Travel to Central Portugal – Episode 892

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Travel to Coimbra and Central Portugal (Podcast)

Hear about travel to Central Portugal as the Amateur Traveler talks to Stephanie Lambert from about this too often overlooked region.

Why should you go to Central Portugal?

Stephanie says, “It’s safe, it’s beautiful, it’s a culturally rich history. I feel like it’s been underrated for some years. It’s getting more popular now, but it’s been overshadowed by Spain for a while, and I think, it deserves just as much love. It has gorgeous architecture, Fascinating history, breathtaking landscapes, warm and inviting people. I think the pastéis de nata are a reason to go, enough on their own. They’re so delicious.”

Based on Stephanie’s detailed and passionate recount of her family’s journey through Central Portugal, here’s a suggested itinerary to explore this enchanting region, drawing from the highlights and personal experiences she shared:

Day 1-4: Coimbra

  • Day 1: Explore Coimbra
    • Start with a visit to the University of Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its Baroque library and the unique presence of bats that protect the books.
    • Don’t miss the São Miguel Chapel within the university, adorned with blue and white tiles and gold leaf.
    • Spend some time at the Botanical Gardens for a peaceful retreat.
  • Day 2: Cultural Insights
    • Wander through the Mercado Municipal to experience local foods and goods.
    • Visit the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral to appreciate their historic significance.
    • Enjoy a Fado concert at Café Santa Cruz or the Fado Museum in the evening to immerse in the local music culture.
  • Day 3: Around Coimbra
    • Take a stroll across the Santa Clara bridge for stunning views of Coimbra.
    • Explore the Science Museum and Natural History Museum for educational insights.

Day 4: Monsanto

  • Take a data trip to Monsanto which is known for its granite boulders incorporated into architecture, this village offers a unique landscape. Explore the ruins of the Templar castle and enjoy the vistas from atop the granite boulders.

Day 5: Tomar

  • Take a day trip to Tomar, focusing on the Convent of Christ, a testament to the Knights Templar with varied architectural styles. Don’t miss the circular oratory and the intriguing history tied to the Templars.
  • Visit the aqueduct near Tomar, notable for its walkable path offering a unique experience compared to other European aqueducts.

Day 6: Piodão

  • Explore Piodão, one of the schist villages known for its picturesque setting and buildings made from schist rock. The village’s charm is enhanced by the blue shutters and doors, a quaint detail tied to local legend.
  • Consider a short trip to Foz d’Agua, resembling a hobbit village, for enchanting scenery and an opportunity to connect with nature.

Day 7: Obidos and Monsanto

  • Obidos: Spend part of the day in this walled medieval city, enjoying its distinctive white houses with blue or yellow trim. The town’s chocolate festival, if your visit aligns, provides a unique local experience.

Additional Suggestions:

  • If time permits, add Lisbon and Sintra to the beginning or end of your trip for a complete Portuguese experience. Lisbon offers a vibrant city life and historical sites, while Sintra is known for its palaces and castles, including the iconic Pena Palace.
  • Throughout your trip, embrace the culinary delights Portugal has to offer, from pastéis de nata and roast suckling pig in Coimbra to the fresh seafood available across the country.

Travel Tips:

  • Be prepared for walking in hilly areas, especially in Coimbra. Utilize public transport options like the hop-on-hop-off bus for convenience.
  • When visiting sites like the aqueducts and castle walls, be mindful of the lack of railings if you’re wary of heights.
  • Embrace the freedom of exploration in Portugal, as many sites are accessible without the restrictions found in other European countries.

Stefanie’s adventures in Central Portugal highlight the region’s rich history, unique culture, and stunning landscapes. Following her itinerary ensures a trip filled with memorable experiences, from historical exploration to intimate cultural encounters and scenic beauty.


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Show Notes

Eurotravels by Design
Universidade de Coimbra
Coimbra Botanical Garden and Aqueduct
Mercado Municipal D. Pedro V
Old Cathedral of Coimbra
New Cathedral of Coimbra
Cafe Santa Cruz, Coimbra
Fado ao Centro
Elevador do Mercado, Coimbra
Coimbra Hop-On Hop-Off Tour (Mar 2024)
Tomar, a Templar City |
Convent of Christ (Tomar)
The Tomar Aqueduct – walk the rim, if you dare! – Road Trips around the World
Aldeias do Xisto (Schist Villages)
Foz d’Égua
Visiting Foz d’Égua in Portugal. A Hobbit village – The Historian Traveller
Óbidos, Portugal
Pousada Castelo de Obidos, Óbidos
Monsanto, Portugal


Nick on Travel to Toronto, Ontario – Episode 852

Hi Chris, big fan of your podcast and this is my first time commenting. This episode did a nice job explaining many things to do in Toronto, but missed the most popular pasttime and passion in all of Toronto…that is the sport of hockey. If in season, you must see a Toronto Maple Leafs game. Another must-visit is the Hockey Hall of Fame. Visit the Stanley Cup, see the busts of the best hockey players of all time, and play some of the interactive exhibits. A must for anyone visiting the city of Toronto.

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

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