Our next “stay the night” stop in Portugal after Coimbra was the Douro Valley, where we would spend one night at Quinta Nova. We didn't drive directly from Coimbra to the Douro Valley, though, as Google Maps had shown me something interesting along the way: Mata nacional do Bussaco.
Mata Nacional do Mussaco
This park (10 hectares) has different entrances and can be accessed by foot, by bike or by car. If you're really brave and have enough time, you can go by foot or by bike, but I strongly recommend you go by car (it's €5 per car, while it's free to go on foot).
Why? Well, mainly because the interesting hiking paths don't start until you're well into the park and as the park is situated on hilly terrain, you'll gladly skip the less interesting part. There are several places within the park were you can park your car to go explore, or you can immediately drive to the center of the park where you'll find the visitors shop, which doubles as an info center. There you can get a map of the different hiking routes.
Another thing you'll find there is the 5-star Palace Hotel do Bussaco, housed in a former monastery.
And located next to the visitors shop, there's a small terrace where they sell some snacks, ice cream and drinks. I'm mentioning this because Boyfriend ordered a hot dog there and this is what he got:
That's right: there are tiny fries/chips on the hot dog! And they tasted good.
A stop to make
I highly recommend visiting the park. It offers great hiking possibilities, the hotel is beautiful and it’s an ideal stop if you’re heading from Lisbon to the north or the other way around. It’s pretty hilly terrain, but we even saw one courageous mountain biker there.
I didn't go inside the hotel, but you can find plenty of reviews on booking sites.
Side note: funny was that a couple we’d seen at breakfast at our hotel that morning was visiting Mata Nacional do Bussaco on the exact same day as we were.
Where to stay in Portugal
check Booking.com for an extensive list of options for all budgets and needs.