ROADTRIP TO THE CENTER OF PORTUGAL
AN AMAZING ROADTRIP TO THE CENTER OF PORTUGAL INCLUDING ICONIC SEASIDE SPOTS AND UNESCO HERITAGE SITES, SUCH AS SÃO JACINTO, FIGUEIRA DA FOZ, COIMBRA AND TOMAR
As promised in my Instagram account let me share with you our 3-day Roadtrip departing from Porto to the center of Portugal which included amazing seaside spots, such as São Jacinto, Figueira da Foz, Murtinheira and Unesco Heritage sites, such as Tomar and Coimbra
This is a perfect roadtrip for first time Portugal travellers, since you get to see some of the most beautiful beaches Portugal can offer you, as well as the timeless Unesco heritage sites of Coimbra, the oldest university town and Tomar, with its amazing Convento de Cristo, one of the most important monuments that features very important episodes of our History.
Please note this roadtrip includes both normal toll station and electronic ones!
Total number of days: 3
Total number of kms: 314
Seaside places visited: São Jacinto, Figueira da Foz, Murtinheira
Unesco heritage sites visited: Tomar and Coimbra
– Day 1: Porto–> Figueira da Foz with a stopover in São Jacinto
Total number of kms: 179 km
Departing from Porto, we decided to head to one of the most pristine and sandy beaches you will be able to explore in the center of Portugal – Praia de São Jacinto
This is an incredibly beautiful beach inserted in a natural reserve. Being such a long beach, allows you to keep social distances. Moreover, it is a surveilled beach and both a beach bar and restrooms are available in the area. Parking facilities are also easy to find.
São Jacinto Beach
Long sandy beach of São Jacinto in Portugal
Where and what to eat in São Jacinto?
We recommend taking grilled fish, such as turbot or seafood plates, including shrimps or squid which is very popular in this region.
This is a simple and very tasteful restaurant located in the heart of the fishing village of São Jacinto. Reservation is mandatory, since there is only one dining room available. We were also very glad to see all safety and hygienic measures by the Health authorities were respected.
Turbot at Restaurant A Peixaria
What to visit/do in São Jacinto beyond the beach?
- Visit the natural reserve. Overall it has a total area of 900 ha and you can observe its fauna and flora. If you come by car, you will see the signs to its touristic center well ahead of your arrival to the beach.
- Stroll around the harbour and main center of this fishing village.
Picturesque harbour of São Jacinto
How to continue the journey from São Jacinto?
If you are heading towards the south, like it was in our case you can take a ferry boat to Aveiro in just 15 minutes!
This ferry boat takes both passengers and cars and departs from the harbour in São Jacinto (you will see the cars parked in the queue).
You do not have to buy tickets in advance, since they can be directly paid at the officer. On weekends this ferry operates hourly, but you may also check the timetables here
– Day 2: Figueira da Foz
Where to stay in Figueira da Foz?
It is located in front of the main beach – Praia da Claridade – in Figueira da Foz. Has been recently awarded the Clean and Safe label by Turismo de Portugal and it contains both a swimming pool and a spa (which we preferred not to use in these times).
How does the Clean and Safe label work in terms of accommodation? Which measures were put in place?
- Compulsory use of masks in common areas
- Alcohol gel widely available
- Rooms are properly cleaned and disinfected 24 hours before the next guest can check in
- No buffet service at breakfast. Instead, when you enter the breakfast room, you first wait to be allowed to sit (there is capacity limitation), then you pick what you want for breakfast and the waiters will directly serve you.
Clean and Safe label – Costa de Prata Hotel, Figueira da Foz
Generally speaking, we were quite happy about this hotel, since it is centrally-located in the main center of Figueira da Foz and within walking distance of the its long beach.
However, we felt the breakfast service needs improvement. Even though we understand the implementation of these new protection measures is quite recent, there has to be more coordination. As you imagine, in peak hours we would wait at least 20 minutes to be sitted at the breakfast room and what surprised us most was the fact that nobody would take notes on a piece of paper or tablet of our requests. As a result, sometimes certain products were forgotten and the waiter would mix up certain requests. In our case, me and boyfriend decided to simplify their lives by handing in our own breakfast lists. Therefore, my recommendation for improvement is to implement a system to take note of the breakfast requests, be it a traditional or digital one. In this way service will certainly be more efficient. Nevertheless, staff was always very helpful and attentive to details.
Where and what to eat in Figueira da Foz?
Tasca Maria – Seafood stew (a typical dish of the region)
This restaurant is located in the main center of Figueira da Foz, very close to its Casino
It is a small place with a lot of personality in terms of the decoration and the menu is very consistent and has many interesting options.
We took the seafood stew, which is a very rich dish (clams, mussels, monkfish and shrimps) and extremely well-seasoned. The rosé sangria is very pleasant and highly recommended.
Seafood stew at Tasca Maria, Figueira da Foz
Restaurante Carrossel – Seafood soup and codfish
This restaurant is located in Buarcos, 45 minutes on foot or 15 minutes by car from Figueira da Foz uphill in a very pretty street.
It is a hidden gem and a real insider tip (in fact a very old friend who owns a house here recommended it to us). Their menu is entitled as gastronomic poetry and we really felt it was a gastronomic trip.
You will find the most authentic plates from Figueira da Foz here that you cannot find nowhere else.
We recommend the seafood soup, which is a very rich and tasteful dish, as well as any codfish plate, since the base of all their dishes is codfish.
It was just a pity to see it was relatively empty, since the staff is incredibly friendly and the place has a very cozy atmosphere.
Codfish at Restaurante Carrossel, Figueira da Foz
Main sights to visit/What to do in Figueira da Foz and its surroundings:
- Walking around the streets in the city center
- Strolling at the beaches of Claridade and Buarcos: they are one of the longest ones in Portugal and in Europe. Hence, many beach volleyball championships take place here.
- Visit the beautiful beach in the fancy village of Quiaios
- Visit the breathtaking beach of Murtinheira, which is a small village that belongs to Quiaios. For us it was our favourite beach during the weekend.
- Go up to Falésias do Cabo Mondego – Cliffs of the Mondego cape for a marvellous feeling and view
Falésias do Cabo Mondego
- Contemplate the incredible coast extension at the Miradouro do Cabo Mondego – Viewpoint of the Mondego Cape
Miradouro do Cabo Mondego – Viewpoint Cape Mondego
- Contemplate the most amazing panorama of this area from the Miradouro Bandeira – Viewpoint Bandeira at Serra da Viagem
Viewpoint Bandeira – Serra da Boa Viagem
- Visit the blue turquoise astonishing Lagoa de Maiorca – Maiorca Lagoon. It is located in an old stone quarry, you will see some cars parked on the road. Just follow the people heading towards the bushes and some meters afterwards, you will see this marvellous piece of nature.
Lagoa de Maiorca – Maiorca Lagoon
– Day 3: Figueira da Foz–> Coimbra and Tomar
Total number of kms: 135 km
After having checked out from Figueira da Foz and having left my boyfriend at the train station in Coimbra, to continue with the roadtrip to the center of Portugal, I decided to dedicate this day to explore some of the most iconic and beautiful UNESCO heritage sites Portugal can offer you: Coimbra and Tomar.
The first stop included the romantic city of Coimbra, by the Mondego river, which is a pure academic city with a very dynamic student life. Furthermore, it is the oldest university in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe.
What to visit/do in Coimbra:
- Walk around the tiny beautiful streets of Coimbra with its many typical student homes – Repúblicas
Typical streets in Coimbra
Student housing – Repúblicas in Coimbra
- Visit the Clock Tower in the main terrace of the University, which hosts the Rectorate, the prestigious Faculty of Law, a Barroque library built in the 18th century and overlooks the Mondego panorama
University of Coimbra Clock Tower
- While you walk down towards the city center, stop by to contemplate the amazing city panorama by the Mondego river
Mondego river panorama in Coimbra
Where to sleep in Coimbra:
Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas
In the middle of one of the most romantic cities in Portugal, the 5* Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas offers your a perfect scenario to share it with your soulmate. Its gardens go back to 1386 and feature a very tragic romantic story in our History – D. Pedro e D. Inês de Castro – you can read more about it here. Nowadays this marvellous hotel beyond the Clean and Safe label, is also part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world and its spa has been considered one of the very best in Portugal. Its restaurant Arcadas is also worth a visit and is listed under the Michelin Guide
Before lunchtime I headed to Tomar, a very picturesque town home to one of our most beautiful UNESCO heritage monuments – Convento de Cristo or Convent of Christ.
Panorama of the city of Tomar
Main street in Tomar
Where and what to eat in Tomar:
It is a small typical restaurant parallel to the main street in Tomar. The owner and the staff are very friendly and cheerful people.
For lunch I took the incredibly juicy Filet mignon with rice and vegetables, which was extremely well-seasoned and tasteful.
In such an ancient town that takes you back to the Templar stronghold, you should visit this medieval restaurant, which regularly performs live shows.
Reservation is mandatory (in my case I did not manage it on time) and game is the king of dishes.
What to visit in Tomar:
Convento de Cristo, Tomar
The ex-libris of Tomar. Has been listed on the Unesco Heritage List since 1983. It is one of our most beautiful monuments depicting very important features of our history.
It started as a Templar stronghold built in the 12th century and then turned into the Knights of the Order of Christ. This convent and castle complex is one of the largest ones of this kind in Europe.
One of the most iconic elements of this monument is Janela Manuelina – A window which is one of the greatest examples of the architectural manuelino style in honour of our King D. Manuel I (late Gothic, very ornamental style) that goes back to the era of the Portuguese Maritime expansion.
Janela Manuelina – Convento de Cristo de Tomar
Where to stay in Tomar:
4* Hotel dos Templários
In our case we decided to go back home, as Porto is only 2 hours away from Tomar, but this 4* Clean and Safe hotel is very centrally-located and beautifully decorated.
Tomar was the last stop in this Roadtrip to the center of Portugal and afterwards I drove back home.
How did you find this roadtrip to the center of Portugal that matches both some of the most beautiful seaside spots in Portugal and some of the most iconic Unesco heritage sites, always with my well-known foodie soul? Who would you like to take with you in this roadtrip? Let me know!
Need to rent a car? You can book directly at one of my partners – SIXT DE ! It is easier for you and cheaper when buying directly through my link
Stay safe, fancy travellers!