Oliveira do Hospital

West of the beautiful
Serra da Estrela mountains

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Oliveira do hospital


Oliveira do Hospital (district of Coimbra) is situated between 400 and 500 metres above sea-level at the west-side of the Serra da Estrela mountains. Around 20.000 people are living in the area. The region was already inhabited in pre-historic times. It's name comes from the 2nd. crusade when a hospital was built there for wounded pilgrims.

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General information

Although Oliveira do Hospital is not close to a highway, there are several national roads from the north and south-east leading to it which gives it a good reachability. South of Oliveira do Hospital going eastwards on the N230 towards Covilhã, you will have beautiful views all around you because it runs alongside the Serra da Estrela and westwards towards Coimbra you will be descending several hundreds of metres on the N17 as a result of which you will find numerous of types of landscapes.

If you're looking for a place to stay the night or for a longer period of time you will have no problems at all because in the whole area there are many hotels, b&b´s, houses and campings / camperspots in the town and villages as well as in between them. A lot of them are situated near rivers or lakes with lovely beaches.

There are many smaller and larger villages that belong to the municipality of Oliveira do Hospital, therefore you will find whatever you need in all kinds of shops and supermarkets all around the area and there's always a café or restaurant with a terrace around to have a drink or a typical Portuguese "pastel de nata" with a cup of coffee or tea. Weekly or monthly there are markets in several places, you will have no trouble whatsoever finding one.

Although the municipality of Oliveira do Hospital has no big cities, the town itself has a large industrial zone with companies in all kinds of branches open to the public. Whatever you need, there will be no need to drive a long way to Coimbra or Viseu, because the area itself has everything.

As for the medical and social helpsystem, you will find that the town itself as well as the villages around it has many doctors, medical centres, dentists and therapists as well as a segurança social and a special department for foreigners to offer help after settling.
Ofcourse: as Oliveira do Hospital has an important function in the region there are several banks, lawyers, sollicitadoras, real-estate managers etc.

Many local products are available, there's a "roteiro do queijo" (cheese-route) of which you can download a map with villages where you can try and buy the many types of cheeses from the Serra da Estrela. Next to the many cheeses the region also produces sausages, wines, liqueurs, jams and regional cakes, typical cloth slippers, handcrafted products and wool blankets.

Strolling through Oliveira do Hospital you can visit several sanctuaries, churches, chapels, typical old Portuguese houses, a castle and Roman architecture (Ruinas Romanas de Bobadela).
For sports and swimming there are swimming pools, tennis-courts, football-clubs and regularly many sportive events are being organised.

In the whole area you can find lots of river beaches, all with their own character, to name a few there's: the Praia Fluvial Classificada de Alvoco das Várzeas, de Avô, de São Gião, de São Sebastião da Feira and the Zona Balnear de Recreio e Lazer de Caldas de S. Paulo, de Ponte das Três Entradas and de Santo António do Alva.

Nature and recreation in and around Oliveira do Hospital

Oliveira lazer

There are 16 villages that belong to the municipality of Oliveira do Hospital, the villages Alvoco das Varzeas and São Gião are part of the network of Mountain Villages and Aldeia das Dez is part of the network of Schist Villages.

Take a walk through Alvoco das Varzeas, start at the bridge and walk along the river and see the unique local fauna where otters, herons, kingfishers and other rare animal species live. The old mills (some of them still in operation) and the two irrigation channels (most likely a Roman heritage) bring you back from the Middle-ages to hundreds of years ago and during a walk through the historic centre have a look at the Parish Church, the chapel of São Sebastião, the wayside crosses and the Wayside Shrine of Terreirinho.
In São Gião (a village in the valley of the river Alva) a múst see is the Mother Church, known as "Catedral das Beiras", it was built in the late 18th century (1795), in Baroque style, and boasts a ceiling of 102 panels and gilded altarpieces. The village itself with its granite houses and terraces decorated with vases and flower beds has several other buildings that are worth a visit, such as the chapels of "Senhor dos Aflitos", "Senhora da Criação" and "São Sebastião". Among the natural riches stand out the river beach and the grotto of the Moura Rock, an enormous granitic boulder, with an interior room that served as a shelter for hunters and shepherds.
Aldeia das Dez has a special walking trail (a Marcha dos Veteranos).

All the other villages have their own character, it's just too much to mention them all; make a complete day of it, go up early in the morning and drive around from village to village, have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the typical Portuguese cafés and restaurants that you will surely find and don't forget your camera, because there's just no end to what you will see in this beautiful and history-rich municipality.

If you like to participate in activities, you won´t have to be bored. There are many activities being organised every year like:

  • Arts, culture and knowledge events
  • Workshops like ceramics, painting, photography and wood cooking
  • Craft and design
  • Competitions and tours (by car and motorcycle)
  • Landscape tours (Serra da Estrela, Wolfram, Schist and Rio, Pedra Sobre Pedra)
  • National Rolling Cart Championship (Aldeias do Xisto Circuit)
  • Nature: leisure and activities
  • Several events under the moonlight

Next to all these activities you can go outdoors to have a walk through the many mountaineous areas and forests that are all around and ofcourse visit the river beaches and lakes (see end of first paragraph for a list) to swim, cano, dive or go fishing.

If you rather go camping than in a hotel or house there are several of them in the neighbourhood, for example the: Parque de Campismo de São Gião, Quinta do Retiro, Camping Quinta das Cegonhas, Casas Do Bosque Valmaior and the Camping Toca da Raposa.

Going out in Oliveira do Hospital

Oliveira nightlife

Markets: there's a daily market in Oliveira do hospital itself from monday till saturday from 07.00 to 13.00. Then there are several monthly markets in Avô, Ervedal da Beira and Lagares da Beira. Next to that there are some annual (special-themed) markets in Ervedal da Beira, Oliveira do Hospital, São Sebastião da Feira and Seixo da Beira.

Ofcourse in Oliveira do Hospital, close to the market you will find many shops, cafés, snackbars and restaurants with terraces to cool down and rest a bit. Some of them are specialised in lunches (almoço) and other are more specialised in dinners (jantar).

From the evening till late at night there's all kinds of things to do if you want to go out, enjoy the nightlife and mingle with local Portuguese people and the foreigners who already live there. There's a huge list of bars, cafés and restaurants to be found at this webpage.


Social (and other) things: