The fountain at Mata Nacional do Buçaco (Bussaco Forest) – Portugal

The freedom of a road trip. Isn't it absolutely wonderful? We were heading towards Porto in northern Portugal, aiming to stop in the old university town Coimbra. Or rather, we thought we had our sights set on Coimbra until we started reading a little about the city. An old university. How hungry were we for it, really? At the risk of sounding uncultured and boring, we honestly felt quite uninterested in an old university. By now we had seen so many charming little towns in Portugal and the day's quota of churches and cathedrals was full. So we changed the direction of the car and headed instead Mata Nacional do Buçaco, Bussaco forest, to get some fresh air and move around in the sunshine before we drove further north.

You understand quite quickly when you are in the forest. The greenery gets deeper, the trees look a little different and you are met by a high wall that surrounds the entire park. A lady sat in a booth and took entry from us. It was only a few euros, so it wouldn't be a huge financial loss if our last-minute change didn't work out. We drove all the way to the park's palace and parked next to it.

Mata NaMata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugalcional do Bucaco - Portugal

It was very green and fresh up here. Already in the 5th century, the monks of the area appreciated the magical mist and beauty of this forest, and at the beginning of the 17th century, a monastery was therefore built here. When Portuguese explorers later brought trees and plants from all over the world back to Portugal, it turned out that the climate up here on the mountain was perfect for the little plants. Rarely frost, a lot of rain and often thick fog during the summer. It is believed that the first tree planted up here in the monks' forest was a so-called Bucaco cedar, a tree brought home across the Atlantic all the way from Mexico in the mid-17th century.

Today, there are over 700 unique trees and plants here in the park. You might think this is a big forest, but the park is actually only 1,5 km x 1 km in size. A compact ecosystem with lots of greenery. We decided to walk to one of the most beautiful parts of the park - Fonte Free – the "cold fountain".

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

We started walking the path down one side of the mountain. It was an easy path, although the stairs along the path sometimes had strange step depth and step height. On the way down we passed an old ruin, covered with winding branches and with the rays of the sun as its only roof. We did not see a glimpse of the famous fog that usually covers the forest and for which the area is known.

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

The path took us to Fonte Fria's highest step and we walked down the steps to be able to enjoy the fountain from the "right" direction. We were strangely all alone, so we could stroll quite slowly and really allow ourselves to enjoy the rippling water and the beautiful moss. It smelled of dampness and cold water.

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal
Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

How beautiful this fountain is when the fog is thick I can only dream of, but when the sun's rays fought their way through the thick layer of leaves, the feeling became almost a little religious. What a beautiful forest – and what a beautiful fountain!

We had the stairs to ourselves for several minutes, before another couple of tourists suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs. The spell was broken. Time to hike back.

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

For some strange reason, there were more steps to walk on the way up (?), it suddenly felt like walking in a damp, endless green tunnel. Maybe there was something magical about the forest for real...

Once back at the hotel, we took the opportunity to explore the castle – this architectural princess cake. The castle began to be built in 1888 by the king of Portugal, Carlos I. It was to be a summer palace in neo-romantic style, i.e. in the same style as Neuschwanstein Castle, for example.

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal
Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

The castle was built on the site of the old monastery and it took almost 20 years before everything was completed. Unfortunately, the king never got to visit his new castle, as Carlos I was assassinated in Lisbon in 1908. The coup d'état for the castle's glory days came two years later, when the revolution in Portugal put the royal family on the run and Portugal became a republic. The disused castle was sold as a hotel in 1917 and has been a hotel ever since.

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal
Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

You don't have to stay at the hotel (now a luxury pousada) to enjoy all its details and frills, but if you have the opportunity, I think you should check out the option of staying a night at this beautiful castle. When we passed the English Garden at 10 o'clock in the morning, guests were still sitting up on the terrace eating breakfast in the sun. The juice glasses clinked and the white shirts of the waiters almost shone in the sun. It looked nicely decadent. Can't help but love neo-romanticism.

Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal
Mata Nacional do Bucaco - Portugal

How do I get to Bussaco Forest?

Bussaco Forest is located 3 miles north of Coimbra, on a small mountain. Expect a 45 minute drive from Coimbra by car.

Mata Nacional do Buçaco
3050-261 Luso

The hotel's website

Is it worth going here?

If you're passing by, you should definitely stop by, it's one of the nicest parks we visited in Portugal. The entry for the car (5 Euro) is affordable. Expect your visit to take an hour.

Want to read more of my travel tips? do not forget to like Rucksack on Facebook!

5 COMMENTS

    • It was really super nice Ann! Just wished we had booked the Bussaco castle hotel instead of the castle hotel we booked (the absurd Gatsby hotel I wrote about earlier… ?)

    • Gosh! :) It's really worth staying here for a while and walking in the fairytale forest, incredibly calming.

LEAVE AN ANSWER

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

About

Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 60 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel site Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

Artiklar report

Pena Palace in Sintra - The Castle We Almost Gave Up - Portugal

There was basically only one 'must see' place in Portugal for me - Palácio da Pena in Sintra. We would definitely go there first! But, it doesn't always turn out the way you imagined when you travel... For better or for worse :)

Convento dos Capuchos – The abandoned monastery outside Sintra – Portugal

In the middle of the forest near Sintra, lie the ruins of the old monastery Convento dos Capuchos. Abandoned and overgrown, it still shows the extremely simple life that the monks here lived.

Porto - When it's not love at first sight - Portugal

Porto would be one of the highlights of the trip. But it wasn't love at first sight between me and Porto - far from it, actually.

Levada hike in Madeira – Waterfalls at Rabaçal – Portugal

The first levada hike we did in Madeira was the hike to the waterfalls at Rabacal. A really magical hike, which in parts could almost feel a little scary!

Fajã dos Padres - Where Madeira becomes even more exotic - Portugal

Faja dos Padres is located in its own climate zone on Madeira, only accessible from the sea or by cable car. Totally unique, a little weird and pretty awesome.

The glass platform at Cabo Girão in Madeira – Portugal

Just outside Funchal on Madeira, lies one of Europe's highest cliffs - Cabo Girao. It is perhaps not so surprising that a viewing platform made of glass has been built here at the top of the cliff.

Even more travel inspiration

Sao Vicente – The Lava Caves of Madeira – Portugal

In the lava caves of Sao Vicente, you not only meet Madeira's hot history - but also get to walk straight into the underground.

Fajã dos Padres - Where Madeira becomes even more exotic - Portugal

Faja dos Padres is located in its own climate zone on Madeira, only accessible from the sea or by cable car. Totally unique, a little weird and pretty awesome.

Câmara de Lobos – Fishing boats and grilled conch shells in Madeira – Portugal

Not even Churchill could resist Câmara de Lobo's charm. Here we found a colorful fishing village, perfectly grilled fish and a fruit market with surprises.