PENACOVA, 22km northeast of Coimbra, is spectacularly sited on a crag high above the Rio Mondego. There is little to the place itself – a pint-sized square overlooked by a town hall, and a modest cobbled historic quarter laid out along the ridge – but for stunning views of river and valley make a beeline for the terrace of the Café Turismo, by the side of the town hall. You can walk the 2km from the café down to a great little river beach, Reconquinho, where you can swim alongside a seasonal café. Penacova’s market is on the second Thursday of the month – look out for the highly elaborate toothpicks that are a local speciality, hand-carved from willow.

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