Caldas da Rainha means “Queen’s Spa”, and was named for Dona Leonor, wife of Dom João II. She was sufficiently taken by the therapeutic powers of the bubbling waters here that she founded a hospital in 1484, around which the town gradually grew up to service the growing popularity of the spa. Its heyday was probably in the nineteenth century, although Caldas today shows little of its regal past: once through the drab modern outskirts, however, there’s a pleasant centre focused on the modern spa buildings. Pretty much everything of interest lies in, or just outside, the tranquil Parque Dom Carlos I, a lovely, extensive landscaped park with two diverting museums, a small lake and a garden café.

Caldas is also not a bad place for souvenir hunting: its embroidery has a national reputation, though it’s best known as a ceramics centre. There’s a lively outdoor fruit, vegetable and flower market every morning in the central Praça da República – Monday sees the addition of clothes, shoes and household goods.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Lisbon has rightly garnered a reputation as being one of Europe’s hippest cities – but Portuguese cuisine remains somewhat unknown. Rest assured, though, Li…

24 Aug 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best beaches in Portugal

The 10 best beaches in Portugal

For many travellers, Portugal is synonymous with images of golden sun-baked beaches. And with a generous 1700 kilometres of coastline, there’s enough sand for…

28 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook