Located in Central Portugal, Tomar is a very interesting city. It may not be one of the biggest cities in Portugal, but I assure you won’t regret a visit to Tomar!
Tomar is known as the Templar City, as it was once the seat of the Order of the Knights Templar. The city was given to them by Afonso D. Henriques after the conquest of the Moors in 1147.
So, I decided to write this quick guide about the best places to visit in Tomar! In this blog post, you can also find accommodation suggestions in Tomar and advice on the best time to visit the city, as well as the recommended number of days to visit it.
How many days do you need to visit Tomar?
Tomar is a small city and, although it has many interesting places to visit, we quickly wander through them. This way, I believe it is possible to visit Tomar in just one day.
However, why not stay a few more days in Tomar and take the opportunity to visit other places nearby that are also very worthwhile?
What is the best time of the year to visit Tomar?
Quite honestly, any time of year is a good time to visit Tomar. The city has a very pleasant climate, with warm summers and not too harsh winters. Still, to get the most out of your trip when it comes to the weather, I suggest that you visit Tomar between May and September.
There is, however, one event that is worth mentioning when talking about when to visit Tomar. Every 4 years, Festa dos Tabuleiros de Tomar (Festival of the Trays) takes place in early July. This is a unique festival in Portugal and the most iconic moment of this celebration is the parade where local women march with flowered trays on top of their heads. It’s a party not to be missed 😉.
Another popular event in the city is the Templar Festival. The Templars are the symbol of Tomar and, as such, the city had to celebrate them with various re-enactments, markets, and camps, among others.
Finally, the Tomar ComVida Programme takes place during the summer months, promoting various cultural and entertainment events in the city.
How to get to Tomar?
Without a doubt, the best way to get to Tomar is by car. The city is located 206 km from Porto (about 2 hours) and 137 km from Lisbon (about 1h35).
However, from Lisbon, there are even some options of organized tours, which can facilitate your visit to Tomar:
It is also possible to travel independently from Porto and Lisbon (and even from other Portuguese cities!) to Tomar. Of course, the journey will take longer, but it is possible. There is both a bus (Rede Expressos) and a train (CP) option.
Accommodation in Tomar
When in Tomar, I chose to stay at Flattered to be in Tomar. The flats have a fantastic location, very close to the city centre. Inserted in an old building but totally renovated, the flats offer a whole set of amenities.
Besides the bedroom(s) and a living room, they have a kitchenette, dishwasher and washing machine, microwave, fridge and all the necessary utensils for those who want to cook. In addition, the flats have a simple and modern decoration.
However, there are more accommodation options in Tomar:
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What to visit in Tomar?
Before starting the list of places to visit in Tomar, I’ll share a map with the main points of interest in the city.
01 | Convent of Christ
Any list of what to visit in Tomar will include the Convent of Christ. Built between the 12th and 18th centuries, this is the city’s trademark. Its construction is linked to the beginning of the Kingdom of Portugal and also to the Order of the Knights Templar, who were based in Tomar.
Regardless of religion, it is impossible not to be amazed by the incredible details of this Convent. The fact that it took so long to be built contributed to the incorporation of various architectural styles. After all, the Convent of Christ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Apart from the Main Cloister or the Crows Cloister, there are two places on this visit that are particularly surprising. These are the Manueline-style Chapter Window and the Templar Charola – the former private oratory of the Knights Templar.
📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The Convent of Christ is open from 9 am to 5.30 pm from October to May and until 6.30 pm the rest of the year. The price of the visit is 6€. For the most up-to-date information, please click here.
You can also take the opportunity to visit Tomar’s Castle, founded in 1160 and part of the Convent of Christ Complex.
02 | Seven Hills Forest
The Seven Hills Forest is another must-visit in Tomar. With 39 hectares, it is the city’s main park. It’s a beautiful place to take your time while enjoying its simplicity.
The forest is connected to Tomar’s Castle and Convent of Christ, as it was used by the Order of Christ. In fact, this forest is also known as “Cerca do Convento de Cristo”.
📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The visit is free of charge. However, opening hours vary depending on the time of year. You can check the most up-to-date information here.
03 | Mouchão Park
Mouchão Park is the first place in Tomar’s historic centre that I recommend you visit! It is another of the city’s green spaces, although smaller.
Situated by Nabão river, one of the main attractions of Mouchão Park is its large wooden water wheel, better known as the Nabão Wheel. This wheel used to transport water from the river to mills in the old days.
04 | Republic Square
Republic Square is one of the most important places in Tomar’s historic centre. Apart from the square’s inviting outdoor terraces, its main points of interest include the St John the Baptist Church and Paços do Concelho (now Tomar’s Town Hall).
In the centre of the square, we find a statue in honour of the Templar master and founder of the city – D. Gualdim Pais.
05 | Corredoura
Located on Serpa Pinto Street, Corredoura is a pedestrian street in Tomar that starts in Republic Square. Here you will find a bit of everything – from traditional commerce to cafés, restaurants and accommodation.
It is here that we find the iconic confectioner’s shop Estrelas de Tomar, where we can taste typical Tomar sweets (e.g. Beija-me Depressa, Queijinhos de Tomar, Fatias de Tomar).
06 | Levada de Tomar
Levada de Tomar is adjacent to Nabão river and has been undergoing renovation in recent years. Many of the buildings there used to be old mills and oil mills, milling factories and even a power plant, where water was the main source of energy.
Some of these spaces have been converted into museums, such as the building of the old power plant.
07 | Old Bridge
The Old Bridge, also known as the D. Manuel Bridge, crosses the Nabão River. No one knows for sure the history of its construction, but it is believed to have been a reuse of a bridge dating from the Roman Empire.
08 | Synagogue and Jewish Quarter
Located in the Old Jewish Quarter of Tomar, Tomar’s Synagogue was built in the 15th century. After the banning of Jews from Portugal, it became a prison, a hayloft and even a grocery store. While strolling through the Jewish Quarter, you will want to stop every minute for another photo!
The Interpretative Nucleus of Tomar’s Synagogue opened to the public in 2019. On the visit, we can learn about the origins of Judaism and the presence of Jews in Tomar.
📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Opening hours vary depending on the time of year. From April to September, visits are from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. In the remaining months, it is open from 10 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm.
09 | Pegões Aqueduct
Despite being outside the centre of Tomar, Pegões Aqueduct is one of the best places to visit in Tomar! It is also known as the Aqueduct of the Convent of Christ and served as a source of water supply for the Convent of Christ.
Its construction dates back to the 16th century, and the aqueduct is 6 km long. Currently, you can climb to its top and walk over the aqueduct. Trust me when I say it’s a memorable experience (especially at sunset) 😍!!!
However, I warn you that the aqueduct is over 30 metres high and, therefore, I do not recommend a visit to its top for those with vertigo or with children. Even so, it is worth the visit even if only to appreciate it from a lower perspective.
What else to visit in Tomar?
But the list of places to visit in Tomar doesn’t have to end here. If you want to add a day to your visit, you can also take the opportunity to get to know:
- Contemporary Art Nucleus Museum
- St Francis Convent, where the Matches Museum is located
- Convent of Santa Iria
- Santa Maria dos Olivais Church
- São Gregório Chapel
- Stairs to Nossa Senhora da Piedade Hermitage
- A Lúria (€€): located a few kilometres from the centre of Tomar, I especially recommend “magusto de carne” accompanied by a kind of mushroom “açorda”. The restaurant apparently gets crowded easily, so the best will be to guarantee a table some time in advance.
- A Brasinha (€€): a bit less central (but still in the centre of Tomar), this restaurant offers good grilled options.
- Sabores ao Rubro (€€): it’s best to book a table because the wait can be long. But once inside, the service is fast and the food is tasty.
- Patagonia (€€): escaping the more traditional flavours, this restaurant offers several Argentinean options at a relatively affordable price.
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