Known as the Garden of Portugal, Caldas da Rainha has its naturally occurring mineral waters to thank for the fertility of the land in the surrounding area. You’ll find this city in the popular Estremadura region, in the middle of the Atlantic Coast, where a hospital was established to take full advantage of the thermal springs. The hospital is still standing today and now has an on-site museum dedicated to the local spa culture.
The name Caldas da Rainha can be translated to mean ‘Queen’s Spa’, a nod to Queen Leonor (Eleanor of Viseu) who first founded the settlement. The sulphur-rich water can be used to cure a wide range of ailments, including respiratory problems. By gargling, inhaling or even spraying it up the nose, it is said to help relieve bronchitis, sinusitis and even asthma.
As well as the spa resorts and some great museums, people flock to the city because of its history of producing beautiful pottery. Faience, as this style of ceramics is known, was the work of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, a genius of the art form whose workshop is still in operation today. You can visit the attached shop to find some enviable souvenirs before stopping by the nearby museum to peruse historical motifs that are woven into Portugal’s culture.
Finally, Caldas da Rainha is also a great spot for water sports enthusiasts. The combination of strong winds and sheltered bays mean you can try windsurfing, jet skiing, paddleboarding and a whole host of other adventurous activities.