11 Reasons Why Tomar Should Be on Your Portugal Bucket List

Tomar, Portugal
Tomar, Portugal | © Pecold/Shutterstock
Nina Santos

Enchanting and brimming with fascinating history, Tomar makes for a great stop while exploring Portugal. Located in the center of the country, it’s surrounded by forests, fields, and other charming rural towns, and although it’s a sleepy town at first glance, there is plenty to see and do. Here are a few reasons why Tomar is an excellent town to add to your Portugal bucket list.

Loved by over 40s

Epic architecture

Tomar is incredibly pretty. While standing in the middle of the town square, you’ll want to slowly revolve and snap pictures of every corner, including the beautifully tiled pavement. Next it’s time to take a short walk uphill. The Tomar Castle and Convent of Christ are the area’s shining jewels catching visitors’ attention from their hilltop perch. Built in the 12th century, these medieval buildings incorporate a mix of Portuguese Manueline architecture (the signature style from the Age of Discoveries) with Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and hints of other styles. The castle walls actually wrap around the convent and it’s common to call the entire complex the Convent of Christ.

In Tomar, charming and centuries-old chapels can be found on each side of town and the rural homes, some white-washed and others made of stone, add to the traditional feel.

Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal

The Knights Templar connection

Remember the religious military order mentioned in the Da Vinci Code? Dan Brown fans and history buffs interested in the Knights Templar can add to their fun by searching for Templar secrets when visiting Portugal. Tomar was a city planned for a branch of the Knights Templar, intended to serve as a home and headquarters, and it remained that way after the Templars reorganized themselves as the Military Order of Christ. Not only are the Tomar Castle and Convent of Christ considered Templar museums but the town center was planned as a cross. All around town are landmarks connected to this ancient group.

It is believed that the Order of Christ was partially responsible for funding Portugal’s voyages during the Age of Discoveries.

Knights Templars Castle, Tomar, Portugal

Traditional Portuguese charm

Tomar is a lovely town characterized by narrow-cobbled walkways, the mosaic-tiled squares, and a laid-back pace of life that’s typically experienced in Portugal. It’s easy to feel like you’ve traveled back through time while visiting this ancient town. Best of all, the friendly locals are happy to share their culture and stories with visitors, especially during long late-night dinners fueled with food and wine.

Tomar, Portugal

Beautiful gardens and parks

Around the Convent of Christ complex are small gardens and forested parks, including the National Forest of Seven Hills, just perfect for spending a peaceful day walking.

It has an aqueduct from the 17th century

There is something extraordinary about medieval aqueducts (check out Segovia, Spain). The amazing 6-kilometer-long Pegões Aqueduct was built to direct water to Tomar and, in particular, the Convent of Christ. Comprised of two levels of arches, it is one of the largest aqueducts in Portugal.

Pegoes Aqueduct, Estremadura, Portugal

Traditional regional food

One of the best experiences in Portugal is the culinary experience (characterized by simple recipes that are full of flavor) and the local family-run restaurants are great spots to taste regional dishes.

Even the local sweets are romantic!

Really! Among the local sweets are conventional favorites called “Beija-me depressa” translating as “kiss me quickly” and they even come in pink vintage boxes reminiscent of a 1950s style. Small, orange in color, and soft, they are like biting into sweet pieces of heaven made of custard (if you like traditional Portuguese pastries, they’re definitely worth a try). You can find them at the Pastelaria Estrelas de Tomar, a local pastry shop near Tomar’s riverbank.

Pastelaria Estrelas de Tomar: R. Serpa Pinto 12, Tomar, Portugal +351 249 313 275

It has a festival that only happens once every four years

One of Portugal’s more colorful and unique Christian festivals happens in Tomar only once every four years in July, a great reason to visit if you time it right. The highlight of the Festival dos Tabuleiros (Festival of Trays) is easily the parade characterized by two long lines of women carrying tall trays on their heads filled with bread and flowers, but the week around the festival is full of dancing, drinking and plenty of delicious Portuguese food. This also happens to be one of the country’s oldest festivals, dating as far back as the 1300s, and the next one will be in 2019 (start planning!).

Festa dos Tabuleiros, Tomar, Portugal

One of the country’s wondrous castles is nearby

The Castle of Almourol is one of Portugal’s more popular and beautiful castles and only a half hour drive from Tomar.

A great location to go trekking

Central Portugal is an excellent destination for hikers in general. In Tomar, you can walk through town, head up to the castle and church, and then continue on for 3 kilometers to the Pegões Aqueduct. It’s also near part of the pilgrim routes to Fátima and Santiago de Compostela.

The town is a living museum

Tomar is an exciting town for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and travelers who appreciate culture.

Tomar, Portugal

How many times can you say you visited a matchbox museum?

Tomar’s Museu dos Fosforos is filled with 43,000 beautifully decorated matchboxes collected from countries around the world, perhaps a strange concept but nonetheless a unique and interesting sight and it’s the largest museum of its kind in Europe (maybe even in the world).

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.