Start your first morning in Santarém with coffee and pastries on the main square or praça in Santarém’s historic centre, with bright sunshine falling on the white steps and façade of the 17th-century cathedral, the Church of Our Lady of the Conception and the Jesuit College.
Pastelaria Bijou is tucked in a corner of the square. Their pampilhos (a long butter pastry filled with cinnamon custard and named for the shape of cattle herders’ sticks) are hailed by some critics as the best in the world. Or why not sample their legendary Celeste cakes, made with almonds, egg yolks and sugar – a heavenly treat that originated with nuns at the Santa Clara convent. Find a table and feast, while soaking up the atmosphere and getting a feel for the city. Santarém is shaped like a hand, and here you are in its palm.