Portugal City Travel Guide: Covilhã
Covilhã, 44km south of Guarda, is located on the eastern edge of the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela. Covilhã is associated with the wool fabric and dyeing industry and was a major production centre for military uniforms for the Portuguese army from the 17th-19th centuries as well as other clothing items.
Covilhã is now a pleasant base for winter skiing and summer hiking in the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela.
Covilhã is a hilltop town with its main bus station and railway station located on the plain below. It's a strenuous walk up to the center of town at Praça do Municipio or take a number #13 bus from the bus station.
If you do walk up to the old town you will pass the new Tinturaria - Galeria de Exposições gallery space housed in an historic textile factory building with displays of modern art and preserved industrial machinery imported in the 19th century from Britain. The gallery opened in 2006 and includes some lovely interiors and pleasant gardens with water features and a cafe/restaurant/bar.
Further up the hill is the campus of the Universidade de Beira Interior and the main site of the Museu de Lanificios which is dedicated to the history of Covilhã's wool spinning and dyeing industry.
The Museu de Lanificios is housed in the former Real Fabrica de Panos (Royal Textile Factory), which began in the 17th century utilizing water power from the area's mountain streams. Huge dyeing vats are on display alongside preserved wooden spinning machines and wall panels explaining the local textile industry, which provided clothing mainly for the uniforms of Portugal's soldiers and sailors from the 17th-19th centuries.
The Real Fábrica Veiga is a separate part of the museum (you can buy a combined ticket for the two) containing a number of historic granite buildings housing an historical archive and document center.
The center of town is the sleepy Praça do Municipio from where local buses radiate around the urban area. There's a statue of local hero Pêro de Covilhã, who set out to locate the legendary Prester John in Ethiopia in 1487, though he never returned from his voyage, held in Ethiopia from 1524. Vasco da Gama is said to have been inspired by his writings on the journey to India. Nearby is the free Museu de Arte e Cultura with exhibits of both modern and classical Portuguese art works.
Up the stairs behind Praça do Municipio is a beautiful square containing the 16th century church of Santa Mariá with azulejos tiling added in the 1940's. The adjacent building has a contemporary mural to match.
Other of the town's historic churches are San Silvestre and Igreja São Francisco next to the Jardim Publico, a spacious park in the Portuguese tradition, which has fine views over the plain below.
Covilha Tourist Office
Covilha Tourist Office.
Praça do Município 6200 151 Covilhã.
Tel. 275 330 600.
Getting to Covilha
Covilhã's train station is located below the town and has links to Castelo Branco (1 hour) and Lisbon (4-5 hours).
The N18 highway heads south to Covilha from Guarda via Belmonte. The A23/IP2 runs north-south down to Lisbon.
Covilha has bus connections to Guarda (45 minutes), Lisbon (3 hours, 30 minutes), Belmonte (30 minutes), Castel Branco (1 hour), and Viseu (2 hours). There is only one daily bus to Manteigas, Penhas da Saude and Seia.
Connections to Salamanca in Spain with onward connections to Madrid leave from Guarda.
Covilha has a number of centrally located places to stay including the 3-star Hotel Solneve, the Residencial Panorama, the Hotel Dos Carqueijais and the 4-star Hotel Turismo da Covilha Congress & Spa.
See here for a full listing of hotel accommodation in Covilha.
Estrada do Monte Serrano nº13, 6200-570 Covilhã, Portugal.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Covilhã
There are cafes in the central square and adjacent to Santa Mariá church. Montiel in Praça do Municipio is recommended for its local food.
List your restaurant/bar/hotel contact Advertising
Most of the hotels in Covilha have their own WiFi.
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
Get more weather information for Portugal