Where landscape meets history
As far as tourism is concerned, Portugal has a great range of landscapes in a relatively small territory. The Centro de Portugal region presents a balanced diversity of the best of the mainland. The name "Beira" says a lot about this territory situated, broadly speaking, between Douro and Tagus rivers. In terms of history, the ancient border between Christian and Muslim kingdoms was drawn here from the 9th to the 12th centuries. Hence, the idea of a territory located "in the margins" of a different world.
Mountain and sea
Geography shows us a vast territory, stretching from the border with Spain to the sea, which has plenty of important landmarks. Apart from Estrela Mountain, this region has special characteristics, namely in terms of territory division. Particularly impressive are the valleys opened by big rivers such as Vouga and Mondego, flowing from east to west into Aveiro and Figueira da Foz.
The Zêzere River has a different orientation, flowing from Estrela Mountain (as well as Mondego river), generally from northwest to southeast to the Tagus. River beaches are one of the main highlights of the inland destinations of this region, equipped with excellent support infra-structures. There is also an artificial wave pool in the middle of Lousã Mountain - Rocas River Beach, situated in Castanheira de Pêra.
Testimonies of a past full of events, the Historical Villages have been fully restored under a specific programme, standing out as must-visit places. Piódão, a true schist crib, and Idanha-a-Velha, the living testimony of many Empires, are outstanding examples. Not as monumental, but also very interesting are the Schist villages, located in the inland of the central region full of refreshing green sceneries and rivers. It is a network of mountain villages that were restored in a process of continuous development, presenting true success stories such as Barroca, Janeiro de Cima, Aigra Nova, Fajão, Candal and Gondramaz.
Cities with tradition
Aveiro, an essentially commercial fishing city, has grown in the coastline, benefiting from a privileged location by the picturesque ria (drowned river valley), where Vouga river flows into. The dynamic University of Aveiro has played a major role in the development of the region. Coimbra is famous for its University, one of the oldest in Europe, which settled in this city in the 14th century. This historical city remains faithful to its traditions, but also permanently updated thanks to the keen entrepreneurial spirit of many thousands of students and researchers who go there every year. The Roman ruins of Conímbriga, located south from Coimbra, are the most important and greatest ones in Portugal. Maritime charming city of Figueira da Foz still preserves nowadays an aura of seaside resort of the past, along with a more cosmopolitan character.
Viseu, considered by a recent study the best city to live in Portugal, values the memory of Lusitanian warrior Viriato. This city is also proud of the typical good cuisine of Dão Lafões. Castelo Branco, a beautiful city of delicate weaving hands, is also the heart of Naturtejo, the first Geopark recognised by UNESCO and the heart of nature tourism in Centro de Portugal.
This region has a rich diversified gastronomy: Mealhada suckling pigs; convent-made sweet specialities; mountain goat meat ("chanfana"); seaside fish stews; Lafões veal; Aveiro soft eggs; Penacova lamprey; Montemor-o-Velho rice; Castelo Branco sheep cheese pot pies; Lousã honey; Licor Beirão, Dão wines and Bairrada sparkling wines. In the Centro lie endless virtues.