Places of interest locally include Rabaçal which is renowned for its cheese making and has a very interesting Roman Museum on the main street. There are a couple of small but perfectly formed restaurants in the town which will provide hearty lunches. You might want to see the Roman Ruins in the ancient city of Conimbriga also; they represent the most important Roman site in Portugal.
To access these places go to the roundabout next to the big building called Bombeiros de Voluntarios and take the road towards Coimbra. You will see the sign for Rabaçal on your left, just follow the road and turn left at the end onto the main street.
Conimbriga is further along the main road going towards Condeixa and you will see it signposted. Condeixa is divided into the new and old town; it boasts churches, a town square, and a number of buildings of architectural interest.
It is a bustling satellite town with plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, a laundrette and exudes a real sense of what Portugal is like. There is a palace and a stylish, gastronomic restaurant, O Cabritino opposite where you can enjoy traditional foods with a contemporary twist; it is highly recommended both at lunchtime and during the evening. On a balmy day, it is possible to sit outside undercover and this is extremely pleasant.
Lunch is probably the most important meal of the day for the Portuguese and all work stops for the occasion, there is no suggestion of grabbing a sandwich at your desk; everyone goes for lunch. As a consequence, all the restaurants are very busy and lively and it is best to go early. Most establishments offer Dishes of the Day which allows you to eat fresh traditional fare very reasonably for around 7 euros per person.
There are a number of first-class establishments including O Pastor which is about five minutes out of Penela in the direction of Tomar. Turn left at the Bombeiros roundabout and keep driving and you will see O Pastor on your right opposite a furniture shop. This is a very popular restaurant but please note many places are closed on Mondays.
On the main road to Condeixa is a restaurant called Baradeiros de Leitao which specializes in suckling pig. If you find Cumeira on the map you will find a restaurant that specializes in trout here. It is situated overlooking the forest and river and is a relaxing place for a meal. This is the food of celebration in Portugal and is served with a piquant sauce and plenty of crispy skin. It is recommended that you try this whilst you are here.
The market in Penela will also cook chickens to order on a spit and it’s worth ordering about an hour and a half before you want to pick up your food. They are simple and delicious with fresh bread, a salad, and a cool glass of wine. There is a complete list of restaurants available in the entrance hall along with other tourist information.
No trip to the area can be considered complete without a visit to the university town of Coimbra. It is an easy journey of around 30 minutes and as you reach the outskirts avoid the first bridge on the first roundabout you encounter and carry straight on, over another roundabout, keep going and then keep in the right-hand lane as you cross another bridge. At the end of the bridge turn right and about two minutes later there is a car park on your right. Park here and you will see it is situated next to a river walk. This is extremely pleasant and is a good example of Portuguese landscaping and allows you to pass a mainly outdoor Italian restaurant by the river and if you keep walking you will come into one of the main shopping areas of Coimbra. There is a tourist office on the opposite side of the road here. Cross over and walk into the square with its array of tables, cafes, and shops. Walk through the shopping street and halfway turn right up a steep hill and keep going. You are entering the very old part of the city which will eventually lead you to the university buildings. The university affords a stunning viewing point and the river Mondego and the city can be seen from here. It’s a tough walk but it will use up a few calories and it is well worth the effort. All the guide books write copiously about Coimbra and lots of detail can be found about all its attractions which include the Botanic Gardens, the church of Santa Cruz, and the Santa Clara convents. There will be plenty of opportunities to buy stunning ceramics and lace ware throughout the city.
If you want the beach try Figueira da Foz or make your way to Espinhal which is the first left-hand turn on the Tomar road. Here you will see Loucainha signposted which is a natural river beach, ideal for swimming or simply relaxing; this is worth visiting simply for the drive up the mountain which is very attractive and typical of the local flora and fauna.
A visit in April, for example, is an excellent opportunity to see the fabulous array of wildflowers that carpet the whole region as a consequence of traditional farming methods. Rabacal for example is clothed in natural miniature irises in the spring. Penela property for sale