Portugal – Christmas Wonderland

Nov 21, 2018Center of Portugal, Portuguese culture and lifestyle

Portugal might not be the first destination you think about when it comes to Christmas destinations. Let us show you that Portugal has the potential to become your Christmas wonderland.

In the center of Portugal, Óbidos and Penela are the two best destinations!


This medieval city was once the wedding present for a queen. Nowadays, it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting walled settlements in Portugal. This enchanted town is a mandatory stop when you ’re visiting our country. Vestiges from different times and architectural influences are present around town. There’s much to explore: the old Medina area; Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque features. You’ll be surprised at every corner.

In December, this medieval city turns into Vila Natal. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your jaw will drop and you’ll let yourself be taken by the enchanted Christmas spirit! There are lots of activities.

At Óbidos Vila Natal you’ll be able to enjoy a ride on a Ferris wheel or on a Parisian carousel, watch theater, music and puppet shows. You’ll be able to skate on the ice rinks, jump on trampolines and ride the Christmas Train. There are a handful of activities for both adults and children. This is the perfect destination for a family weekend!

This will be a unique experience: visit a medieval city and enjoy a Christmas wonderland. Óbidos is, usually, a very warm city and this will be your chance to witness the charm of winter in the city. Even if the snow is artificial! All the rest is real and is jaw-dropping!

Óbidos is located 80 km north of Lisbon. It’s less than an hour drive. You can visit Lisbon and then take a day to let the Christmas spirit take over and just feel like a child again!


If you’re more into a less ‘pagan’ Christmas wonderland, Penela is your destination. Located between Coimbra and Tomar. It’s an hour and a half drive from Porto and Lisbon. Totally worth the visit during the season.

Penela is a small medieval village and the Castle is the center of it all. A medieval fortress of irregular plan and sinuous cut, taking advantage of the natural cliffs. The walls’ height varies from 7  to 19 meters. The castle has three doors which give access to the medieval village, its houses, streets, and church.

In the most exposed areas of the village, towers were raised to allow cross-defense of walls (between the towers) and the doors. Twelve towers were built until the 13th century. Some of them still remain standing. After a long period of abandonment, the castle and the walls were rebuilt and are now open for visits.

During Christmas time, in the castle area, you can visit Penela’s Nativity.  New technologies and 3D prints are used to animate more than two hundred figures. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “Presépio de Penela”.

There are a couple more nativity scenes for you to visit around Penela area. Both of them quite different from what you’ll see at the Castle. One of them is a Nativity scene created by the local craftsmen. It is installed at Espinhal’s Market. The difference is that this Nativity is inspired by the region. It’s landscape, it’s historical heritage, it’s natural resources and geography.

The third and last nativity scene recreates a more biblical nativity. It’s a live nativity scene, representing the birth of Christ, with rhythms and routines from the Hebrew daily life.

Penela is not only about nativity scenes! There are plenty of routes you can take to explore calcareous or schist paths, enjoy the beauty of the landscape, with secular trees and vibrant colored flowers and appreciate the diverse local fauna and flora.

No matter where you want to go, we can take you there!



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