Best Things To Do in Penacova: Top Attractions You Must Visit

Penacova o que visitar
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Here’s everything you need to know about the best things to do in Penacova, the Lamprey Capital, this year! Suggestions of the best places to visit, where to stay overnight, and exciting activities for a weekend. Explore scenic hiking trails, the Mondego River, relax at the Reconquinho River Beach, and discover charming local restaurants.

Penacova belongs to the district of Coimbra, located in the Central region of Portugal.

It’s known as the Lamprey Capital because every year, in February, the Lamprey Festival takes place in Penacova, featuring the famous lamprey rice. The Confraria da Lampreia, or Lamprey Brotherhood, is located in Penacova.

However, there is much to see in Penacova throughout the year. For instance, the river beaches that attract tourists during the summer.

In fact, the Reconquinho river beach was named the most beautiful Portuguese beach by National Geographic in 2019.

Moreover, it’s a must-visit stop for those traveling along the National Road 2.

Other tourist attractions in Penacova include the Livraria do Mondego, a natural monument crafted from quartzites resembling books, and the Monastery of Santa Maria do Lorvão.

As you can see, there are many reasons to include Penacova in your weekend itinerary.

Best Things To Do an Visit in Penacova

Penacova o que visitar
Garden at Largo Alberto Leitão.

To make organizing your trip easier, we’ll divide the suggestions of places to visit in Penacova into two main groups.

On one hand, what to visit in the town center, and on the other, tips for excursions a little further away from the center.

Explore the center of Penacova

Igreja Matriz de Penacova / Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção.
Igreja Matriz de Penacova / Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunção.
Câmara Municipal de Penacova.
Town Hall of Penacova.
O que ver em Penacova.
Best things to do and see in Penacova.
Visitar o centro da vila de Penacova.
Best Things To Do in Penacova: explore the center.

The center of Penacova village is quite pleasant for strolling.

Thus, you have the Garden of Largo Alberto Leitão where you can take a suggestive photograph of the National Road 2 and peek towards the Mondego River.

In fact, take the opportunity to get a perspective on the Reconquinho river beach and if you have time, include a closer visit.

Take some time to walk through the streets of the center before returning to the car to visit four more must-see places: the Vitorino Nemésio Mill Museum, the Mondego Bookstore, the Lorvão Monastery, and the Atalhada Serra Mills.

Visit the Vitorino Nemésio Mill Museum

The Vitorino Nemésio Mill Museum is located 9 km from Penacova and its mission is to preserve the history of wind and water mills, as well as the memory of millers.

It is, in fact, a mill that served as a holiday residence for the writer Vitorino Nemésio and was donated to the municipality, which restored it.

Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month, but on other days it costs 2 EUR (free for children up to 12 years old).

Take a Boat Trip on the Barca Serrana

Visitar Penacova.
The best of Penacova: Barca Serrana.

For those who enjoy reliving the past, a ride on the traditional Barca Serrana is a must.

The Barca Serrana is a wooden boat that was used for transporting people and goods between Figueira da Foz and Coimbra.

From Figueira da Foz, the Barca Serrana would depart loaded with salt and pick up firewood and brushwood in Penacova for the bakeries in Coimbra.

Students from Coimbra also used to travel on the Barca Serrana.

The Barca Serrana has long lost its function of transporting goods, as today it is a tourist attraction that takes tourists on excursions on the Mondego River. One of the best things to do in Penacova.

So, if you want to experience the Barca Serrana and feel what it’s like to ride a boat on the Mondego River in Penacova, you just need to head to the Reconquinho River Beach.

There is a parking lot near this river beach, but if you prefer to leave your car parked in the center of the village of Penacova, there is an alternative path in the Jardim do Largo Alberto Leitão.

Visit Livraria do Mondego

Rio Mondego.
Best things to do in Penacova: Mondego River.

The Livraria do Mondego is a natural monument, in rock, whose erosion has made it resemble books arranged on a shelf.

At the base of this natural phenomenon runs the Mondego River, hence the suggestive name of Mondego Bookstore.

Finally, note that the best place to observe it is on National Road 2, towards Mortágua.

Visit the Monastery of Lorvão

The history of the Monastery of Lorvão dates back to the 6th century, but over time it underwent several renovations, both in terms of construction and function.

Thus, it served as a male monastery, a female monastery, and a psychiatric hospital over its 14 centuries of history.

A visit to the cloister is a must, but be sure to include in your itinerary a stop at the main altar, the choir, and take a peek at the Iberian Double-Sided Organ.

Explore the Windmills of Serra da Atalhada

The Windmills of Serra da Atalhada are windmills located in the village of Friume.

In total, there are 23 windmills perched on the Serra da Atalhada, which used the wind currents to do their job, that is, to grind cereals.

They are no longer used for grinding, but it is still a very interesting place to visit.

Travel tip: also check out the Apúlia Windmills in Esposende!

River Beaches in Penacova

Praia Fluvial do Reconquinho.
Reconquinho river beach.

The most well-known river beaches in Penacova are Reconquinho and Vimieiro.

In fact, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Reconquinho River Beach was considered the most beautiful beach in Portugal by National Geographic in 2019 and is located just a few minutes from the center.

On the other hand, the Vimieiro River Beach is located 14 km from Penacova, which should not be an impediment to visiting.

So, take the opportunity to have lunch or dinner at the “O Vimieiro” restaurant and then explore the area around the watermill.

Trilhos e Caminhos Pedestres em Penacova

Trilhos em Penacova (Penacova Trails).
Penacova trails.

In Penacova, there are several marked trails for hiking enthusiasts.

If you only have one day to explore the village, my suggestion is the Penacova and Mondego River trail, which passes through the Reconquinho River Beach. However, there are other suggestions that I’ll mention below.

  • PR 1 – PENACOVA AND THE MONDEGO RIVER: 6 km, circular, 2h30, medium difficulty;
  • PR 2 – ON THE ROUTE OF THE BUÇACO MILLS: 10.50 km, 4h15, circular, medium difficulty;
  • PR 4 – ARCOS RIVER: 13 km, 5h, difficult;
  • PR 5 – MONDEGO BOOKSTORE: 11 km, 2h30m, circular, medium difficulty.

Travel tip: Download the informational brochures with maps, points of interest along the trails, and other technical information about the trails.

Trails in Penacova

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    Accommodation in Penacova

    Piscina do Montebelo Aguieira Lake Resort & Spa.
    Pool at Montebelo Aguieira Lake Resort & Spa.
    Área infantil do Montebelo Aguieira Lake Resort & Spa.
    Kids playground at Montebelo Aguieira Lake Resort & Spa.

    Penacova is an excellent place to spend a few days, so if you’re looking for accommodation suggestions in the center of the village, my recommendation is the Altíssima Guesthouse Penacova.

    Another alternative is the Montebelo Aguieira Lake Resort & Spa (5 stars), which is located about 11 km from Penacova.

    If neither of these recommendations appeals to you, then take a look at other accommodations in Penacova below.

    Hotels in Penacova

    Map and How To get To Penacova

    From Lisboa

    From Porto

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