We have just returned from one week in Portugal to visit my brother-in-law. He’s been living in Portugal for one year and it was the first chance we had to visit him. Originally he bought a plot of land and lived in a caravan with a dream to set up permaculture land to live off. It was around 10 minutes from the town of Castelo Branco. This was where we were originally going to visit when I booked the trip, but he has since moved to a much larger plot of land a little further from the centre of Castelo Branco in a village called Vale De Prazeres.
It’s still in the Castelo Branco district, but more rural. His plot of land looks over vast amounts of countryside, goes up a mountain and he’s living offgrid with no electricity or water to the house! Water comes from the springs on the mountain and wells and he currently has two solar panels with plans to increase the number so he can run some more appliances. It’s an amazing place and he is just starting to develop the off grid house into a self-sufficient abode and two other outbuildings will be turned into Airbnb residences.
Things to do with kids in Castelo Branco town centre
I had booked the trip a few months before we went to get some great prices for our flights and I saw a really cheap Airbnb in the centre. For six nights we paid only £197 for a three bed apartment close to all the shops and town!
I will share our travel spending diary in another blog post so you can see the full costs for our budget week in Portugal as a family of four.
It was around a 45 minute drive to see my brother-in-law at his new house and land, so on the first day we decided to stay in the town of Castelo Branco and explore.
We were all pretty tired from a full day of travelling the day before and didn’t fancy driving any more! We’d also had a bit of a nightmare finding our accommodation on arrival as we hadn’t noticed the sat nav in the car was taking us to the wrong place.
‘You have reached your destination’ – those dreaded words when you are actually nowhere near your accommodation! We were 30 minutes away and annoyingly the sat nav would not locate the exact street and my phone decided not to connect to any internet so I couldn’t load another map!
Luckily we found our accommodation eventually after a bit of stress! But we decided we didn’t want to journey anywhere for our first day unless it was on foot!
Exploring Castelo Branco on foot
We love to explore towns and cities on foot. It’s a great way to save money on public transport and also to really experience the sights, sounds and feelings. We’ve recently explored Amsterdam on foot, Bruges on foot and London with the kids. It’s also a great way to stay fit whilst travelling!
Luckily the town centre of Castelo Branco is reasonably small, so it’s the perfect size to explore without needing public transport.
We were up a little late this first day and went to get some lunch first. We walked to Fast Vegan which we found using a Google search for ‘vegan places near me’. We are a vegan family and had heard from my brother-in-law that there were some vegan eateries!
They only opened from 12-3pm and we were there at 12pm on the dot eagerly anticipating some delicious vegan food.
Fast Vegan, Castelo Branco
The food was amazing and we were so impressed! It’s a set meal deal each day of lovely colourful homemade vegan food. For only 7 euros there’s a main dish, soup, pudding and green tea.
Such a bargain!
We enjoyed a homemade vegan burger with homemade sauce, couscous and crunchy salad for the main.
It was all delicious and we made a promise to return at least once before we returned home at the end of the week.
Jardim do Parque da Cidade (City Park Garden)
After eating, we wandered the streets for a short while, stopping for the kids to play in some fountains that periodically squirted out of some of the pavements. We were here for quite a while as the kids jumped through these fountains and had great fun waiting for each fountain to squirt them! These were near the cathedral.
The City Park of Castelo Branco was next on our list as we’d seen some photos when looking at #castelobranco on Instagram.
There’s lots of open space for the children to run around, water features, flowers, trees and a large playpark which kept the kids entertained for a long time whilst we soaked up some sunshine on a park bench!
There are also free to use toilets which are always handy when out and about with kids, as well as a cafe in the middle of the park.
We didn’t visit, but on the other side of the park is a gated historical park called Jardim do Paço which costs a small entry fee to visit.
The city park offers a limited view of Jardim do Paço and it’s also possible to see the castle of Castelo Branco in the distance.
Castelo de Castelo Branco (castle of Castelo Branco)
Castelo Branco means ‘white castle’ and there is a castle on a hill overlooking the central town. Having seen the castle from the city park, we decided the castle of Castelo Branco would be our next stop.
We climbed the old medieval Portuguese streets to see the castle and admire the amazing views.
It’s an open ruins and so free to enter and explore. The views are great and the kids loved peeking out of the castle window and climbing along the old castle walls.
On the way back down we chose a tree-lined cobble path and surprisingly came out to a pond with stepping stones.
Pineapple street and Terra Bio
To finish our day we went in search of a natural grocery store called Terra Bio which sells organic goods and lots of vegan food.
To get there we walked along a street lined with palm trees which I’m sure my brother-in-law referred to as Pineapple Street!
We popped back to Terra Bio around three times during our week stay for some vegan snacks and essentials. It’s open until 8pm and has parking outside which was handy when we were coming back from our days out exploring more wild areas in the Castelo Branco district – more blog posts coming soon of these!