Torres Vedras | Portugal Visitor
Portugal City Travel Guide: Torres Vedras
Torres Vedras is a lively town in Estremadura with a population of around 20,000 people in the city itself.
The town is 40 km north of Lisbon to which it is connected by bus and train.
Torres Vedras is perhaps most famous as the place where the Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, built a line of interlinking fortifications (Lines of Torres Vedras) during the Peninsular War (1807-1814) to keep Napoleon’s French forces at bay. The Lines are now a National Heritage site and can be walked to visit the remains still intact.
The town and surrounding area had the usual history of control by Romans, Visigoths and Moors. King Afonso I recaptured the town in 1148 from the Moors and the town’s charter or foral was granted in 1250 by the Portuguese monarchy.
The area is rich agriculturally with wine traditionally produced in abundance along with beans and potatoes. Red, white and rosé wines are all bottled in the area and it is possible to visit some of the local quintas.
Wellington’s Lines of Torres Vedras were built between 1809 and 1810 by local Portuguese and included 152 forts and over 600 smaller redoubts. They stretched 40 km from the mouth of the Rio Sizandro on the coast to Alhandra on the Tagus. Many are still visible today and walking the Lines has become something of a tourist attraction in recent years. Just outside the town is Forte de São Vicente, the first of the fortifications to be constructed and one of the most important. There is a modern Interpretation Center inside the former Chapel of São Vicente.
The original Moorish Castelo de Torres Vedras rises up from a small hill. Although it was damaged in the 1755 Earthquake the walls still survive.
On occasion a royal residence, it was here that Dom João I decided on an invasion of North Africa to take Ceuta in 1414, in a way signalling the beginning of the Age of Discovery.
Roman cisterns have also been found in the castle’s grounds evidence that the fortress dates back much earlier than first thought.
Nearby is the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo which was built to give thanks for the defeat of the Moors in the 12th century. Its architecture is a mix of earlier Romanesque and later Manueline.
Another church, the Igreja de São Pedro also features a Manueline portal along with a rich range of azulejos tiles.
The Igreja de São Tiago (Igreja de Santiago) features a Manueline-style facade and a bell tower. Inside, there is a marble pulpit, dating from the 17th century and 18th-century tiles. The original church was probably built in the reign of Dom Afonso Henriques.
The Aqueduto de Torres Vedras east of town dates from some time in the mid-16th century and used to carry water to the Chafariz dos Canos, an ornamental fountain within Torres Vedras. Around 2 km of the double-arched structure still stands.
The town has some excellent museums for its size. The former Convento da Graça is now home to the Leonel Trindade Municipal Museum. There are exhibits relating to archeology, the Lines of Torres Vedras as well as a collection of religious art. On display are fragments dating back to the Stone Age and Roman times, uniforms and weapons from the Peninsular War and a collection of medieval tombstones. The adjacent Igreja da Graça, the church of the former convent, still holds some services including Sunday Mass.
Local hero and Tour de France cyclist Joaquim Agostinho is honored at the modern Museu do Ciclismo Joaquim Agostinho. The museum is dedicated to the history of cycling in general and Portugal’s greatest cyclist in particular.
The Centro de Interpretação da Comunidade Judaica de Torres Vedras is dedicated to the history and culture of the area’s Jewish population. Opened in 2017, the building stands close to the old Jewish quarter. Wall panels and original documents explain the history of Portugal’s Jewish community.
A few kilometers south west of the town is Castro do Zambujal, a Copper Age settlement believed to date to the 3rd millennium BC. Most of the finds are now in the Leonel Trindade Municipal Museum.
Carnival is big in Torres Vedras with large, colorful and fun parades through the streets. The festival here is known as the “most Portuguese Carnival in Portugal” with masked revelers, music and fireworks adding to the fun. Unfortunately the event was canceled in 2021 and 2022 but hopefully will be back in 2023.
Torres Vedras Tourist Office
Rua 9 de Abril
2650-300 Torres Vedras
Tel. 261 310 483
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Getting to Torres Vedras
Train Travel in Portugal
Torres Vedras Station is on the Linha do Oeste and has trains to Santa Apolónia Station in Lisbon and Mira Sintra-Meleças (for connections to Sintra Station in Sintra), as well as services to the north including to Caldas, Leiria, Figueira, Caldas da Rainha and Coimbra. Trains from Lisbon also depart from Entrecampos and Sete Rios stations. Journey time from the capital to Torres Vedras via Mafra and Sapataria is about 90 minutes.
Car Travel in Portugal
From Lisbon take the A8 highway north to Torres Vedras. Journey time should be 40-50 minutes depending on traffic from Lisbon.
Bus Travel in Portugal
There are Rede Expressos buses to Torres Vedras from Sete Rios bus station. The bus takes only 45 minutes which is much faster than the train which can take as long as 2 hours.
There are also buses (numbers 700 & 701) from Campo Grande Station on the Lisbon metro to Torres Vedras operated by Barraqueiro Oeste.
The bus stops at Loures, Lousa, Venda do Pinheiro, Malveira, Livramento, Turcifal and Torres Vedras.
Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation
Torres Vedras offers a small range of accommodation with just a few hotels, as well as several private villas and guest houses.
Some recommendations are the Stay Hotel Torres Vedras Centro, the Quebra Costas Rooms and the guest house Lines of Wellignton [sic].
See a complete listing of places to stay in Torres Vedras.
Featured Hotel in Torres Vedras
Stay Hotel Torres Vedras Centro
Praça 25 De Abril, 17, 2560-285 Torres Vedras
Buffet breakfast & free WiFi.
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There is a wide choice of places to eat in Torres Vedras.
Established eateries that have been around for some time include O Gordo on Rua Almirante Gago Coutinho, next door to Taberna 22.
Other places that come recommended are Barracão, west of the center, known for its charcoal grills and Restaurante Midi.
Rather surprisingly there are also several restaurants serving Japanese food. Tawa Sushi, close to the Municipal Market and railway station, was the first.
Havaneza on Praça da República is a great place for a coffee or something stronger.
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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Other places to visit in the Estremadura region of Portugal include Alcobaça, Batalha, Caldas da Rainha, Fátima, Foz do Arelho, Golegã, Leiria, Mafra, Nazaré, Óbidos, Ourém, Peniche, Santarém, Tomar, Ericeira and Vila Franca de Xira.