Mafra is a city of 77,000 people (2011) in the Lisbon Region. It is mostly known for the sumptuous Mafra National Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other points of interest around the municipality include the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, an enclosed wildlife and game reserve, and Ericeira's World Surf Reserve, the second in the world.
It is mainly rural with some tourist activity centred in the town Mafra and especially in the seaside town of Ericeira, which has become a key destination for national and international surfers. Since the completion of the A8 motorway, linking the eastern part of the municipality to the centre of Lisbon, commuter population has increased substantially.
The climate of Mafra, under strong oceanic influence, is moderately rainy. In general, it has mild minimum temperatures during the coldest months and a cool and windy summer during which there is a tendency for fog formation. The annual average temperature is around 15ºC.
It has a wet season (October to March) and a dry season (April to September). Humidity remains high throughout the year, but especially during summer and along the coast. The annual value of relative humidity in the municipality is around 80%.
In the metropolitan area, the north-west winds predominate, coming from the coastal zone and which carry with it, throughout the year, moist air, which causes morning fogs.
From Lisbon, you can take coach services operated by Mafrense which depart from Campo Grande bus terminus. The journey lasts just over one hour and a single ticket costs €3.75 (no return tickets are available).
- Coming from Lisbon, go by the A8, the N8 or the EN9
- Coming from Sintra, take join the EN9
- Coming from Ericeira, take the A21 or the EN116
The rail network, served by the Linha do Oeste (Western Line), with stations in Mafra (Mafra-Gare) and Malveira, as well as flag-stops in Alcainça–Moinhos and Jeromelo, providing interurban and regional passenger and cargo services (the latter being primarily handled from the Malveira).
The Tourist Office has further information on most tourist sights.
- 1 Convento de Mafra. The National Palace of Mafra is probably the most striking Baroque monuments to be found in Portugal, its construction symbolizes the Absolutist rule of D. João V. The palace has some 1,200 rooms of which the most impressive is the Library, which dates from the 18th century and contains some 36,000 books and manuscripts. In addition there is the Convent, an important and significant part of the religious heritage of Portugal. However, the most stunning feature of the Palace site is the Basilica, considered to be a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and famed for its Carillion – famous throughout the world for the sheer size and beauty of its mechanism. Together with its surroundings it was listed as a world heritage site in 2019.
- 2 Basilica of Our Lady and St. Anthony (Real Basilica de Nossa Senhora e Santo António). 09:30-13:00, 14:00-17:30. Built according to a plan by Johann Friedrich Ludwig . This basilica has a set of 6 identical organs, unique in the world ( 11,444 pipes ) and a carillon of 92 bells spread over two towers, the north chime being the work of the Liège founder Nicolas Levache , and the south of the Antwerp founder Willem Witlockx. Free.
- 3 Church of St. Andrew (Igreja de Santo André). 13th-century church.
- Tapada Nacional de Mafra (national park). Former royal hunting ground, now a park with wildlife, hiking and biking trails.
Mafra is known for its famous bread ("Pão de Mafra"). Give it a try at a local bakery.
Try also a special cake from the town known as "Fradinhos". There's a bakery called precisely "Fradinho" that sells this delicious treat.
Also try Polo Norte for more pastries.
There's not much nightlife in Mafra, but there's a nice place where you can have a nice cup of coffee. The name is "Café da Vila" and you can find it right next to the palace, near a garden with three soldiers.