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The Mata Nacional do Buçaco and Luso

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Around 30km northeast of Coimbra, the Mata Nacional do Buçaco (National Forest of Buçaco) is a walled, former monastic hilltop retreat, with its own royal palace (now a five-star hotel). These days the forest – partly wild and partly landscaped – is a hugely popular outing for Portuguese day-trippers, who descend in droves at weekends for picnics, but it’s large enough to escape the crowds and makes a great day out. It’s easily accessible by car or bus, or you could walk the two kilometres (steeply uphill) from Luso, a little spa town famed for its mineral waters, which bubble out from the main square.

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