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Is the Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal Worth the Trip?

Learn about Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal. Plan a trip to Portugal's annual cherry festival with this helpful guide.

I absolutely adore cherries and so I was excited to learn when we moved to Lisbon that Central Portugal, and more specifically the region around Fundão, is famous for cherries. 

Portuguese people and visitors alike pay a premium for "Cereja do Fundão". There is even an annual festival in this region dedicated to the cherry: Festa da Cereja.

We decided to plan a weekend road trip to the center of Portugal to check out the annual cherry festival for ourselves.  Read on to find out what it's like to visit during época das cerejas -- cherry season in June.

Boxes of cherries at the Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal

When is Portugal's Festa da Cereja?

The Festa da Cereja takes place over the course of a weekend in mid-June. In 2024, the festival is scheduled for June 7 to 10.  

Where is Portugal's Cherry Festival?

Portuguese cherries are most closely associated with Fundão, but the cherry festival itself is located in the aldeia (small Portuguese village) of Alcongosta.

Calçadas Portuguesas in the shape of a cherry in Alcongosta Portugal

Getting to the Festa da Cereja

As we were researching the trip, we had trouble finding definitive information on what to expect at the Festa da Cereja. We were worried about crowds potentially overwhelming the small village where the festival is held. What about parking? 

Parking lot at the cherry festival near Fundão Portugal

It turns out that the cherry festival is very well-organized. To get to Alcongosta, take exit 28 off of the A23 motorway at Fundão. GNR police were at the intersection of N521 to direct traffic. 

We were directed by a series of police officers to a large field that served as a parking lot for the festival. 

Cherry Festival Logistics

We walked about 5 minutes uphill from the parking lot to the festival. A beautiful mural welcomed us to Alcongosta. 

Cherry themed mural at the Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal

The cherry festival opened at 10 am and we arrived before 11. I think there are other parking lots further away when the one we were in fills up.

During the day, the Festa da Cereja was buzzing with people but not overly crowded. I think the festival gets more crowded in the evening when musical acts take to the stage in front of the church (Igreja Matriz - Alcongosta). 

The only tricky part about the Festa de Cereja in Alcongosta was the toilet situation. There were only 2 public WCs that we found. Neither had toilet paper or soap 😬. I imagine the lines could get quite long as well when it's crowded at the festival. 

Things to do at A Festa da Cereja

We made it to the cherry festival! Now what? Let's take a look at some of the things to do at this annual celebration of the humble cherry in Portugal.

Eat Cherry-Infused Foods

We found lots of cherry treats to try in Alcongosta including pastel de cereja, a pastry like a pastel de nata but with cherries replacing the cream. If you are in a savory mood, try empadas with chicken, a bifana sandwich with cherry sauce, or even a cherry pizza! 

Collage of cherry-themed foods and drinks at the Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal

We sampled white chocolate and cherry brigadeiros from Brazil. 

Some people seemed to be selling food and drink from their homes. We bought a cup of red wine in the festival's souvenir cup for 1.80 EUR. 

Collage of lunch dishes at Cerejinha Doce at the cherry festival in Alcongosta Portugal

We ate lunch in Cerejinha Doce which seemed to be operated by a local family out of their garage. Bowls of piping hot caldo verde soup and a bifana sandwich with sangria made for a perfect lunch. I also nabbed a nice tote bag for just 2.50 EUR and a small bottle of cherry liquor for 2 EUR.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other things to do in Central Portugal? Why not: 

The tables at Cerejinha Doce were packed tightly together so we had the chance to strike up a conversation with the couple next to us (in a mix of our limited Portuguese and our neighors' limited English). They were visiting from Lisbon and had family in nearby Castelo Branco.  

Browse Cherry-Themed Crafts

The area of the cherry festival in Alcongosta is marked by pairs of upside down umbrellas. Discover cherry-themed crafts and ceramics. An old woman sold small lace circles from her doorway.

Cobbled Streets with "cherry" umbrellas marking the Festa Da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal

Catch Local Performers 

Local troupes both young and old paraded through Alcongosta periodically, approximately every hour. Accordion players livened up the cobbled streets of the village. 

Accordion players at the cherry festival in Alcongosta in Central Portugal

We caught a group of senior singers and a band of student drummers while we were at the Festa da Cereja.

Appreciate the Historic Architecture of Alcongosta

Take the opportunity that the cherry festival provides to peek into some of the historic buildings in Alcongosta. We discovered a home with a dirt floor and sturdy wooden beams selling sausage.

Interior of Igreja Matriz - AlcongostaSausages for sale inside a historic home in Alcongosta in Central Portugal

Hike the Rota da Cereja

Take a short walk above Alcongosta on the Rota da Cereja. Here you'll find orchards laden with fruit. You may even be able to sneak a cherry or two right from the trees overhanging the path. 

Cherries growing on a tree in Alcongosta Portugal

You may want to wear hiking boots if you take even a sort walk on the Rota da Cereja. The approach is steep and uneven. Shoes with ankle support are also helpful for walking around Alcongosta with its hilly and uneven cobbled streets.

Cherry mosaid sidewalk in Alcongosta PortugalCobbled street leading up to Rota da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal

Do the Obvious: Buy Cherries!

Of course, it goes without saying that I bought some cherries at Portugal's cherry festival. I got 2 kg of cerejas de Serra da Gardunha for 10 EUR. Prices at the festival varied slightly but were generally between 8-10 EUR for a 2 kg box. 

Boxes of cherries for sale at the cherry festival in Alcongosta Portugal

Ask for a sample (posso provar?) before buying. Pro-tip: ask for a box from the back. You may get less cherries because of sampling if you take the one on the top. 

Also, I recommend waiting until you are ready to leave to buy your cherries. 2 kg doesn't sound like much, but that's almost 5 pounds to haul around.

Keep an Eye Out for Street Side Cherry Trees

There are cherry trees everywhere you turn near Alcongosta. When we got back to our car, I noticed that we were parked in front of a cherry tree! 

Cherry tree behind the parking lot at Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal

I was able to use the hook on the handle of my umbrella to grab a few cherries and eat them right from the tree. So good...  

Is the Festa da Cereja Worth the Trip?

Overall we spent about 3 hours at the cherry festival in Alcongosta. I'm really glad that we made the trip, but the Festa da Cereja is definitely a one day activity or less. It makes sense to combine a trip to the cherry festival with Castelo Branco (where we booked our hotel for the weekend) and other towns and villages in Central Portugal.

In fact, we found that a day trip from Castelo Branco to both Alcongosta for the festival and then on to Monsanto to see the unique boulder buildings is a good combo for an ambitious day out in the region.

Bem-Vindo Alcongosta painted onto an old door at the cherry festival

Yes, you can get plenty cerejas do Fundão in Lisbon and elsewhere in Portugal, but we really appreciated the chance to get a close-up look at life in a historic village in Portugal.

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Is the Cherry Festival in Alcongosta Worth the Trip?Is the Cherry Festival in Alcongosta Worth the Trip?
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Is the Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal Worth the Trip?
Is the Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal Worth the Trip?
Learn about Festa da Cereja in Alcongosta Portugal. Plan a trip to Portugal's annual cherry festival with this helpful guide.
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