There’s a small mysterious town in central Portugal famous for the country’s largest church.
Today, we’re going to tell you all about it, when to go there, what to do and where to stay and more.
Join us on a trip through history.
Where is Alcobaça, Portugal?
Alcobaça is a town and a municipality in the central east region of Portugal located approximately 100 km (62 miles) north of Lisbon. Its name is derived from the rivers Alcoa and Baça.
The town is small, modest, but very pleasant and rather low-key. It is mostly known for the imposing Monastery of Alcobaça which was built in the 12th century and is declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
I’m going to tell you more about that later.
How to get to Alcobaça from Lisbon?
The best way to get to Alcobaça is to take a bus from Lisbon (Sete Rios station).. The journey last just under two hours and costs around €10 to €11 one way and you can buy your ticket from the driver. Check the schedule of Rede Expressos bus service, which runs four buses a day.
Unfortunately, there are no direct train lines to Alcobaça.
If you’re planning a longer trip around Portugal, I suggest you rent a car. You can check out our top car rental companies and tips for renting a car here.
When is the best time to visit Alcobaça, Portugal?
The best time to visit Alcobaça in Portugal is from April until October when you have a pleasant but not hot temperatures and little rainfall. In Alcobaça, the summers are warm, dry, and mostly clear and the winters are cold, wet, windy, and partly cloudy.
The highest average temperature in Alcobaça is in August and the lowest is in January.
Alcobaça weather over the next seven days:
8 Things to do in Alcobaça, Portugal
Are you wondering what to do and to see in Alcobaça and around? I’ll try to give you some tips.
1. Monastery of Alcobaça
For sure, the number one, must-see monument in Alcobaça is the Monastery of Alcobaça.
History of the Monastery of Alcobaça
The Monastery of Alcobaça is a Roman Catholic monastic complex established in 1153 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques (Afonso I). The foundation of the monastery was part of a larger strategy by the King to ascertain his authority and promote the colonisation of lands recently conquered from the Moors.
The church and monastery were the first Gothic buildings in Portugal and the church itself was the largest in Portugal at the time of its implementation (1252). During the Middle Ages, the monastery had a powerful position within the kingdom of Portugal and that’s why many monarchs were buried here in the 13th and 14th centuries (Kings and Queens of Portugal).
The complex also consists of a medieval library, which was one of the largest libraries in Portugal, where you could find an authoritative history of Portugal in a series of books created by the monks. Unfortunately, many items were stolen by the invading French in 1810.
Finally, in 1834 the religious orders in Portugal were dissolved and the last monks left the monastery. The remnants of the monastery library are kept in Portugal’s national library in Lisbon.
The monastery today
Due to its artistic, cultural and historical relevance, the Monastery of Alcobaça was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage site list in 1989.
One of the most popular things to see inside are the tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress, Inês de Castro, who was assassinated in 1355. It’s a very sad and famous Portuguese love story but the sculpted tombs are marvellous works of art that will amaze you.
Find out about this story and more surprising facts about Portugal here.
How much are the tickets?
If you would like to visit the monastery, an individual ticket costs €6. There are free admissions on the first Sunday of each month for individuals, groups and students.
For more information about the tickets, visit the Monastery’s website here.
- From October to March, 9 am to 6 pm; and
- From April to September, 9 am to 7 pm.
2. Wine Museum of Alcobaça
The Wine Museum of Alcobaça occupies the old winery which was built in 1874 by José Raposo de Magalhães to develop wine production in the region.
It has a historical collection of the local wine industry, which is the biggest in the country!
The collection has more than 8,500 pieces of furniture related to oenology. Inside, you’ll also find more about the local history, traditional wine-making technology, industrial archaeology and decorative arts.
And, at the end of the tour, there is a tasting session waiting for you.
Address: Rua do Olival Fechado.
Opening time: 10 am to 5 pm, except Mondays.
3. Castle of Alcobaça
The Castle of Alcobaça is a medieval castle which is located at a hill about 70 metres (230 feet) high. It was rebuilt on the ruins of a former fortress by D. Afonso Henriques in 1147. The ruins are especially nice to see at night with the lights on it. It’s quite mystical.
4. Parque dos Monges
Parque dos Monges (website is in Portuguese) with its medieval theme, is located at the Rua Quinta das Freiras, 10 minutes outside of Alcobaça by car.
They offer canoeing on the park’s lake, archery and climbing or visit the animal enclosures with turtles, monkeys and alpacas.
There’s also a medieval village and shop with traditional delicacies. This is a great place for families with children.
The ticket for adults costs €10 and for children it’s €6.
5. Monastery of Saint Mary of Cós
The Monastery of Saint Mary of Cós is situated in the village Cós, 12 minutes from Alcobaça by car. It was established in the 12th century as a place for widows who wanted to lead a monastic life. Eventually, it became a regional community for Cistercian nuns.
Address: Rua Santa Rita, Cós.
6. Batalha Monastery
The Batalha Monastery was also classified as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site in 1983. It’s a Dominican Abbey started in 1386 and built over more than 100 years. It was finally completed in 1517.
The monastery has a dramatic Gothic architecture with strong Manueline influences. It’s located 30 minutes from Alcobaça in Batalha.
The ticket costs €6, but there also free admissions on the first Sunday of each month and special discounts. See the monastery’s website for more details.
Address: Largo Infante Dom Henrique, Batalha.
Opening times: 16 October to 31 March, from 9 am to 5.30 pm and 1 April to 15 October, from 9 am to 6 pm.
7. Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park
Only a few people know about this beautiful place. Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park with a total area of 35 hectares, was created in 1979. The park is composed of two mountain regions (the name of the park comes from the mountain’s names) and of the plateaus of Santo Antônio and São Mamede.
It’s located just 30 minutes by car from Alcobaça, but it’s really worth it to visit this place.
8. Ruínas da Capela de Santana and São Martinho do Porto Bay
From the Ruínas da Capela de Santana, you can enjoy beautiful panorama views of the São Martinho do Porto bay and have a nice walk on a trail there.
It’s located 30 minutes by car from Alcobaça.
On the other side, is São Martinho do Porto bay which is a huge coastal lagoon in the shape of a clamshell almost totally enclosed by cliffs with a nice beach which is very safe for children.
If you are in the area, you may also like to visit Nazaré.
Top 5 hotels in Alcobaça, Portugal
Now let’s find the best place for you to stay.
1. Challet Fonte Nova
The Challet Fonte Nova is surrounded by lush gardens only 200 metres (656 feet) from the Monastery of Alcobaça. It features a Spa and Wellness Centre and free wifi in public areas. Rooms have air conditioning, cable TV, and a private bathroom with hand-painted tiles. The hotel serves a buffet breakfast, and in the basement, you can find a bar that serves regional wine. It has also billiards and board games. If you would like to rent a car, the staff can also help you out with that.
Price: €67 per night.
Address: Rua da Fonte Nova.
2. Solar da Cerca do Mosteiro
The hotel, Solar da Cerca do Mosteiro, is located just five-minutes’ walk to the city’s main square. It features a pool and dry cleaning. Rooms have air conditioning and free wifi. Breakfast is included and there is also a bar to enjoy a nice drink. The hotel offers airport transportation if you need it.
Price: €70 per night.
Address: Rua Doutor Francisco Zagalo 3.
3. Real Abadia, Congress & Spa Hotel
A magnificent four-star hotel, just five minutes from the city centre and the Monastery of Alcobaça, the Real Abadia, Congress & Spa Hotel features pool and a Spa. Rooms have air conditioning and free wifi. Breakfast is included and there is also a bar.
Price: €56 per night.
Address: Rua da Escola.
4. Hotel Santa Maria
Hotel Santa Maria is located a short distance from the city centre. It doesn’t have a pool and a Spa, but the price is very good and the room conditions are excellent. Rooms have air conditioning and free wifi. Breakfast is included. They also have a bar, laundry service and free parking.
Price: €38 per night.
Address: Rua Doutor Francisco Zagalo 20-22.
5. Hostel Rossio Alcobaca
If you want to save some money, Hostel Rossio Alcobaca may be perfect for you. It offers several types of accommodation: double rooms with private bathroom, family suites and dormitories for four or five guests, as well as pleasant common areas and a marvellous terrace overlooking the Monastery of Alcobaça. Rooms have free wifi and there is also free parking available.
Price: €15 per night.
Address: Praça 25 de Abril 20.
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Top 5 restaurants in Alcobaça, Portugal
Finally, time to discover some nice restaurants. I made a list of the five best restaurants in Alcobaça.
1. Sabores da India
Sabores da India restaurant is good for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians. They also offer gluten-free meals.
Address: Rua Mariana Coelho Bernardo 19.
Opening time: Open every day for lunch and then for dinner.
2. O Cabeco
One of the best places according to locals and tourists, O Cabeco (website is in Portuguese) restaurant offers Portuguese cuisine and is also vegetarian-friendly. I recommend that you make a reservation before you go as it might get busy. For reservations, call O Cabeco’s on (+351) 914 500 202.
Address: Rua Dona Elvina Machado 65.
Opening time: Open for lunch and then dinner, except Sundays and Mondays.
3. Origens Restaurante
Origens Restaurante is a typical Portuguese restaurant located next to the Monastery of Alcobaça. So if it’s your first time in Portugal, you should try some typical food as it’s delicious.
Address: Rua Alexandre Herculano 18.
Opening time: Open for lunch and then dinner, except Sundays when it’s open only for lunch and Mondays when it’s closed.
4. Restaurante Antonio Padeiro
Have you ever taste octopus? If not you can taste it here at Restaurante Antonio Padeiro! As well as codfish, which is popular in the whole of Portugal. I love it. The restaurant offers Portuguese cuisine but also has a menu for vegetarians.
Address: Rua Dom Mauro Cocheril 27.
Opening time: Open every day for lunch and then for dinner.
5. Meat-Hamburgeria, Pregaria e Companhia
If you have had enough of Portuguese food (if that’s possible) go to the American restaurant and bar called MEAT . You can order two hamburgers with fries and two beers for just €20.
Address: Rua Frei António Brandão 47.
Opening time: Open every day for lunch and then for dinner, except Sundays when it’s only open for lunch.
Is Alcobaça Portugal a good place to visit? Is it worth it?
Alcobaça is a typical Portuguese town, so if you want to experience some culture and find out about history, it’s a good place to discover this side of Portugal. I would recommend that you rent a car to be able to see other cities which are around the region and the National Park or to go to the bay.
How to plan a one-day trip from Lisbon to Alcobaça?
Well, it depends if you travel by car or by public transport.
If you have a car, then it’s much easier as you’re not stuck to the bus schedules and have more time to discover the city and some of the surrounding areas. If you only have one day, I would recommend that you explore the city a bit and stop there for dinner and on the way back, visit São Martinho do Porto bay for a walk as it’s very beautiful.
If you travel by public transport, it’s not that bad as the first bus departs at 9.30 am and the last one for the way back is at 5.45 pm. For a two-way ticket, you’ll pay €20.40. Although you won’t have time to see something outside of the city as the distances are too long without a car, you can enjoy the city to the fullest. So there are always advantages and disadvantages.
Take a tour from Lisbon with Get Your Guide
My tips for visiting Alcobaça in Portugal
Plan your trip carefully:
1. Check the schedule and book tickets (if you travel by car, don’t take too much time sleeping, the earlier you wake up, the more you’ll see.
2. Plan which places are the most important for you to visit and estimate the time you may need for sightseeing.
3. Choose the place for dinner and check the address. Check if a reservation is needed.
4. I would also recommend that you check the weather and take comfortable shoes, high-heels won’t be a great idea for walking.
5. Take snacks with you as the day might be long and you never know when you’ll need it. It’s a simple tip, but I guess necessary to mention, talking from my own experience.
6. The last one and most important, keep your smile and positive energy and enjoy your day!
Did you have any questions for us on Alcobaça? Let us know what you think in the comments below.