15 Best things to do in Figueira da Fos (Portugal)

On the coast not far from Coimbra, Figueira da Fos is a resort city with casinos, bars and restaurants and a huge urban beach.

It’s a destination for doing as little as possible during the day and dining and partying at night.

Figueira da Foz is home to a number of palatial holiday homes, one built in the 17th century for the Bishop of Coimbra, and others in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles when the city first became popular as a resort.

On the northern horizon is Serra da Boa Viagem, a stunning pine-clad hill with scenic viewpoints, walking trails and a woodland adventure park.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Figueira da Fos:

1. Playa da Claridad

Playa da Claridad

The wide white sandy beach of Figueira da Foz began to attract holidaymakers in the 19th century, and the bars, hotels and restaurants of the Bairro Novo district were soon built next to it.

This is a bay with such a wide sandy beach (the widest urban beach in Europe) that it is possible to hike just by getting in the water! The views are also satisfying, right up to the pine-clad hills of Serra da Boa Viagem and Cabo Mondego.

Amenities are plentiful with plenty of striped parasols, sun loungers, shops and bars at the rear, behind Avenida 25 de Abril.

As for surfing, the waves break far away, so there are some safe shallow waters for youngsters.

2. Figueira Casino

Figueira Casino

The city’s casino is one of the largest on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest, though you won’t know it from the building’s sleek glass facade.

It dates back to the 19th century, as you can see from the ornate Beaux-Arts interior.

Even if you’re not a high roller, it’s worth spending an evening decorating, admiring the plastering and murals, and contemplating your hand at the poker table.

There are several bars and an excellent restaurant, and before you come you can check the show to see if the entertainment is to your liking.

3. Museu Municipal Santos Rocha

Museu Municipal Santos Rocha

Figueira da Foz is a superb museum of history, art and archaeology founded in the 1890s by the famous archaeologist António dos Santos Rocha.

It moved several times before reaching its modern purpose-built residence in 1976. There are many fascinating things to see, most of which are furniture, sculptures and other ornaments brought back from India, East Africa and the far-flung colonies.

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There is a wealth of religious art from abandoned monasteries and monasteries, as well as an extensive coin collection, sedans, carriages and antique weapons.

4. Nucleo Museologico do Sal

Nucleo Museologico do Sal

The marshes on the south bank of the Mondgo River are a checkerboard of salt ponds.

Salt production is more interesting than it sounds, using techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Ten years ago, the town recognized its value and set up this museum next to the Salt Pond.

There is a raised boardwalk that takes you on a tour of the site, and a warehouse showing the role of salt in nature, the history of Portuguese salt, the production of salt in Figueira da Fos, the production cycle and the natural habitat of these marshes .

5. Palácio Sotto Mayr

Palácio Sotto Maior

Joaquim Soto Mayor, a Portuguese businessman who made his fortune in Brazil at the turn of the 20th century, flaunts his wealth in this palace complex, a five-minute walk from the beach.

It is located on a road in Bairro Novo, lined with luxury villas, from Figueira to a popular holiday destination for the wealthy.

Confirm opening times with the tourist office in advance or schedule a visit, and you’ll visit this luxurious Neo-Renaissance hotel, which features porcelain, statues, chandeliers and paintings.

Even the stables look like a stately home, along with an observation tower designed to resemble Manuel Castle.

6. Fort Santa Catarina

Forte Santa Catarina

In the early modern period, the Figueira Dafos was vulnerable to attack from the sea, so three forts were built to deter pirates and foreign navies.

The most fortified of them defends the mouth of the Mondgo River and dates back to the Philippine era at the end of the 16th century.

It was a triangular plan and was attacked and rebuilt several times in the 17th and 18th centuries.

You can admire the view from the top of the wall and here you can see the Mannerist chapel built in 1598 with the image of Santa Catarina in the 1700s.

7. Cabo Mondego

capo mondo

The Serra da Boa Viagem mountains meet the Atlantic Ocean on this mighty headland a few kilometers from the city.

At a bend in the road there is a parking spot where you can go out and gaze at the city and Praia da Figueira.

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There is also a lighthouse here, and the geology of the cliffs is worth mentioning.

They are composed of sedimentary rocks that are littered with fossils from the Middle and Upper Jurassic periods.

There are also stunning panoramic views from Abrigo da Montanha, a restaurant located inland and on the slopes.

8. Cabedello Beach

playa do cabedello

On the left bank of Mondego, there is another epic beach.

This one is divided into two parts, connected by a boardwalk across the dunes to the rear.

The estuary is a small bay protected by a long breakwater.

This keeps the ocean currents out, allowing calm, shallow water to float inside.

On the other side of the breakwater is the southern part of the beach, which stretches for a kilometer and is washed by the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Surfers love it, we’ll find out later, but if you’re just going to hang out on the sand, this beach is fine too.

9. Paso House

casado paso

Ordered by the Bishop of Coimbra in the 17th century, the palace is just a few steps from the marina in Mondego.

The palace is rather unremarkable on the outside as it blends in with modern shops, but the main attraction is inside, room after room decorated with Dutch tiles.

These blue and white tiles were produced in Delft near Rotterdam in the early 18th century.

How 6,700 of them (a record number) got to the palace is a bit puzzling.

One theory is that they were recovered from shipwrecks.

10. Centro de Artes e Espectáculos

art Center

If you’re into a culture, you can always see the show at this huge arts venue next to the Museu Municipal Santos Rocha.

Opened in 2002, this modern building has two auditoriums, one for over 800 people, and several galleries.

There are operas, art exhibitions, dance, live music, theatre and children’s workshops.

The center also houses a cinema showing critically acclaimed independent films.

As of this writing, Wim Wenders has one season.

11. Old Montemore

old montmore

Just 15 minutes upstream is this menacing castle, which towers over the Mondgo River and the rice fields next to it.

Built in the 11th century after the fall of Coimbra, it was the main fortification in the area, marking the border between the Christian north and the Moorish south during the Reconquista.

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As you patrol the battlements, you’ll see why this is such a prized strategic location, and you can see for miles in all directions.

Inside the city walls is a church with Gothic and Manueline architecture, as well as accessories and sculptures dating back to the 14th century.

12. Surf

Figueira da Foz - Surfing

Somehow, Figueira da Fos has been off the map as a surfing destination, overshadowed by places like Peniche.

But the city holds its own and has a growing community with surf camps and a variety of shops and schools.

Surfing is possible in Praia da Claridade, Cabedelo and Murtinheira.

But the beach that gives surfers goosebumps is right on the shores of Buarcos, which on the right day has the longest right-hand break in Europe, and the hollow tubular section is a riding dream.

13. Parque Aventura Figueira da Foz

Parque Aventura Figueira da Foz

The ten-minute winding road from Figueira to Serra da Boa Viagem is an adventure that transforms an area of ​​pine forests into a kind of treetop village.

You’ll learn the ropes in a test session, showing you how to use a seat belt and carabiner, before climbing high up the forest floor: rope nets, 90-meter ziplines, and tricky bridges suspended from a series of challenges through ropes Connect to a platform fixed to the canopy.

14. Take the Mondego Ferry

Figueira da Foz, Ferry

Until the 1970s, the last stretch of Mondego was a busy highway with ferries carrying shipyard workers and students.

The activity didn’t go away until recently, when ferry service resumed.

You can take the Saramugo across the estuary to Cabedelo and enjoy a day of surfing or doing nothing on the beach.

The same company also offers trips along the river, exploring the South Arm and its salt pans, or as far as Montemor-o-Velho.

15. Food

Pataniscas de Bacalhau

Figueira da Foz has a strong preference for fish and seafood (cod, sardines, mussels, eel and even lamprey) and has many iconic recipes.

Here are a few to look out for in traditional restaurants: Pataniscas de bacalhau, cod shredded and deep-fried, enguias de escabeche, fried eel cooked in wine, vinegar and garlic sauce, and caldeirada de petinga, stewed with tomatoes , onions and small sardines.

On All Saints’ Day and Christmas, you’ll smell toast, although they’re popular year-round.

These are pumpkin pastries with blackcurrants, walnuts and cinnamon.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Figueira da Fos, Portugal
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