Exploring central Portugal provides travelers with an authentic Portugal experience. The small town hotels, wineries and restaurants offer an inexpensive window into the lives of the people in this part of the world.
Quinta de Bispos is an eco country inn, beautifully located on an old citrus farm on the south slope of the Caramulo Mountains in central Portugal. Quinta de Bispos is the first “Hotel Rural” in Portugal that has received the European Eco-Label. This is a great place for enthusiasts of hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking.
The south slope of the mountain ridge, on which Quinta de Bispos is situated (at 350 meters altitude), is especially beautiful. The “Serra do Caramulo” is a mountain ridge consisting of granite and slate. And the area is well known for its pure, clean air.
A large part of the Quinta’s electricity is produced by photovoltaic solar energy and the water and power usage is efficiently monitored. The Quinta uses non-chemical products, and all waste produced is reduced to a minimum and adequately managed. All the employees are briefed on ecologically correct procedures. Spread over 3 separate buildings, each of the guest rooms, with high ceilings and big windows, is individually furnished. Request a room with a private verandah and you may experience one of your most memorable sunset views. There are Turkish baths with aromatherapy spa treatments available.
If you book a package at the hotel you can get a number of perks such as tickets to the Caramulo Museum which houses art (Picasso and Dali) and classic cars. The property offers apartments for families or those wanting long term stays. The main building includes a lounge with bar, library, snooker tables and a restaurant. Restaurant Laranjal is one of the best in the area for gourmet cuisine and regional dishes. Prepared with carefully selected and certified biological ingredients, all meals are something to write home about.
With a fantastic view across the valley of Besteiros, all the way to the Serra de Estrela (Portugal’s highest mountain range), the Quinta is only 10 minutes away from Tondela, 20 minutes from Viseu and less than an hour from Coimbra. It is clearly located in the ideal place to get to know Central Portugal.
This area is especially known for its black clay pottery. On your way from Quinta de Bispos to Tondela, you’ll pass through the village of Molelos where this ancient pottery art is kept alive in several workshops. Of course you can get demonstrations and buy pottery and even have it shipped home.
Nearby, there is an official wine route (maps are available) with all the wineries that invite visitors. There are several wineries, such as the Quinta de Cabriz in Carregal do Sal and the Casa de Santar in Santar, where you can get a complete tour of the facilities. For groups of a minimum of 8 persons they also organize wine tasting sessions. The Hotel can give you a listed wine route to follow for a day trip.
The nearby city of Coimbra holds a special place in Portuguese history. It is said to be the oldest seat of learning in Portugal with a university founded in August 1290 by King Dinis. Six of Portugal’s Kings were born here. It is popularly known as the “Oxford of Portugal”. The most dramatic of the university’s ancient treasures is the Joao V library with superb frescoes and tables of rosewood and ebony etched with Chinese designs in gold. There are over 300,000 books stored here. The medieval center of Coimbra has a number of independent bookshops, boutiques, toy shops, galleries and café’s. There is always a lot going on in the student community, and the university is a good place to find out what is going on in town.
Central Portugal is a great area to explore towns and villages which are the backbone of Portuguese culture. These towns are quite inexpensive, so one can easily afford to sample the local cusine and experience the true taste of Portugal.
Written by Carla Scott for EuropeUpClose.com