Saturday, September 23, 2023

6 Beautiful Towns & Villages in the Center of Portugal You Must See

Center of Portugal, Tomar

This post is in partnership with the Center of Portugal Tourism Board. We were hosted on a press tour in exchange fo honest reviews. All opinions are my my own.

We are back with more tips for visiting the Center of Portugal. This article will feature the charming towns and villages you need to add to your bucket list!

Caldas da Rainha

Caldas da Rainha was the first stop on our press tour this past June. We were excited to visit and this beautiful city did not disappoint! This central region town is known for its naughty pottery, local markets, art museums and gardens.

Center of Portugal, Caldas da Rainha

Known as a "thermal spa town" Caldas da Rainha is located one hour north of Lisbon. Legend has it that in 1484 Queen D. Leonor, (wife of King D. Joao II) passed by the current spot of Caldas da Rainha, and saw a group of people bathing in hot stinky waters of sulphur.

She found out they were bathing there because of the healing water that cured many diseases. So she bathed there too and was cured of her disease. The queen decided to build a bathing house at this location: Thermal Hospital of Our Lady of Populo. This is the oldest thermal hospital in the world. The town's name literally translates as : "SPAS OF THE QUEEN."

center of Portugal, Calda da rainha, Caldas da rainha fruit and vegetable market

Things to do in Caldas da Rainha

  • Visit the Fruit and Vegertable Market
  • Relax & enjoy the beautiful river scenery
  • Walking Tour of Bordallo Pinheiro Route
  • Visit Bordallo Pinheiro Artistic Ceramics Factory

The Traditional Fruit and Vegetable Market takes place every day in the city center. Bring a bag to fill up: here you will find fresh, delicious products sourced locally. We loved the fresh fruit we sampled, so juicy and yummy!

This region is famous for its quality selcition of fruits, especially the pear " pera rocha.. A very interesting fact: the Fruit Market is operating in the former spot where it started in the end of the 15th century. This market is the only daily "open air" market in the country of Portugal.

Center of Portugal, Pinheiro Route, Caldas da rainha

Walking Tour: Bordall Pinheiro Route is a must do while visiting Caldas da Rainha! Our tour guide IVO of Silver Coast Traveling- took us on this walking tour. He is an information powerhouse about the history of the area. The first stop was this beautiful park not far from the market in the city center. We loved the life sized ceramic giraffe!

On this walking tour you will discover the amazing art of Bordallo Pinheiro. He was the most inventive ceramist in Portugal of all time! Pinheiro's timeless art is said to be the mirror and very essence of the Portuguese soul. He was deeply inspired by nature, which is reflected in his colorful housewares and decor pieces. These works are key to the Portuguese identity.

Pinheiro pottery, Pinheiro cermaics, Center of Portugal, Caldas da Rainha

Pinheiro Artistic Ceramics Factory

Caldas da Rainha is famous for its beautiful ceramics crafted at the Bordallo Pinheiro Artistic Ceramics Factory. The factory was founded in 1884 orginally under the name of "Fabrica de Faiancas das Caldas Rainha."

Center of Portugal, Pinheiro Ceramics factory, Caldas da Rainha, Silvercoast Traveling

For the past 100 years this factory has featured a gallery of utilitarian and decorative ceramic pieces. These creative works have become a globabl artistic reference. The pieces can be purchased online and in stores in the U.S., and from select retailiers around the world.

We were treated to a fun tour of the factory by our guide IVO. The cabbage pottery is the signature line and the most famous of Pinheiro pottery. It was fun to see evidence of this on our walking tour. Cabbage ceramic design seemed to pop up in the most unusual places! Take note of the cabbage leaf on the front of the building below...

Caldas da Rainha, Center of Porgugal, Pinheiro Ceramics


Alcobaca is a small town 120 km north of Lisbon. It lies at in the valley at the intersection of the rivers Alcoa and Baca. The town is popular because ot the world renowned ALCOBACA MONASTERY, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Center of Porgugal is a region packed with amazing fortifications, religious monuments and historic towns; nowhere is this more visible than in the town of Alcobaca.

Alcobaca Portugal, Alcobaca River, The Center of Portugal

Things to do in Alcobaca

  • River walk
  • Eat at Orijens restuarnte
  • Tour the monastery
  • Shop the boutiques

Upon arrival, we were immediately smitten by the beauty and charm of Alcobaca.! Touring the Alcobaca Monastery was an experience of a lifetime!

Origens Restaurante Portugal, Alcobaca Portugal, Alcobaca Restuarants

If you need accommodations while in Alcobaca, check out the new MONTABELO MOSTEIRO de ALCOBACA HISTORIC HOTEL. You will enjoy a very unique experience. I highly recommend booking a stay here. Be sure to reserve a room several months in advance. As you can imagine, this hotel is very popular!

Alcobaca Monastery, Alcobaca Portugal

Alcobaca Portugal, The center of Portugal

Directly across the street from the monastery is a row of quaint shops and restaurants. We enjoyed leisure time, shopping and sampling the unique tastes of Portugal.

The coffee shops don't serve iced coffee as we are used to in the United States. However, this pre-packaged iced coffee is available in the grocery stores. It was very refreshing and very tasty!


Fatima is home to one of the most inspiring Catholic Sancturaies in the world. People of the Catholic faith, travel from all over the globe to tour the SANCTUARY OF FATIMA.

Fatima is a city that embraces everyone, regardless of your relegion or beliefs. Here you will find a haven of quietness to rest and reflect on your faith. Fatima has become one of the key centers for the Cult of the Virgin Mary in Portugal; and is recognized by the Catholic Church.

Fatima Sanctuary, Fatima Portugal, Center of Portugal

Fatima Sanctuary, Fatima Portugal, Center of Portugal

We took a guided walking tour of the sancutuary with our guide IVO. It was an amazing experience to visit Fatima Sancutary and learn the history of the Catholic faith.

Along with the tour of the Sanctuary, our visit took us to the HOUSES of the SHEPHERD WITNESSES in the village of ALJUSTREL. If you are interested in the history of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima- DO make a visit to this village!! We enjoyed our tour here as well. Sister Lucia's house was very interesting to see.

Houses of the Shepherd Witnesses, Fatima Portugal, Center of Portugal


The Templar Castle and Convent of Christ

Want to feel like a pilgrim exploring an ancient castle and convent in Portugal? You can't leave without visiting the TEMPLAR CASTLE and the CONVENT OF CHRIST in Tomar.

To reach the Castle and Convent of Christ, you may follow the historic-natural trail of the MATA NACIONAL DOS SETE MONTES. Follow on the street called Pe da Costa de Baixo. At the end of the street, you will see an amazing statue of PRINCE HENRY the NAVIGATOR in front of the tourist office.

Henry the Navigator played a pivotal role in the "Age of Discovery", a time of European exploration and maritime expansion.

Convento de Cristo, Tomar Portugal, center of Portugal

Things to do in Tomar

  • Tour the Templar Castle and Convent de Cristo
  • Visit the Aqueduto dos Pegoes
  • Do a walking tour of the town center
  • View a Jewish Synagogue
  • Take photos at the river, on side streets
  • Eat lunch at Bela -Vista

We had an amazing walking tour in Tomar by our fabuouls guide Joao Fiandeero of Caminhos da Historia Toura. He showed us the town center and the focal point of the square : Camara Municipal de Tomar. After touring the square, our guide took us by to see a well preserved medieval Jewish Synagogue.

Aqueduto dos Pegoes

The aquaduct was built in 1593 by Filipe I, and can you believe it's six km long?! It was constructed to supply the Convent de Cristo with water. Later on it was used to reinforce the supply of water to the city of Tomar.

Tomar Portugal, The Aqueduto dos Pegoes , Center of Portugal

It was finished in 1613 a crowning project for Fileope Terzi. He was the main architect of the kingdom and was responsible for several important works a this time in history.

When you set eyes upon the expanive aquaduct your jaw will drop in awe, mine did! What an engineering marvel! The Aqueduto dos Pegoes is easy to find, it's a short drive out of the city.

The Aqueduto dos Pegoes , Tomar Portugal, Center of Portugal

THIS stop was one of the top highlights of our tour of the Center of Portugal. I just can't get over how amazing this structure is!

Tomar Portugal, Tomar, Center of Portugal

Tomar Portugal, Center of Portugal

Center of Portugal, Tomar Portugal, Bela-Vista Restaurant

Bela-Vista Restaurant

Located across the river from the town center, you will enjoy incredible views with some of the best food in the central region. We really enjoyed our meal here. For tips on what to order, check out our food tour guide of the Center of Portugal.

Tomar Portugal, Center of Portugal, Tomar Synagogue
Jewish Synagogue


Obidos is a tiny town contained mostly within the walls of a historic castle. This is one of Portugal's most beautiful destinations, a booklover's dream! Here is located which was once a medieval fortress sourrounded by a 12th century wall.

You can even walk the perimiter of the village, and be on top of the world in Obidos! This town is a world reknowned tourist destination. Obidos was definitely one of our favorites on the Center of Portugal Press Tour.

Obidos Portugal, Center of Portugal

Obidos Portugal, Center of Portugal

Obidos has a warm astmosphere and friendly residents. Obidos invites you to wander and explore the happy medieval ambience of winding streets and old whitewashed houses. Later in the day, you can enjoy stunning golden sunsets.

Obidos Portugal, Center of Portugal

Things to do in Obidos:

  • Explore the village
  • Visit the castle: Castelo de Obidos
  • See the Porta da Vila
  • Do the Mariquinhas Experience: Cherry Liquer tasting
  • Walk the perimiter of the village atop the castle wall
  • Enjoy watersports at the nearby lagoon
  • Sample local food and drinks
  • Visit shops of the makers and creators
  • Attend seasonal festivals

If you want to spend a few days visiting Obidos, many acitivies are available to keep busy. Exciting festivals are hosted throughout the year: The Chocolate Festival in spring, the Medieval Fair in summer, the Literary Festival in fall, and the Christmas Village in winter.

Center of Portugal, Obidos Portugal

The Ginga Mariquinhas Experience is one you can't miss! Ginja de Obidos, is the store selling the most popular cherry liquer in Portugal. The shop has a very inviting atmosphere, cute decor and the liquer is DELICIOUS!

ginja de obidos, obidos, center of portugal

The manager Andre told us the history of the Ginja Cherry Liquer. If you visit the store, do the tasting experience; it's so much fun! If time allows, make plans to visit the production facility down the road from Obidos. We didn't have time, but a great reason to go back!

In addition, th invention of the chocolate liquer cup was the inspiration for the first Chocolate Festival in Obidos in 2002, and still happens every year.

Center of Portugal, Obidos

The Shops of the Makers and Creator of Obidos are a must see as well! We had two interesting visits at the shops of: Oficina Do Barro ( Artista Plastica) and Eusebio ( Instrument Maker). We enjoyed learning about their craft and observing the beautiful items they create!

  • Officina Do Barro is an art studio and shop featuring the work of Luiza Duarte Bento. We were amazed by her gorgeous ceramic woven baskets. When exploring the village, DO make a stop here!
  • Luis Eusebio is a local instrument maker of ukuleles and violins. We had a fun experience visiting his shop and being serinated by beautiful music. It was interesting to learn how the instruments are made and hear the story of the brand.
Center of Portugal, Obidos

Bombarral: Quinta do Sanguinhal Wine Estate

Quinta do Sanguinhal is a wine estate locaed in the small town of Bombarral. This vast winery is located only 40 min from the big city of Lisbon.

The past few years the family owned company invested heavily in tourism and the service industries; to take advantage of the high potential of its exclusive buildings.

The winery and vineyards were founded in 1926 by Abel Pereira da Fonseca. Today the Pereira da Fonseca family and devoted team, welcome thousands of wine tourists each year. If you are a connoisseur of fine wine, you will LOVE a tour at this winery!

Center of Portugal, Quinta do Sanguinhal

One of the first distilleries built in the Center of Portugal, is housed at the Sanguinhal Wine Estate. When visiting you will see the beautiful column copper alembic stills.

Also unique to the Iberian peninsula at this estate are: a granite cellar with wood and granite screw presses, some dating back to 1871.

Center of Portugal, Quinta do Sanguinhal

Things to do at Quinta do Sanguinhal

  • Tour the vineyards
  • Do a wine tasting
  • Do a photoshoot ( fun photo opps everywhere)
  • Visit the distillery, ageing cellar & old pressing room
  • Lunch and dinner (can be included with tour depending on size of group- 20 miniumum)
  • All visits must be booked in advance
Center of Portugal, Portugal Winery, Quinta do Sanguinhal

We were very impressed with the tour of Sanguinhal Wine Estate and so enjoyed tasting all the quality wines. This is a very interesting tour you won't soon forget.  All the staff were warm and welcoming and provided an excellent experience!

The wine tasting was great, we tasted 6 kinds of wine...

  • Sottal Lisboa Branco
  • Cerejeiras Coheita Seleccionada
  • Peninsula de Lisboa Rose ( My favorite!)
  • Peninsual de Lisboa Tinto
  • Quinta de S.Fransisco- D.O.C. Obidos
  • Quinta de S; Fransisco- Licoroso Seco 20 yrs
Center of Portugal, Quinta do Sanguinhal

This concludes our tour of charming towns in the Center of Portugal. Next, we will be sharing the beautiful beaches of this region!

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Center of Portugal

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. I've never been to Portugal but it's great you had such a fun time there! You saw so much and took a lot of great photos. I like your outfits too :)

    Thank you for joining the Weekday Wear Link up!

    1. Awe thanks Mica for your kind words and for hosting the link up!

    2. Thanks Mica for the sweet kind words and for reading my Portugal guide! Thanks for hosting the link up as well! xo

  3. I really want to visit mainland Portugal, there's so much to do and see. I love the ceramics! Thanks for linking up!

    Emma xxx

    1. You will be in love with Portugal, I know the ceramics are amazing huh! I am scheming how I can move there!

  4. We've only been to Lisbon and Porto in Portugal. But it is such a beautiful country! These places look amazing!

    1. HI Laura, yes Portugal is beyond amazing, I want to move there ha ha