream.

There is the option to incorporate a wine tasting whilst you are there, however we settled for just for buying some of the blue sangria, which we can say tastes very nice, from the wine shop near the exit

There is an entrance fee to this attraction and for the train.


 



Bacalhôa Buddha Eden





Bacalhôa Buddha Eden


Sao Martinho do Porto

Sao Martinho do Porto is a small resort on the Silver Coast of Portugal, reminiscent of those rose tinted glass family holidays you had as a child, yes they really did exist before mass tourism and theme parks took over, imagine having a space where your children can play on a safe sandy beach with a calm clear ocean to paddle in, well imagine no more, this is the perfect description of Sao Martinho do Porto.

The town surrounds a small horseshoe bay, this is why the water is calm (although if you walk through the small passage at the end of the bay, through the rocks you come face to face with the Atlantic, you can hear the roar, before you can see it. It is really hard to believe you have walked less than 100 metres form that lovely calm bay.

The main front of Sao Martinho do Porto bay has a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants selling a great selection of food. For those with children, this is ideal as there are family friendly foods through to delicious fresh seafood restaurants serving a gastronomical feast.

Or you can stick to the ices cream restaurants, where you can buy every taste and style of ice cream imaginable.

There is something for every age range in Sao Martinho do Porto, if you want more than relaxing and playing on the beach, there are the sand dunes with boardwalks and nature.

If you are looking for more activities on the water there is sailing, windsurfing and Kayaking, the safety of the bay makes these activities ideal for older children.

Or how about sand surfing on the large sand dune which is almost 49 metres high. 


 



São Martinho do Porto bay




 
Sao Martinho do Porto, through the tunnel to the Atlantic
 

River beaches

Throughout Central Portugal you will find a variety of river beaches, if you have never heard of these, they may take you by surprise.

A river beach tends to be part of a river that is suitable for swimming. The water is usually fresh, clean and cold!

Central Portugal has taken advantage of these natural resources and many places will be advertised as having a river beach close by (hence the reason not to go to a coastal location even if you are a beach worshipper).

The beaches come in many shapes and sizes form the small natural pools, where you can spend a day in natural beauty and not be disturbed by anything through to the massively developed sites that will have all the amenities of a coastal resort,Praia das Rocashas the largest man made wave machine, and is surrounded by sun loungers, perfect for a day out and is located in Castanheira da Pera.

Located in the Ourem region A Praia Fluvial Agroal has a selection of amenities including cafes, changing facilities, toilets, shops and a restaurant, but still retains the natural feel, with many children paddling in the actual river.

Or finding a tiny natural pool in the rural areas, such as this one in Fungalvaz (don’t worry nobody else has heard of this village either, so you are guaranteed peace).




Natural swimming pool at Fungalvaz

 




 A Praia Fluvial Agroal

 

Fatima

Fatima is one of the most well known catholic pilgrimage sites in Portugal, but don’t worry if you are not religious, the beauty of the buildings will be just as awe inspiring.

The Sanctuary of Fátima is the biggest attraction, though there are many sites in and around the town. If you are visiting for religious purposes you will know which is the most important site for you, but if, like us, you are visiting for the amazing architecture this is the place to be.

There is no entrance fee, though there is an option to purchase candles to light at the shrine, as most people are aware, in churches you can light a small candle, here at Fátima you can actually buy candles in any size to burn, there are even leg shaped candles (and not much difference in size!) These candles can be bought at any of the gift shops in the town, or you can buy then in the Sanctuary, there is an honesty box for payments. Though be careful when adding and lighting them, as there is a fire pit underneath.

The town itself is quite small and has a great selection of restaurants and cafes and many souvenir shops. Parking is easy and if you are a distance from where you want to be, there is a small tourist train that travels the town.




 The Sanctuary of Fátima




 The Sanctuary of Fátima

 

Torres Novas

Torres Novas is not a town that often gets a mention, yet it has a castle, park, historic centre and many cafes and restaurants, maybe it is better that it is kept a secret for locals (forget what you are reading now).

Not a big town centre and if you are driving, then we recommend that you park on the main road by the beautiful park and walk to the historic centre and castle, as it is almost impossible to find in the car.

The castle is open to the public with no fee, the walls are intact but the inside is open with maintained gardens, the castle walls give some fantastic views.

There is a walkway down to the main town square. One side has views of the castle and the other is a selection of cafes and restaurants with beautiful flowering trees lining the square.

The old part of the town has cobbled streets and a river or you can sit and enjoy a drink in one of the cafes by the park.

It really is a beautiful town to visit.




Torres Novas town square




Torres Novas castle

Author bio:

Jenny Lovett is the founder of Portugalholidays4u.com. A commission free advertising portal for holiday accommodation in Portugal and information about holiday destinations in Portugal



 
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