Palacio do Bucaco (Palace Hotel of Bussaco) is another fairytale palace in Portugal. If you have been following this Portugal series you will remember the post on Sintra, which described three storybook palaces, well the Bussaco palace is another one.
Last summer I went to Coimbra and knew I wanted to see the Palacio do Bucaco and actually went within an hour of arriving in Coimbra. Luckily I went to the tourist information office for a map of Coimbra and inquired about the bus to Bussaco only to find out I had to go right away in order to see it, as the bus does not run on Sundays. Also the bus to Bussaco runs at odd times leaving you at the Palace for about four or five hours before you can return to Coimbra. (Buy the bus tickets at the bus station, which is about a 20-minute walk from the tourist information site).
The bus ride to Bussaco is quite nice with country views and you pass through a few towns. You also have the option of getting off to see Luso, the town below the Palace Hotel of Bussaco and the surrounding park.
Bucaco Palace is now a luxury hotel and unless you stay there or eat an expensive meal at the restaurant (which serves small portions with strange sauces) you cannot see much of the inside. But it is worth stepping into the lobby and poking around before you are politely asked to leave.
There is a Carmelite convent attached to the hotel. The convent was established in 1628 and is now a museum. The hotel building itself is like a storybook palace with many carved details, gargoyles, and a twisting tower reaching towards the sky. The covered corridors outside are beautiful and one features panels with azulejos depicting scenes from Portuguese literature and historical events.
The surrounding grounds include hiking trails. The gardens right in front of the palace are beautiful and include a well-manicured maze of hedges.
Overall the Palace Hotel of Bussaco is an interesting place to visit and a bit surreal to see in person let alone in photos.