Central Portugal is the green heart of the country, blessed with a diverse landscape from fantastic beaches to enchanting mountain villages and the rugged slopes of Serra da Estrela, the highest peak on mainland Portugal.
Distinguished Coimbra is home to Portugal’s oldest university, boasting a magnificent 13th century library and some of the most beautiful Baroque architecture in the country. The historical towns of Viseu and Castelo Branco are worth a visit, as well as Aveiro, known as the ‘Portuguese Venice’ for its canals, gondola-shaped boats and picturesque lagoons. Golden beaches and charming fishing villages can be found heading south along the coast. Historic Fátima is Portugal’s most famous pilgrimage site and contains a vast shrine with a beautiful basilica.
Visitors will not tire of the spectacular views from the Serra da Estrela. Source of the Mondego and Zêzere rivers, this natural park encompasses the largest area of protected forests in Portugal, filled with crystalline lakes and hiking trails. The valleys and ridges transform through the seasons: in winter, the snow-covered slopes are popular with skiers and families, while in spring and summer, the stunning scenery forms a wondrous backdrop for adventure sports including rock climbing and paragliding. Autumn heralds a dazzling display of colour through the mountains.
Cultural attractions in Central Portugal include cathedrals, museums, art collections and Roman ruins, as well as defensive fortresses along the Spanish border dating back to the 11-13th centuries. This region is also famous for its traditional festivals, tasty leitão assado (roast pork) and handmade artisanal cheeses, especially queijo da serra, considered Portugal’s best.
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