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Central Portugal

Big waves, bigger heart

The central area of Portugal can feel a little underrated, but I’ll argue it’s much more than just the place to pass on the way from Lisbon to Porto or vice versa.

Central Portugal is vibrant and varied. Here you can zigzag from Portugal’s only snowy peak to hot, golden beaches. From the mega waves at Nazarè to the former capital Coimbra, from surfer’s haven Peniche to medieval Obidos, from the canals of Aveiro to the mountains of Serra de Estrela.

Best places to visit in Central Portugal

1
Aveiro for the Art nouveau town

With its canals, historic boats and the famous stripey fisherman’s shacks by the coast.

2
The medieval walled city of Obidos

Inside the fortified walls find a village of typical white-washed buildings and taste the local liqueur.

3
Chase the world’s biggest waves at Nazarè

If the waves aren’t pumping the town itself is still super cute.

4
Unearth history at the country’s oldest university in Coimbra

Set on a hill, spend time getting lost in the old winding cobbled streets of the nation’s medieval capital.

Old town walls, Obidos, Portugal

More places to visit in Central Portugal

The snow-capped peak of Serra de Estrela
Discover the knights of Tomar
Visit Batalha Monastery
Ferry over to the Berlengas Islands
Escape the crowds at Caldas de Rainha
Visit the 12 historic villages, including Monsanto
Surf Supertubos beach at Peniche

Tip… Central Portugal is massive and you won’t be able to cover it all in a few days or even a week. Take your pick and plan ahead.

What to eat

One of Portugal’s favourite DOP cheeses is Queijo da Serra from the Serra da Estrela mountains.

Where to eat

In Aveiro, go to 2 Duques, a family favourite.

How to get around

You will need a car. Outside of summer it is usually quite cheap to rent a car and this will give you the freedom to explore smaller town and unusual places.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, it’s possible to catch the train from Lisbon to Tomar, or Lisbon or Porto to Aveiro. There is also a network of coach buses that will take you to Nazarè or Obidos.

  • Central Portugal

    The city of Aveiro has incredible art deco architecture, plenty of tiles and even a few canals running through the historic centre. I 100% recommend it as an essential stop for anyone driving from Lisbon to Porto.

  • Central Portugal

    Thirty 400-gram bread rolls are weaved into a human-size, paper flower-covered tower balanced precariously atop the 748 women marching by. Hundreds of these flowery 1.5-metre high piles bob through the enchanting Central Portuguese riverside town of Tomar on the shoulders

  • Central Portugal

    Aveiro is a petite old city where traditional brightly coloured moliceiro boats traverse a wide canals lined with picture-perfect pastel art nouveau buildings. University students clink beers in the sunshine, tourists snack on golden ovos moles sweets, fishermen bring in

2

I’m an Australian travel writer and food journalist who has been living in Lisbon since 2018. I started this blog as a place to share and record my love of Portugal.

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