Many people in the Vila Nova de Poiares neighbourhood learned to swim in the swimming pools at Recreio da Fraga leisure complex (nicknamed Fraggle Rock in our house) but it became neglected and was closed down for many years.
Thanks to the efforts of the local council and local investment, the space was fully renovated in 2013. Since then, this impressive complex of river-fed swimming pools and surrounding leisure areas has been a favourite spot to cool off in the summer months.
Better still, it’s free to enter although you’ll have to pay a small fee if you want to use the umbrellas or sunbeds.
The onsite café offers reasonably priced food or drink but you can take a picnic if you want.
There are several swimming pools of differing depth and size so if you get bored or find one pool too crowded, go and check out one of the others. The fact that you can see the bottom, and that there are steps or ladders to access the water makes them appealing for those who are wary of swimming in a river.
Not surprisingly, the complex is extremely popular in summer and it’s not the place to come for serious swimming although it’s quieter in the mornings. If you’re looking for a place to swim as exercise, try a different river beach.
If you simply want a fun place to hang out with local people and cool off on hot summer days, this is it.
Practicalities for visiting Piscinas da Fraga
Recreio da Fraga leisure complex is open from 10 am to 8 pm every day, at least throughout the summer (typically June 1st to September 15th but check the local council website as this changes every year). When there’s live music, it’s open until midnight.
Follow the brown signs leading you off the EN 17 from São Miguel de Poiares. There’s plenty of free parking above the complex if you can’t find a space near the entrance.