Discover the rich heritage of the Leiria region.
an open door to History.
an open door to History.
The history of Leiria dates all the way back to before the foundation of Portugal as a country. There are several archaeological places of interest in the region, of which Lapedo Valley (13 km from Leiria, map) is of particular interest, as the location where the fossil commonly known as “Lagar Velho Boy” or “Lapedo child” was found. 7 km from the centre of Leiria, the Celtiberians established a settlement that, once taken over by the Romans, was given the name of Collippo.
Centuries later, in 1135, the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, conquered Leiria, ending Moorish occupation and giving the town its first compilation of feudal rights in 1142. During the Middle Ages, the importance of the town of Leiria only grew as several of the King’s Courts were held there, the first of which was in 1254. In 1324, King Dinis I had the castle tower erected and lived in the town for some time. Because of this, King Dinis is still associated with Leiria to this day.
The town continued to grow throughout the fifteenth century, being elevated to the status of city and becoming the seat of a diocese in 1545. The following centuries would bring an end to this progress, although the city was able to recover, prospering once again from the 20th century onwards.
Today, Leiria is a thriving, vibrant city and the second most populous municipality in the Central region of Portugal. Located near larger Portuguese towns and cities, Leiria has all the necessary services and a programme of cultural events that becomes richer every year, making it an attractive area for both young people and families to settle.
Praça Rodrigues Lobo – Leiria
Rodrigues Lobo Square. Source: Visite Leiria
Buildings of interest
- Leiria Castle;
- The Historical Centre and Rodrigues Lobo Square;
- Leiria Cathedral and Sineira Tower;
- The Roman Church of São Pedro;
- The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Incarnation;
- Leiria Intercultural Dialogue Centre;
- Sant’Ana market;
- House of Painters Museum.
Cultural places of interest
- Leiria Museum;
- M|i|mo – Museum of the Moving Image;
- Paper mill Museum;
- Dona Julinha Agricultural Museum;
- Centre for the Interpretation of Abrigo do Lagar Velho (Lapedo);
- José Lúcio da Silva Theatre;
- Miguel Franco Theatre.
- The river Lis and its source;
- Lapedo Valley;
- Ervedeira Lake;
- Pedrogão Beach.
Leiria is only a few minutes away from everything.
15 minutes away
The municipality of Batalha has a lot to offer, although a visit to the unmissable Monastery of Batalha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, should be at the top of your list. As well as the monastery, you’ll find the Pia de Urso sensory ecopark, the Moeda Grottos in São Mamede, Boutaca Bridge and the Batalha Municipal Community Museum, which was elected Portugal’s Best Museum in 2012. If you can fit in one of the 4 pedestrian footpaths around Batalha, you won’t regret it. We would especially recommend the PR4, which runs along part of the Lena Mining Railroad.
20 minutes away
Although it is considered the “Altar of the World”, the city of Fátima is home to a lot more than just religion. Whether religious or not, the tranquillity of the Shrine and the Basilica of the Holy Trinity is sure to inspire you. After a stroll through these places of worship, be sure to visit the village of Aljustrel and the mills of Fazarga.
Porto de Mós
The village of Porto de Mós is at the entrance of the Serra de Aire e Candeeiros Nature Park (PNSAC). The castle, which is famous for its pyramidal towers covered in green tiles, is well worth a visit and should be at the top of your list. After that, we would recommend a tour of the historic centre and heading towards the national park where you’ll find the Alvados, Santo António and Mira de Aire grottoes. The footpaths that loop around the area will take you through breath-taking landscapes, one of which is the Fórnea, a geological phenomenon that resembles an amphitheatre carved by nature itself.
30 minutes away
Famous for its Monastery, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alcobaça is worth a visit for several other reasons, the most important of which are the local food and beaches. Don’t forget to taste the conventual pastries and liqueurs, especially in November during the International Exhibition held in the city. Hop over to the beaches of Paredes da Vitória to the north, or São Martinho do Porto in the south.
Once you’ve seen what Fatima has to offer, head over to the nearby medieval village of Ourém. Ourém’s imposing castle is worth a visit, not to mention the unique views you’ll get of the city and the mountains that surround it.
This picturesque fishing village is a mandatory stop for several reasons: its vast sandy beaches, traditions that are part of the Portuguese imaginary (the seven skirts of Nazaré and its famous sundried fish), the incredible view from the Suberco viewpoint and, more recently, the giant waves of North Beach that delight surfers as well as curious onlookers who watch them from the Fort of San Miguel Arcanjo.
The region has several beautiful beaches, each with its own special features and points of interest. In no time you could be sunbathing on the beach of Pedrógão, the only beach in the municipality of Leiria, on Vieira beach, where Xávega (artisanal fishing) art can still be seen, on the beach of São Pedro de Moel, the most rural beach in the area, or further south, on the beach of Paredes da Vitória, which is popular among younger people.
45 minutes away
Caldas da Rainha
The city of Caldas da Rainha is known for its thermal waters as well as for the decorative (and also amusing) crockery produced there. The mythical “Zé Povinho”, a Portuguese everyman created by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro can be seen everywhere you look, and is still widely used as a stereotypical symbol of a Portuguese person. Other places worth visiting in the city are: the D. Carlos I Park, the José Malhoa Museum and the mysterious halls of the Thermal Hospital, as well as going on New Art and Bordaliano tours. Let your mind run wild with the scents of the country’s only daily horticultural market in the Main Square of Caldas da Rainha – we challenge you not to be inspired to try new things in the kitchen once you’ve seen just what is on offer!
Coimbra is Portugal’s most iconic University Town, although it also hides other charms – some of which there are 2 in the city, such as the Cathedrals (Old and New) and the Monasteries of Santa Clara (Old and New). The Machado de Castro National Museum is also worth a visit, as is walking the streets of Alta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a romantic stop in Quinta das Lágrimas for a bit of Portuguese history, although if you have children, Portugal dos Pequenitos is a must.
Figueira da Foz
One of the most popular beach resorts in Central Portugal, Figueira is full of hidden gems. Go for a walk through the Serra da Boa Viagem and Cape Mondego and visit the landmarks spread across 14 parishes, such as the palace of Maiorca. If you’re feeling lucky, you can even play at the oldest casino in the Iberian Peninsula, Casino da Figueira.
This fortified village in western Portugal needs no introduction, both thanks to the picturesque views around every corner and the vibrant events program that attracts visitors throughout the year: Óbidos’ famous Chocolate Festival, Christmas Village and FOLIO – Literary Festival. Be sure to visit the castle, the various churches and the aqueduct at the entrance to the town.
The city of the Templars is rich in history and heritage, with the Convent of Christ (a UNESCO World Heritage site) attracts more and more visitors every year. A few kilometres away you’ll also find the imposing Pegões Aqueduct. Tomar is also famous for secular traditions, such as the Festival of the Trays (Festival dos tabuleiros) that fills the city’s streets every 4 years. Not far away is the Castelo de Bode reservoir and dam – the perfect place for water sports!
North of the district
The municipalities north of the district of Leiria hide natural wonders that are well worth discovering. Enjoy the crystal clear waters that run along the river beaches of Figueiró dos Vinhos or let yourself be carried along by waves – 80 km away from the sea! – in the Praia das Rocas waterpark in Castanheira de Pera.
15 minutes away
Batalha: monastery of Batalha, Pia do Urso sensory ecopark, Moeda grottos, Boutaca bridge, Batalha Municipal Community Museum, pedestrian footpaths.
20 minutes away
Fátima: shrine, basilica of the Holy Trinity, Aljustrel village, Fazarga’s mills.
Porto de Mós: serras de Aire e Candeeiros Nature Park, Castle, Alvados grottos, Santo António grottos, Mira de Aire grottos, Fórnea.
30 minutes away
Alcobaça: monastery of Alcobaça, conventual pastries, Paredes da Vitória beach, São Martinho do Porto beach.
Ourém: castle, medieval village.
Nazaré: Nazaré beach, Norte beach, gastronomy, Suberco viewpoint (Sítio da Nazaré), São Miguel Arcanjo fort.
Beaches: Pedrogão beach, Vieria beach, São Pedro de Moel beach.
45 minutes away
Caldas da Rainha: decorative crockery, D. Carlos I park, José Malhoa museum,. Thermal Hospital halls, tours, horticultural market.
Coimbra: University, Alta and Sofia areas, Machado de Castro national museum, Portugal dos Pequenitos park, Quinta das Lágrimas, monasteries of Santa Clara.
Figueira da Foz: beach, Serra da Boa Viagem, Cape Mondego, palace of Maiorca, Casino da Figueira.
Óbidos: castle, medieval village, Chocolate festival, FOLIO literary festival, Óbidos Vila Natal (Christmas village).
Tomar: convent of Christ, Pegões aqueduct, Tabuleiros festival, Castelo de Bode reservoir.
North of the district: river beaches, Rocas beach, Pedrógão Grande, Castanheira de Pera, Figueiró dos Vinhos, Ansião.