Caldas da Rainha is a city in western Central Portugal, about 10 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Absent from most international visitors' itineraries, but charming nonetheless, Caldas da Rainha is an excellent place to experience the real Portugal without hordes of tourists.
This delightful, centrally located park is the main green space in Caldas da Rainha. The paths through the flowerbeds and trees make for a pleasant walk. The Museu José Malhoa sits in the middle of the park. Visitors can rent a rowboat to circumnavigate the small lake surrounding a petite island. The boathouse is now used for small art exhibitions, as is the ''Céu de Vidro'', a skylight-covered alleyway between two old building connecting the park to the thermal hospital. The park contains numerous statues and sculptures, some of historical figures, others more whimsical and fun. The ''Pavilhões do Parque'' are several interconnected structures that have served various purposes in the past. These lovely buildings, which serve as a sort of emblem of the park, have unfortunately been allowed to degrade and are on the verge of ruin. Their beauty, however, is still evident, and their reflection on the lake makes for a popular photo opportunity. The park's amenities include a playground, picnic area, tennis courts, and restrooms. The park is named for the king who reigned Portugal from 19 October 1889 until his assassination at the age of 44 on 1 February 1908.
This regional coach company, formerly part of Rodoviária do Tejo, provides service to nearby cities, towns, and villages in the Oeste region. RDO also offers frequent service on the [http://www.rodoviariadooeste.pt/wp-content/uploads/rapida_linha_verde.pdf Rápida Verde] (Green Rapid) to Óbidos (15 min), Bombarral (30 min), and Lisbon (at Campo Grande, 1 hr 15 min, adults €7.70, children 4–12 years €3.85, children under 4 years free, 65+ years €6.20, youth/student card €6.55, monthly passes and multi-ticket discounts are available). On weekdays, the Green Rapid has 28 round trips, with rush-hour peak-direction trips running every 15 min. Weekend and holiday service consists of 11 round trips. At Campo Grande, boarding is outside the bus terminal, on [https://goo.gl/maps/stjEN4P5oUq Rua Actor António Silva] (east of the metro and bus stations, across from some apartment buildings).
Traditionally, Carnaval celebrated one last hurrah and a huge party before the long Lenten season of repentance that precedes Easter, Christianity's most important holiday. Nowadays, Carnaval in Portugal takes on a more secular aspect, with little attention paid to religion. Festivities begin several days before, with a party for the aged and a children's parade. Celebrations culminate in a grand parade with costumed revelers and floats along Avenida Primeiro de Maio, the wide avenue that connects the railway station to the city hall. Young and old dress up, some preferring to make a political statement, others honoring the latest Marvel superhero or Disney princess, or dressing as fruits and vegetables.
Multiple daily regional and inter-regional trains ([http://www.cp.pt/StaticFiles/Passageiros/horarios/horarios/PDF/r_ir_uc/lisboa_fig_da_foz.pdf PDF schedule]) connect Caldas da Rainha to other locations along Portugal's west coast on the ''Linha do Oeste'' (Western Line), including Lisbon (at Sete Rios: €8.65, 2 hr 5 min – 2 hr 14 min; at Entrecampos: €8.75, 2 hr 8 min – 2 hr 17 min; or at Santa Apolónia: €9.05, 2 hr 19 min – 2 hr 26 min), Torres Vedras (€4, 42–50 min), Leiria (€5.15–5.70, 44–59 min), Coimbra (€12.65, 2 hr 9 min – 2 hr 40 min), and points in between. Old infrastructure and meandering to avoid hills mean that the train is usually slower than the bus, especially to Lisbon.
This regional coach company offers a [http://www.rodotejo.pt/media/rapidas/horario_rosa.pdf Rápida Rosa] (Pink Rapid) service to São Martinho do Porto (20 min), Nazaré (32 min), Leiria (1 hr 5 min, adults €7, same-day round trip €10, children 4–12 years €3.50, children under 4 years free, 6 prepaid tickets €24, monthly pass €122.80), and points in between, with 4 round trips each day M–F. The [http://www.rodotejo.pt/media/rapidas/rapida-caldas_rainha-santarem.pdf Rápida Amarela] (Yellow Rapid) service to Rio Maior (25 min) and Santarém (55 min) runs 2 round trips each day M–F.
This small yet intriguing museum displays painting and sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries, with emphasis on Portuguese naturalism and the works of José Malhoa (1855–1933). The collection includes pieces by Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro, including the evocative sixty-sculpture set ''Passion of Christ''. You won't find famous works here, but many pieces are worthy of hanging on the walls of the world's finest museums. Worth a visit. Don't miss the bas-relief figures on the façade of this building that was Portugal's first purpose-built museum. A handheld English audioguide is available.
The ''raison d'être'' of Caldas da Rainha, the thermal hospital was founded by Queen Leonor after experiencing the healing properties of the sulfurous waters on this site. The older building was begun in 1485, and the newer one was completed in 1750. The hospital continues to operate to this day, subject to closures when impurities are found in the water. The waters are rich in minerals, particularly sulphur, and are prescribed to treat such ailments as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, sinusitis, rhinitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, and asthma.
Built in 1500 as the royal chapel associated with the thermal hospital, this church features Late Gothic, Manueline, and Mudéjar styles. At the behest of Queen Leonor, Pope Julius II elevated the chapel to mother church of Caldas. The interior is lined with tiles, including original Hispano-Arab tiles on the side altars. The Passion triptych over the triumphal arch has drawn the interest of art historians. The church has been a National Monument, the only one in Caldas, since 1910.
The two closest beaches to Caldas da Rainha, 10 km from the city centre. One faces the Atlantic Ocean, and other is on the calmer Lagoa de Óbidos. Both beaches have earned the Blue Flag (''Bandeira Azul'') from the Foundation for Environmental Education and its Portuguese branch, Associação Bandeira Azul da Europa. The criteria for Blue Flag beaches cover four main areas: water quality; environmental information and education; environmental management; and safety and services.
This national coach company offers express service to several cities, including Lisbon (at the [https://www.google.com/maps/place/38°44'30.2%22N+9°09'58.6%22W/ Sete Rios bus terminal]; €8.70, 1 hr 10 min), Porto (€18.50, 3 hr 30 min – 4 hr 10 min), Peniche (€6, 30 min), Nazaré (€6, 40 min), Alcobaça (€7, 25 – 55 min), Leiria (€7, 35 min – 1 hr 25 min), Coimbra (€14, 1 hr 35 min – 2 hr 40 min), and Aveiro (€16, 2 hr – 3 hr 20 min).
Caldas da Rainha is home to many fine examples of Art Nouveau buildings in the city centre. This style was popular worldwide between 1890 and 1910, but it flourished in Portugal from 1905 to 1920. You can identify Art Nouveau by its beautiful tile façades, ornate wrought iron embellishments, and decorative stonework. Below are just a few of these lovely buildings. Walk around the area and you'll find many more gems.
Sponsored by the municipal government and developed by Bitcliq, Caldas da Rainha - City Guide is a tour guide on your phone or tablet. The app includes itineraries, sites of interest, and an events calendar. Available for both [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/caldas-da-rainha-city-guide/id881695920?mt=8 iOS] and [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bitcliq.cityguide.cr Android].
You can find Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro's (1846–1905) ceramic creations all over the world. But what better place to buy your decorative and useful fruit-, vegetable-, plant-, and animal-shaped wares than at the source? The most popular design might be the cabbage-shaped soup tureen. The Golden Girls had one proudly displayed in their kitchen.
Situated in a late Romantic manor house, the Ceramics Museum displays a wide collection from Caldas, from around Portugal, and from other places on the globe. The museum holds pottery pieces from the 17th through early 20th centuries, with emphasis on local artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro. The collection also includes tiles and tile panels.
Although controversial among even the Portuguese themselves, bullfighting continues to be a popular spectator sport in this country. The bullring in Caldas hosts several bullfights each year. As mild consolation, the bull is not killed in the ring within the sight of spectators. The arena also hosts concerts and other spectacles.
Rede RoCaldas, owned by Rodoviária do Oeste, provides service to rural communities within Caldas da Rainha municipality. Twenty-two routes connect the city of Caldas to outlying villages. Five routes connect A dos Francos to its surrounding communities, and three routes operate from Santa Catarina to its environs.
Caldas da Rainha's main square, located in the centre of town, hosts Portugal's only remaining daily outdoor farmers' market. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, you can buy bread, cheese, flowers, and Caldas's famous pottery. The most typical of local produce is the ''pêra rocha'' (rock pear).
A biennial gathering of sculptors at the Arts Centre in July or August. Sculptors create works that become municipal property, to be displayed permanently in public places throughout city and municipality. The artists are selected via application and are compensated for their work and travel expenses.
The largest mall in Caldas da Rainha has four floors and 60 shops and services, including clothing stores, a large appliance and electronics store, and a supermarket. The centre includes a food court with 15 restaurants and a five-screen cinema. The 440-space garage offers 2 hours of free parking.
Tucked away below street level at a corner on the plaza with the thermal hospital, Tijuca offers unpretentious and tasty fare in a cozy, convivial atmosphere. The efficient hostess/waitress(/owner?) flits from table to table, making recommendations and taking orders in several languages.
Be adventurous and try a Portuguese take on pizza. While the menu does include some tamer pizzas, consider the ''Pizza Tropical'' (mushrooms, peach, pineapple, corn, and banana) or the ''Pizza Vegetariana, Atum e Ovo'' (vegetables, mushroom, tuna, and egg). They deliver.
This space displays the works of Maria da Conceição Nunes, known as Concas (1946–1991). Donated by the artist's family, the paintings span from her 1960s work in Mozambique, through her fine arts studies in Lisbon, and to the work she completed on the eve of her death.
A private, membership-based mutual assistance society that operates a "house of health" in the city centre. Although it is smaller and more expensive than the public hospital, many Caldas residents who can afford Montepio prefer the more personalized service offered.
More than just a grocery store, Mercearia Pena has been selling quality traditional Portuguese foodstuffs since 1909. Especially noted for its home-ground coffee, the small shop also carries cod, sausages, cheese, spices, cookies, dried legumes and fruits, and more.
Caldas da Rainha's weekly market is held every Monday. The market is a great source for cheap basics including clothes, shoes, linens, tools, and housewares. Plants and small animals are also for sale here. A few kiosks serve down-home Portuguese cooking.
This local sportswear chain was founded in Bombarral in 1982. They carry international brand names—like Adidas, Levi's, Nike, Puma, Timberland—as well as new names to explore. Their forte is footwear, but you'll find clothing and accessories here as well.
Theatre students from the Escola Superior de Arte e Design (ESAD.CR), along with students from other Portuguese and international schools, celebrate the performing arts. Since its first edition in 2011, the audiences have grown ever larger.
This three-star, 55-room hotel is located in the heart of the city's shopping district. Amenities include a sitting area/lounge on each floor, a breakfast room, a cocktail bar, a billiard lounge, meeting rooms, and a business centre.
(pop. 1,344) Coto is the smallest of the municipality's civil parishes. Sights include the Capela de São Jacinto (Chapel of St. Hyacinth), and the Igreja Paroquial de Nossa Senhora dos Anjos (Parish Church of Our Lady of the Angels).
An annual 10-day celebration of Summer in early to mid August at the Expoeste exhibition centre. Visitors taste foods from throughout the communities in Caldas da Rainha municipality and watch folk dancers in traditional costumes.
This three-star, 113-room hotel is located near the city centre, just a block north of the courthouse. Amenities include the Mestre Bordalo restaurant, a piano bar, swimming pool, meeting rooms, and conference facilities.
This three-star, 30-room establishment is centrally located, adjacent to the 20th-century Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Church of Our Lady of the Conception). Amenities include free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Popular with locals from all walks of life, A Lanterna serves hearty Portuguese comfort food at prices that won't break the bank. On Thursdays, they offer the flavours of Angola, a former Portuguese colony in Africa.
This collection of 20 ceramic art works inspired by Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro are spread throughout the city centre. The human figures are about life size, while the animals and plants are mostly larger than life.
(pop. 1,051) Landal, the ''Capital da Codorniz'' (Capital of the Quail), has several chapels in addition to its mother church. There is also a museum dedicated to rural life and another in an old schoolhouse.
Come cheer the local football (soccer) team. Once in the top division, Caldas now plays in Portugal's third division, confusingly called Campeonato de Portugal. The club celebrates its centennial in 2016.
This beer hall specializes in traditional Portuguese cuisine, with an emphasis on shrimp, fish, and beef. They've served the heart of Caldas since 1968 on a narrow lane a block from the farmers' market.
In business since 1952 and currently owned by the founder's son, Ramiro offers both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure men's clothing. Products on offer include suits, shirts, ties, hats, and overcoats.
Late October and early November bring Caldas Nice Jazz, an international festival, with concerts both at the Cultural and Conference Centre (CCC) and at other venues in the city, including outdoors.
This museum is dedicated to the ceramic works produced by the Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro factory next door, including some original pieces by Bordallo Pinheiro himself from the late 19th century.
French hypermarket chain. Can't make it to Paris? You'll feel like you're there. (OK, not really, but the store brand labels include French as well as Portuguese and other European languages.)
Kill two birds with one stone: enjoy your coffee and a pastry while communing with nature in Caldas's main park. With 60 seats inside and 180 outdoors, you're likely to find a roomy space.
Dedicated to the work of sculptor, essayist, and pedagogue Barata Feyo (1899–1990), this museum was designed by the artist's son, architect António Barata Feyo, and opened in 2004.
This two-storey shopping centre is located smack-dab in the heart of the city. The centre is dominated by small businesses. You'll often find yourself attended to by the owner.
A recently renovated bus terminal right in the city centre, serving all out-of-town bus routes. For various trips, such as to Lisbon, the bus is often faster than the train.
(pop. 955) Named for Pope Gregory I (c. 540 – 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, São Gregório remains a land of agriculture, producing mainly fruit and wine.
In addition to tourism information, this new space includes a shop with regional products and artisanal goods, café–restaurant called Fruta da Casa, and loos (restrooms).
Bar 120 specializes in gin and ''tostas'' (toasted sandwiches, a sort of Portuguese ''panini''). Outdoor seating allows guests to enjoy one of Caldas's pleasant plazas.
The only public hospital in Caldas da Rainha, also serving surrounding municipalities. If you experience a medical emergency in town, you'll likely end up here.
Owned by French Group Auchan, which also owns Jumbo supermarkets in Portugal. A leading Portuguese consumer magazine says they have the lowest prices in town.
"The King of Cavacas" (and other regional sweets) sits on the plaza of the thermal hospital. Grab a coffee, a pastry, and an outside table to relax and watch.
Built on the site of and in the style of the venerable Hotel Lisbonense, the SANA Silver Coast Hotel offers four-star accommodation in the heart of the city.
The Arts Centre is a collection of several museums, largely dedicated to sculpture, but also including paintings. Guided tours are available by appointment.
Caldas da Rainha's main exhibition centre hosts a variety of events: car shows, bridal expos, animal exhibitions, toy fairs, holiday parties, and much more.
Sit and enjoy your coffee and pastry, or grab and go. Lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and hot chocolate are complemented by doughnuts, bagels and muffins.
Portuguese hypermarket located near the edge of town. Great variety, including separate health and beauty aids shop and dry cleaning within the building.
The calm waters of this riverside beach near an enclosed bay make Salir do Porto a popular beach destination for families with young children.
Portuguese, continental, and international cuisine among reclaimed wood, salvaged furniture, and homemade art. Menu posted daily on Facebook.
This small museum is dedicated to cycling. In addition to displays about the history of cycling, several historical bicycles are on display.
In partnership with the ''Câmara Municipal'' (city council), GoCaldas offers a trove of information useful in planning your visit to Caldas.
(pop. 1,701) A dos Francos has town (''vila'') status. The Capela do Espírito Santo (Chapel of the Holy Spirit) dates from the 12th century.
Quintessential Portuguese supermarket (despite minority stake owned by a Dutch firm). Their house brand is known for good quality and value.
This German chain is known for low prices, prevalence of house brands rather than internationally-recognized brand names, and spartan decor.
(pop. 16,114) This mostly urban civil parish forms the eastern half of the city, where most of the sites of interest to visitors are found.
In July and August, the city holds numerous events under the Caldas Anima banner: magic, theatre, circus, music, film, festivals and fairs.
Possibly the most upmarket restaurant in Caldas, Sabores d'Italia serves as genuine Italian cuisine as you are likely to find in Portugal.
Learn windsurfing, kitesurfing, catamaran and optimist sailing, stand-up-paddle, canoeing, wakeboarding and water skiing on Óbidos Lagoon.
Sushi and other East Asian morsels go 'round and 'round on a conveyor belt. The food is okay, but it's all about the conveyor experience.
Founded in the 18th century, this café on the city's main square serves a variety of light meals and desserts, as well as coffee and tea.
(pop. 1,339) Foz do Arelho, which holds town (''vila'') status, has an ocean beach on the Atlantic and an inland beach on Óbidos Lagoon.
Fine gifts, including Portuguese brands Atlantis Crystal and Vista Alegre porcelains. Artemis also carries various quality pen brands.
A spartan German chain known for low prices and stocking more house brands than famous ones. Sparse interior, but recently remodeled.
The main performing arts centre in Caldas da Rainha hosts music, theatre, and dance events, as well as conferences and exhibitions.
(pop. 1,155) The economy of this rural community depends on growing fruit and winemaking. Local artisans make wicker baskets.
Three-star hotel at the northern approach to the city. Facilities include bar, restaurant, hot tub, swimming pool, and gym.
Whether using their services or just passing by, don't miss the tile work and the ceramic logo on the side of the building.
This bookshop carries rare, old, and used books. Beyond pricy tomes, the shop carries a large selection of books for €2.50.
Blue and white leafy tiles with green and orange accents. Lovely windows and balconies. An excellent example of the genre.
Modern church built in 1950 to handle the city's growing population. Mostly bright white except for some low-lying tiles.
On May 15th, Caldas da Rainha celebrates itself. Music, fireworks, and the inauguration of civic works mark the occasion.
Inaugurated in 1985 after master sculptor António Duarte (1912–1988) donated his collection to his hometown of Caldas.
Housed in a former royal palace, this museum presents the history of the thermal hospital and of the city of Caldas.
(pop. 3,029) Santa Catarina, which holds town (''vila'') status, is the ''Terra de cutelarias'' (Land of cutlery).
Indian cuisine in a colorful setting. The extensive menu lists over 150 items, including many vegetarian options.
Near Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Pópulo (newer church), city hall, the courthouse, the bus station, and shopping.
Another popular nightlife joint on Praça 5 de Outubro. Enjoy your beverage al fresco in the outdoor esplanade.
This France-based international chain has two locations in Caldas offering dry cleaning and laundry services.
The local bus service operates every 30–35 min on three lines, all of which run through the city centre.
Late May brings Caldas Late Night, a two-day celebration of music, art, performance, multimedia, and design.
(pop. 797) Although it borders the Atlantic, Salir do Porto has only a riverside beach and no ocean beach.
Caldenses honor Our Lady of the Conception each year on August 15 with a funfair, circus, rides, and food.
Like the name says: jeans. They carry Levi's, Lee, Wrangler, No Excess, and Timezone, among other brands.
The Queen stands regally in a traffic circle, facing the park and welcoming visitors to the city centre.
Leafy tiles, ornate stonework, and plaques of ceramicists Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro and Bernard Palissy.
This small city-centre location still manages to pack in a lot of food and other supermarket essentials.
(pop. 11,223) This mostly urban civil parish contains the western half of the city of Caldas da Rainha.
Larger location in Santo Onofre, including a carpark. Includes produce, bakery, and prepackaged meats.
While awaiting your train, enjoy the beautiful tiled walls, showing motifs of local life and history.
Portuguese arm of Spanish hard discounter. You'll find brand names as well as the house brand Dia.
Mannerist and baroque chapel, originally from the 16th century and rebuilt in the 18th century.
Slim four-storey building with brick-like tiles in royal blue and cyan. One of Caldas' best.
(pop. 1,279) Mountains, hills, and valleys offer a beautiful panorama of varied landscape.
Dark green glazed brick tiles with floral and leaf trim in white, green, blue, and pink.
This school offers courses in Portuguese for foreigners, as well as English and Spanish.
International and traditional Portuguese cuisine, with a selection of vegetarian dishes.
A whimsical "garden" with water features, accented with tiles and towering sculptures.
Bowl. Drink. Eat. Repeat. Ten lanes plus snooker, video games, and Thursday karaoke.
This self-service launderette also offers pressing, mending, and delivery services.
Make an appointment to visit this winery and its vineyards. Tastings are available.
The three-star, 18-room establishment is located across from the city's main park.
(pop. 1,904) Located on Óbidos Lagoon, Nadadouro offers aquatic and camping fun.
(pop. 3,561) North of the city. The most populous civil parish outside the city.
Accompany your beer or shots with DJs playing indie, electronic, funk, and rock.
(pop. 703) The least populous civil parish. Its cliffs overlook the Atlantic.
In late August, Caldas celebrates fruits in the park. Food and drink abound.
Opened in 1994 to display the works of sculptor João Fragoso (1913–2000).
Typical Portuguese cooking, specializing in fish. In business since 1961.
For your surfing, skating, bodyboard, BMX, and other action sports needs.
The bright green tiles include lettering touting the baked goods inside.
The smaller city-centre location. Includes butcher, produce, and bakery.
The main public health clinic in Caldas. Appointment may be necessary.
Built in 1749, this baroque fountain is noted for its five spigots.
Owned by the same parent company as the larger Continente Modelo.
Welcome the new year with music and fireworks in the main square.
(pop. 2,987) Holds a popular Sunday market, Mercado de Santana.
Homey traditional Portuguese food, with an emphasis on steak.
Traditional Portuguese cuisine in a rustic country setting.
Private club offering recreational and cultural activities.
Theatre troupe that puts on several productions each year.
The PSP patrol urban areas, such as the city of Caldas.
Three-star accommodation across from the lagoon beach.
This denomination was founded in Portugal in 1984.
Sixteenth-century mannerist and baroque chapel.
Everybody's favorite guys and gals in uniform.
Quirky fast food, ice cream, coffee, and more.
The GNR patrol rural areas and highways.
Indoor go-karting on a 315 m track.
Portuguese and international cuisine.
"Mega" location, north of the city.
Larger location in Santo Onofre.