This was a superb Free Aire where Alcobaca’s local Camping and Caravan club provided a great place for visitors to the city to park up.

It’s right in the centre of Alcobaca, Portugal, less than a 10-minute walk to the famous monastery and resting place of the Corpse Queen. It’s in a beautiful wooded park on a slope but the parking area is pretty flat. Our cat Scruffy LOVED it here. So quiet, lots to explore, trees to climb and scratch and warm evenings. He had his best walks of the vacation so far here in Alcobaca.

If it rains, as it did on the last day we were there, there won’t be a problem as all the parking is on hard standing. You can pick a sunny spot in the open or shaded under the trees. However, what really makes this site great besides its beautiful location is there is free EHU. So we got to use our aircon a few times when it got really hot there.

It also gave us confidence to get out and about with our sightseeing, knowing Scruffy wouldn’t get cooked in the van.

The difference between camping and parking

Normally while free or wild ‘camping’ actual ‘camping’ behaviours are not allowed. So that means you have to be ‘parked’. It’s OK to park but not to camp. So that means that you can open the top skylights on the van for ventilation, but you aren’t allowed to open the windows. You aren’t allowed to take up any space other than the floor space of the vehicle itself, so no awning, so sitting out, table or chairs, no hanging washing out the window etc. No use of chocks so if the van is uneven you have to live with it. It’s pretty strict.

But this place was different. Camping behaviours were encouraged so it was lovely to get out the chairs, eat in the park and enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. We even stayed and did some washing which we hung out discreetly behind the van.

When the bad weather came in we stayed here an extra couple of days just because it was so lovely and peaceful and because of the excellent services. Just please be sure to leave the place clean and tidy, treat it well and support all of the local businesses to thank them for providing these services for us.

Free motorhome services

There are plenty of other services provided besides the free EHU, as follows:

  • Free fresh water from a drinking fountain and trough – see the yellow painted area in the first photo above.
  • You can dump your grey water for free at a wastewater disposal point that you drive over, which is quite close to the entrance gate. Weirdly though from there you can also fill up with fresh water but you have to pay for that.
  • You can dump your black waste at the same area but you’ll need to take some fresh water over there to flush the casette with, or pay for fresh water.
  • There are free toilets for women and men which are some of the nicest public toilets we have ever seen anywhere. They are open from about 8 am to 8 pm. Soap, paper and hand towels are provided. No need to even use the loo in the van unless its the middle of the night.

As far as parking is concerned, when you enter the gate and are about to turn left you will see a sign that says everyone should park on the right hand side on the diagonal. However, when we got there the 3 vans who were already parked up had completely ignored that sign and parked parallel to the edge, or perhaps they didn’t see it like me until after I had parked up.

If all the places are taken on that level you can drive forward and up to the right where you will find three or four other areas where one or two vans can fit into each area. If you have an extra long electricity cable then you’ll still be able to get free EHU from the blocks on the next level down.

So thank you very much Alcobaca, we had a lovely stay in your town.

How to find it

Address etc = Club de tennis de Alcobaca. J4–44 Avenida Professor Engenheiro Vieira Natividade, 2460-071 Alcobaça, Centro, Portugal.
Gps = N 39.55246, W 8.97817. N 39°33’09”, W 8°58’41”.

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