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Discover Portugal – Mira de Aire Caves

 

Our pick of the month this month is the beautiful Mira de Aire Caves, located in the small mountain town of Porto de Mós, Leiria, approximately one hour from Lisbon.  The drive there itself is a feast for the eyes, winding through stunning mountain roads with the most breath taking views of the Serra de Aire e Candeeiros National Park.

 

The formations date back as far as 150 million years ago, when the dinosaurs roamed, but the caves were only actually discovered in 1947. The entrance is 300m altitude but inside drop to 180m in depth.

 

The visitor centre is understated and unassuming (in a good way!) especially considering it is the gateway to one of the largest cave systems in Europe (and the largest in Portugal).  There is a small carpark, café and gift shop with a little ticket booth where you pay (a bargain) 6.60euros for your guided tour.

Tours are spoken in Portuguese and English (though English is not always guaranteed) and printed leaflet guides are available in many languages.  During our visit the guide spoke great English, French and German and was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, pointing out stalactites and stalagmites, formations affectionately known as ‘The Jellyfish’, ‘The Martian’ and ‘The Organ’, beautifully lit ‘rooms’ called ‘The Big Room’ and ‘The Majestic Dome’ and the black river which runs to ‘The Great Lake’ and its impressive waterfall, in total you will descend via 683 hand carved steps, lit in such a way as to transport you to times gone by, the tours are un rushed, and you are allowed to hang back to take in the atmosphere and take photos as you wish.

 

 

 

Photos do not do this place justice, you really do have to visit to fully appreciate the beauty.  It’s no wonder this place was elected as one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal.

Photos credit to Grutas Mira de Aire website

Opening times:

October to March –  9:30am to 5:30pm
April to May – 9:30am to 6pm
June and September –  9:30am to 7pm
July and August – 9:30am to 8pm

Open every day, including weekends and holidays.  The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the caves

Price:

Free   Children under 5 years old
3,90 €  Children between 5 and 11 years old
6,60€   Visitors +12
5,90€   Groups with more than 20 people (all the tickets have to be bought at the same time)

 

In the area…

If you’re in the area, you might be interested in a place to stay – see options from Pure Portugal Holidays below:

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