Top 10 Sites to Visit in the Center of Portugal
The Center of Portugal is an authentic region, where you can discover villages of rare beauty frozen in time, mountains with breathtaking landscapes, cities that knew how to preserve their history and turn to the future. Portugal has a lot to offer and without a doubt this region is no exception! Discover these places, all in the center of the country, and be dazzled…
Here are the 10 places to visit in the Center of Portugal:
> Paiva Walkways
The route opened in June 2015 and was the main attraction of the summer in Portugal. Up to 8 000 people a day have discovered this route.
Some time later, the route suffered a major fire, which caused the destruction of more than 600 meters of the wooden walkways. After a few months of restoration, it reopened to the public with more stringent access conditions. Now, the route is limited to 3,500 people a day and you have to pay a fee of one euro, the amount used for its maintenance.
Along the way you will find help points (as on the highway), 3 river beaches (one in the middle and two at the ends), a cafe on each side and, of course, the wonderful landscape.
The route is considered difficult, if you are unable to make the round trip (16 km), you will find taxis that will take you to the starting point.
> Aveiro, Portuguese Venice
It is no accident that Aveiro is considered the “Portuguese Venice“, the city is full of channels where you will be able to discover it, from moliceiro, boats previously used to harvest “moliço”, submerged vegetation in the Ria. Visit the charming historic center of Aveiro to admire the Art Nouveau houses and taste the Soft Eggs, the local specialty. Take the opportunity to visit the Costa Nova beach, known for its colorful fishermen's houses.
Coimbra is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. You will be able to admire the magnificent University, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its sumptuous Joanina Library, considered the most beautiful in Portugal and among the most beautiful in the world.
Visiting Coimbra is also to discover monuments of rare beauty, such as the Church and Monastery of Santa Cruz. Don't leave the city without listening to a Coimbra-style fado, sung by men, unlike the Lisbon fado that is sung mostly by women.
> Serra da Estrela
The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is the largest protected area in Portugal, with 101,000 hectares. When visiting the park you will be able to walk in the middle of the incredible alpine landscape, discover the Tower, which is the highest point in mainland Portugal (1993 m), and ski on the only ski slope in Portugal. Do not leave without tasting the Queijo da Serra and discovering the villages of Sabugueiro and Linhares da Beira and also the village of Manteigas.
> The 12 Historic Villages of Portugal
The 12 historic villages are located in central Portugal, around the Serra da Estrela Natural Park and the Spanish border.
Most of these villages were built to occupy and strengthen the region to prevent the enemy from settling. The 12 historic villages of Portugal are: Almeida, Belmonte, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-a-Velha, Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Monsanto, Piódão, Sortelha and Trancoso.
Monsanto is considered the most Portuguese village in Portugal since 1938. When you visit it you will understand why. Lose yourself in the narrow streets to admire the houses built between the rocks and visit the castle, the chapel of São Miguel and the communal oven.
Piódão is one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal, largely due to the arrangement of schist houses in an amphitheater. At nightfall, with the house lights on, you will have the impression of seeing a nativity scene.
The village of Sortelha will take you back in time to medieval times and you will be able to appreciate the granite houses, which mix in the rocks, and the beautiful castle.
The main attraction of the city of Tomar is the Convento de Cristo, which is part of UNESCO's World Heritage. The Convent of Christ belonged to the Templars, an order that was dissolved in 1314, due to the persecution of the King of France.
The people, goods and privileges of the Portuguese part of this order were transferred to a new order (Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ) created by King D. Dinis
> Mira de Aire Caves
Portugal has several caves, but if you have to choose just one location, choose Mira de Aire caves. The Mira de Aire caves were elected in 2010 as one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal. This 11 km beauty complex was discovered in 1947.
During the visit, you will discover 600 meters of this natural beauty going down 683 steps, that is, 110 meters deep. Do not be afraid, at the end of your visit you will not need to climb the stairs you went down as an elevator will be waiting to bring you back to the surface.
> Batalha Monastery
The Batalha Monastery is one of the most beautiful works of Portuguese and European architecture. The construction of this beautiful monument in central Portugal began in 1386 and was completed in 1517.
During your visit, you will be able to visit the beautiful church for free, but do not hesitate to pay a few euros to visit the Cloister of D. João I, that of King D. Afonso V, the founder's chapel and the unfinished chapels also known as the imperfect chapels.
The village of Nazaré is known worldwide for its giant waves that surfers love to challenge. In 2013 Garrett McNamara broke the world record here by surfing a wave of more than 30 meters, the equivalent of a 10-story building.
Nazaré was a fishing village and, over time, it became a tourist village thanks to its beautiful beach, the traditions related to fishing and its authentic side.
After visiting the lower part of the village, take the elevator and go to the Sítio to discover the most beautiful panorama of the village and the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré.
The beautiful village of Óbidos, conquered from the Moors by the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, is very touristy but worth visiting.
Óbidos is a fortified village, where you can visit the castle (from the outside), walk in a maze of streets surrounded by white painted houses, decorated with beautiful flowers and walk 1.5 km over the walls.