From the SJ Hotel is very easy to discover all the central region of Portugal: Tondela, Serra do Caramulo, Serra da Estrela and old towns like Viseu, Coimbra and Aveiro. The Lands of Tondela present a diversity of landscapes combined with the charms of Caramulo Mountain and the verdant plateau of the Vale de Besteiros, the vast forest areas, rivers and river beaches as well the wealth of heritage and local culture.
Land marked by the harsh climate of Caramulo Mountain, enriched with knowledge and traditions that are related with the pastoral and agricultural work, with interesting clusters of granite houses. Land bathed by the River Dão, whose past has left a very wide collection of monuments of unquestionable value. Areas of fertile green plains, fresh air and thermal waters (Sangemil).
In the city of Tondela, visit the Terras de Besteiros Museum, and the current exhibition “Stone and Mystery”, images of busts in limestone from the 15th and 16th centuries from the parishes in the council. It is also noteworthy the Monument to the Dead of the Great War, the Sereia (Mermaid) Fountain; the Nossa Senhora do Campo Church, the Santa Maria Church and the Santa Ana Manor-House. The Molelos potteries only a few minutes from the city, also worth an attentive and lengthy visit to learn more about the art of working in black clay. Utilitarian and artistic pieces can be bought directly from the artisans. Tondela also has the cultural and artistic dynamics of ACERT, an association that is responsible for the promotion of performances, artistic training and productions. It is a project with permanent programming throughout the year, targeted at different audiences.
In Caramulo Mountain, make a long visit to the Caramulo Museum that host a collection of vintage cars and art. The Museum’s collection includes important paintings, ceramics and tapestries from the 16th to the 18th centuries, as well as important works of contemporary art, from Salvador Dali, Vieira da Silva and Picasso (www.museu-caramulo.net). Also on Caramulo, let yourself be involved by the beauty of the landscape – Cabeço da Neve and Caramulinho – populated by typical houses of granite that can be found on the S. João do Monte path (Cadraço and Jueus).
Walking Lovers can choose between five different routes: Orangery Route (Rota dos Laranjais), Linen Route (Rota do Linho), Crosses Route (Rota das Cruzes), Gutters Route (Rota dos Caleiros) and St. James Route (Rota de Santiago).(detailed information: www.cm-tondela.pt)
Throughout the council you will find several manor-houses, almost all built in the 18th century, particularly in Lobão da Beira, Mouraz, Mosteiro de Fráguas, Parada de Gonta, S. Miguel de Outeiro and Vilar de Besteiros. Also discover the delights of the river beaches of Ferreirós do Dão, Nandufe, S. João do Monte and Sangemil, a spa area known for therapeutic properties of its waters. The natural hospitality of local people and the regional cuisine reinforce the reasons for a quality tourism in the region.
VISEU Holder of a very rich history, the city of Viseu has a very diverse architectural heritage. The Ex-libris of the city is the Cathedral, where in addition to the interior of the cathedral, you can visit their Cloisters and the Museum of Sacred Art. The Cathedral Square, where also lies the Misericórdia Church (Mercy Church) and Grão Vasco Museum, is one of the arteries of the historic center of this city, being the starting point for the discovery of typical medieval streets. Also worth a visit the Porta do Soar, the “Rua Escura” with its Gothic Art, the Manueline Window and Rossio Square. In Viseu, there are also many gardens and parks for walking and leisure.
COIMBRA Coimbra, bathed by the River Mondego, is one of the cities with more History in the country, holding a vast heritage. Here was born the oldest University in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe, where you can also visit its Baroque Library and the Museum of Sacred Art. It wells worth a visit the Old Cathedral, the Monastery of Santa Cruz, the Bishop's Palace where the Machado de Castro Museum is inserted, the Convent of Santa Clara-a-Velha and Santa Clara-a-Nova and the New Cathedral; as well as Coimbra’s’ green spaces, such as Parque Verde do Mondego, the Penedo da Saudade Garden and the Botanical Garden.
AVEIRO Aveiro is located in a coastal zone, enriched with natural heritage. Its main attraction are its beaches, inviting in any time of the year. Most notable are the Barra beach with its impressive lighthouse (one of the highest in Europe); this beach is where flows the Ria de Aveiro and where we can observe the arrival and departure of fishing boats. Costa Nova Beach is famous for its houses painted with bright colors, in vertical stripes; and the beach of San Jacinto, part of the Dunes Natural Reserve of St. Jacinto, is characterized precisely by its landscape of dunes and vegetation.Aveiro has a set of spaces where you can fully enjoy the nature, landscape, fauna and flora.
SERRA DA ESTRELA At a height of 2,000 meters is possible to observe a landscape of valleys, marked by schist and granite and the harmony of the fauna and flora. It is in the Serra da Estrela where it is found the largest protected area in Portugal, the Serra da Estrela Natural Parque. Also located in the Serra da Estrela are 25 glacial lakes at the higher altitude in the national territory. In the surrounding areas of Serra da Estrela is possible to visit the Jewish heritage, castles and historic villages. The Serra da Estrela is also characterized by its traditional cheeses, by their dogs, by its ski slopes and by the wool.