Best Things To Do and Visit in Ourém, Portugal (UPDATED)

A Chave ou o Labirinto no Castelo de Ourém.
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2024-01-25

Take note of what to do and visit in Ourém, Portugal, while getting to know the love story hidden in the choice of the name of this town.

Who never wanted to live a beautiful love story? The ones that are told in books, that make us dream and that are perpetuated for generations?

In Ourém there is a story like this that deserves to be told. The legend of a forbidden love in times of war, between a Catholic knight and a Moorish princess, and which served as the motto for exploring the region.

It was, therefore, with an eye clearly suggested that I went to discover Ourém.

Always looking for the most beautiful and authentic, I found a charming medieval village, crowned by a castle of princesses and with a unique wine.

At Agroal, I walked along the walkways and took a dip in the therapeutic waters of the Nabão River, trapped in a convenient river beach, frequented by locals and tourists alike.

A few kilometers further on, it was time to travel to the Middle Jurassic period at the Dinosaur Footprints Natural Monument, which my children, my loves, loved.

To finish off a script inspired by a love story, it was time to immerse myself in the mystical aura of Fátima.

Then give me your hand and let’s discover a fascinating region together! Save this article or make a note in your notebook of suggestions for what to do and visit in Ourém. And be aware that Ourém, in Portugal, is a serious case of love at first sight!

The Legend of Princess Fátima who became Oureana

A Lenda da Princesa Fátima e Oureana.
The Legend of Princess Fátima and Oureana.

Legend has it that in 1158, at the time of the Christian reconquest, the Christian knight Gonçalo Hermingues, nobleman of the court of Dom Afonso Henriques and known as Traga-Mouros, saw a beautiful princess on top of a tower on the side of Alcácer do Sal.

She was Fatima, the emir’s only daughter who was betrothed to her cousin Abu.

However, things don’t always go as planned, and the Christian knight fell in love with the young Muslim princess.

For protection and at the behest of her father, Fátima rarely left the tower where she lived with her maids, but it was known that she would be part of the procession of the Festival of Lights. It was the perfect opportunity to change the course of history.

Gonçalo Hermingues and his men invaded the party and kidnapped the princess. Abu hurried to rescue the betrothed princess, but perished in the clash with the Christians.

The two lovers were married after Fátima converted to Christianity, adopting the name Oureana.

In honor of this love story, the town where the couple initially settled was renamed Fátima, the Muslim name of the princess, and a few kilometers away, where they lived for some time, it was the turn of Oureana, the Christian name of the princess, which has evolved into Ourém today.

This is just one version where historical facts, folklore and popular legends intertwine to embody a love story in this exciting region of the Middle Tagus.

Best Things To Do and See in Ourém, Portugal

Now that we embark on this journey to uncover the treasures of Ourém, let me introduce you to a realm brimming with rich heritage and captivating stories.

Prepare to be captivated by the allure of this remarkable territory, where the spirit of its people and their tales breathe life into every corner.

In the company of Deolinda, a wise and knowledgeable guide, I ventured through the majestic castle that stood as a testament to the town’s history.

Inês from Ucharia do Conde, an enthusiastic local, shared her infectious passion for the region, leaving an indelible mark on my heart.

Countless other individuals whose names may have slipped my memory, but their kindness resonates within me to this day.

As we traverse through the forthcoming suggestions, let me enthrall you with intriguing insights, enticing attractions, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Picture yourself stepping back in time, surrounded by the architectural marvels and cultural marvels that make Ourém a treasure trove of wonder.

Stay with me until the end of this journey, and I promise to unveil the secrets and unveil the hidden gems that lie within the tapestry of Ourém, in Portugal.

Together, we will immerse ourselves in a world where heritage and stories intertwine, creating an unforgettable experience that will linger in our hearts.

Travel tip: the Route of Vila de Ourém is a suggested route with a length of 4 km and a minimum duration of 90 minutes. It starts at Porta da Vila, continues through the Main Church, Gothic Fountain, Pelourinho next to the old Town Hall, Terreiro de São Tiago, Castelo and Paço do Conde, and ends at the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição.

Visit the Medieval Village of Ourém, in Portugal

Vila Medieval de Ourém.
Best Things To Do in Ourém, Portugal: visit the Medieval Village.

At the top of the hill rests peacefully the Medieval Village of Ourém. Seen from below it seems empty of life, but it is full of interesting things to see.

The narrow cobbled streets are not friendly for exploring by car, so I park at the village gates and follow the path on foot.

I immediately come across the imposing Igreja Matriz, also known as Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Misericórdias, Collegiate Church of Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia or of Visitation.

The main door of the church is only open for ceremonies on Saturdays and Sundays, but you can enter through the side and visit the 18th century church every day.

In the crypt rests the tomb reputed to be one of the most perfect of its time: the tomb of Dom Afonso, the fourth Count of Ourém.

I continued on towards the Castle and Palace of the Condes de Ourém, observing the punctual buildings of Gothic and Pombaline architecture. An open-air museum for anyone who wants to enjoy it!

The magnificent castle deserves special attention, so below you will find a complete section dedicated to this National Monument.

But what is important to mention now is that the adult ticket to the castle entitles you to a tasting of Medieval wine or ginjinha at Ucharia do Conde. And that’s where we’re going to cut our journey short.

The Conde’s Ucharia: A Taste of History and Delight in Ourém, Portugal

Ucharia do Conde.
Ucharia do Conde.

Warmly greeted by a beaming smile, young Inês shared her fervor for Ucharia—a place brimming with captivating tales. Listening to passionate accounts from those genuinely enchanted by their craft is an absolute pleasure.

Among the intriguing revelations, I discovered that “ucharia” is a medieval term denoting a pantry. Fascinatingly, the name was chosen due to the site’s previous functions: a prison until the catastrophic 1755 earthquake and later transformed into a pantry.

In our conversation, we delved into the unique qualities of Medieval Wine—a sip of this historic nectar had enticed me to Ucharia do Conde.

With over 800 years of heritage, its origin can be traced back to the vines that thrive on the castle’s slopes. The distinct blend of white and red grapes defines the character of this region’s wine, best enjoyed chilled.

For those seeking an alternative, the sweet ginjinha de Ourém offers a delightful choice. However, I must confess that I was captivated by the refreshing notes of the Medieval Wine.

Ucharia do Conde not only hosts wine tastings complemented by regional delicacies like cheese, sausages, and olive oil but also indulges with delightful handmade lemon biscuits.

When departing, select from an array of local treasures such as honey, sweets, and other delicacies to savor the essence of Ourém in your own home.

Before bidding farewell, I savored a little more time wandering the picturesque streets of the Medieval Village of Ourém, savoring the charm that enveloped every corner.

The Castle and Palace of the Counts of Ourém (Palácio dos Condes de Ourém, em Portugal)

O Castelo e Paço dos Condes de Ourém.
Best Things To Do in Ourém: visit the Castle and Palace of the Condes de Ourém.

Visiting the Castle and Palace of the Condes de Ourém is like taking a trip back in time to the 12th century. And what a trip!

To make the most of the experience, nothing better than being accompanied by someone who knows the castle’s stories and is proud to share them.

I had Deolinda for company, who explained to me and my children how it is organized and what to see in each section of Castelo de Ourém. Without her precious information, the visit would not be so rich, so I recommend that you take the guided tour of the castle.

We start at Paço dos Condes, the residence of Dom Afonso and where the ticket office, auditorium and an exhibition are located, followed by the remaining areas of the castle.

It is very interesting to see the before and after of the cleaning and restoration works at Castelo de Ourém, which are immortalized in photographs in the exhibition.

Then we went to the 12th century castle to see a film about the origins of the region, and where the legend of Princess Fatima is explained, among other historical events.

It was an excellent introduction to what still remained to be seen: the cistern, the castle towers, the Terreiro de Santiago with the sculpture of Dom Nunes Álvares Pereira (the third Count of Ourém), the labyrinth, the bridge, the turret where the guards, the betrayal door and the amphitheater.

Agroal River Beach (Praia Fluvial do Agroal): Where Nature and Tranquility Meet

Praia Fluvial do Agroal.
Agroal River Beach and pool.

It is no longer one of the best kept secrets in the region, as many tourists in the summer head towards Praia Fluvial do Agroal.

There are several reasons for Agroal to be on the list of things to do in Ourém, but I would say that the beauty of the place should be the most relevant.

Parking spaces fill up quickly on hot summer days, so go early to make the most of the baths at Praia Fluvial do Agroal.

They say that the waters of the Nabão River are medicinal, with therapeutic benefits in skin and gastrointestinal diseases. Perhaps for this reason, people insist on staying inside the precious liquid for long periods of time.

I realize it’s hard to leave the river beach! After the first impact of the cold water, the body gets used to the gentle massage of the current and the eyes are delighted with the immense green scenery.

It’s as if time runs more slowly and the heartbeat of vacationers slows down to be in balance with the flow of the river. So it’s an excellent self-love exercise.

This must be what happens when Man and Nature are in full harmony.

Passadiços do Agroal.
What to do in Ourém: walk along the Agroal Walkways.

For hiking lovers, my suggestion is that you leave your car parked next to the Nature Park and walk along the Agroal Walkways to the river beach.

In addition to having the advantage of having more parking spaces, you can exercise while walking along a trail that crosses an area of very interesting nature.

The Dinosaur Footprints Natural Monument (Monumento Natural das Pegadas dos Dinossáurios)

Monumento Natural das Pegadas dos Dinossáurios.
Best Things to visit in Ourém: the Dinosaur Footprints Natural Monument.

Step into the Past, Exploring the Enchanting Dinosaur Footprints Natural Monument.

The visit to the Dinosaur Footprints Natural Monument in Serra de Aire begins with an explanatory video about the region in the Middle Jurassic, and shows how the footprints probably appeared on the rocks.

Then it’s time to explore the interactive museum, with information about dinosaurs and only at the end can we go to the terrain to see the famous footprints.

It’s hard not to get carried away by imagination as I walk along the marks left in the Dinosaur Footprints Natural Monument.

By the way, it wasn’t just me! My children constructed elaborate movie plots starring sauropods that invariably ended up on the footprint trail. You see, some footprints are one meter in diameter, which attests to the greatness of these animals.

We feel small before the image of these giants and fragile when confronted with the roughness of the quarry. Nothing a tight hug can’t fix.

Fátima, its Sanctuary and the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity

Santuário de Fátima.
Best Things to Do and visit in Ourém, Portugal: visit Santuário de Fátima.

It is in the city of Fátima that you can find the largest Sanctuary of Marian worship in Europe, but do non-Catholics have reason to include this place in their itinerary?

I would say yes, because the charm of Fátima goes beyond the grandeur of the sanctuary, the basilica and the story of the little shepherds.

In fact, I believe it is the ideal way to end this passionate journey through the region.

It is the gateway for millions of tourists and pilgrims a year and, personally, I am always moved by the manifestations of faith in Fátima.

I keep imagining the trials that pilgrims went through who paid promises on their knees, with their heads bowed and while praying the rosary.

They cross themselves when they pass the Little Chapel of Apparitions and slow down when they reach the comforting shade of the holm oak tree where the Virgin Mary appeared.

A few meters away, in Tocheiro das Velas, wax burns uninterruptedly towards the heavens, hoping to carry with it the prayers to those who deserve it.

The closed faces and watery eyes intoxicated by the smoke of the pilgrims resulted in the creation of an imaginary picture in my mind, which is still with me today.

Despair or proof of love, it is impossible to remain indifferent to what happens in this enigmatic city.

Helpful Accommodation Choices in Ourém, Portugal: Where to Rest in Tranquility

Hotel em Fátima.
Hotel in Fátima.

When it comes to more practical matters like finding the perfect place to rest your head in Ourém, I’m here to assist you. Although love and passion are important, a good night’s sleep is equally essential for a well-rounded experience.

To truly savor the region without feeling rushed, I recommend staying for at least a couple of nights. The good news is that you’ll find a variety of accommodation options to suit your preferences.

Whether you desire the comfort of a four-star hotel, the cozy charm of a family-run guesthouse, the convenience of centrally located apartments, or the authentic ambiance of local lodgings, you won’t be short of choices.

Both Ourém and the nearby town of Fátima offer accommodation options, but if you prefer a quieter and less bustling atmosphere, I suggest staying in Ourém.

However, Fátima provides a range of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences. Personally, I stayed at the Dona Amélia Hotel by RIDAN Hotels, conveniently located just 10 minutes from the Sanctuary of Fátima, and I enjoyed their excellent breakfast offerings.

With numerous hotels available, I recommend using the provided link and map below to select the perfect hotel that meets your specific needs and desires.

Take your time in choosing your accommodation and ensure it aligns with your preferences, allowing you to relax and rejuvenate during your stay in this enchanting region.

Hotels in Ourém, Portugal

Hotels in Fátima, Portugal.

Indulge in Culinary Delights: Dining Experiences in Ourém and Fátima

Restaurante O Pereira em Fátima.
O Pereira Restaurant, in Fátima.

As the saying goes, love often stirs up our appetite, and after a day of exploration, it’s essential to refuel with satisfying meals.

During my time in the municipality of Ourém, I had the pleasure of sampling various flavors, but two restaurants truly stood out, offering unforgettable dining experiences.

Restaurante O Pereira, a beacon of traditional Portuguese cuisine, captured my heart with its refined flavors and aromas reminiscent of cherished homemade meals. The culinary delights served here evoke the warmth and comfort of grandma’s kitchen.

On the other hand, Enigma takes the crown when it comes to burgers! Now, before you dismiss the idea of recommending a burger joint in Fátima, let me assure you that Enigma’s burgers are far from ordinary.

This establishment takes burger craftsmanship to new heights, surprising even the most discerning palates. While their craft beers are renowned, what truly impressed me were the extraordinary flavor combinations showcased in their burgers.

Prepare to embark on a culinary adventure as you savor these exceptional creations that push the boundaries of traditional burger fare.

Whether you seek a nostalgic taste of Portuguese cuisine or crave the inventive and tantalizing flavors of gourmet burgers, Ourém and Fátima offer an array of dining options to satisfy every craving.

Allow yourself to be enticed by these extraordinary culinary experiences that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your journey.

Como chegar a Ourém?

Castelo e Paço dos Condes de Ourém.
Best Things To Do in Ourém, Portugal: visit the Castle and Paço dos Condes.

How to Reach Ourém: A Traveler’s Guide

Situated in the Santarém district, within the central region of Portugal, the Municipality of Ourém beckons travelers with its captivating allure.

If you’re departing from Porto, you have a couple of routes to consider. Taking the A1 or the A1 followed by the A13, you can anticipate a journey of approximately 2 hours. For those starting their journey from Lisbon, simply take the A1 northbound, and in about 1 hour and 30 minutes, you’ll arrive at your destination.

Once you reach the city of Ourém, you’ll find yourself a mere 10 kilometers away from Fátima, a short distance that can be covered in just a few minutes.

If you don’t have access to a private vehicle, fret not! There are alternative transportation options available to ensure your seamless journey.

Consider exploring the prices of car rentals in Ourém, Portugal, which can provide you with the flexibility to navigate the region at your own pace.

Additionally, the Expressos network and Flixbus are reliable choices for those seeking bus travel. With daily bus services operating between Porto or Lisbon and Fátima, you’ll find convenient connections to aid your exploration.

Wishing you a delightful and fulfilling journey as you embark on your adventures in Ourém. May your time in this enchanting destination be brimming with joy and discovery!

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