Bacalhôa Buddha Eden: Discovering Peace and Artistry in the Gardens

Estimated read time 17 min read

Ready to add a splash of adventure to your Portugal itinerary? Hiding amidst the rolling hills and lush greenery of Portugal lies a hidden gem that’s a relaxing must experience to add to your wanderlust wishlist – the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. It’s not just another  day trip from Lisbon, but rather a journey into tranquility, a serene escape where the busyness of Lisbon fades into the background.

Picture wandering the 35 hectares (that’s 86 acres) of meticulously groomed gardens, home to the largest collection of Buddhist statues in Europe. It’s a whole vibe. This garden is a sanctuary of peace and meditation, a warm embrace welcoming every soul seeking a moment of quietude amidst art and nature.

But wait, there’s more! Imagine being surrounded by an epic art collection, where Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal masterfully blends the worlds of wine and art. Born from a reaction to the tragic destruction of the Buddhas of Banyan, this garden stands as a testament to cultural resilience and artistic passion. Comendador Jose (Joe) Berardo, the visionary behind this oasis and a collector with an eye for the exquisite, has transformed one of the Bacalhôa wine estates into a canvas where art and nature dance in harmony.

Since its inception in 2001, the garden has been on an endless journey of growth and discovery. On my last visit, I spied (yes, with my very own adventurous eyes!) a whole parade of giraffes, poised to join the eclectic ensemble of the garden’s inhabitants. It’s like a portal to another world, where each step takes you across continents and through time.

So, why just read about Portugal’s wonders when you can dive headfirst into the experience? From road trip guides to discovering the quaint villas of Cascais, navigating the charming streets from Lisbon to Cascais, or snagging that sweet flight deal to Europe – your adventure is just waiting to unfold.

Let the Bacalhôa Buddha Garden be the cornerstone of your journey, a place where art, nature, and serenity converge to tell a story as unique as your own. Trust me, you’ll want to see what other surprises lie in this magical garden.

Ready to explore more of what Portugal has to offer? Keep wandering with us – because every journey is a story waiting to be told.

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Exploring Bacalhôa Buddha Eden: A Guide to Not-to-Miss Highlights

Your gateway to the Bacalhôa Buddha Garden begins at an unexpected spot — through the winery, where the art of wine meets the art of nature. As you pay your entry, you’re invited down a picturesque ramp by the restaurant, leading to a grand gateway that whispers of the wonders beyond. Fashioned with exquisite Pagoda styling, this entryway is not just a door but a prelude to the magical journey that awaits in these enchanting gardens.

Here lies your chariot for the day — the tourist train. Trust me, adding this to your ticket is a stroke of genius. Given the vast expanse of the gardens, this isn’t just about saving your feet from exhaustion; it’s about ensuring you soak in every inch of this vast, verdant paradise without missing a beat.

Hop on on this quaint train, and let it guide you on a scenic voyage. Glide past the lush vineyards, where the essence of Bacalhôa’s wines begins. Soon, you’ll encounter the mystical 13 Buddhas of the Dead, standing guard as you circle the serene Pagoda Lake. But that’s just the beginning. The journey continues to the awe-inspiring Staircase of the Golden Buddhas and the formidable Xian Terracotta Warriors, each telling tales of ancient glory and artistic marvel. As the train meanders through the upper hills, the majestic Giant Buddha and the soaring Pagoda Towers greet you, offering moments of pure wonder.

But fear not, adventurous soul, for this train is designed for explorers at heart. With two additional stops nestled around the gardens — including one conveniently located by the cafe and restrooms — you’re free to disembark and dive deeper into the garden’s treasures as you please. And, with the unpredictable embrace of sudden rains, the train provides not just a scenic tour but a sheltered haven, allowing the weather’s whims to add to the day’s adventure, rather than dampen it.

So, as you step into the Bacalhôa Buddha Garden, let the tourist train be your guide to a realm where every turn reveals a new discovery, every stop a new story. Here, in this blend of art, nature, and the whispers of the past, your journey is just beginning.

view of pagoda lake

Artistic Marvels and Sculptural Wonders:

Staircase of the Golden Buddhas: 

Imagine, if you will, stepping into a scene straight out of a dream where art and the great outdoors conspire to whisk you away on an adventure. Right at the heart of Bacalhôa Buddha Garden lies something pretty spectacular — a grand staircase that’s not just any staircase. Picture this: it’s crafted from a whopping 6,000 tons of marble and granite. Yes, you read that right! This isn’t just a set of steps; it’s a masterpiece, a journey etched in stone and creativity, with Golden Buddhas greeting you at every level as if to say, “Welcome, friend, come on up!”

And as you do, climbing each step, the world around you starts to shift. It’s like you’re rising above the ordinary, and with every bit of elevation you gain, a new layer of this tranquil paradise reveals itself. But wait, the magic doesn’t stop there. Reach the top, and what do you find? A large Buddha lying in peace, and guess what? This is just a warm-up. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, an even more colossal Giant Buddha emerges, standing tall and proud, overseeing the realm from the next walkway. It’s set against the most picturesque backdrop you can imagine — Pagoda Lake, home to playful Koi fish and where dragons seem to rise from the waters.

But, hey, don’t rush off just yet. Wander a bit further to the Lakes of Tranquility. It’s as peaceful as it sounds, with waters so still they could be glass, leading you to the Miradouro Do Fogo (Fireplace View Point). Here’s where you get those brag-worthy views, a panoramic snapshot of the gardens and the sprawling beauty beyond.

And for the photography enthusiasts among us, crossing the Pagoda Lake is a must-do. The views near the Lake Walk Fountain? Simply sublime. The interplay of light and water there? It’s like nature’s own masterpiece.

Terracotta Warriors:

Here, an impressive army of Blue soldiers, inspired by China’s legendary terracotta warriors, stands guard, infusing the gardens with an air of mystique and timeless valor.

As you meander through this lush paradise, you’ll stumble upon two captivating enclaves where these azure protectors have taken up their posts. Picture the first battalion, poised and vigilant amidst the undulating hills that cradle Pagoda Lake. These warriors, nestled beneath the protective canopy of cork trees, cast a serene gaze over the landscape, guardians of the peace and tranquility that envelops the garden.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Venture further, and you’ll find yourself on the brink of a low-lying field, where a second troop lies in wait. This assembly, ready to astonish those daring enough to traverse their bridge, adds an element of delightful surprise, challenging visitors to ponder the stories and secrets they guard.

This unique fusion of art and history, where the Blue Terracotta army stands sentinel over Bacalhôa Buddha Garden, creates a narrative thread that weaves through the tapestry of the garden’s allure. It’s a vivid reminder of the garden’s ability to transport you across cultures and epochs, inviting you to lose yourself in the wonder of exploration and discovery. So, as you explore this magical realm, let the silent tales of these azure warriors inspire you to uncover the layers of history, art, and nature that make this place truly extraordinary.

Modern and Contemporary Art:

As you gaze across the tranquil waters of the lake, a striking panorama unfolds — a landscape punctuated by bold, modern, and contemporary art forms that stand majestically against the backdrop of rolling hills. This collection is not just seen; it’s felt, as each piece tells a story, challenging perceptions and inviting contemplation.

When crossing one of the picturesque bridges, you’ll discover a space where art and earth merge in perfect harmony — an amphitheater, ingeniously carved from the very landscape itself. This natural arena is surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring sculptures you’ll ever encounter, where the genius of human creativity pays homage to the splendor of the natural world.

Beyond this amphitheater, a path unfolds that might just trick you into thinking you’ve been teleported to the heart of Tuscany. A serene walkway, flanked by towering pencil trees, guides you through an environment that feels both grand and intimate. This section of the garden offers a moment of reflection, a breath of fresh air amidst the profound statements of the sculptures that loom above.

African Sculpture Garden: 

Just when you think your exploration of Bacalhôa Buddha Garden has unveiled all its secrets, the path takes an enchanting turn, leading you to an African paradise that seems to leap straight from the pages of a storybook. Here, amidst the modern and contemporary art, a vibrant world awaits — a tribute to the majestic spirit of Africa, replete with life-sized figures of people and giants, alongside an array of animals that roam the vast continent.

Imagine stepping into a realm that feels like Wakanda brought to life, an outdoor art gallery where the vibrancy of African culture is celebrated in every corner. The journey through this section is an adventure in itself, with a wooden boardwalk winding through a mesmerizing maze of sculptures. Bamboo and palm trees stand guard, their leaves whispering stories of distant lands as they guide you on this stimulating ascent. This corner of the garden is an absolute gem, a must-visit that rewards every step with awe-inspiring sights — though a word to the wise, tread carefully, as the boardwalk can be a slippery companion when the weather decides to add a bit of drama to your adventure.

Beyond the boardwalk, a cascade of elevated steps unfolds, each one presenting a new chapter of an entire village of artworks. This is not just a display; it’s an immersive experience, inviting you into a world where art transcends boundaries, connecting continents and cultures.

As you ascend to the zenith of this captivating journey, a shaded path awaits, enveloped by the towering embrace of bamboo trees. This is the Bamboo Maze, a serene enclave where the journey slows, allowing for moments of reflection amid the gentle rustle of leaves and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Among these treasures, you might find echoes of the Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe, a nod to the enduring legacy of stone carved sculptures that have defined a modern movement within the Zimbabwean artistic community.

The African sculpture section of Bacalhôa Buddha Garden is a profound testament to the garden’s dedication to showcasing the rich tapestry of global cultures. Here, amidst the whispers of bamboo and the steadfast gaze of stone giants, the garden extends an invitation to wander, to explore, and to connect with the diverse beauty that our world has to offer.

Practical Visitor Information

Right in the scenic municipality of Bombarral, just an hour north of Lisbon, lies a hidden sanctuary that’s a must-visit for anyone journeying through Portugal. Surrounded by gently rolling hills, this garden oasis invites you to wander its paths, find peace by its ponds, and immerse yourself in a world where every glance offers stunning views, delicious Portuguese pastries beckon, exquisite wines await your taste buds, and the simple pleasure of a good cup of coffee or tea can be savored.

Getting to Bacalhôa Buddha Eden is an adventure in itself, a precursor to the wonders that await:

  • Address: Quinta dos Loridos, 2540-420, Portugal. A treasure map leading to an oasis of calm and creativity.
  • By Car: Embrace the open road on the A8, letting the landscape guide you to Carvalhal/Delgada at exit 12. Whether you’re coming from the buzz of the North or the charm of the South, a left turn at the exit is your first step into another world.
  • Roundabout: Navigate the roundabout with ease, taking the second exit. You’re not just following the road; you’re tracing the outline of an adventure waiting to unfold.
  • Follow the Signs: Like breadcrumbs leading to a hidden castle, the Buddha Eden signs are your guide through the last stretch, with only 3 km separating you from a garden that’s both a visual feast and a soulful retreat.
side buddha with people on stairs

Prefer to book a tour?

You can book a guided private tour with pickup from your hotel in Lisbon to take you to Bacalhôa Buddha Eden and Óbidos (for its beautiful medieval architecture) starting at $382.11 for a group of up to 6 people. 

Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Hours

  • January/February/March/April/October/November/December: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (last entry at 5:30 pm);
  • May/June/July/August/September: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (last entry at 6:30 pm);
  • Garden, shop, restaurant and snack bar open every day. (Closed January 1st and December 25th)

There are no guided tours provided inside the park, it is a self-guided experience.  Reservation is not necessary.

Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Admission

  • Garden Entry  – 6
  • Train Ride – 6
  • Children up to age 12 can enter the garden for free.  Ages 3 and under can ride the train for free.
  • Credit cards accepted. (Visa & Mastercard)

Bacalhôa Buddha Eden - side buddha closeup

Beyond the Garden: Extending Your Adventure

Inside the Bacalhao Buddha Garden, the art of dining takes on a special meaning, with two inviting spots where you can indulge in the culinary delights of Portugal. While picnicking amidst the greenery isn’t on the menu, the options available will more than satisfy your appetite.

At the garden’s entrance, a buffet restaurant awaits, offering a spread that’s as lush and inviting as the surroundings. Here, the flavors of Portugal come to life, with dishes prepared to please every palate. Then, by the serene Pagoda Lake, a snack bar offers a chance to sip and savor right in the heart of the garden. Whether you’re craving a quick bite or a leisurely sip of a refreshing blue wine cocktail — as visually stunning as it is delicious — these dining spots ensure your culinary journey is as enriching as your exploration of the garden.

Bacalhôa Buddha Eden: Discovering Peace and Artistry in the Gardens

As your adventure winds down, the exit through the winery store presents a golden opportunity to take a piece of Bacalhôa Buddha Eden home with you. A selection of wines, reflecting the richness of the region’s vineyards and the artistry of its winemakers, awaits. This is the moment to select a few bottles, each a souvenir of your journey, offered at prices that invite you to stock up and relive the experience with every sip.

Reflecting on the day’s journey, from the enchantment of the train ride that weaves through the landscape to the simple joy of discovering each new vista, sculpture, and hidden path, it’s clear that Bacalhôa Buddha Eden is a place that captures the imagination of all who visit — adults and children alike. 

My own moments of pause, enjoying a treat while soaking in the breathtaking views, underscore the garden’s ability to blend the beauty of nature with the pleasures of life’s finer things. To truly immerse yourself in this enchanting world, setting aside 2 to 3 hours is advisable, allowing you to fully embrace and absorb the magic of Bacalhôa Buddha Eden.

Selecting the perfect base for your adventures in the historic heartlands of Portugal enriches your journey, turning simple stays into part of your exploration narrative. Óbidos, Fátima, and Nazaré each offer unique accommodations that promise more than just a night’s rest—they open the door to immersive experiences and local treasures.

Óbidos: A Medieval Dream

Imagine resting within the walls of a castle, where history whispers through the night. Pousada Castelo de Óbidos offers just that—a stay within an actual castle, considered one of Portugal’s seven wonders. Dating back to the 9th century, its medieval features transport you to another era. Right in the village’s heart, it’s an ideal spot for leisurely explorations of Castelo de Óbidos and the charming cobbled streets around. Casa do Castelo is another gem, offering cozy accommodations with stunning views of the castle and village.

Fátima: Serenity and Spirit

For those seeking tranquility, Luz Houses in Fátima provides a serene retreat. This charming haven blends traditional Portuguese aesthetics with modern comforts, set amidst calming natural landscapes. Offering yoga classes, natural walking paths, and a focus on mindfulness, it’s a space where peace and rejuvenation are paramount. With complimentary parking and breakfast, it ensures your stay is as carefree as it is restful.

Nazaré: Seaside Splendor

Families and budget travelers will find their haven at Ohai Nazare Outdoor Resort, where affordability meets adventure. Offering a variety of accommodations from caravan parking to apartments, bungalows, and even glamping options, it caters to all preferences. The resort is a paradise for both kids and adults, featuring a kids club, a heated swimming pool complex crafted from recycled boat containers, and water park slides. Just a stone’s throw from the beach, it’s perfect for those looking to soak up the sun and sea.

Tailoring Your Stay

  • Historical Richness: Each location offers a gateway to the past, from the medieval enchantment of Óbidos to the spiritual serenity of Fátima and the vibrant seaside life of Nazaré.
  • Location Is Key: Choose your base depending on your interests. Whether it’s walking through history, finding peace, or basking in beachside joys, there’s a place for you.
  • Explore Beyond Your Stay: These towns are not just about historical sites; they’re living communities. Dive into local cuisine, engage with residents, and uncover the hidden gems that guidebooks might miss.
Bacalhôa Buddha Eden: Discovering Peace and Artistry in the Gardens
Photo Courtey of Ohai Nazare

Crafting your stay in these towns transforms your trip into a narrative of discovery, where each accommodation is a chapter in your Portuguese adventure. 

Wrapping Up Your Visit

Through our virtual journey, we’ve ventured together into the captivating embrace of Bacalhôa Buddha Eden. As we unfolded the narrative of this tranquil haven, adorned with art and nature’s splendor, it’s likely sparked a flame of curiosity and excitement within you. Whether you’ve had the privilege of wandering its serene pathways, standing in awe before its magnificent sculptures, or are currently piecing together your plans to visit, your experiences and aspirations hold immense value.

I warmly invite you to share your stories or intentions regarding Bacalhôa Buddha Eden. Were you mesmerized by the peaceful atmosphere of the gardens? Have the artistic installations left an indelible mark on your soul? Or perhaps you’re in the throes of planning a visit to this enchanting sanctuary? Engage with us in the comments section below—your insights and dreams enrich our collective understanding and appreciation of such wondrous places.

Let’s recap why this should be on your Portugal Itinerary so you don’t miss out on one of the most expansive examples of landscaped gardens offering peace and tranquility for all.  

  • Largest Asian garden in Europe.
  • Part of a winery with Bacalhôa wines available for purchase.
  • A variety of outdoor art throughout the gardens.
  • Rolling hills and meadows in the distance.
  • Low admission prices with kids entry for free.
  • Only an hour from Lisbon.
  • Close to other historical monuments and villages such as Óbidos, Fatima, and Nazare.
  • You’ll get to see lifesize blue terracotta soldiers.
  • It’ll be one of the most peaceful and relaxing parts of your trip.

What a way to Wander! – Bacalhôa Buddha Eden

If you’ve added this wonderful stop to your Portugal plans, be sure to comment below and tell us your thoughts!

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