Located 120km (75 miles) north of Sintra, Alcobaça is a charming town famous for its medieval Monastery. It is a popular day-trip destination from Sintra, and MADABOUTSINTRA.COM can help you make the most of your visit. Our guide provides essential information on nearby attractions, recommendations for accommodation and dining advice. Rest easy knowing that you can book hotels with confidence, thanks to our free cancellation options. Additionally, we offer travel advice to ensure a seamless and stress-free trip.
Alcobaça's Gothic Façade
The Royal Abbey of Santa Maria, also known as Alcobaça Monastery, is a prime example of early Gothic architecture in Europe. It was built in 1153 on the orders of Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first king after he emerged victorious over the Moors during the Christian Crusades in central Iberia.
In 1178 AD, King Afonso Henriques assigned Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Order of Cistercians, to oversee the building of the Monastery. The construction was based on the design of the Order's primary church in France, the Abbey of Claraval.
The initial building constructed in this location was the first Gothic church ever built in Portugal. Presently, only the Gothic portico and the rose window have survived from the original façade. During the 17th and 18th centuries, significant alterations were made to the façade of the building, including the addition of twin bell towers. The figures flanking the portico are of São Bento and São Bernardo.
Alcobaça Abbey's Nave
As you enter the church you will be struck by the impressive central nave. Its lack of adornments gives it a sense of an elevated grandeur. The church has a floor plan of a Latin cross and, in keeping with the Gothic style, boasts a lofty ceiling. The lateral aisles of the nave in Alcobaça church are as high as the central one, giving the building a magnific and impressive feel. Even after 800 years, it remains the largest church in Portugal.
Visitors can find the two tombs of the tragic couple Dom Pedro and Dona Inés in the transept. Their marvellously decorated tombs face each other and are carved effigies of these famous lovers laying recumbent, crowned and together for eternity. Each tomb is inscribed with the phrase "Até ao fim do mundo” (Until the end of the world). You can walk around the church in 20 minutes and there is no entrance fee. To access the Sacristy, go through an ornate Manueline doorway and down a corridor with ribbed vaulting. The original Sacristy was rebuilt following the 1755 earthquake.
The Reliquary Chapel is a stunning feature of the New Sacristy, known for its exceptional beauty and nicknamed the "Mirror of Heaven" by Reynaldo dos Santos. Abbot Constantino de Sampaio oversaw its construction from 1669 to 1672, and its interior is arranged in an octagonal layout. The entire space is adorned with gilded wood carvings strikingly illuminated by natural light pouring in through skylights in the cupola ceiling.
Immediately to the left inside the church is the Hall of Kings (Sala dos Reis) which today serves as the ticket office for the monastery. The room dates from the 17th century. The walls are adorned with azulejo tiles depicting the siege of Santarém, Dom Afonso's vow, and the founding of the monastery. Standing on their pedestals halfway up the walls are the sculptures which give the room its name. Carved by the resident monks, the statues represent virtually every King of Portugal until Dom José, who died in 1777.
The monastic buildings were built right after the church was constructed. They are mainly simple and plain, which reflects the Cistercian belief in simplicity. Visitors can explore the complexities of the monk's simple life for a small entrance fee. The heart of the monastery is the cloisters, known as Claustro de Dom Dinis, which were constructed during the reign of King Dinis, estimated to be between 1308 and 1311. The King's cloisters are one of five sets and were created by Domingo Domingues and Master Diogo. The Cloister of King Dinis I is nicknamed the Cloister of Silence because it was where monks would meditate in contemplation.
The lower floor of this building is home to one of Portugal's best examples of Medieval cloisters. Thin columns wind around the buttresses, forming three arches topped with a rosette. The upper floor, designed by Diogo and João de Castilho, was added later during the reign of Manuel I (1495-1521). Adjacent to the cloisters, visitors can explore the Gothic Fountain Hall, which features a beautiful early Renaissance water basin adorned with Renaissance motifs and the monastery's coat-of-arms.
In the 17th century, the Afonso VI Cloister replaced the original kitchens. The only remaining component from the original kitchens is a Romanesque door. The replacement kitchen is located near the Refectory and features an impressive 18-meter chimney supported by eight pillars. The fireplace was designed to roast a whole ox. The chimney and interior walls are both adorned with glazed tiles. Water from the river Alcoa supplies a water basin to the rear of the room. The kitchen is opulent in contrast to the stark living quarters of the monks and the abstinent nature of the Cloister of Silence.
Next to the kitchens, the Refectory is a cavernous vaulted chamber where the monks ate in silence. In the western wall, there is an arched staircase that leads to a beautiful pulpit. Monks used to read passages from the Bible here to help with their digestion.
The dormitory is a similar large gothic vaulted room where the monks slept, except for the abbot, who had his own private quarters. In the 1930s partitions dividing the individual cells in the dormitory were removed.
The Chapter House is where the monks gathered to discuss daily matters concerning the monastery. Proceedings started each day with a chapter read from the Rule of St Benedict. The entrance to the Chapter House is through a Romanesque portal with two similar windows on each side. The room is currently filled with baroque statues carved by the monks intended for the main chapel of the church.
Low Season: 09h30 - 18h00, High Season: 09h30 - 19h00.
Adult: €6.00, Combined Ticket: Alcobaça, Batalha, Convento de Cristo: €15.00, Concessionary: €3.00, Child under 12: FREE, Sundays up to 14h00: FREE.
Lisbon Card: FREE
Mosteiro de Alcobaça, 2460-018, Alcobaça, Portugal.
39° 32' 54.2"N | 08° 58' 48.2"W | +351 262 505 120 | firstname.lastname@example.org
There are plenty of various types of eateries in close proximity of the Monastery.
There are public toilets outside the Monastery.
There is free car parking right side of the monastery (facing it).
The Monastery has access ramps to the ground floor for persons with reduced mobility, enabling them to visit the Monks' Room, King Dinis Cloister, Chapter House, Refectory, Kitchen and Church. Access to the Monastery for people in wheelchairs is through a side door at Praça Afonso Henriques, which provides direct access to the Monks' Room. Please inform the Monastery reception desk for reduced mobility access or book in advance.
Alcobaça Castle Walls
This castle has endured a tumultuous history, leaving little of its original structure. The walls visible today were constructed in the 12th Century after the Reconquista, replacing a 6th Century Moorish fortification which was repeatedly attacked by Christian forces. Strategically located on a hill overlooking the town, the castle's slopes were used by Cistercian monks to cultivate grapes, beginning the town's winemaking tradition. Despite four earthquakes and pillaging by locals, some rebuilding was done in the 1950s, preserving seven square turrets and a Moorish watchtower called "Torre dos sete sobrados." However, the best reason to visit is the breathtaking view from this vantage point, which offers stunning vistas of the Monastery and town below.
The National Wine Museum is situated in a former winery constructed by José Raposo de Magalhães, a trailblazer in wine production in the Alcobaça region. The winery and land were first owned by the Monastery. Upon acquiring the winery, Magalhães initiated modern grape cultivation and implemented cutting-edge wine production techniques, which led to the region gaining recognition, credibility, and wealth from its high-quality wines both locally and internationally. When the phylloxera pandemic struck, Magalhães replaced Alcobaça's vines by using grafts from France. Portugal's biggest wine museum is the National Wine Museum, which houses over 8,500 artefacts connected to oenology and related trades. Visitors can observe portable presses, barrels, historic wine labels, bottles, farming tools, and copper stills that have been gathered from throughout the country. A fascinating tour of the cellars and distillery is available, culminating in a wine tasting.
Tuesday - Friday: 09h00 - 11h30/14h00 - 17h00, Weekends: 10h00 - 12h30/13h30 - 16h00,
Adult: €4.00, Concessionary Disabled, Student, Youth card & OAP: €2.50, Child under 12: FREE
Rua de Leiria Olival Fechado, Alcobaça, Portugal.
39° 33' 08.0"N | 08° 58' 38.9"W | +351 262 582 750 | email@example.com
Monastery of Santa Maria Coz
There's another monastery close to Alcobaça in the village of Cós and it is one of the largest Cistercian nunneries in Portugal. Despite its grim and dilapidated exterior, the Monastery of Santa Maria Cós is a treasure trove of history and culture. Founded by the Abbot of Alcobaça in the 13th Century, it is one of the most significant monastic complexes in the region and serves as the primary monastery for Cistercian nuns. Its original construction began in the 12th century, sometime after the Alcobaça Abbey, as a place for widows who wanted to lead a monastic life. Between 1558 and 1670, it gained significance and underwent expansion. The interior is decorated in an exquisite early Portuguese Baroque style, complete with a carved wood ceiling, 17th and 18th-century azulejo tiles, and gilded altars. The ten azulejo tile panels depict the life of Saint Bernardo de Claraval (Clairvaux), a promoter of the Cistercian order. A gilded screen remains which was once used to separate the cloistered nuns from the ordinary folk. The monastery was declared a Building of Public Interest in 1946 and has undergone much restoration work since.
Tuesday - Saturday: 09h30 - 12h30/14h00 - 18h00, Sunday: 14h00 - 18h00, Monday: CLOSED.
6 Rua de Santa Rita 2460 Coz, Alcobaça, Portugal.
39° 35' 54.3"N | 08° 57' 20.5"W | +351 262 582 750 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Solar da Cerca do Mosteiro is a renovated historical house that is run as a guest house only 150 yards from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Monastery of Alcobaça. This charming property has a seasonal outdoor pool and terrace.
The property features accommodation in apartments and in addition to rooms, all come with a private bathroom and TV. The apartments include a kitchen, dining area, living room and farm views. Free WiFi is available throughout the house.
For guests staying in the rooms without kitchenettes, there is also a shared kitchen, where guests can prepare their meals. The property features an on-site bar with an outdoor lounge area. Located within natural surroundings, the Solar da Cerca do Mosteiro has an orange grove, a vegetable patch and a garden. Bike hire and car hire are available at this property and the area is popular for cycling and hiking.
3 Rua Dr. Francisco Zagalo, 2460-041 Alcobaça, Portugal.
39º 32" 60.1' N | 08º 58" 59.8' W
Surrounded by lush gardens only 200 yards from the Alcobaça Monastery, this elegant boutique hotel is housed within a historic mansion. It features a Spa and Wellness Centre and free Wi-Fi in public areas. Rooms at the Chalet Fonte Nova have parquet floors and elegant furnishings. They include floor-to-ceiling windows and come equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, and a private bathroom with hand-painted tiles.
In the morning, the hotel serves a buffet breakfast with fresh fruit and homemade cakes. There is also a bar in the basement that serves regional wine and has billiards and board games. Guests can enjoy a relaxing massage, or take a walk through the gardens and visit the koi pond. A car hire service is also available for guests. Free private parking is possible on site.
8 Rua da Fonte Nova, 2460 - 042 Alcobaça, Portugal.
39º 32" 44.8' N | 08º 59" 07.4' W
Set in a privileged spot among natural surroundings, Your Hotel & Spa is located 2.8 miles from the historical town of Alcobaça. It offers modern accommodation, a seasonal semi-Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool, extensive spa facilities a short drive from Nazaré Beach. The accommodation at Your Hotel & Spa Alcobaça is decorated with modern-style furnishings and are air-conditioned. Each one overlooks the gardens, the outdoor pool, or the golf course.
International cuisine and specialities from Portugal's Estremadura Region are served at the hotel's restaurant. Guests can also enjoy drinks and refreshments until late, thanks to the in house bar. Complimentary leisure facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, WiFi access, charging for electrical vehicles and private parking. Bike rental is also available on site. A variety of health treatments are available at an extra charge, including hydrotherapy and massages.
8 Rua da Fonte Nova, 2460 - 042 Alcobaça, Portugal.
39º 31" 08.5' N | 08º 56" 59.9' W
An excellent dining experience either for lunch or dinner. From appetisers through to dessert, the Portuguese cuisine here is constantly superbly cooked with a modern twist and well presented. The portions are as generous as the smiles from the staff. Located just out of town in Bemposta high up on the hill overlooking Alcobaça, eating at O Cabeço is a feast for eyes too. The decor is vibrant and modern yet well thought out. The atmosphere is always friendly and welcoming. Prices are very reasonable considering the fine dining experience. Highlights on the menu are the Tuna, Octopus Cataplana, and house style Iberian pork. If you have room for dessert then you will be spoiled once more for choice. O Cabeço has become very popular, so to avoid disappointment it's best to call and make a reservation.
Tuesday - Saturday: 12h30 - 14h00/19h30 - 22h00, Sunday & Monday: CLOSED
65 Rua Dona Elvina Machado, Alcobaça 2460-521, Portugal | 39º 33' 52.4" N | 08º 58' 45.9" W
+351 914 500 202 | email@example.com | Facebook
Tucked away in a lane away from the main square and crowds is this great little restaurant. This is the restaurant the locals know as the place to go. The service is typically warm and friendly and portions are very generous. Meals start when a waiter brings a selection of appetisers for you to choose from, at a small fixed price per head. Main courses are local fare cooked to perfection, look out for their Açorda dishes.
Daily: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00
27 Rua Doutor Maur Cocheril, Alcobaca 2460-032, Portugal
39º 39' 33.8" N | 08º 49' 28.3" W
+351 262 582 295 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook
That ol' gourmet burger craze kicked off in Portugal a few years ago and the Portuguese do it very well. This burger bar is ideal if you want something quick, cheap, cheerful yet tasty. Casual as you like with great friendly staff. Their choice of homemade burgers includes vegetarian and vegan options. Food is served over two floors as well as on the outside seating. There are other tempting things on the menu such as soups, salads and devilish desserts.
Daily: 12h00 - 15h00/18h00 - 23h00
49 Rua Frei António Brandão, 2460-047 Alcobaça, Portugal
39º 32' 50.7" N | 08º 58' 55.7" W
+351 262 582 295 | Facebook
Alcobaça is 72 miles (116km) North of Lisbon Portela AirportWebsite
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To drive to the Monastery of Alcobaça by motorway: from Lisbon or Leira take the A8, exit Alcobaça/Nazaré/Valado dos Frades. Then take the national route EN 8-5 to Alcobaça.
Latitude - 39º 32' 50.7" | Longitude - 08º 58' 55.7"
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Take the urban train service (comboios urbanos) to Lisbon's central train station Rossio.
Rede Expressos run regular services to Alcobaça from Lisbon Sete Rios coach station and takes about two hours.