Destinations: Tomar, Portugal
Where to stay?
For an affordable and comfortable stay in Tomar, look out for the 2* Hotel Kamanga. A twin/double room costs as little as €40 a night and that includes a rather plentiful continental breakfast. Rooms in the Kamanga are fitted with en-suite facilities, have cable television and offer internet access. It’s clean and comfortable, and there is a lift for guests should you find yourself on the higher floors. The hotel is located in the centre of town and is a 5 minute walk away from some great restaurants, shops, bars and all the major tourist attractions. The Hotel Kamanga is run by some very friendly ladies who really make you feel at home, even if, like me, your Portuguese is limited to a couple of words.
Another option in the old town is Residencial Luz located on Rua Serpa Pinto. I only spent the one night there and I’d had quite a lot of red wine but as far as I can remember it was great. There is WiFi throughout the property and all rooms come with a TV.
What to see?
Tomar is a beautiful yet quite small city, perfect for a long weekend break or a week’s rest and relaxation. It is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Convent of Christ. The convent of Christ or Convento de Cristo if you want to show off is a fantastic place to visit, once the headquarters of the Knights Templar. Entrance to the site is a very affordable €6 at time of writing and is, in my opinion, worth every cent. The convent and castle are beautiful and offer many great photo opportunities. On a side note it also it sells swords and goblets in the gift shop. I have a goblet, the sword is on its way.
As well as the Convent of Christ you should most definitely take a trip to the matchbox museum, home to over 40,000 matchboxes and the friendliest museum worker I have ever met! The museum itself is really quite a sight, you won’t believe how much space 40,000 matchboxes take up until you see it with your own eyes. People of a nervous disposition should be aware that there are a few ‘fruity’ boxes from the far east on show. It’s a PG13 rating in parts.
Another thing to see in Tomar is me! I am currently living here and as part of the digital nomad community, I will be more than happy to give anyone that visits a unique tour of the best Tomar has to offer.
Where to eat?
If you are after the full on (tourist) medieval experience you should try the Taverna Antiqua which is a medieval themed restaurant. The food is made using traditional recipes and ingredients to create authentic, tasty and interesting food. The taverna is open from 12 so lunch and a large glass of mead is an option before you set of to explore Tomar.
Tabernaculo Do Rio is located, surprisingly, close to the river on Rua Marques de Pombal. The food and wine have always been excellent whenever I have eaten there and the staff are very friendly. Thursday night is music night at the Tabernaculo which starts at 10, make sure you arrive early to ensure a seat as it fills up quite quickly.
If either of those don’t sound like your idea of fun, Tomar has many other fine eateries for you to try. The Chinese restaurant whose name I forget is easily located on Rua Joáo Carlos Everard and is delicious. Casas Das Ratas is much nicer than the name suggests and Restaurante Jardim is a great find in the middle of the old town.
Where to drink?
Tomar, like a lot of Portuguese places I’ve visited, is full of bars. Bars of all types, all sizes, all sorts. Bars, bars, bars. It’s impossible to pick just one to recommend as all of the ones I have visited are welcoming, cheap and quite a lot of fun. The best advice for where to drink is to explore the streets and pick one that takes your fancy.
Two of my favourite places to go for various reasons are:
Amor Lusitano, a great wine bar which has all kinds of regional wine and also hosts a monthly wine tasting night.
Cafe Paraiso which is good for beer, cheese toasts and a lively atmosphere.
Stay away from any caracóis á portuguesa unless you know what they are, you might be in for a nasty surprise, I was. Explore the narrow streets, visit the local shops, try the local wine and most definitely visit the convent.