In the centre of Portugal, you can find an area that combines local tradition, mountain landscapes covered by forest and people whose passion for their homeland runs through their veins.
Characterised by strong migration – particularly during the 20th century – we are now seeing locals returning to their home towns after many years working in large cities, both in Portugal and abroad. To best prove that this part of Portugal is special we invite you to look at the way the locals feel pride in their roots. Their passion has never faded over time.
For this reason, we´ve tried to show you what drives this sense of belonging, so we set out to discover Beira Baixa.
We start by exploring Vila de Rei. We want to understand if there is a point where we can say with certainty that we are in the centre of the Portuguese territory; at the village of Melriça, we finally found the monument that establishes the centre of Portugal.
Driving east through the A23 and IC8, we find the city of Castelo Branco. As with all the region of Beira Baixa, temperatures in summer are quite high, and during the Winter sometimes it is possible to watch the snow falling on the roofs of the town houses.
Heading South through the A23, we arrive at Vila Velha de Ródão. We can catch a fantastic view of Rio Tejo from the top of the village castle. This same castle was important during the reconquering of this territory to the Muslims in the 12th Century AC.
After exploring Vila Velha de Ródão, we took the IC8 again towards Sertã. Here, we strongly recommend you try some of the most emblematic delicacies of the Beira Baixa cuisine.
After experiencing an excellent lunch at Sertã, the next stop is Oleiros, so we take the N238.
At Oleiros we stop again to try a staple of the local gastronomy. The chestnuts are delicious and so is the typical drink, which is called Medronho.
After tasting the best that Oleiros has to offer, we take the N238 towards Pedrógão Grande. Here, we were able to take some photos at some altitude, especially of Rio Zêzêre.
It was easy to find the N2, which led us to Pampilhosa da Serra. In the middle of this road, we crossed the border between the districts of Castelo Branco and Coimbra. As it was a wonderful summer day, we had to try the river beach of this village, one of the most searched places in the area when the weather gets hot.
After taking a few dips in the river beach of Pampilhosa da Serra, our next stop is Penamacor. To reach this place we took the N112 and N233. This was the longest car ride we´ve made but it was worth it as we didn´t expect to visit some schist villages, characteristic of Beira Baixa.
After arriving in Penamacor, it is mandatory to explore the Serra da Malcata Natural Park.
This park is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic natural areas of Beira Baixa.
We felt a really good sensation after we sat down again in the car to continue our trip; indeed, Serra da Malcata Natural Park was worth it, but we´ve walked a lot! The N346 took us to Covilhã and Belmonte. Our goal is to explore another natural attraction of Beira Baixa: Serra da Estrela Natural Park. During the summer you can observe a vast landscape composed of various types of fauna and flora. Since we are in the highest point of mainland Portugal, during winter lots of people come here to practice winter sports.
After spending a few hours at Serra da Estrela, we head towards Fundão through the A23.
For cherry lovers, there is no better place to taste them than here.
Taking again the A23, the next stop was Idanha-a-Nova. Here, it is possible to visit two historic locations: Monsanto, granted to the first king of Portugal – D. Afonso Henriques – in the 12th Century AC and Idanha-a-Velha, founded by the Romans in the late 1st Century BC. This was a strategic military centre to the Roman armies against the Barbarian invasions. Some years after its foundation, the city fell to the Arab armies.
After visiting Idanha-a-Nova, we headed west, taking the IC8 towards Góis. Once again, near Góis we´ve explored Serra da Lousã. This is another natural park that is worth a visit.
Going back to the N342 heading west, you will have the chance to explore the villages of Penela, Miranda do Corvo and Soure. Here it is possible to shop in several traditional shops.
After purchasing some typical products of this region, we went back to the N342 towards Condeixa-a-Nova as it is essential to visit the Ruins of Conímbriga, one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Portugal dating back to the Roman Empire.
Our next stop was Montemor-o-Velho, and to get there we took the N347. In this village we discovered archaeological remains that date back to the prehistoric period. Besides that, the village castle is also worth a visit.
In this trip we couldn´t miss a visit to Coimbra, a city that is internationally recognized for its academic tradition and student environment. Coimbra has a population of about 7,500 students. The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest Universities in Europe.
Getting from Coimbra to Penacova takes about 40 minutes in the N110. For lamprey lovers, a visit to Penacova is a must.
For those of you who want to explore the western part of Serra da Estrela Natural Park, you can do that by travelling to Oliveira do Hospital through the IC6.
Our Discovery Trip to Beira Baixa is almost over. We´ve ended the trip visiting Tábua. This village has an outstanding and vast architectural heritage.