All Season Tours

portugal Flag

HomeEurope / PortugalPortugal ToursAbout PortugalContact UsCompany

Beiras Centro de Portugal


Moliceiro (the boat used for transporting seaweed), ria de Aveiro, Aveiro.

This region is made up of two contrasting areas. The extensive beaches and fishing villages lie along the coast, while in the interior the mountains dominate the landscape.

“Beiras” is the traditional name of a region running south of Douro river and north of Tagus river. The region is one of deep contrasts: the Atlantic coastline, where a temperate climate, white sandy beaches and the Atlantic pine forests are typical, and the interior where more forbidding mountains and rocks set the tone.

In the heart of this hinterland rises the Serra da Estrela (Estrela Mountain Range), the highest in continental Portugal. This is where the Mondego river rises, later running down to the city of Coimbra. Here, the river that over the centuries has had so many odes composed to it by generations of university students, flows out into the Atlantic ocean by the lengthy Figueira da Foz beach.

Nature has blessed this region with healing waters that in turn gave rise to spa towns, such as Curia and Luso. Nature’s generosity extended to the landscape too: ancient forests cover the mountain slopes helping to preserve intact the treasures of an outstanding natural area, which has its most perfect paradigm in the Buçaco woodlands. Monasteries, convents, castles and churches are witnesses to an artistic and historical heritage whose merits and heritage value have been recognised worldwide by Unesco, including such gems as the Alcobaça and Batalha monasteries.

Amongst the spacious horizons of this inland region are historic towns and villages, many of them are guarded by castles built by the early kings of Portugal for the kingdom’s defence.

In the bigger towns, such as Coimbra, Aveiro, Viseu, Guarda or Castelo Branco, museum collections reveal treasures of unexpected quality. As for traditional arts and crafts, the coastal region has always been rich in glassworking and ceramic skills, while inland artisans have traditionally worked with black clay, linen weaving, and copper and iron smithing.

Coimbra, a general view.



Famous for its lagoon, this town is crisscrossed by canals where colourfully painted moliceiro boats sail. Deserving a special mention: Cathedral (15th-18th centuries) and Gothic cross; Misericórdia Church and São Bartolomeu Chapel; 18th century churches of Santo António and São Gonçalo. Regional Museum, housed in the ancient Convento de Jesus.


Unsurprisingly given its name, the town is situated at the top of a hill over which towers a fine castle. In one of its mighty walls is a particularly fine Manueline window showing the flowery Gothic style characteristic of the period of King Manuel 1st. Beside the castle is the fine Romanesque-Gothic church of Santiago in whose interior is to be found a very fine statue of the Madonna with the body of Christ, whose simplicity and originality are most striking. Belmonte is famous for being the birthplace of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the man who in 1500 discovered Brazil. The town is notable, too, for its Jewish community, which has lived here without interruption since the 14th century. Not far from the town is Centum Cellas, a mysterious construction from the Roman era. The purpose of this two-story building remains an enigma.


Majestic forest, where stands the royal palace of Buçaco, of Neomanueline architecture, built in the 19th century, and currently an hôtel de charme. Milestones and memorials of the victory won over the Napoleonic army are the obelisk and the Military Museum. Distant 3 km from here lies the thermal spa of Luso.

Castelo Branco:

Around the 13th century castle lies a medieval quarter, with its Manueline portals. In the old Episcopal Palace, is the Francisco Tavares Proença Júnior Museum. Other old monuments are the Paços do Concelho (16th-17th centuries), Graça Convent (16th-18th centuries), Santo António dos Capuchos Convent (16th century), Misericórdia Velha Church (16th-18th centuries).


One of Europe’s oldest university towns, it has kept its secular academic traditions, as seen in the black-caped students, in the soulful tones of the “fado de Coimbra” (traditional song sung to the sound of guitars by the students) and in the Queima das Fitas, a boisterous celebration of the students’ graduating year (Burning of the Ribbons). Overlooking the city is the university, with its old tower and a sumptuous Baroque library. In the adjacent quarters you will find the Old Cathedral (Romanesque) and the Machado de Castro Museum, built over a Roman cryptoportico. In the ancient streets, with their medieval walls, arches and stairways, are the Santa Cruz Monastery (founded in 1131), the church of Santiago and the monastery of Celas (13th-century). On the left bank of the Mondego stands the Santa Clara-a-Nova Convent (Baroque, 17th-century). 16 km to the south, lies Conímbriga, the most important Roman remains in Portugal.

Roman ruins, Conímbriga.


Conímbriga is situated 16 km south of Coimbra. It was a point on the Roman road that came from Sellium (Tomar) and made its way to Aeminium (Coimbra). It is still surrounded by the original walls, and visitors can see coloured mosaics, as well as figurative and patterned illustrations in an excellent state of conservation. There is an early Christian burial ground and a set of hot springs. A museum is to be found near the archaeological site.

Adventure tourism on the Teixeira river, Serra da Arada.

Figueira da Foz:

Summer resort on the mouth of the Mondego river (long, sandy beaches and water sports facilities). Special mention to the mother-church, Casa do Paço (17th century), Municipal Museum, Santa Catarina Fortress (16th century) and pelourinho.

Cathedral, 14th-16th centuries, Guarda.


The walls, the towers, the old Jewish quarter and the houses of Dom João I and Barbadão call to mind the days of the town’s medieval splendour. The Cathedral, Gothic in its origins, displays a Manueline portal and window as well as a Renaissance retable. Also deserving a visit are the churches of Senhora dos Remédios (16th century), Misericórdia (17th century), and São Vicente (18th century), and the Regional Museum. On the outskirts the Romanesque chapel of Nossa Senhora de Mileu (11th-12th-centuries).

Piódão, a historical village.

Historic Villages:

These ancient population centres, dating back before the establishment of the Portuguese nation, are characteristic of Beiras region, in central Portugal. Many are located on higher ground because they were originally built to defend populations in an age that predates the Roman invasion. Here military architecture prevails, the entire settlement being surrounded by strong walls. One exception to this prevailing military spirit is the village of Piódão. Examples of typical centres are: Almeida (whose polygon-shaped fortress was in the 18th century considered unassailable); Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-a-Velha (with Roman remains and a cathedral of Visigothic origin); Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Piódão and Sortelha. Worthy of mention is Monsanto, which is built on the site of the ancient Lusitanian fortified camp of Serra de Penha Garcia and has a pousada with splendid views.


This historic village encloses the ancient Lusitanian settlement of Serra de Penha Garcia, the 12th-century castle and beautiful manor-houses (18th-century), the mother-church and Misericórdia Church (16th-century). There is a pousada with a nice view over the landscape. Nearby stands the Roman-Visigothic chapel of Vira Corça.


With fortifications of the probable campings left by the imperial legions from Rome, the town keeps remains of the Gothic walls and the ancient doors of the 15th-16th centuries. Not to miss: Grão Vasco Museum, with important painting collections; the Cathedral, of Romanesque origin; the church of Terceiros de São Francisco, the Néris Convent, and the São Teotónio Hospital. Also worthing a visit are the 17th century church of the monastery of Jesus and the town’s Historic Museum.




Águeda, Aguiar da Beira, Anadia, Almeida, Arganil, Arouca (monastery), Belmonte, Caramulo, Celorico da Beira, Covilhã, Curia (spa), Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Fundão, Gouveia, Idanha-a-Nova, Idanha-a-Velha, Ílhavo, Linhares da Beira, Lorvão, Lourinhã, Mangualde, Marialva, Mealhada, Minde, Mira, Monte Real (spa), Montemor-o-Velho, Oliveira do Hospital, Penamacor, Pombal, Porto de Mós, Proença-a-Velha, S. Pedro do Sul (spa), Seia, Serra da Estrela (1992 m high, winter sports), Sortelha, Trancoso, Vouzela.




  • Fish and seafood
  • Roast suckling pig and lamb stew
  • Sausages and smoked meats
  • Cheeses: Serra da Estrela, Alcains, Castelo Branco
  • Sweets: custard, hard and sweet biscuits and pancakes egg sweets and sponge cake (ovos-moles, pão-de-ló)
  • Wines: Dão, Lafões, rosé, and Bairrada sparkling wines.




  • Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons) – Coimbra, May
  • Rainha Santa Festivities – Coimbra, July
  • Celebrations of the Buçaco Battle – Buçaco, September
  • Festivity of the Crosses – Monsanto, May
  • São Mateus Fair – Viseu, September




  • Vista Alegre porcelain
  • Hand-painted ceramics from Coimbra
  • Glass and crystal from Alcobaça
  • Linen, wool and cotton
  • Embroidered silk bedspreads from Castelo Branco
  • Ceramics and black pottery
  • Lace (bilros)
  • Copper and wrought-iron works