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Coimbra

The Beira Litoral region in Central Portugal provides an assortment of activities and sports for tourists and residents to enjoy.

The area is more specifically the area spreading east of coimbra 'Coimbra including the districts of Penela, Miranda do Corvo and Lousa.  The backdrop of the Serra de Lousa mountain range make this whole area one of outstanding beauty, where one can just enjoy the views or take part in a number of activities.

Activities

Football, rugby, tennis, downhill bicycle racing, motor bike racing, paragliding, horse riding, fishing, walking, nature rambling, swimming, kick boxing, quad bike racing, absailing, canoeing, ballet, the music academy, volley ball, basket ball and hand ball are amongst the sports activities available in the area.

Golf

A new 18 hole Golf course ( the first in this area) is currently under construction approximately 8 kilometres from Lousa, it is due to be completed in 2011

River beaches

This area is approximately a 45 minute drive from the nearest seaside town which is Figueiro de Foz; there are long sandy beaches with many cafes and restaurants sited along the sea front at this popular resort.

As an alternative, there are a number of beautiful river beaches in the local vicinity, the Moorish Castle beach at Lousa, Casel de Ermio beach, Serpins, Louciana, Castenheiro de Pera and Gois.

All provide safe bathing areas for children and adults, picnic areas and cafe or restaurant facilities, river beaches are usually set in partially shaded areas, so are lovely places to relax at during the height of summer. Pedlos or canoes are usually available for hire.

Other tourist attractions

There are many places of interest within striking distance of this area, roman ruins at Conimbriga, the beautiful old castle and church perched high above the old historical town of Penela, the old University buildings in Coimbra, the holy shrine of Fatima, Coimbra Cathedral, the beautiful Palace at Bucaco and the ancient convent next door ( a site of one of the Peninsula war battles in 1810) , the spa town of Luso, the lovely city of Tomar with its historical castle dedicated to the Knights Templar, are just a few places to visit as this part of Portugal is full of interesting places to visit and explore.

Shopping and leisure

Lousa Penela and Miranda all contain a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. Lousa is the largest of the three towns and is currently undergoing a number of changes which includes the building of a fourth supermarket, a large electrical store outlet and the regeneration of the old and historical town centre.

Miranda has three small supermarkets and Penela one.

A new Health Club is currently under construction in Lousa and will be completed by summer 2008. There is an inside swimming pool in the town, and a lovely park with a restaurant and outside pool which contains a children’s climbing frame and recreation area.

A new ballet school is currently being constructed in the old part of Lousa

There is a cinema in both towns which is open on a Friday night!! Cinemas in Coimbra are open all week.

Coimbra is situated approximately 25 minutes from both Lousa and Miranda; the town of Penela is approximately a forty minute drive. In Coimbra there are currently three undercover shopping malls and two smaller retail sites, as well as the main old shopping area which is situated in and around the cathedral area.

The river bank in Coimbra has, and continues to be developed as a promenade area where there are restaurants, cafes, shaded walks and exhibition areas to enjoy visiting. Open deck bus tours of historical sites in the city, and a river trip on the Mondego are there to be enjoyed. An open air theatre has been developed on the west side of the river, together with a sailing and canoeing centre, further leisure facilities are currently under construction on the west bank.

Transport

There is a railway station in Miranda and two in Lousa, the line goes to Coimbra, where you can alight at either San Joel station to access Dolce Vita shopping Centre or Coimbra Shopping Mall. To visit the city centre and the river bank area, alight at Parque station which is at the end of the line.

The main line station of Coimbra B is situated a short taxi ride from Parque station. Coimbra B station provides national rail links to the Algarve and Lisbon in the south or Porto and Braga in the north, various branch lines throughout the country gain you access to the interior and Spain.

A new road, with a faster links to the N17 and Coimbra, is currently under construction and will be completed by early 2009

The railway line that stops at Serpins, Lousa and Miranda is in the process of being upgraded to become a Metro line, work started in January 2008, and the work should be completed by the summer of 2010.

Food and Wine

There are numerous restaurants and cafes in every town and most villages, the traditional fare of the area is suckling pig, chanfana (goat cooked in red wine) wild boar and Picanha (rump steak). In the main, to eat out is inexpensive and portions huge, the Portuguese really love their food!

The variety of wine available is enormous; Portuguese wine is virtually unknown outside the country (except for Mateus Rose!), the quality equals wines grown and distributed throughout the rest of Europe, local house wine can be as cheap as 3 Euros a carafe in a restaurant.

Both red and white Port are drunk as an aperitif or after your meal, the local liqueur made in this area and distributed throughout the world is called Licor Beirao, wonderful with crushed ice on a summers day.

People

The Portuguese are a friendly and hospitable race, a little reserved until you get to know them, but once you become friends, they will become life long and trusted friends.

They are very family orientated; children are generally very well mannered and well behaved, even when in a group, teenagers are well behaved and of no threat as “gang culture” is none existent.

There is hardly any crime in this area, thereby making it extremely safe to go out on your own, at any time of the day or night.

The Portuguese celebrate Public Holidays and religious days by holding fiestas; these can vary in size according to where they are held. Towns and villages organise carnivals, musical entertainment and a variety of market stalls selling anything from food, to clothes, fresh produce and local artisans work.

Education

The standard of education in local schools is very high; English is now the second language and is taught in all schools, the majority of young people go on to further and higher education at Coimbra University

Summary

This part of Portugal is still developing its Tourism. There are many sites to see, and things to do. The Councils of Lousa, Miranda do Corvo and Penela are all actively promoting tourism in the area.

The climate is seasonal making it a beautiful area in which to enjoy the changes that occur within the landscape, but, at the same time, even in winter it is rare to experience rain for long periods, and snow is virtually none existent, thus making it a wonderful place to visit or live in all year round.