Central Portugal is the region that covers the 300km between Lisbon and Porto. The central region of Portugal is famous for its natural parks and nature reserves, historical towns, and the Silver Coast. Its rich history means it is home to many of the country’s most important cultural monuments and historical sites.
Portugal’s central region is also filled with breathtaking nature and coastline. The towns of Nazaré and Peniche boast some incredible beaches, which are among some of the favourite surfing spots in Portugal for those looking to catch the Atlantic ocean waves. The region is also home to Portugal’s highest mountain range, Serra da Estrela and the famous waterfall Poco do Inferno in Manteigas.
Coimbra is perhaps one of the most famous towns in central Portugal. It was the capital of Portugal during the late middle ages and has one of the oldest universities in Europe. In 2013, the university was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site given its unique role in the history of Portugal and its architecture and traditions. The city of Coimbra is steeped in history with pretty streets and a wonderful atmosphere.
Tomar is another town in central Portugal that is not to be missed. This charming town is brimming with history and is especially famous for its connection to the Knights Templar. Tomar was said to be home to the Knights Templar during the 13th century and there are plenty of monuments to show the town's connection to the famous organisation. Castelo Branco is another city closely connected to the Knights Templar. The town is also home to a Templar castle and its history can be seen just by wandering the streets and looking at the 15th-century houses and distinct architecture of the town.
Not far from Tomar you can visit Figueiró dos Vinhos where you’ll find the walkways of Fragas de São Simão. Here you can follow the wooden trail across the various landscapes in the area including forest and valleys and gaze over breathtaking views of the region.
Aveiro is another of central Portugal’s most popular towns. It’s often referred to as the "Venice of Portugal", given the canals that run through its urban centre and the colourful boats (barcos moliceiros) that sail down them. Just a short trip away from Aveiro is the coastal village Costa Nova, which has a long golden beach that’s particularly popular with surfers. Here you’ll also find the famous colourful striped houses featured in many tourist guides exploring central Portugal.
A little closer to Lisbon you’ll find one of the country’s most picturesque and well preserved medieval cities, Óbidos. This city held huge strategic importance throughout various periods of history, and truly flourished after being chosen by the royal family. Tucked away in the maze of cobbled streets and white-washed houses of the city is the beautifully preserved Castle of Óbidos, one of the most important historical monuments in Portugal.
Central Portugal is home to a variety of different landscapes with the vast majority of the land rugged and unspoiled. Within central Portugal, you’ll find the highest mountain range and largest natural park in Portugal, Serra da Estrela. Not only can you witness some incredible scenery here, including glacier valleys and many types of wildlife, it’s also the only place in Portugal where you’re able to ski. The famous Serra da Estrela cheese comes from this mountainous region. It is the oldest cheese in Portugal and was made for centuries by shepherds in the mountains of Serra da Estrela.
The spectacular Grutas da Moeda (Coin Caves) can also be found in the central region of Portugal, close to Fátima. The caves were discovered purely by accident in 1971, when two hunters chasing a fox happened to stumble upon these caves filled with spectacular limestone formations.
The coastline of central Portugal is the famous Silver Coast, well known for its rugged coastline and historic towns. Not only does this region offer some of the best beaches in the country, but is also home to many natural parks and mountains. The Silver Coast also has some of the country’s best golf courses. If the beautiful beaches and nature of the Silver Coast sound good to you, make sure to check out our latest project on the coast, in the vicinity of Caldas da Rainha.
Life in central Portugal is relatively laid back. Away from the bigger cities and tourist towns, things happen at a slower pace. Whilst town populations are smaller in this region, you’ll find that the sense of community is particualrly strong.
For those looking to settle in a tranquil location surrounded by beautiful scenery, central Portugal might just be the way forward. Whether you are looking at living in one of the region's charming towns or are wanting to be in a more rural setting, you're sure to find something to suit.
As long as you don’t mind that life is generally that bit quieter and things might not happen as quickly as they would in larger cities, this region might just be what you’re looking for.