From any point in town, you can see the great Castelo de Leiria (tel. 24/481-39-82), once occupied by Dinis, the poet-king, and his wife, known as Sta. Isabella. The imposing castle has been extensively restored. The castle church, like the palace, is Gothic. From an arched balcony there's a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. The Moors had a stronghold on this hill while they were taking possession of the major part of the Iberian peninsula. Portugal's first king, Afonso Henríques, took the fortress in the 12th century and twice recovered it after the Moors had retaken it.

Admission to the fortress is 2€; the museum admission is 3.50€. It's open Tuesday to Sunday April to October 10am to 6:30pm, and November to March 9:30am to 5:30pm. For more information, ask at the tourist office . You can drive right to the castle's front door. On the way, you might visit the Igreja de São Pedro, Largo de São Pedro, which dates from the 12th century.

Around Leiria is one of the oldest state forests in the world. In about 1300, Dinis began the systematic planting of the Pinhal do Rei, with trees brought from the Landes area in France. He hoped to curb the spread of sand dunes, which ocean gusts were extending deep into the heartland. The forest, still maintained today, provided timber used to build the caravels Portugal used for exploring.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.