Castelo Branco: Travel and tourism

St. Anthony Convent: cloister
St. Anthony Convent: cloister
The region of Beira Baixa is not much visited by tourists but it encompasses fine scenery and many attractions.

Its capital, Castelo Branco, is a charming little city, especially known for the Jardim Episcopal (episcopal garden), filled with Baroque statues.

To the north lies Monsanto, considered the «most Portuguese village»: perched on a hillside, its small typical houses and tiny gardens lie crushed between great granite rocks.

In the environs of Penamacor, with its 12th-century castle, the Natural Reserve of Serra da Malcata is one of the last places where the extremely rare Iberian lynx can still be found.

To the northeast of Belmonte, with its castle begun in 1266, you can see a curious Roman tower, the Centum Cella, or Torre de Colmeal.

All this region is dominated by the closeness of Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain of Portugal, mostly rising above 1500 metres.

Covilhã is the largest town in this area and it is known for its textiles, woven from locally produced wool. From there you can drive to the Natural Park of Serra da Estrela: in Summer visitors can enjoy the long distance walks, varied flora and stunning views; the Winter snows attract skiers.

The most famous product of this zone is queijo da Serra, a richly flavoured cheese still made by hand.
Hotel Astória Hotel Astória
Termas de Monfortinho, Idanha-a-Nova
$$$ (50 to 100 euros)

Built in the architectural style of the Beiras and between subtropical gardens, Hotel Astoria features indoor and outdoor pools, spa and tennis courts, plus free parking.

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