Leiria is the name of both a city and a region with a long and varied heritage – ancient castles, battle sites from the Christian Reconquest, convents and monasteries plus large tracts of historic pine forests.
This region traditionally produces food, wine, ceramics, art glass and crystal with industries such as rush and reed crafts, quarrying, farming and fishing.
There are museums – caves – dinosaur tracks (the real thing) – serras – theatre and associated arts.
Ever present is the Atlantic with amazingly long stretches of sandy beach, backed by dunes and pine forest in the main, but sometimes by dramatic rocky cliffs as at Nazaré and San Pedro do Moel.
Inland and nearby are the ancient castles of Leiria, Montemor-o-Velho, Ourém, Penela, Pombal and Porto do Mós; the world famous religious shrine at Fatimá, plus renowned historical sites such as Alcobaça, Aljubarrota, Batalha, Caldas da Rainha, Coimbra, Conimbriga, Óbidos, Tomar (once the home of the Knights Templar). You can walk high in the Serras and visit the cave systems of the Serra dos Candieiros; it is also possible to visit the site where you can see the footprints made by the dinosaurs that inhabited this region so very many years ago.
Leiria – the City
The historic centre is dominated by the Castle high above the streets – visit it for a grandstand view of the city and surrounding area; explore the side streets to see some old, traditionally tiled buildings, venerable churches, the Sé cathedral, museums and art galleries. There are squares with bars and cafés to sit and relax; boutiques, small shops, shopping centres such as the Maringa and internationally famous stores to visit for a little retail therapy. You will find pastelaries, cafés and restaurants serving everything from snacks to five course meals with varied cuisines – visit at night for a different ambiance and see things from a different angle.
You will find the Turismo at the end of the park in the centre, opposite the fountains in the modern square, for the latest information; open-air parking is free near the football stadium and municipal swimming pool plus there are reasonably priced underground car parks in the centre with metered on-street parking closer to the centre and the bus station.