What Happens When You Visit The Beautiful Center of Portugal

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Updated March 2023 – Because many places have new and changing travel guidelines be sure to double-check with all properties, restaurants, and services to confirm they are open and operating when you begin your travel planning.

My trip to the Center of Portugal was hosted by Turismo de Portugal, but all suggestions and endorsements are solely personal. I only recommend what I personally like and experience. 

Many people are talking about visiting Portugal. It seems to have come upon everyone’s radar lately. In fact, it was recently named “Europe’s Leading Destination 2020” at the World Travel Awards in November for the fourth time in a row.

We had been wanting to visit this destination ourselves for the last few years so when I was invited to tour the Center of Portugal I could have flown there myself on sheer will alone.

I expected to see beautiful historic places, eat amazing food and delicious wine. What I didn’t anticipate was falling in love with the country, the people, and the way of life.

While many have visited Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve, the larger more populous cities of Portugal, I explored the center of the country and suggest you do the same. This region is full of historic journeys and landmarks. Touring the countryside you will understand the rich history and spend time with locals eager to share their rich culture and heritage with you.

Here are just three wonderful cities in central Portugal, all with different reasons to visit and explore.


As you approach the walled city of  Óbidos you will begin to smell the fragrant flowers in bloom and see the castle looming from the distance. Bougainvilleas spilling over the walls welcome you to this magical little town.

Óbidos is a UNESCO City of Literature. If you long for the days of roaming and flipping through books in libraries and bookstores you will discover in heaven in this town. Books are an important part of the culture here. No matter where you visit you will see small libraries in stores and markets throughout the town.

Obidos Portugal Food Travelist
Obidos Portugal Food Travelist

A fine example of this literary spirit is The Literary Man Hotel. They house over 40,000 books in their bookshop, library, and throughout the property. Many have been donated by local villagers. You are utterly surrounded by books every which way you turn. I was surprised to find that many of the books were in English so it was easy to grab a book, a comfy chair or couch, and relax and read. There are plenty of open spaces throughout the property with little nooks that make reading easy and inviting.

The Literary Man Hotel Obidos Portugal
The Literary Man Hotel

If you’re looking for a libation they have a bar in the open shared space room and a fabulous gin bar in the basement, which is also loaded with books.

The Literary Man Hotel
The Literary Man Hotel

The rooms are spacious and mine had French doors that opened to a beautiful patio for more lounging and relaxing. My room had a desk and, of course, a library of books within reach of every sitting space making it impossible to not pick up at least one or two.

The Literary Man Hotel Obidos Portugal
View from a room at The Literary Man Hotel Obidos Portugal

Don’t Miss The Ginja

While roaming around Óbidos be sure to sample the locally made Ginja liqueur. Made with locally-grown cherries, this sweet cherry cordial is a wonderful treat often served in tiny chocolate cups that you eat after enjoying the drink. Be sure to save room in your suitcase for taking some home.

Ginja Cherry Brandy Obidos Portugal
Ginja Cherry Brandy Obidos Portugal

There are many places to sample this native drink but if you want a special treat, stop in the cozy Bar Ibn Errik Rex on Rua Direita 100 in Óbidos where you can sip a ginja, explore the interesting items on the walls, and admire their extensive collections of Portuguese pottery and liqueur bottles.

Bar Ibn Errick Rex Obidos Portugal
Bar Ibn Errick Rex Obidos Portugal

The Surrounding Area

Óbidos makes a wonderful central location to stay and also visit areas nearby like the fishing village of Peniche and the beautiful beaches of Lagoa de Óbidos. It’s a very popular day trip destination from Lisbon since it’s less than an hour drive. You will truly experience what it’s like to live in a small Portuguese town walking along the cobblestoned streets and among the locals.


If you’re looking for peace and quiet and communing with nature Alvados is a spot for you. Located on the edge of the Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros this is a nature lover’s paradise.

Birdwatching, hiking, and wildflower excursions abound in this untouched and beautiful landscape.

Serres de Aire e Candeeiros National Park Alvados Portugal
Serres de Aire e Candeeiros National Park Alvados Portugal

A truly unique accommodation in Alvados is the Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel. Located outside the National Park of Aire and the Candeeiros Mountains, this remarkable hotel could not have a more perfect setting.

Each of the 12 rooms is themed by different emotions. My room was Adventure/Discovery. The “Out of Africa” movie theme was also displayed through all the decorations. Pith helmets and safari elements along with a large soaking tub with a full view of the park provided a wonderful place to rest and dream. When you arrive you are presented with a stunning case that includes your room key, a DVD of your room’s theme movie, and all the information you need to make your stay perfect for you.

This room is a “family” style room, which includes bunk beds and extra room to accommodate up to four people very comfortably.

Bedroom in the Adventure Discovery Room at Emotional Hotel Portugal
Bedroom in the Adventure Discovery Room at Emotional Hotel Portugal

Other room types include such themes as meditation, passion, nostalgia, fun, fantasy or glamor. Each portrays the emotion depicted through unique decor and The hotel also offers a host of activities to choose from. Hiking with picnics, yoga classes, biking, horseback riding, pottery and cooking classes. One of my favorite memories of the trip was waking up early and opening my window to hear the birds chirping and starting their day as I also began mine.

View from Cooking & Nature Emotional Hotel Portugal
View from Cooking & Nature Emotional Hotel Portugal

So Much More to See

Nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites include Batalha Monastery, Alcobaca Monastery and one of Portugal’s largest monuments the Convent of Christ in Tomar where you can walk through the building, once the home of the Knights Templar. No matter your spiritual beliefs the history and stories told through these locations will have you reading every plaque and pamphlet as you follow along with their journeys.

Convent of Christ, Tomar Portugal
Convent of Christ, Tomar Portugal


You may know Fátima as the world-famous Catholic mecca in Portugal. You would be correct in your thinking. What you might not know is that Fátima also draws people of all faiths to this iconic place. Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and agnostics come to experience the tranquility and inner peace one can find in Fátima.

Fátima’s importance derives from the Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary. The story goes that the three shepherd children witnessed several apparitions from May to October 1917. Over 60,000 other people also saw the last apparition. The brilliant vision was declared a miracle also known as “the day the sun danced.”

When you visit be sure to arrive in time to see the torchlight processions to the small chapel where the Virgin Mary appeared to the three children.

Fatima Portugal
Fatima Portugal

The perfect place to stay is nearby Luz Houses. There are few places in the world that you walk into and immediately feel at home. Maybe it was the welcome “tea” with fresh biscotti. Perhaps it was the lure of the comfortable couches with creatively arranged pillows in the lounge area. Or, maybe it was the calming colors. My guess was all those things working together to create a perfect environment.

Welcome Tea at Luz Houses
Welcome Tea at Luz Houses

My room featured a comfortable bed on a platform in the middle of the room. A personalized note welcomed me to peace and tranquility. Ahhhhh. Surrounded by lace, I had everything I needed within my reach. Little words of inspiration peeked out from various spots around the room. Suggestions included that I  “find a place and get lost,” and sharing a comfort in knowing that “inside the nest, birds feel serenity.”  This Cancer Crab felt right at home.

Room at the Luz Houses Alvados Portugal
Room at the Luz Houses Alvados Portugal

The Old And The New in The Center of Portugal

Although you’ll find many historical and traditional ways throughout central Portugal you’ll also find modern amenities and customs as well. At the Luz Houses, they have a “selfie” corner.  It makes it easy for anyone to snap a quick photo memory. They also include a paper cut-out heart at check out. You can write a quick note and post in the lobby. You can share your thoughts about your stay to leave behind for all to see.

Thanks Luz Houses
Thanks Luz Houses

Center Yourself in the Center of Portugal

When you travel to Portugal be sure to take some time to visit other towns. Many are just outside the main tourist spots. Heading to the Center of Portugal will be one sure way to get off the beaten path. You will discover more about Portugal but perhaps even more about yourself.

To learn more about more places to visit and stay in the Center of Portugal visit

Be sure to take a look at my Tantalizing Tastes in the Beautiful Center of Portugal post for more about the amazing food finds in the region.

Pin For Your Visit To Portugal

Co-founder of Food Travelist. I love to explore the world and love learning about new places. I'm an eater and I've got a smile for everyone I meet.


  1. Your post is reminding me that it’s been a year since our last trip to Portugal and it’s time to go back. I will freely admit that I believe the Portuguese do seafood better than any other European country, especially clams.

  2. This is fantastic! My husband has a conference in Lisbon and I would love to see more while we are there. Going to book mark this! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Excellent introduction to one of the less visited areas of Portugal. We spent 2 weeks driving around the country and barely scratched the surface. Your photos of Obidos are inspiring me to make a return visit.

  4. Lovely post – I like the themed hotels, so cute. How do you get to Alvados? I’m looking for a nice hiking destination

    • suereddel Reply

      Hi Annie, you can fly into Lisbon, like we did. It’s about an hour and a half drive but it’s a beautiful one.

  5. Yes! I would love to visit this part of Portugal. It looks and sounds fabulous. I’ve heard of Obidos but didn’t know of the literature connection. As an avid reader I love this. Thanks for the wonderful post!

  6. I need to stay at The Literary Man. This is not a want; it’s a need. Jim would love the Ginja! Beautiful writing, Sue. You really captured your passion for Portugal.

  7. Beautiful photos! While I love travelling, I haven’t really listed Portugal on my list of “To-visit”….I really like the literary Man hotel, I’m such a bookish person!

  8. That library is beautiful! I would love to explore Portugal with my family and have always considered this destination.

  9. I need to travel here. We have it in our vacation goals for the next two years when our son is a little older. Your pictures are amazing and inviting to travel. I will bookmark this so when we visit I remember to visit all these places

  10. The Literary Man hotel sure does look like an amazing place to take a vacation! I would probably get lost in the collection of books! Looks like a fun vacation!

  11. I would love to travel to this beautiful country in a few years, it is on my travel bucket list. I have a few Portuguese friends and I have tried their food and it tastes like heaven. I love your pictures!

  12. What a wonderful place to make memories! I have been planning a trip to Portugal for 2019 and I have to see some of these places. For sure I am adding the Literary Man hotel to my itinerary. This place looks like my kind of paradise.

  13. I am planning on my sons learning Portuguese in Middle-High Schools so we can visit!

    I know that Brazil and Portugal have different accents, but I cannot wait for my sons to experience it (versus just learn it).

    Based on all these lovely places you share I will have a good time!

  14. This looks like a wonderful place to stay. We don’t get to travel a whole lot these days, and when we do it’s not very far. Our budget just doesn’t have the room. So, I really enjoy reading blog posts like this, and seeing the photos.

  15. Reesa Lewandowski Reply

    I actually am not sure I ever have seen photos of Portugal before! It sounds so beautiful and historic! I would love to go and explore like you did!

  16. Wow, each picture is more beautiful than the previous. It’s a dream of mine to visit Portugal. I love the European palatial architecture and the extensive documented history. I would museum hop all over the region. 🙂 So glad you enjoyed your trip!

  17. I’ve never been to Portugal but it is officially now on my bucket list! Wow! I know my niece who loves to read would flip over the The Literary Man Hotel. What an awesome place to visit!

  18. Carolina Colborn Reply

    Literary Man Hotel, Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel, and Luz Houses for the awesome towns of Obidos, Alvados, and Fatima…you have convinced me that the Center of Portugal should not be missed when we visit Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve next year!

  19. I’ve never understood why Portugal isn’t better known to tourists. I’ve only been once but I loved those whitewashed buildings and the unspoilt countryside. It would be great to stay in the Luz House in Alvados – imagine being surrounded by all those books!

  20. What an interesting place to visit. I’ve shared it to a friend’s timeline on Facebook – he loves books and places that love books; I’ve pinned it on our own board where we save interesting places to visit. We’re on our way to Europe with our Berta and plan to spend some years wandering, now that we’re done with South America. We’ll definitely be in Portugal at some point.
    Although we don’t often stay in hotels, because we carry our house with us, all the places you mentioned sound just lovely.
    Excellent post – thanks so much.

  21. Wow; with UNESCO sites and natural beauty, Portugal has so much to offer!! Portugal is on my Bucket List and after reading your article, that resolution to travel there some day just grew stronger!!

  22. Wow my friend and I just visited two of the places you have written about: Obidos and Fatima! I can’t believe I didn’t check out the library hotel!!! I recall you had posted about it and it intrigued me. Guess that means a trip back. I’m so glad however that I did taste the cherry liqueur in the chocolate cup….delicious! Perfect post for those heading to Portugal.

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