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Leiria is an elegant university town one hour north of Lisbon within a region of outstanding beauty with remnants of a turbulent history. Looming over Leiria is a medieval castle, a reminder of the long Moorish occupation of the area. This mighty fortress was tamed by Kings João and Dinis who turned the site into a sumptuous palace.

Attractive Leiria is interesting enough to justify staying a day or two on its own merits. It also makes a great base for exploring the famous attractions nearby: Alcobaça, Batalha and Fátima are all within easy reach by bus. Leiria is a student town and has a vibrancy about it. Within the city's squares and along the riverside there is a wide selection of bars and restaurants for memorable nights out. Leiria's past industries of glassmaking and printing are celebrated within dedicated museums. The coastline is not far away, where you will find unspoiled golden beaches and small family-orientated resorts. MADABOUTPORTUGAL.COM is your indispensable guide to maximising your experience in Leiria. If you wish to explore the nearby attractions, we have essential advice on where to stay and places to eat.


Praça Rodrigues Lobo

|  Praça Rodrigues Lobo

The region around Leiria has seen human occupation for time immemorial. The earliest known civilisation to inhabit here was a Celtic tribe known as the were the Turduli Oppidani. The Romans built a town here which they named Collippo. Successive Germanic peoples reused the Roman stones to build their new towns. The name Leiria is derived from the Galician-Portuguese word "laria" meaning high ground. The Moors grappled the town from the Visigoths, who, in turn, ceded Leiria to Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first King, in 1135. For some time Leiria found itself on the frontline in the wars of the Reconquista. Ramparts and defences were built and strengthened during this time. Dom Dinis (c.1312-1325) had a royal residence at Leiria. In celebration of his marriage to Elizabeth of Aragon, he gifted the town, along with Óbidos, Abrantes, Porto de Mós and Trancoso, to the new Queen as a wedding present.

Don João I built his own royal palace within the castle complex and included elegant Gothic galleries that opened up impressive panoramic views. Leiria continued to prosper and grew beyond its medieval walls down to the banks of the river Lis. In 1545 it was elevated to city status and became the see of a diocese. Leira's cathedral was built in the second half of the 16th century incorporating a mix of Manueline and Mannerist styles. Leiria found itself on the frontline of conflict once more when the city was overrun by Napoleonic troops in 1808.


The Castle and its distinctive loggia are, by far, the most dominant feature of Leiria. The hill on which the castle sits is a perfect strategical location to protect the city below and the bend in the river Lis. When D. Afonso Henriques arrived in Leiria with his conquering Christian army in 1135 he first had to defeat the Moorish stronghold already in place. Following the victory, Henriques quickly set about strengthening and enlarging the defensive structures. Leiria Castle became a vital element in a line of defences that formed the frontline between the Christian and Arabic worlds. Henriques also commissioned a small chapel in honour of Our Lady of Mercy before handing over this military stronghold to Paio Guterres, the first governor of Leiria.

Throughout the site, there's evidence of various stages of construction over the centuries. Ramparts were built in 1195 by D. Sancho I, Henriques' son. At the behest of D. Dinis the keep (Torre de Menagem) was added along with a palace in 1324. As the castle lost its military value, its role as a royal residence became more prevalent. The castle hosted important events such as the meetings of the first courts called by D. Afonso III. It became the residence of Dom Dinis and his wife Isabel or Aragon. The use of Leira as a royal court continued during the reigns of D. Ferdinand I, D. João I and his son Afonso. Further construction on the site occurred in the early 16th century on the order of D. Manuel who oversaw the building of a sacristy. When Napoleon's army arrived in 1808 they ransacked the site leaving it in a poor state.

Vital restoration work started in 1915 on the initiative of Liga dos Amigos do Castelo at the hands of the architect Ernesto Korrodi. Much of the walls visitors see today are reconstructions. It's thanks to these efforts visitors can enjoy the views from the grand balcony that overlooks the landscape below. Inside the keep, there is a small museum (closed 12h00 – 13h00) containing displays of armour and archaeological finds. Wondering around the grounds is a pleasure to the senses and a gift for the photographer. Several exhibitions and festivals occur throughout the year and there is a café with amenities for your convenience. The brisk walk up from the city centre takes about 20 minutes. Since 2021 there is an elevator on the north side of the Castle, on Avenida 25 de Abril, opposite the stadium where there's ample parking. This free service only takes 90 seconds to ascend to the top of the castle hill.

Apr – Sept: 10h00 - 18h00, Oct – Mar: 09h30 – 17h30
Adult: €2.10, Concessionary: €1.05 Child Under 10: FREE
Rua do Castelo, 2400-235 Leiria, Portugal. | 39º 44’ 51.0” N | 08º 48’ 31.0” W
+351 244 839 670 | castelo@cm-leiria.pt

Leiria Castle
Leiria Castle Interior

|  Leiria Castle



|  Museum of the moving image (Museu da Imagem em Movimento)

Just below the castle and tucked away in a corner of the Largo de São Pedro is this intriguing museum dedicated to the art of the moving image. This contemporary exhibition space is located within former stables. The M|I|MO opened its doors in 1996 to mark the centenary of Portuguese Cinema. The museum has restored, preserved and lovingly displays recording, editing and projection equipment from all periods of the movies. The collection of objects displayed at M|I|MO convey the story of the evolution of cinematography. Delight in the remarkable collection of vintage cameras, spotlights, projectors and early optical devices. Look out for the collection of pianos once used to accompany silent movies. Other interesting objects include antique cinema ticket machines, old reel canisters and interactive displays for children to enjoy.

Daily: 09h30 – 19h30
Adult: €2.10, Concessionary: €1.05 Child Under 10: FREE
3 Largo de São Pedro, 2400-137 Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 44' 50.1" N | 08° 48' 27.5" W
+351 244 839 500 | mimo@cm-leiria.pt


Located in the square that shares its name is a small Romanesque church. Igreja de São Pedro is the oldest surviving construction in Leiria. Often overlooked, the church was built around 1176. It still maintains its original façade, where organic motifs carved into the main portal are miraculously preserved and worth a quick perusal. Other original medieval carvings can be found in the single nave interior.

The church was built on the outer castle walls and served the populace before completion of Leirias Cathedral in the 16th century. Following the dissolution of religious orders in 1834, this little church was repurposed as a theatre, a barn, a warehouse and even a jailhouse. It was awarded the classification of a national monument in the late 19th century and since has enjoyed periods of restoration.

7 Largo de São Pedro, 2400-137 Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 44’ 50.2″ N | 08° 48’ 26.6″ W

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Igreja de São Pedro (Church of St. Peter)

|  Igreja de São Pedro (Church of St. Peter)


Leiria Cathedral

|  Leiria Cathedral

The Cathedral of Leiria sits beyond the medieval town walls. It was built during the reign of Dom João III in the 16th century. Construction began soon after the city became a diocese in 1545 and was consecrated in 1574. Designed by the architect Afonso Álvares, who opted for a Mannerist style for the exterior, conserving a harmonious interior with three naves of the same height, of late Renaissance inspiration.

Local legend describes originally the Cathedral had a bell tower which was ineffective. The tolling of the bells could not be heard across the whole city, resulting in the construction of the bell tower on the slope of the castle hill. Locals say that “Leiria has a tower which is not a Cathedral and a Cathedral that does not have a tower.” The earthquake of 1755 caused damage to the main facade and reconstruction began the year after. In 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, a fire partially consumed the church’s interior.

Monday – Friday: 08h00 - 19h30, Saturday: 08h00 – 18h00, Sunday: 11h00 – 19h00
Largo Cónego Maia, 2400-175 Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 44' 45.1" N | 08° 48' 25.2" W
+351 244 832 366

Praça de Sé

In the square opposite the cathedral is the impressively tiled pharmacy, once the meeting place of a literary circle surrounding Eça de Queirós. An antiques and crafts fair is held in the square on the second Saturday of each month.


Leirias old town is reasonably well preserved and has recently enjoyed a period of ongoing restoration. Leiria has been investing in itself. Many famous retail brands have chosen to sell their wares in Leiria's old cobbled streets. At the heart of the old town is the Praça Rodrigues Lobo. The square is named after Leirias' famous 17th-century poet, whose effigy stands southern-western corner. The perimeter is lined with attractive arcaded buildings where you can find several eateries and places to enjoy a drink whilst soaking up the atmosphere. Leiria is also famous for being the haunt of the novelist Eça de Queirós, who resided in Leiria between 1870–71. His novel, The Sin of Father Amaro (1876), draws heavily on his experiences here.

Leirias' literary heritage goes back to the late 15th century when one of Portugal's first printing presses was established. It belonged to the Jewish community and items were printed in Hebrew. Samuel de Ortas established his press in 1496 when he produced the Almanach Perpetuum (Astronomical Tables) of Abraão Zacuto. It was the first scientific work printed in Portugal and became an essential document for the Portuguese Maritime Discoveries.

Records of a Jewish presence in Leiria date from the early 13th century when the community settled outside the medieval town walls. The Igreja da Misericórdia church is believed to stand on the foundations of a former synagogue. In 2017 the church underwent restoration and, in recognition of the multi-faith importance of the site, the Intercultural Dialogue Centre of Leiria was placed inside. The museum celebrates the coexistence of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the region. A recognition of multiculturalism that lives on to this day thanks to how various migrant communities are welcomed into the area and the economic contributions they provide. A part of this collection is the Casa dos Pintores – Archeology Workshop. The building acquired its name "House of the Painters" from the large number of people who have painted this attractive house over the years.


The Mercado de Sant'Ana is located in the centre of Leiria and, as indicated by its name, it once hosted the municipal market. It was designed by Ernesto Korrodi and after completion in 1931 it replaced the market held in the Praça Rodrigues Lobo. The building has been fully restored and is now repurposed as a cultural centre. There is also the Miguel Franco Theatre, with a capacity of over 200 seats in the west wing of the building. Mercado de Sant'Ana is the setting for numerous festivals, events and exhibitions held throughout the year.

Monday – Friday: 09h00 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30, Weekends: CLOSED
3 Largo de Santana, 2400-137, Portugal. | 39º 44’ 34.0″ N | 08º 48’ 26.4″ W
+351 244 839 528

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Praça Rodrigues Lobo

|  Praça Rodrigues Lobo

Mercado de Sant'Ana

|  Mercado de Sant'Ana


2-Day Sacred Portugal Trip: Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos, from Lisbon

Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré, and Óbidos Day Tour

Explore Portugal’s rich cultural and religious history on this full-day tour from Lisbon. Visit Fátima, one of the world's largest pilgrimage sites and its huge modern church, Batalha and Nazaré. Explore the historic village of Óbidos.

Pick-up will be at your hotel or accommodation in Lisbon. If your hotel is in the Alfama, Bairro Alto, or Baixa de Lisboa areas or your hotel is difficult to access by car, then an alternative pick-up location will be arranged.

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Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos Full Day Private Tour

Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos
Full Day Private Tour

Escape the metropolitan bustle of Lisbon in favour of the rural tranquillity of four nearby cities on a private full-day tour to Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré, and Óbidos.

Absorb the sacred ambience of the Monastery of Batalha; admire the coastal charm of Nazaré's beaches; and hear of the mysterious apparitions said to have occurred at Fatima. Gain a fascinating perspective of the region surrounding Lisbon from your expert guide on this enriching tour.

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Fatima, Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazare and Obidos: The Blue West

Fatima, Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazare and Obidos: The Blue West

Depart from Lisbon and arrive at Fatima, to experience the spirituality of its Sanctuary. Visit Batalha Monastery. Discover Alcobaça Monastery, a World Heritage site with astonishing medieval gothic architecture. Inside listen to the most beautiful love story of medieval times. Explore the small and charming town of Nazaré. Discover the beach where the intense blue transforms itself into gigantic waves! Finally, the town of Óbidos will open its doors to you in all its intense beauty. Enjoy the architecture, the small streets and the medieval castle. During the tour, try the famous Ginjinha, a local liquor.

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Rio Lis

|  Rio Lis

Leiria Museum (Museu de Leiria)

|  Museu de Leiria

The river Lis flows north through Leiria on the way to the Atlantic where it terminates at the town of Vieira de Leiria. Along both banks, a series of traffic-free paths follow the river through parks, cafés, restaurants and two of Leiria's museums. These paths are enjoyed by walkers, joggers, rollerbladers and cyclists alike.


This old paper mill dates back to 1411 and is mentioned in the town charter of Dom João I. Its believed to be Portugal's first paper mill and played an essential role during Leiria's fledgling printing industry. Before making paper the mill was used to grind grain and olives. The mill was lovingly restored back into working order in 2009 and visitors can delight in watching age-old processes take place before their very eyes.

Monday – Friday: 09h30 – 12h00/14h30 – 17h00, Weekends: 09h30 – 18h00
13 Rua Fábrica do Papel, Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 44' 25.1" N | 08° 48' 02.6" W
+351 244 839 672 | moinhodopapel@cm-leiria.pt | Website


The museum has been housed in the former Convent of Santo Agostinho ever since 2006, following 97 years of temporary locations. The initial collection is the dedication of Tito Larcher (1865-1932), who first exhibited it to the public in 1917 as the Leiria Regional Museum of Works of Art, Archaeology and Numismatics.

Arranged chronologically, one permanent exhibition is a walk through five thousand years of human occupation of the area. The history of Leiria is beautifully presented from the origins of the castle to the Roman city of Collipo. The artefacts comprise a great collection of archaeology, sculpture, and ancient and contemporary paintings. One curious exhibit is the preserved remains of a child dating from the Initial Upper Palaeolithic that was found in Lapedo Valley in Leiria in 1998. The museum has also a conservation and restoration lab, a documentation centre, a research centre, an education centre, a multi-purpose room and a reservation zone.

Daily: 09h30 – 17h30
Adult: €2.10, Concessionary: €1.05 Child Under 10: FREE
41 Rua Tenente Valadim, 2410-190 Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 44' 29.3" | N 08° 48' 10.5" W
+351 244 839 677 | museudeleiria@cm-leiria.pt | Website


In 1998 a Paleolithic burial site of a four-year-old boy was excavated in Vale do Lapedo, in Leiria. The skeleton remains are thought to be 29,000 years old, the earliest burial found on the Iberian Peninsula. Known as the “Lapedo Child or Lagar Velho 1”, most of the skeleton was found in its original position, exactly as the child had been buried. The boy's features suggest he was a hybrid of Neanderthal and Modern Human parentage. The archaeological team led by João Zilhão unearthed evidence that overturned conventional ideas that Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula were simply replaced by Modern humans and in fact, there was a unique interbred culture.

The main aim of The Abrigo do Lagar Velho Interpretation Centre is to share the results of research carried out at the site, contextualising these findings within the history of human evolution. A replica of the skeleton and a reconstruction of the boy's face, made by American anthropologist Brian Pierson, can be seen in the Interpretation Centre of the Lagar Velho. The original remains can be found at the Leiria Museum.

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays: 09h30 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30
41 Rua Tenente Valadim, 2410-190 Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 44' 29.3" | N 08° 48' 10.5" W
+351 244 839 677 | museudeleiria@cm-leiria.pt | Website

The Abrigo do Lagar Velho Interpretation Centre

|  The Abrigo do Lagar Velho Interpretation Centre

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Hotel Xl

Hotel Leiria Classic

The low-cost Hotel Leiria Classic is ideally located in the historic centre of Leiria. The hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with a private balcony and LCD TV. A daily Mediterranean-style Continental breakfast is served as a buffet in the property's meal area. All rooms at Hotel Leiria Classic come with wooden floors and simple furnishings. Each accommodation type offers heating, a telephone and a work desk. Restaurants and shops are located a two-minute walk away from Hotel Leiria Classic. For drinks, there is an on-site bar. The 24-hour reception staff can offer reduced parking prices at the Fonte Luminosa Car Park, 20 metres away. Free WiFi access in all public areas of the hotel.

Rua Dr. Correia Mateus Nº 30, 2400-127 Leiria, Portugal.
39° 44' 35.3" N | 08° 48' 27.5" W

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Sant'Ana Guest House

Boasting great city views, Sant'Ana Guest House features accommodations with a patio and with all modern amenities at hand. The accommodation has free WiFi throughout the property. This one-bedroom apartment has a kitchen with a microwave and a fridge, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom fitted with a shower.

Largo de Sant'Ana, 2400-223 Leiria, Portugal.
39° 44' 35.5" N | 08° 48' 26.4" W

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Hotel São Luis ★ ★ ★

This three-star hotel in Leiria’s city centre offers modern rooms with free Wi-Fi and are decorated tastefully. Some rooms have balconies that offer views over the city. Leiria Castle is a ten-minute walk away. Rooms at Hotel São Luis feature wall-mounted LCD TVs and carpeted floors. Each unit has a spacious bathroom with coloured wall tiling and a modern shower cabin. Some rooms feature their own balcony.

Guests can enjoy a continental breakfast buffet each morning, prepared with local ingredients. The São Luis also features a bar which offers hot and cold drinks. A 24-hour front desk is available. São Luis Hotel is just 30 minutes drive from the Atlantic beach at São Pedro de Moel. Guests can park their car for free near the hotel.

Rua Beatriz Machado, 2410-089 Leiria, Portugal.
39° 44' 28.6" N | 08° 48' 15.8" W

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Mata Bicho - Real Taverna

Mata Bicho - Real Taverna

Inspired by the Portuguese taverns of old Mata Bicho feels like an authentic traditional dining experience one is unlikely to forget. Mata Bicho takes advantage of its prime location in the Praça Rodrigues Lobo by offering plenty of outdoor seating. Choose from the list of traditional petiscos (tapas) or decide on a full-sized meal, either option will delight your tastebuds. The wine list is extensive however the friendly and attentive staff will enthusiastically make suggestions to accompany your meal.

Sunday – Wednesday: 10h30 – 00h00, Thursday – Saturday: 10h30 – 02h00 |
3 Praça Rodrigues Lobo, 2400-217 Leiria, Portugal.
39° 44' 40.1" N | 08° 48' 27.6" W
+351 244 821 723 | geral@matabicho.com | Website

Tasca 7

Tasca 7

This small family-run restaurant is tucked away in a narrow alley and only has room for twenty-two patrons which only adds to the cosiness of the establishment. Every day there's a soup, a fish dish, a meat dish and a dessert on offer but no menu. The two sisters, Ana and Estrelinha, continue the traditions started by their mother. Only the freshest seasonal regional products are used in their top-quality dishes. Love and dedication are guaranteed ingredients. You are made to feel welcome as soon as you step through the door and tempting appetizers are placed at your table. Daily dishes are chalked on an A-Board outside.

Weekends: CLOSED, Monday – Friday: 12h00 – 22h00
Rua Maria da Fonte Transversal à Rua Direita, Leiria 2400-180 Portugal.
39° 44' 41.8" N | 08° 48' 33.1" W
+351 962 238 621

Casinha Velha

Casinha Velha

This Michelin-star restaurant has brought fine dining to Leiria and where you can try typical Portuguese cuisine so well prepared. There's a wide choice of starters to choose from even before you decide from the daily home-cooked specialities. The atmospheric dining room upstairs is decorated in a rustic style themed on wine production. The wine list is extensive with over 1000 labels available.

Monday, Wednesday – Saturday: 12h30 – 15h00/19h30 – 22h00, Tuesday: CLOSED, Sunday: 12h30 – 15h00
23 Rua Prof. Portélas, 2415-534 Leiria, Portugal. | 39° 45' 33.9" N | 08° 48' 37.0" W
+351 244 855 355 | geral@casinhavelha.com | Website

126km (78 miles) north of Lisbon Airport Website


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From Lisbon, take the A8 until the Leiria Sul exit or the A1 until the Leiria exit. From the Algarve, take the A2 and then the A13 until you reach Santarém. In Santarém, take the A1 and continue on until the Leiria exit.
Latitude - 39° 44' 38.0" | Longitude - 08° 48' 30.4"


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• The Rede Nacional de Expressos (National Express Network] provides connections to Leiria (the bus station is in the centre) and to several cities in Portugal: Website