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Sitting on the River Liz, Leiria is a graceful and historical town known for its cobbled streets, abundant squares and beautiful gardens. A university town, it is perched on a hilltop about 6 km from its original Roman settlement named "Colippo". In the shadow of a stunning Moorish castle with Gothic touches from a later conqueror, it is surrounded by the Leiria pine forest, the oldest state forest in the world dating from 1300. Today the forest is a favorite picnic spot and overnight camping area.
The old quarter around Praca Roderigues Lobo overflows with bustling bars and cafes that are frequented by the sometimes-rowdy university crowd and or locals chasing a drink. There is a 16th Century cathedral and a riverside park, Jardim Luis de Camoes, to roam around. Littered with 16th and 17th buildings, the narrow streets off Candido dos Reis Square hold more restaurants and shops to explore. Make sure you try the local specialty of "bolo de pinhão" (aka pine nut cake) with your morning espresso.
Leiria is the perfect village to base yourself in if you wish to explore the surrounding towns of Alcobaca, Batalha and Fatima. Fatima is where 3 shepherd children claim to have seen the Virgin Mary and today it is over run with hawkers of religious nick-nacks.
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