There are many things to do in Leiria Portugal, especially if you are into art and culture. Leiria’s Castle is one of the most important monuments in the country.
Next to it is the absorbing Romanesque Igreja de Sao Pedro church (12th century). The novelist Eca de Queiros used to meet with his literary group in this pharmacy (now an Irish pub). Its interesting panels depict Hippocrates, Galen and Socrates.
1. Visit the Castle
One of the best things to do in Leiria Portugal is to visit the Castle. This historic sight features amazing architectural designs that will make your jaw drop. It is also home to a museum that showcases artifacts like ceramics and artistic glazing from the 12th century.
Other sights of interest in the castle include a Romanesque church that served as the cathedral for a short time and has been repurposed as a theatre, granary and prison. The Sao Pedro Church also boasts a bell tower built in the 18th century.
Other sights worth visiting include the Igreja da Santissima Trindade, which was designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira and the Paper Museum, where you can watch pulp turn into sheets of paper right before your eyes. You can also take a walk in the Pinhal Real, which is a beautiful pine forest where you can spot deer and wild boar.
2. Take a walk in the Old Town
The medieval town of Leiria is a delight to explore, with its ancient and modern buildings and sites of interest. The castle is a must-visit, as is the church of Nossa Senhora da Penha. Inside is a spectacular Founders’ Chapel containing the tomb of John I and his wife.
The castle is home to a number of rooms worth exploring, including the central gallery. The UNESCO World Heritage Site also features Sao Pedro Church, a Gothic structure, and the Royal Palace.
Located in the castle grounds is MIMO – The Moving Image Museum, created in 1996 to celebrate 100 years of cinema in Portugal. It is a unique place to discover recording, editing and presentation equipment from different periods of history.
3. Go to the Beach
A lot of visitors come to Leiria to enjoy some time at the beach, as this unique city is just a short drive away from some of the best beaches in Portugal. In fact, it takes less than 30 minutes to get to the cozy coves of Praia da Concha and Vieira de Leira.
Rodrigues Lobo Square is one of the most impressive squares in Leiria, where several historical buildings are located. The square is named after Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, a Jewish poet who converted to Christianity.
In the nearby Mercado de Sant’ Ana you will find a colourful building that was built in the 1920s following the architectural plans of Ernesto Korrodi. You will also be impressed by the fountain with three spigots that dates back to the 17th century.
4. Visit Obidos
The walled city of Obidos is a delight for all the senses. Walking its streets feels like stepping back in time. The tiny alleys feature whitewashed houses trimmed in yellow and blue. They’re adorned with potted bougainvillea and hand-painted tiles.
The city’s center features the Rodrigues Lobo Square, named after a local poet. There’s also the Romanesque Igreja de Sao Pedro church, built in the 12th century. You can also visit the Pharmacy Leonardo Paiva, a historic building where the author of Eca de Queiros used to meet with his literary group.
Other notable landmarks include the MIMO – Museum of Moving Image, a unique museum that displays exhibitions on photography and cinema. And if you want to get out of town, take a walk around the Foz do Arelho lagoon, a quiet lagoon with beaches.
5. Visit Peniche
Peniche is an authentic place that glows with a sense of warmth and welcoming people. In the port, watch old ladies patiently sewn fishing nets and indulge in irresistible fish specialties.
A few kilometres from the city center is a beautiful shell-shaped beach with calm waters. It’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the sun.
The city is also known for its long and sandy beaches, often attracting surfers and windsurfers due to the strong wind. In particular, the beach known as Superturbos is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions.
The castle in Obidos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most outstanding monuments in Portugal. It features a church, royal cloister and unfinished chapels in High Gothic and Manueline styles that blend beautifully.