January 23, 2020
We almost didn’t stop. The forest had been “on the list” and “off the list”, but we we had plenty of time and decided to check it out. And we are soooooo happy that we did.
Buçaco Forest, or the Mata Nacional do Buçaco in Portuguese, is an ancient walled arboretum. The 250+ acre forest has been around for more than 600 years. The walls were built by a convent of monks who maintained the forest until they disbanded. Today, most of the monestary is gone due to the building of the Buçaco Palace.
Royal Buçaco Palace was to be the hunting lodge of the Royal family until they were removed by a coup (sometimes it sucks to be the King). Today the Palace is a beautiful hotel where you can stay and dine lavishly and enjoy the forest.
The forest is full of trails, fountains, buildings, lakes and gardens and trees dating back to 1644. You don’t have to stay in the hotel to visit the grounds or the forest. The entry fee is €5 for 24 hours. What a deal!
In January 2013, a powerful cyclone damaged much of Portugal and the Buçaco forest. As we hiked through the forest, the damage is still visible. The cedar dating to 1644 is seriously injured and many trees and buildings have been damaged. But, even with the damage, this is quite an amazing forest to visit. We just wish we had allowed a day to truly check it out.
If you only have a few hours to explore, then start at the Information Center. It’s the pink building located next to the Hotel. Next, stroll around and through the Royal Palace Hotel and drink in all of its beauty and many tiled walls and exquisite frescoes. Then, venture outside and get the grand view of the monastery and Palace. Then, start to discover the gardens and the forest.
Looking at the remains of the monastery entrance with the Palace behind.
Directions: It is a beautiful 52 mile drive from Viseu along EN 234. You can arrive by train to the spa town of Luso or it’s about 20 miles north of Coimbra. We felt it was essential to have a car to get to the forest.