Driving around Alcobaça


Useful64 Driving around Alcobaça

Going North

Driving around Alcobaça - Leira
Driving around Alcobaça – Leiria

Leave Alcobaça towards Leiria, and, after 7 kms, stop a couple of minutes in Aljubarrota, to ear the funny story (not for 7 Spanish soldiers) of the “padeira”.

Continue to S. Jorge, where you may visit the museum of the most celebrated battle in Portugal.

Proceed to Batalha, and dedicate a reasonable time to the monastery (UNESCO heritage, and specially, my marriage place in 1979).

​I forbid you to miss the “Capelas Imperfeitas”, a gem where you can see mixed four architectural styles.

Take your time… It deserves it.Lunch time shall take you 12 km north, to Leiria, but don’t stop there. Proceed straight to “Marrazes” and enjoy the adventure of eating at “Tromba Rija”.

It’s an overwhelming experience, sometimes requiring a previous reserve. If you have the misfortune of not getting a table, walk across the street to “Casinha Velha”. You won’t regret.

Now it’s time to go back to Leiria, and with such a powerful lunch, you are strong enough to climb to the castle. The views are interesting. Coming down, walk a while in the narrow streets around “Praça Rodrigues Lobo”.

The way back to Alcobaça can be done via Marinha Grande, where, with time, you may go to the excellent Glass Museum, in the center of town. Just across the street, Alfredo Poeiras has a glass studio where you may see (or even try) glass manufacturing.

​Finally, 7 km before Alcobaça, Atlantis is a superior class crystal producer, with visitor center and shops, close to the recently opened to the public beautiful convent of Cós.

Going west

Driving around Alcobaça – Nazaré

Nazaré (12 Km west)

Absolutely must see and stay a while. Leave early in the morning, go straight to the “Sitio”, and enjoy the awesome sights. If it is summer or Sunday, you better leave the car there, and descend using the lift.

If you risk bringing down your car, parking may become a nightmare. Try the signposted paid park.​

The crowds are not yet in the beach, so, if you caught the low tide, go straight to the rocks, in the north.​​Enjoy the healthy smell of salt and iodine, while the dying waves whisper at your feet. Notice the regularity of the waves, 7 small and then 3 higher, in a trustful sequence, while the small fragments of shell shine in the sun, dancing at your feet.

Now the flocks of children are already there, and it’s time to leave the confusion. Walk south, along the beach, watching the waves getting bigger, but always regular. Imagine the hard fisherman’s life with those small boats, now in the harbor, until recently facing the waves in the beach, despite, sometimes, the rough condition of the sea, to catch the fish that was their life, and you still can see drying in the beach.

There, in the southernmost tip of the beach, you will have the tranquility to enjoy the sun, under a comfortable breeze. A swim is safe but chilly.

Getting back to town, loose yourself in the narrow streets, trying to understand the strong differences between the locals and the other Portuguese. For lunch, sardines are good everywhere, and “caldeirada” uses to be also reliable. For anything different choose well your restaurant. “S. Miguel”, centrally over the beach, is one of the best, in quality and location. For a cozier place, I like “Bartidor”, in R. Alexandre Herculano.

Going back up to the Sitio visit the church and chapel, and learn the legend of Nazaré. To visit the lighthouse with its spectacular views, you can no longer take your car there, because the surf has taken over the area. You will have to leave the car halfway and go down a few hundred meters. On rough sea days, the northern beach is a very special spectacle. If lunch in Sítio should be an option, you have also many options (I choose Fontemar).

​Almost in the way, the Hotel Quinta do Pinheiro is a great option to sleep or to a different meal.

Going Northwest

Driving around Alcobaça – Paredes

If you followed the western route to Nazaré, and have time to proceed, or if you have another free day, follow the road to Nazaré and at the entrance of town turn right to Marinha Grande and left to the Sitio, and, from there, follow the coast.

The northern coast alternates between wide beaches several kilometers long, and small secluded beaches, with evidence to “Ursa”, “Polvoeira” or “Agua de Madeiros”.

S. Pedro de Moel“, nested in the national pine forest, it’s an interesting urban solution, and a good stop in your coastal observation (see also my page).​

Driving around Alcobaça – Polvoeira

 ​ warning32 Tricky coast

The wild coast of Alcobaça is beautiful, but hiding some risks:

in a recent Sunday, we witnessed a tragedy under the bright sun and in the calm waters – a distraction, and a boat was turned by a wave, killing one of the fishermen and injuring the other.

​Looking at the sea, we couldn’t imagine such drama.

Driving around Alcobaça – Falca

Going East

Driving around Alcobaça – Fátima

Use the same exit of Alcobaça as in your north travel.

A few kilometers after Aljubarrota turn right towards Porto de Mós.

Take your time to visit the castle, and proceed to Fátima.

Some people visit the sanctuary in half an hour, some other in half a life.

Depending in your time use, you may go a little further and visit Ourém and its castle.

Anyway, lunchtime will be at Fátima, at “Tia Alice”. Bacalhau is a must.After lunch (or before), if it interests you, visit the Dinosaur trail, 10 km away, and go to the mountain zone.

Visit one (or more) cave. The most known is “St. Antonio”, the biggest “Mira de Aire” and my favorite “Alvados”.

Go south to Arrimal, and uphill to Casal de Vale-de-Ventos. In a good day you may see the ocean, 25 km distant, and even farther, the Berlengas islands.

Follow the ridge south, and descend to Alcobertas and “Salinas”, an interesting place where they produce salt, 200 mt above sea level. From there you may return to Alcobaça through Benedita and Turquel (stop and say hello)

Going South

Driving around Alcobaça – Berlengas

Leave Alcobaça towards Caldas da Rainha, and in Alfeizerão turn to S. Martinho do Porto (You may stop at Alfeizerão to taste the special “Pão de Ló”).

Before or after stepping in the quiet beach, you may drive up to Facho, and see the sights. For lunch if the important is quality try “A Casa”, just in the bay.

Everything is excellent, but “Robalo ao sal” is special.

​​For a cheaper meal you may go to Kais Restaurant.

Proceed south, passing Salir do Porto and its dunes, and, through the hills, until stopping at Foz do Arelho. Watch the people bathing and grabbing shells at the same time. If bathing, you may need to swim, because the sand is very irregular.Take your time, but consider moving to Caldas da Rainha. There, the Thermal Spa and hospital (the oldest in the world) and the surrounding park are interesting and quiet.

Ceramics and humor are married in Caldas da Rainha. Try to find by yourself the most typical piece of ceramics. When you stop laughing taste the “cavacas” and head to the museum of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, the creator of “Zé Povinho” (our Uncle Sam) and much more.

Time to leave to Óbidos, a wonderful town inside a castle. Spend the afternoon visiting the arts and antiques shops, climbing to the walls and towers to see the sights. Feeling tired is time to stop and drink a “Ginginha”.

​For diner the “Pousada do Convento” or “Ilustre Casa de Ramiro” are excellent but pricey. If you prefer to eat in your way back to Alcobaça, “Sabores d’Italia” in Caldas da Rainha, is much more than pizza and pasta, but “Cortiço”, in Tornada, has a delicious wild boar steak and is cheaper.


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Driving around Alcobaça

warning32 In several places around Alcobaça you may see signs announcing Parreitas. It’s a place where a friend of mine, about 40 years ago, discovered some roman ruins. I didn’t visit the place with him, when excavations began, nor later. But a couple of years ago I decided to go and have a look.

In the way between Alcobaça and Nazaré there’s a sign, pointing to the direction where I knew the ruins are. I decided to follow the signs and… found nothing.

​Last month, travelling in the area with Fernanda and a couple of local friends, I discovered that no one of them ever saw Parreitas, and once again, I followed the signs to find… nothing.

Searching in Google Earth I discovered that the ruins are some kilometers far from the expected place, without any indication after the one in Nazaré road.

So, if you decide to go there you better forget the signs and try to find the way by yourself, but for what I have seen there’s not much to see there. The only erected columns are in a roundabout at the entrance of Alcobaça without any clear indication of its origin.

Final suggestion: At last, I found it. A waste of time. excavations were only beginning, and there’s almost nothing to see.