palace hotel do bussaco

Photos courtesy of Palace Hotel do Bussaco








As far back as the 6th century, Benedictine monks from Lovrão‹o established a hermitage in the Bussaco Forest. Later, the priests of Coimbra maintained the forest. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV forbade women even to enter the area, and six years later a Carmelite convent was built where the present hotel now stands. In 1834, when all religious orders were secularized, the land became the property of the Crown.

In 1810 Bussaco was the scene of a battle between the British and Portuguese armies (under the command of the Duke of Wellington) and the French army in its third attempt to invade Portugal. An obelisk just outside the park and a military museum containing various mementos of the period commemorate another Wellington victory over Napoleon.

Built between 1888 and 1907, the current palace was designed by the Italian architect Luigi Manini as a summer residence and hunting lodge for King Carlos I. The unfortunate king didn’t have much of a chance to use it, since he was shot in 1908 when the Republic of Portugal was proclaimed.

Pamela’s Perspective

The Bussaco (Buçaco) Palace Hotel has always been one of my favorites. I love the faded glory, the quirkiness, the enchanting forest that surrounds it. Maybe it’s because I was treated so well by the staff the first time I visited (and no, they didn’t know I was writing a book at the time; I was just a single female who showed up asking for a room).

True, it’s a little worn around the edges, and busloads of tourists descend to look around, but wear and tear is inevitable for any old famous hotel. This hotel is for those who love history. Exploring the hotel and grounds here is a lot of fun!


Palace Hotel do Bussaco

A 19th-century palace


Mata do Bussaco
3050-261 Luso
Tel: ++351 231 937 970
Fax: ++351 231 930 509
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

60 rooms and 4 suites

Double rooms: 93–177 euros
Suites: from 223 euros
Rates include breakfast, tax, and service.
Packages and promotions available.

Open: all year

Getting there

You’ll need a good map. Bussaco (Buçaco) is 30 km northeast of Coimbra and just off route 234. From Coimbra, go north on N-1. Do not take the road marked España. Go east on NR-234 toward Luso. Luso has bus and train stops and is 1 km away from Bussaco.

What to do

On site: tennis
Nearby: seasonal swimming pool; min-golf; walks through the Bussaco forest.


A wonderful example of neo-Manueline and Renaissance architecture, this palace features a tower, a gallery of double arches, and some interesting stone carving.

Inside, the hotel is warm and comfortable. A large sitting room full of antique furniture is the perfect place to sip an aperitif while warming yourself in front of a large fireplace. A grand staircase leads up to another sitting area filled with carved rosewood furniture from India and China. Fascinating vintage-framed photos from the palace’s royal days adorn the walls of one corridor.

Guest rooms vary from small to enormous. All are comfortable, with antique furnishings, modern bathrooms, and views of the forest. The President’s Suite is extra-special with a terrace, silver tea service, and marble bath. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden and his wife honeymooned here.

Lunch and dinner are served elegantly in the formal dining rooms where walls are adorned with large pastel-colored paintings illustrating scenes from the Lusiads (an epic Portuguese poem written in 1500 by Luis Van de Camöes). Overhead is a ceiling in the Mudéjar style with crystal chandeliers.

The lovely grounds hold an arcade covered with lavender flowers, a pool with resident swan, a maze garden, and several walking paths.

Something special

curlicueOn grounds of the Bussaco National Park