Center & Silver Coast
Located between Lisbon and Porto, Central Portugal is the green heart of the country, blessed with a diverse landscape from fantastic beaches to enchanting mountain villages on the rugged slopes of Serra da Estrela, the highest peak on mainland Portugal. It is the largest protected area in Portugal with lush vegetation of century-old forests and a wide range of wildflowers, shrubs and trees, including lilies, orchids, curry plant and the evergreen oak trees. The Silver Coast include sites so important to humanity that they have been included by UNESCO on the world heritage list. Everywhere, the millennial heritage proudly displays the history of the region. Inland, you’ll find mountainous massifs and traditional villages like Obidos. By the sea, fishing villages and cosmopolitan beaches with water sports setting the pace of the day.
The Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, the Convent of Christ in Tomar that belonged to the Templars, and the University of Coimbra, the 1st university of Portugal, are part of the UNESCO heritage.
In Coimbra, be sure to…at the University, visit the Joanine Library and climb the tower to enjoy the views; get to know the Old Cathedral, one of the most beautiful Portuguese Romanesque buildings; visit Portugal dos Pequenitos, a park that reproduces at a scale of the smallest, the main Portuguese monuments; know the Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery; stroll in the Quinta das Lágrimas Gardens; enjoy the cryptoportic at the Machado de Castro National Museum; savor the pastries of Santa Clara or the stews in one of the historic cafés of Baixa.
Aveiro, known as the Portuguese Venice for its canals, gondola-shaped boats and picturesque lagoons is a must.
The 12 villages considered the best-preserved historic villages are in central Portugal. They froze in time and kept their charm and magic. All participated in the defense of the kingdom, have castles and walled enclosures, pillories, chapels, towers and manor houses. Monsanto, Almeida, Belmonte, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-A-Velha, Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Piodão, Trancoso or Sortelha will surely enchant you.
Óbidos is another pearl of Portugal. Dom Dinis, who ruled Portugal between the 13th and 14th centuries, gave this medieval village as a wedding gift to his wife, Dona Isabel. From then on, a tradition began, in which Óbidos was part of the dowry of the queens of Portugal.
Paiva Walkways on the left bank of the Paiva River in Arouca, is an 8-km boardwalk through an authentic natural sanctuary and is a profound lesson of biology, geology and archeology.
The historical towns of Viseu and Castelo Branco are worth a visit, as well as Fátima, the largest place of pilgrimage in Portugal. and 4th largest in the world. Not only Catholics will appreciate the vast shrine with its splendid basilica.
The Silver Coast is recognized for the river beaches with crystal-clear waters, golden ocean beaches and a silver-blue sea out of sight.
River beaches are cozy, family-friendly, many of them animated by hiking and sporting activities such as volleyball, sailing, rowing, canoeing, kayaking or windsurfing. The Agroal beach, the Alamal beach, the Foz d’Égua beach or the Loriga beach are small havens, almost secret, hidden in typical riverside villages.
There are almost 300 kilometers of coastline where there are cliffs and ocean beaches of extensive sands that invite the fun and practice of water sports, surfing, diving, bodyboarding… among many others.
Peniche is one of the top surfing destinations in the world, providing the most amazing and perfect waves! It is one of the best places in the world for sea bird watching. In 2014, 29,000 northern gannets crossed Peniche, making seabird watching one of the most impressive natural shows.
The town of Nazaré is known worldwide for its giant waves that challenge surfers from all over the world. This is where in 2013 Garrett McNamara broke the world record by surfing a 30-meter wave, the equivalent of a 10-story building. In the old days, it was a fishing village that became a tourist spot thanks to the outstanding beaches.