Velho Arvoredo

 

Where we are:

Velho Arvoredo is in central Portugal and the nearest airport is Lisbon airport (LIS).

If you are driving from Lisbon airport, the drive will take approximately 1 hour.

The nearest town is Rio Maior, which is a 10 minute drive from the house.

What to see and do

There are so many places to visit and we haven't named them all, but here are a few of our more local favourites.

 

Caldas da Rainha Market 

Whenever we are in Portugal we always have to visit the market at Caldas as early as we can. The Praça da Fruta market is open every day and as it's name suggests, is famous for its locally produced fruit (and vegetables). They also have really good nut stalls plus local bread and cheese. A large half kilo bag of walnuts usually sees us to the end of the first weeks holiday.

While you're in Caldas there is a beautiful park to wander through after you've had your morning coffee. The park backs on to the ancient spa hospital and has the most lovely huge leaning plane trees for shade.

If you need a good butcher, we always use Talho Grazina when we're in Caldas. It's also worth popping into Pena foods for a bag of good ground coffee and some fresh biscuits.

 

Batalha

Just a few kilometres to the north of Alcobaça is the Monastery of Batalha, constructed in memory of an important battle (Aljubarrota). This is a historic site known to all Portuguese school children as one of defining battles of Portuguese history.

Alcobaça

If you’re into history then you must go to the monastery at Alcobaça. When we first went huge lorries were allowed to drive right next to the ancient monastery walls, but now the square is pedestrians only. We're always amazed this little town is not more busy because the monastery is one of the most magnificent gothic monuments in the country. We love the huge tiled monks kitchen because it’s easy to imagine the plentiful lives they had. Also once told you will never forget the love story of Peter and Inês (whose tombs face each other in the nave).

 São Martinho do Porto

The beach at São Martinho do Porto is ideal for children. This perfect oyster shell bay is shallow and sheltered and it’s where we head if we just want a quiet beach day. You can stroll along the promenade, visit the cafes and restaurants and buy fresh pastries from the lady who sells them as she walks along the beach... perfect!
 Nazaré

To the west of Alcobaça is the fishing village of Nazaré, now a seaside resort. A funicular, which leads from the beach heads up to the Sítio neighbourhood. The view from the top over the bay is worth the trip, but we like to go up to enjoy some of the best sardine restaurants anywhere. We saw a group gathering on the beach ready to buy bags full of sardines just caught by a local fisherman.

Be careful with the waves in Nazaré, it's true Atlantic coast and is also famous for hosting big wave surfers who come from all over the world to surf along the north beach.

 

Tomar

If you’ve read Dan Brown’s Bestseller, you’ll know all about the Knights Templar Convento de Cristo, in Tomar. Light a candle and wonder at its otherworldly Da Vinci Code feel.

The town has a lovely square from which there are small streets with shops and cafes. You can also find shade near the river, where there is a park to sit and watch the locals.

Along the main Tejo river from Tomar is Constância, a castle on its own island in the middle of the river and the perfect place for a picnic.

To the north is the grand Roman aqueduct of Pegões, which is 6km long and has 180 arches.

 Óbidos

The medieval town of Óbidos is also nearby. It’s picture perfect white buildings and castle walls make it a popular tourist destination in the summer season. They often host festivals (summer and winter) with live music and theatre, but its just as nice for an evening stroll as the sun sets and the crowds have left for the day. Perhaps followed by a cherry liquor in a chocolate cup.

 


Naturally, we recommend you spend some time in Lisbon too, its a wonderful city by day and by night. If you don't want to drive and park in central Lisbon, you can take a train from Santarém instead.