The “tourism free” portuguese city…
Almost two months now that I’m living the dream of the portuguese life in Castelo Branco and I’m still very often amazed how beautiful the landscape around here is. No azulejos, no church at every corner, no smell of grilled fish in the streets here, Castelo Branco has nothing to do with the portuguese dream cliché. The Bairro interior sul is an alternative world full of street art, mountains, rivers, abandoned houses, ghost city centers, beautiful empty and roofless factories and Castelo Branco is the capital city there. It has its own charm and own vibes that you won’t find anywhere else in Portugal.
Here is a selection of my favorite 100 % free activities. Zoom on Portugal and then on Castelo Branco and follow the guide :
A railway station quite different from the others…
… To be properly welcomed in this special region ! Old ACME style water tower and old textil factory chimneys are waiting here to be discovered to change from the classical postcard cliché !
Then the walk inside the “centro historico” will make you travel through time
Discover the city from afar to understand how it has been built on the hillside, overlooked by its old templar castle
Mandatory stop by the city garden
In front of this one you can find the touristic “jardim do paço episcopal”, a garden full of little statues that you can visit in visit hours for 2 €. It’s apparently very nice and lovely. But I’m definitely more convinced by the simple city garden with its kids laughs, swings creakings, fountains purr and the trees’ shade for hidding for a quick nap or a long picnic.
Mandatory lunch at Namasté
Vegetarian restaurant only opened at lunch time. You can eat in or take away delicious family style recipes that remind you that vegetarian cuisine is not only made of lettuce and quinoa. 3.5 € for a small plate full of the daily delights and a tea and you can add a few extra euros for a soup, a dessert or a bigger plate. A very nice and recommended place.
Try the best “bolo de bolacha” in town at pastelaria Colmeia
I’m not sure this is exactly THE best but this is what I’ve been told by a few persons, and anyway it’s certainly the cutest I’ve seen. I’m therefore sharing the secret but I’m going to keep looking and if I find anything better, i’ll let you know.
If you like walking, be sure you have plenty of free time in your agenda because there are a few nice walks around here
A super nice point of view for watching the city and “the place to be” for a calm picnic, reading a book, meditating, playing the ukulele… (actually If you’re looking for me, I might be around there). If you walk past the railway with the tiny wood bridge, past the houses behind the bridge and past the road, you’ll find a path going up the rocks to the cone.
Zona de lazer
The “quinta do moinho velho” in the “cansado” area
Discover an old and abandonned urban farm covered with street art and gorgeous fruit trees. The farm has recently been bought by the city though and they have a cultural project in mind for this place… to be followed !
The “capela de sao martinho”
Walking or cycling? Your call !
And if you’re around there in spring you might also love seeing how nature wakes up in this region… Wait to see the amazing magnolia (this picture not being the magnolia I’m talking about, I know, but I don’t want to publish any spoiler).
For a junk food envy, check out Ginjal
Ginjal is a rather small burgers and portuguese beers restaurant well hidden in a small street close to the old city center. The burgers are delicious and made with fresh products, music is jazz and blues, service is super smiling and sangria and beers are super good… What are you waiting for ?!?
And for a perfect finish, why not cycling the region a bit ?
7 km downhill, easy but then 7 km back uphill quite stiff… but the walk by the rio Ponsul (the river) at monte do chaveiro is worth the pain.
Barragem da marateca
A gorgeous and easy cycling route through the small villages around Castelo to the nice bank of the dam of marateca. Nice spot for picnics and several water activities.
And for the adresses for which I don’t have a picture
For a nice portuguese style grilled fish, check out “Restaurante Pinguim“. For a good old fashioned underground cantina with grand-ma’s type recipes go to 40 rua Amato Lusitano. For the best Pizza you’ve ever tried your whole life, check “Arena di verona restaurante” out. For a beer with some good old Rock’n’roll go to Taverna Johnny not far from the city garden. For a delicious coffee with milk (meia de leite) go to Café com leite bar at the end of rua Général Humberto Delgado.
Now you almost know everything I know… ENJOY !!!
And for an interactive 3D map to discover a Castelo Branco a bit less underground but much more focused on religion and history ==> Click here