Carnival in Caldas usually kicks off on Thursday night with a party for the elderly in the big expo-hall near the roundabout of fuel station Galp and Staples Office Center. On Friday the city centre comes alive during a colourful parade of primary school children. Hundreds of bees, princesses and pirates wind their way through the streets of this medieval town at the Portuguese Silver Coast.
Saturday night it’s the turn of all sorts of ghosts, Arabian princesses, clowns and, this year, a lot of Trump look-a-likes, to come out of their warm houses and walk to the square where religion, justice and political power are fraternelly represented. Around half past ten the nighlty parade starts, followed by a ball in the ancient park.
For weeks inhabitants of Caldas, people from surrounding villages and association members have been working on trailers for the parade. Luckily they are scheduled to run three times during the Carnival celebrations. Once on Saturday night, followed by Sunday and Tuesday afternoon at three o’clock. .Enough opportunity to show off their creations and perform in front of the gathered crowds!
Besides the parades, there are two balls in the park, starting at 23.00 hours on Saturday and Monday night.
So, if you missed it this year. Do come next year!
Hundreds of colourful performers make their way down from the tiny railwaystation, across the main avenue, Avenida 1 de Maio, to the square where the city mayor waits patiently on the staircase of the Town Hall. A wide range of topics comes by: Trump’s politics, protests against medical care and references to the historical thermal character are leading this year.
Where to stay?
Rural, Dutch owned, Bed and Breakfasts (some of them with glamping facilities) near Caldas da Rainha:
People keep asking me all the time: “Do you know a good restaurant?”. As a matter of fact, I do.
We spend a lot of time in restaurants, so we know quite a few nice places where they serve a decent meal for a reasonable price near Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho in the Silver Coast (Costa de Prata) area.
In Portugal people tend to start the day sipping a ‘bica‘, a strong espresso, and eating a freshly baked ‘pastel de nata’ (custard tart). Or something else, as long as it is sweet. There is so much choice for gourmands!
Portuguese peolple are used to have a warm meal twice a day: the first one between noon and three o’clock in the afternoon and the second between seven and ten o’clock at night. Besides these meals they they kill their hunger around five o’clock with a ‘lanche’, a snack, usually some pastry, biscuits covered with butter or a small sandwich.
No wonder there are lots of ‘pastelarias‘ (pastry shops) and ‘padarias‘ (bakeries) where you can buy cups of coffee, sandwiches, pastry, freshly baked bread and during lunch break a small bowl of soup or a light meal.
Portuguese employees use to get a small lunchcompensation from their employer. That’s why at lunchtime many restaurants and pastelarias offer a decent meal for prices far below ten euros. Lucky us!
Restaurants and nice places in the surroundings of Caldas da Rainha (Costa de Prata)
During quite a while A Lareira (the ‘Fireplace’) has been out of favour after an unpleasant experience . But at the beginning of May 2015 we rediscovered this restaurant in Alto do Nobre, near the villages Foz do Arelho and Nadadouro.
Nowadays, during weekdays you can enjoy a lovely meal for 8,50 euros (weekends 12,50 euro). And that’s not much for what you get: an ‘amuse bouche’, nice bread, appetizer, a decent mean course (fish or meat) and dessert. Besides that, the wine accompagning your meal is excellent and doesn’t cost a fortune (1,50 euro a glass).
In case you like to know: the owner is also responsible for the selfservice restaurant in the excentric Garden of Peace, also called Buddha Eden and Quinta dos Loridos, near Carvalhal – Bombarral.
If you want you can always eat ‘à la carte’. Then you spend around twenty or thirty euros a person.
Appetizers at A Lareira
Rua da Lareira 35
village Alto do Nobre- parish Nadadouro – city Caldas da Rainha
T: (00 351) 262 823432
Sana Silver Coast Hotel of het oude Hotel Lisbonense
In former days the king and his entourage liked to dine in Hotel Lisbonense while visiting Caldas da Rainha. You will still find the menu and what he was served in the glass displays of the hotel.
Nowadays a big hotelchain (Sana Hotels) is in charge of the hotel and restaurant. Unfortunately locals tend to find the hotel a bit snobbish. Just as every Portuguese I like a plate covered with nice food. Yes, perhaps you get less quantity, but I have never left the Sana Silver Coast restaurant with an empty tummy. And to say the truth: we always wonder how it is possible to lunch so well for around twenty euros. Elsewhere in Europe you pay twice as much for less quality food.
And not in the least important: the ‘house’ wine is excellent.
Sana Silver Coast Hotel
Avenida Dom Manuel Figueira Freire da Câmara
Caldas da Rainha, Portugal
T: 351 262 000 600
Parking is for free in the car park under the shopping mall (be aware to get the right ticket!)
The Sana Silver Coast Hotel is a great place to stay for a holiday in Caldas da Rainha or Obidos. It’s located opposite the citypark, not far from many shops, near the old city centre of Caldas da Rainha and close to several museums. By car it doesn’t take long to get to medieval Obidos or Foz do Arelho-beach. Besides, the hotel is on a walking distance of the bus- and railwaystation of Caldas da Rainha.
Great idea: spend Carnival or Silvester (New Year) at the hotel!
Solar dos Amigos
Solar dos Amigos is extremely popular. Come early or make a reservation, otherwise you will have to wait, especially on Sunday during lunch. Portugual is a country of meat lovers. At Solar dos Amigos in the little village Guisado they serve giant steaks. So no wonder it’s crowded inside!
When you don’t want to eat too much, choose the ‘bitoque’. But if you want to have the full treat order ‘cascos à casa’ or ‘costeletas de novilho’. All grilled. You will be astonised by the size. Normally the waitresses try to temper your enthousiasm, saying one portion can easily fill the stomachs of three people. Listen to them! If you don’t like meat, try the ‘bacalhau’. After dealing with the main course they let you choose out of a tray full of deserts. And they are so tempting that you want to have them all…
Solar dos Amigos
Rua Principal 49
village Guisado – parish Salir de Matos- townCaldas da Rainha
T: (00351) 262877135
Only cash, no cards accepted!
Why eat Indian food when there is so much nice Portuguese food to taste? Well, Portuguese people like to eat something exotic as well. Besides, Goa has been an old Portuguese colony in India, so it doesn’t seem very odd that a restaurant serving curry and tandoori opens in Caldas da Rainha.
It took quite a while before locals and foreigners discovered Delhi Darbar. But nowadays on Tripadvisor the restaurant is recommended as being the first or second best in Caldas da Rainha.
Vegetarians can have a hard time in Portugal. But at Delhi Darbar you find many dishes without meat (and fish). We love number 74: navratan korma. It’s a vegetarian curry I highly recommend.
During weekdays Delhi Darbar serves a meal for 7,50 euro: delicious naan bread, a curry of your choice, one beverage and coffee afterwards included. At night and during weekends you pay the normal price. In that case you spend around 15 to 20 euros a person.
Tip: this restaurant is a two minute walk from Sana Silver Coast Hotel. When you are with your back standing in front of the hotel, pass over to the park and go to the right. Keep walking straight ahead (in the direction of ‘Obidos’) till you see a flat with a staircase leading you down to the entrance of the restautant Delhi Darbar.
Chinese restaurant ‘Casa Shao’
My aunt likes to go to the Chinese restaurant Casa Shao. And to say the truth, they have lovely sushi and you can pick your own food. So, if you are a vegetarian it’s more likely to find here something to eat than in normal Portuguese restautants. The Chinese restaurant is close to the bus station of Caldas da Rainha. A meal costs 8 or 9 euros (drinks are not included).
Chinês Casa Shao
Rua Coronel Soeiro de Brito 25
Caldas da Rainha
Opposite Caixa Agrícola and one of the entries of the busstation of Caldas da Rainha
Fortaleza or Mercado de Santana
Restaurant Fortaleza is not far from Mercado de Santana, the huge farmer’s market on Sunday morning in Venda da Costa in the parish of Alvorninha (this parish belongs to the city of Caldas da Rainha).
In Santana you see many places where they roast chicken on a spit. It’s really a happening to sit there and enjoy a ‘frango piri piri’, or, my favourite, a ‘frango com limão’ (chicken covered with a little bit of lemon sauce). In case you think ‘frango piri piri’ is very spicy, don’t be afraid. Normally it’s not too hot. If you don’t like chicken, choose a place where they roast ‘bacalhau‘ (cod fish). And don’t forget to order ‘migas‘ ( a kind of pap made out of corn bread, cabbage and garlick).
If you don’t want to eat as a lot of locals do on Sunday at lunchtime, you go to Alto da Serra, Rio Maior. By car it’s a ten minute drive from Santana Market. During weekdays and on Sunday they serve at Restaurante Fortaleza an excellent buffet. All tables are nicely covered with tablelinnen. Lunch during weekdays costs 8,50 euro and on Sunday 12,50 euro. One drink and coffee afterwards included.
Attention: there is another restaurant in Alto da Serra. For Restaurant Fortaleza you have to climb the hill!
In summertime you can combine a lunch at Restaurant Fortaleza with a visit to the saltpans of ‘Salinas-Rio Maior’. From the car park of restaurant Fortaleza you can see the saltpans in the distance.
Mercado de Santana
Village Santana/ Venda da Costa – parish Alvorninha- city Caldas da Rainha
Looking for a special place to spend the night? The owner of Restaurante Fortaleza has some old Portugues mills in the natural park opposite the restaurant. An ideal spot!
Pousada de Obidos
A royal dinner? Then go to the “Pousada de Obidos”. But the truth is: my experiences are variable. Of course, the setting is great, specially if you manage to get the table at the window, but the food hasn’t left me that enthousiastic by times. Nevertheless, for a romantic dinner it’s the place to be. Count on spending around 30/40 euros a person (which is a lot, keeping in mind what I normally spend in the neighbourhood of Óbidos).
Pousada de Obidos
straat: Paço Real
T: 00 351 262 955 080
Website of all pousadas in Portugal: www.pousadas.pt
My aunt lives on a comb in a tiny village between Caldas da Rainha and Rio Maior. Every day a baker drives through the little villages selling fresh bread and pasty. My aunt, a widow, is always very happy to see the baker. He goes everywhere and has a lot to fresh stories to tell.
So the baker told my aunt there was a nice restaurant at the former Fish Market in Caldas da Rainha (also known as Praça 5 de Outubro) and I immediately got an invitation to have lunch there. The baker is right: food is good, the staff pleasant and attentive. I had a big sole and my dishmates enjoyed grilled salmon. So far so good, but asking 4,50 euro for a mango as dessert is way too much in our surroundings…
Praça 5 Outubro number 37
Caldas da Rainha
T: 00 351 964435165
In case you think: this restaurant is in Lisbon. No, you’re wrong. The owners surname is Lisboa. That’s why this restaurant – in the Industrial area between Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho- is called Restaurante Lisboa.
By far my husband’s and his friends’ favourite. A buffet where you can eat all you want for only 10 euros (on Friday/ Saturdaynight and on Sunday lunchtime 13,50 euro). And there is a lot to choose. Ideal for children and vegetarians. If you don’t want a main course you can enlight your stay eating as many desserts you like. Or salads…
Rua João Reis, Zona Industrial
Caldas da Rainha
The restaurant is located in the industrial area between Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho, in one of the side streets of the Avenida Atlântica (the quick way to the beach of Foz do Arelho). An ideal place to stop before or after going to the beach!
A lot of families celebrate birthdays in this restaurant. In Portugal it’s normal that you bring your own birthdaycake to the restaurant. I remember nights we sang twice or three times “Happy Birthday” for groups having a birthdayperson in their middle. Very funny!
Nice to know: free wifi for guests!
At equestrian center CEIA in Alfeizerão they serve meals, as well.
Every day at lunchtime the restaurant offers a meal for 8 euro (weekends 13,50 euro). Overlooking the sandy outdoor area you are served soup, a main course (meat or fish) and dessert. On Sunday there is a well attended lunchbuffet. Be sure to come early on Sunday, otherwise it’s difficult to find an empty table.
Ceia – Centro Equestre International Alfeizerão
Estrada Nacional 8, km 89
Vale de Maceira
T: (00351)262 980048
Only lunch, but during the weekend also dinner.They organize fado-concerts on a regular basis. And, of course, you can do some horseriding, as well.
Escola da Vela at the Lagoon of Obidos
Lovely spot to have a simple meal (hamburger, omelette, salad) and to enjoy the beautiful panorama.
A lot of outdoor sportlovers come here to (kite)surf or sail. In wintertime it’s nice to spend the afternoon on the terrace, drinking a coffee or two.
Escola de Vela da Lagoa
Rua do Penedo Furado
Nadadouro (at the Lagoon of Obidos – Lágoa de Obidos – )
T: (00 351) 262 978592
It’s also the place to be in case you want lessons (kite-surfing, sailing etc.) or to rent material.
Foz do Arelho boulevard
Cais da Praia
At the beginning of the big car park leading to the Atlantic Ocean you find Cais da Praia. In summer and winter, a good place for a beer or a light meal.
Nice bar for cocktails. Or to spend a Saturdaynight. And beerlovers attention: they have Grimbergen. The whole day you can order a light meal (hamburger, pizza, toast or my favourite, ‘torrada‘, toasted bread with loads of butter, very simple and tasteful). Because of the lounge music and relaxed atmosphere this place is very trendy. Some people stay halve a day on the terrace, reading a book or socializing with friends. Having a Grimbergen, cocktail or ‘bica‘ right in front of them.
At the far end of the boulevard you find Ala Norte. Also a nice place to spend some time. Some televisionmakers thought the same. Last year, the café and beach in front where used in the soap Água do Mar. Actors, stylists and filmmakers spent their breaks in Ala Norte.
Going to the beach? In ‘pastelarias’ (pastry shops) or ‘paderias’ (bakeries) nice sandwiches are made for less than two euros. As for the bread, I like ‘pão caseiro’ the best. You can choose between ‘papo seco’ or ‘pão caseiro’. A ‘papo seco‘ is light and white, a ‘pão caseiro’ has darker flour and is heavier. Much more tasteful.
Sandes de queijo com/sem manteiga (cheesesandwich with/without butter) Sandes de fiambre com/sem manteiga (hamsandwich with/without butter) Sandes misto com/sem manteiga (chees- and hamsandwich with/without butter)
Luckily we don’t like to throw stuff away in this family. That’s why we still have pricelists of 1943, 1944 and 1945. My greatgrandfather was a farmer with a small grocery shop in the Silvercoast area. During world war II food was rationed in Portugal, as well.
In the years of severe fighting throughout Europe (1939-1945), Portugal remainded neutral and therefore a safe heaven for many. In the Silvercoast area sites like Foz do Arelho and Caldas da Rainha are known to be places where refugees who escaped the horrors of war in northern Europe spent their days waiting for better times to come or hoping for a ticket on one of carriers heading from Lisbon to America. In a silent video kept in United States Holocaust Memorial Museum you can watch Jewish refugees in Caldas da Rainha attending a farmer’s market, washing clothes, enjoying coffee in café Bocage, which still exist on the top of the central square, and playing cards in fancy Hotel Lisbonense, nowadays Sana Silver Coast Hotel.
Advertising posters from 1943 on explain how food is distributed and what prices have to be paid in grocery shops. The price of butter ended up skyhigh in 1944. In fact butter was much more expensive than Portuguese traditional codfish. In January 1943 people paid 21,50 escudos for some butter while codfish was only 8,70 escudos. In March 1944, however, the price of butter went up to 29 escudos.
The last advertising poster we have in our possession is dated 1946. Probably there was no longer need to ration essencial foodstuff from 1947 onwards. Nowadays, in the part of the world I live in, there is plenty of everything. I can’t remember having spent one day with an empty belly. How extremely lucky we are!
I grew up with Bordallo Pinheiro ceramics. In the old city centre of Caldas da Rainha, nameplates of streets are made by this ceramic company of late nineteen hundreds.
And if you wonder why many houses around the thermal area have tiles in Jugendstil colours, the answer is: thanks to Bordallo Pinheiro!
Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846/1905) is the founder of the company Bordallo Pinheiro ( with two ‘l’s!). His brother, Feliciano, is engaged with the organization while Rafael sets out the artistic lines. In 1905 Rafael dies and his son Manuel is able to protect his father’s legacy till the year he himself dies. Workers and important people of the city understand the importance of this company and manage to maintain the production till 2008. In that year the crisis begins. Luckily there is a buyer: Grupo Visabeira. The production hall at the end of the park in Caldas da Rainha is closed. But part of the factory is a shop where you can still buy Bordallo Pinheiro faience made in the factory at the industrial park half-way between Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho.
Of course, you have to like these strange forms and designs. If you are not used to minimalistic design, the pottery of Bordallo Pinheiro can cause eye strain. But I know for a fact that even in a Nordic house full of sleek design a Bordallo Pinheiro pumpkin soup bowl can bring a sparkle of humour into grey days!
While visiting the Bordallo Pinheiro shop opposite the Museu de Cerâmica in Caldas da Rainha please visit the small garden of the Museu de Cerâmica, as well. Just ask if you can see the garden, it’s for free. In this garden you see many, huge, animal ceramics Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro made. The house of the museum and it’s garden is a lovely area to take romantic pictures and the garden is often used for wedding photo-shoots.
If you want to know for sure you are buying the real thing, in A-quality, certify yourself buy looking at this logo with a frog. If the frog has a line in the middle, you are dealing with B-quality. Normally the B-quality is much, much cheaper and very often as beautiful as the A-quality!