Castelo de Bode: river beaches & floating pools in Central Portugal

Albufeira de Castelo de Bode: praia fluvial Aldeia do Mato.
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Last Updated on 2023-01-30

Comfortably nestled between mountains and valleys, the dam of Castelo de Bode is a paradise for holidaymakers in Central Portugal.

It covers territories of five municipalities (Abrantes, Ferreira do Zêzere, Sertã, Tomar and Vila de Rei) and is the second largest hydrographic basin in Portugal, with 60 km, just after the Alqueva Dam, in Alentejo.

The lake is dotted with beautiful deserted islands, where some of the best river beaches in Portugal are located, known for their mild waters and floating pools.

Not only are there many opportunities for leisurely walks along the Zêzere River, there is also no shortage of options for those looking for adventure. The region is excellent for fans of water sports and hiking, in addition to having a rich history, with legends and stories of the Knights Templar.

In this article, we are going to share some of our favorite river beaches, recommend the best viewpoints and walking routes, give tips for exploring the area and finding the best accommodation.

All you have to do is pack your bags and leave for this getaway to Castelo de Bode. Do you accept the challenge?

Best things to see and do in Castelo de Bode?

Piscina flutuante na praia fluvial de Aldeia do Mato.
Floating pool in Aldeia do Mato.

Explore the region’s waterfalls and river beaches

The river beaches of Castelo de Bode are famous!

It’s just that the distance and access to the country’s coastline are not that easy. Therefore, there was a large investment in providing infrastructure to the river beaches for the enjoyment of residents and to attract tourists to the region.

The result is a paradise for visitors: beaches with warm, transparent water, with few or no waves, reasonable access by car and floating pools.

There are also bathrooms, barbecues, green areas, sand, bars and restaurants in several of these areas.

Also, it’s usual for people to spread out across the region and you can drive a few km and you’re already on another beach!

There is something special for anyone visiting the Castelo de Bode river beaches!

Visit the Templar village of Dornes

Aldeia Templária de Dornes na Albufeira de Castelo de Bode.
The Templar village of Dornes.

Dornes, located in Ferreira do Zêzere, central Portugal, is often referred to as the Enchanted Peninsula or Terra Mitica of Templars.

This small village is located on a picturesque peninsula surrounded by the river Zêzere and is home to the unique pentagonal Templar Tower of Dornes.

A visit to Dornes is a must for anyone looking to discover some of the most beautiful villages in Portugal.

To get to Dornes, driving is the most comfortable and economical option. The village is within easy reach of major cities such as Santarém, Leiria and Coimbra, with journey times of around an hour.

For those who do not have their own transport, it is recommended to rent a car to explore the region.

Despite its small size, Dornes is rich in history and has already been voted one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal – Villages. The village has a special meaning in relation to the Knights Templar with many legends and stories yet to be discovered within its walls.

Furthermore, in Dornes you can do the Dornes Trail PR1 Vigia do Zêzere or go diving on the river beach of Dornes. In this case, take a look at the boat rental stand if you want to take a walk on the reservoir.

Hiking and walking trails

Trilhos na Albufeira de Castelo de Bode: Capela de São Pedro do Castro.
Trails in Castelo de Bode Reservoir: Chapel of São Pedro do Castro.

Are you already imagining the beautiful landscapes that you can enjoy on the banks of Castelo de Bode reservoir?

It’s not just the view of the lake that is beautiful, walking the trails in this area of central Portugal is an incredible experience!

One of the best-known trails is the Pedestrian Trail of Lago Azul, which is about 13 km long, and takes about 4 hours to complete.

In this case, in addition to going around Lago Azul, there is also a bonus visit to the Chapel of São Pedro do Castro.

Practice water sports

Desportos náuticos em Dornes.
Water sports in Dornes.

Do you like boating, windsurfing, sailing, jet skiing or wakeboarding? Or do you prefer quieter activities like swimming or pedal boating?

Then Castelo de Bode is the destination for you!

The Nautical Station of Castelo de Bode has recently become one of the most attractive destinations in the region, because of the nautical activities that can be practiced there.

Accommodation near the Albufeira de Castelo de Bode

When choosing accommodation in Castelo de Bode, the main difficulty can be the number of options to choose from.

I stayed at the Hotel Cavaleiros de Cristo in Tomar, but honestly, if it were today, I would have preferred elsewhere. For example Aldeias do Zêzere-Pátio dos Caseiros because of the proximity to the River Beach of Aldeia do Mato.

Another hotels with excellent location is Lago Azul Eco Hotel in Ferreira do Zêzere, as well as the Hotel Segredos De Vale Manso, in Martinchel.

These accommodations are located at different locations of the Castelo de Bode dam/reservoir, but very close to the respective river beaches.

However, if none of these suggestions satisfy your needs, check the prices and availability of accommodation in Castelo de Bode below!

The river beaches in Albufeira de Castelo de Bode

Praia fluvial de Fontes (Castelo de Bode).
Fontes river beach (Castelo de Bode).

I already mentioned that the river beaches in Castelo de Bode are one of the best tourist attractions in the region.

And believe me, it’s worth exploring these little paradises in the interior of Portugal! Usually, they are small beaches, with sand or grass, leisure spaces such as floating pools, picnic areas, support spaces such as bathrooms and restaurants, in short, everything you need for a relaxed holiday.

The best known river beaches are the river beaches of Aldeia do Mato (Abrantes), the beach of Castanheira or Lago Azul (Ferreira do Zêzere) and the beach of Trízio (Sertã).

However, don’t let yourself be limited by the attractions of the moment and explore other places such as Bairradinha, also known as Praia Fluvial da Bairrada, which is located on the border between the municipalities of Tomar and Ferreira do Zêzere, as well as Praia Fluvial do Alqueidão (Tomar), which overlooks the once famous Ilha do Lombo.

On the other hand, Praia Fluvial da Zaboeira and Praia Fluvial de Fernandaires, both in the municipality of Vila de Rei, are good options for a few days of sunbathing with the family, as well as the smaller, but no less interesting, Praia Fluvial of Fontes (Abrantes).

Finally, to end the itinerary along the river beaches of Albufeira de Castelo de Bode, and if you still have time, take a trip to the river beach of Casalinho, or Alverangel (Tomar).

Viewpoints on the Albufeira de Castelo de Bode

Miradouro Lago Azul (Ferreira do Zêzere).
Viewpoint Lago Azul (Ferreira do Zêzere).

The viewpoints are excellent places to enjoy the landscape, and the good news is that most of the viewpoints in Castelo de Bode are identified, that is, you no longer need to ask locals which are the best viewpoints!

So, when you are driving your car, you will see signs indicating the respective viewpoints and, usually, there is a place to park the car for a few minutes safely.

By the way, these spaces usually have tables and benches if you want to take a break from your journey while enjoying the scenery.

That said, and recognizing that what I’m going to say next is 100% personal, my favorite viewpoints overlooking Castelo de Bode are the Aldeia do Mato and Lago Azul viewpoints.

Why is it called Castelo de Bode?

There are some theories that try to explain the name of Castelo de Bode, however, they are just assumptions and do not seem to have a credible historical basis.

In any case, one of the hypotheses for the name is related to the construction of the dam, that is, when the area was being studied for the future dam, a group of engineers saw a stone with the inscriptions of a castle and the head of a goat, meaning “Bode”.

The,, to give the dam a name, they thought it would be a good idea to recover the history of the stone and the goat, and named the dam Castelo de Bode.

Why visit the Castelo de Bode?

Miradouro Aldeia do Mato.
Aldeia do Mato viewpoint.

Everyone must have their own reasons for visiting the Castelo de Bode, however, in my case, it was the curiosity to discover the river beaches that everyone was talking about!

In other words, the buzz around river beaches with crystalline waters, without waves and with floating pools in Centro de Portugal was the main reason that led me to take a family roadtrip in the region.

Also, I noticed that there are several trails ideal for walking with my children, and many great places to have picnics.

The result: wonderful days spent with the family in contact with nature, which will certainly be repeated during the next school holidays!

When to visit the Castelo de Bode?

The best time to visit the Castelo de Bode Dam for those who want to enjoy the river beaches are the summer months, that is, between June and September.

Usually, the season of the river beaches of Castelo de Bode starts on the 15th of June and ends on the 15th of September, that is, three full months to enjoy the floating pools, as well as the bars and restaurants.

However, if you prefer hiking, then the cooler months of April, May and October are best.

In this months, you’ll probably have nice weather for walking, but you won’t have to worry about crowds rushing to the river beaches.

How many days to visit the Castelo de Bode Dam?

Desportos náuticos em Ferreira do Zêzere (Castelo de Bode).
Water sports in Ferreira do Zêzere (Castelo de Bode).

To get to know and enjoy the river beaches of Castelo de Bode, you will need at least three days, that is, two nights in the region.

Of course, you won’t visit all, as there is a lot to see and do in the region, but I believe that a weekend in Castelo de Bode is a good start.

In fact, if you like Castelo de Bode as much as we do, you can try staying in different municipalities and choose the region you like best.

Restaurants near Castelo de Bode

Personally, I like having family picnics. I take food from home or buy it at markets and we sit on a blanket that has been with us for years and that rarely leaves the trunk of the car.

However, I must confess that from time to time it feels good to sit on an esplanade, and if it’s with a view of Castelo de Bode, even better.

So, if you don’t want to take off your bathing suit, the restaurant/snack bar at Praia Fluvial da Aldeia do Mato is open in summer.

Also, Sabores da Albufeira (241 105 809) belongs to the Hotel Segredos de Vale Manso and has an incredible view of the reservoir.

Finally, Sabor da Pedra in Alverangel (918 227 432) has a careful list and fame to match.

What to visit around Castelo de Bode?

Castelo de Almourol.
Almourol castle.

In the area of Castelo de Bode there is a lot to see and do, however, if you want to add a few days to visit nearby places, here are some suggestions.

Thus, Constância is only 10 km away, while to visit Tomar you will only have to drive 13 km.

A little further, but still well worth including in your itinerary, Almourol Castle is 15 km away. Abrantes is located about 19 km from Castelo de Bode and is an excellent place to stay for a few days.

Where is Castelo de Bode located?

The Castelo de Bode Dam is located in the district of Santarém, in the center of Portugal.

It is approximately 210 kilometers from Porto and 137 kilometers from Lisbon.

To get there, you can drive along the A1, both in the Porto-Lisbon direction and in the opposite direction.

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