A trip to Tomar is the ideal way to get out of Lisbon for a day or a couple of days to explore the Convent of Christ, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the Castle of Almourol.
You can take this trip either independently or as part of a tour.
Where is Tomar
The city of Tomar is located in Central Portugal. It is about 140km (87mi) northeast of Lisbon, approximately one and half hour drive.
What to See in Tomar and Almourol
In one day, you’ll be able to see:
Convent of Christ
Tomar is dominated to its west by the monumental complex known as the Convent of Christ, sitting at the top of a hill. The Convent of Christ is not one monument, but instead it comprises the Castle, the Convent, the national wood Mata dos Sete Montes, the hermitage Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and the aqueduct of Pegões.
Founded in 1160 by the Order of the Templars, the Convent was designed to symbolise the Reconquest. However, built over five centuries, it came to symbolise the Portuguese maritime expansion during the Manueline period in the 16th century.
The Convent of Christ in Tomar is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Convent’s highlights include the 12th century Oratory of the Templars, or Charola, the window of the chapter-house decorated in the Manueline style, and the main cloister (also known as the cloister of King D. João III).
Timetable: Oct – May 9am to 5.30pm; Jun – Sep 9am to 6.30pm
Tomar’s Historic Centre
Tomar’s town centre is small, but has an interesting cross-shaped layout pointing to the four cardinal points that mark the four convents in the town. The town centre is quite walkable.
The main square is Praça da República which has the town hall and the Church of São João Baptista. From here, you can visit the to the south the oldest synagogue in Portugal, the Convent of S. Francisco and the old town square; to the north, the Chapel of S. Gregório and Nossa Senhora da Piedade and the old Convent of the Anunciada; to the west, the Castle hill and the Convent of Christ; to the east, the bridge, the old mills, and the Convent of Santa Iria.
Castle of Almourol
Sitting on an island in the middle of the River Tejo, the Castle of Almourol, dating back to at least 1129, is one of the most famous medieval military monuments of the Reconquest. It’s also evocative of the Templars presence in Portugal.
The Castle of Almourol is about 33km (21mi) from Tomar, approximately 30 minutes by car.
Price: €2.5, including access by boat to the castle
Timetable: Nov – Feb 10am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 5pm, closes on Monday; Mar – Oct 10am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 7pm
How to Get from Lisbon to Tomar
Take the A1 motorway northbound, then take the A23 exit towards Torres Novas. Continue on A23 and exit towards Tomar on EM531. Read about where to hire a car in Lisbon.
There is a direct regional service from Lisbon Oriente Station at Parque das Nações to Tomar that takes about 2 hours.
You can also take the faster Intercidades from Lisbon Oriente Station at Parque das Nações to Entroncamento, and then change to the Regional to Tomar – the entire trip may take 1h40.
For timetable and prices, see www.cp.pt.
Take a direct coach from Lisbon to Tomar with Rede Expressos. It will get you there in one hour and 45 minutes. Coaches from Lisbon Sete Rios Bus Station to Tomar depart from 7am onwards. However, the schedules may not always be very convenient for tourists.
For timetable and prices, see www.rede-expressos.pt.
Staying in Tomar
There are a few lodging options in and around Tomar if you decide to spend the night. See the best offers on booking.com.
Places to Eat in Tomar
The town centre has a number of nice restaurants. Two of the most popular centrally located restaurants in Tomar are the Tabuleiro (Rua Serpa Pinto) where you can try the arroz de peixe (rice with fish and shrimp), and the Taverna Antiqua (Praça da República, 23) that serves food with a medieval theme.