My hometown is Pinhal Novo and it is utter paradise

It’s in rural portugal


I am one of few Portuguese students in Newcastle, so it can be quite difficult to tell someone where my hometown is.

First of all, it’s good enough if people know where to find Portugal in the map. I really admire people who dare to ask me: “That’s in Spain, right?”.

In that case, I just try to explain the right location (and independence from that other completely different country called Spain) and if they still don’t know, I just ask them: “Do you know Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho?”. Ninety-nine percent of the time that works. The other one percent make me question humanity.

Considering that the majority of Portuguese people don’t even know where Pinhal Novo is as well, they’re not the only ones. To them, I just say I live 30 minutes south of Lisbon, so people have an idea.

Let’s try to make Pinhal Novo (which translates in English to something like ‘New Pinewood’) world famous. Here’s why my small hometown is actually interesting, charming and makes me want to go back every weekend:

The annual festivals

Probably one of the best things about living in Pinhal Novo. It’s great to get the feeling of being a native in your own hometown festivities. It’s normally five days of going out with your friends, dancing, having drinks and eating all the fast food we can buy from the food wagons.

They sell kebabs, hot dogs, candy floss, pop corn; I could be here all day trying to remember everything available to eat. And, not forgetting, the mythical hot chorizo bread is to die for.

Besides that, we also have concerts with national bands and bailaricos (dancing in pairs to Portuguese popular music). To make it better, it’s at the beginning of summer, so you see everyone you know from Pinhal Novo including some people that you haven’t seen since high school. If our own party isn’t enough, there are at least four more popular festivals in nearby towns all summer.

It has the best pizzeria in Portugal

Even though it has one of the most common, cliché names for a pizzeria, “Mamma Mia” has delicious pizzas. Everyone’s favourite is the one with chicken and white sauce. I probably go to four birthday parties in “Mamma Mia” every year. And I am not complaining at all.

We are just 15 minutes away from beautiful beaches

In the capital city of the district, Setúbal, there are some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal.

From Pinhal Novo, it’s just a short trip by car and every time we go there, we can’t help but talk about how stunning it really is. To give you an idea, people normally mention the beaches as a hidden paradise and sometimes the most courageous ones say it’s at the same level of Greece or even Thailand.

Let me just warn you, the beaches are amazing, the water is crystal clear, but its temperature is more similar to Iceland than Thailand!

It’s a quiet place where people are friendly

I used to study in the University of Lisbon and every day, but when I arrived back in Pinhal Novo, it was like a breath of fresh air (as it’s literally in the countryside) and I could finally relax. There, it’s easy to say hi to people we both know, and don’t know, as we pass by.

You can walk everywhere and it’s safe (until it makes headlines in the papers)

Walking is not a thing pinhalnovenses (people from Pinhal Novo) fear, because we can go on foot to every part of town. Taxis aren’t a very successful business, because we can walk to everything we need within a maximum of 30 minutes.

I feel safe walking alone at any time of the day, but you still must be careful and  I can’t say that for everyone. Pinhal Novo rarely makes headlines in the local and national newspapers, but the most famous case, was when a man exploded a granade in a restaurant in 2013.

If you want to have a night out with your friends, just go for a coffee or ice cream

The good clubs are more than 30 minutes by car and to meet friends for a night out we usually go to a coffee shop. There are plenty, including “Atelier du Caffé” and its drawings on top of the drinks, “Yasini” a ice cream shop with fabulous homemade ice creams, crepes and waffles. Not open at night, but “Mafraria”, calls itself the place with the best pastel de nata (famous portuguese pastry), and is a must try.

Two more things I love about Pinhal Novo

The alarm that sounds through the town everyday at noon, from the fire station. Sometimes it may be a little annoying, but it’s a quirky feature.  Also, the sound of the man who sharpens scissors and knifes makes, as he passes by the streets on his bicycle – it’s like a whistle from a pipe. I believe he visits Pinhal Novo once a month, and people use to say it’s a sign of rainy days to come.

All in all, I recommend that everyone should visit my hometown as it’s a little off the beaten track, but a great place to stay any time of the year.