Igreja do Calvário/Calvary Church
When I was wandering about, I happened to find this church, and I even couldn't find the name until I was about to leave the city. Wonder how? Thanks to a postcard!
The last pic shows the statues of S. Francisco D. Assis e S. Domingos that are outside the church.
Serra do Alvão
Alvão is a mountain near Vila Real. Apart from visiting the mountain – which is beautiful – there is also a protected national park that includes some small villages “lost” on the slopes of the mountain.
One of these villages is Ermelo where there are a series of houses build in stone and where time seems to have stopped. Near Ermelo there is a beautiful waterfall called Fisgas do Ermelo – be sure not to miss them!
On this mountain, on one of its highest peaks, there is a view point and small chapel called Nossa Senhora da Graça. The view is absolutely breathtaking.
Mesão Frio is a beautiful village situated on the Douro region, one of its most popular references when talking about this vineyards’ and wine producing area. It is situated about 35km from Vila Real.
In Mesão Frio you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Parish church and also to the Convent that is nowadays turned into the Town Hall (the small, yet beautiful, cloisters are open to visitors free of charge). Also, a bit off the village, going up the hill, the view point provides breathtaking views of the River Douro, the valley and the surrounding mountains – one of my favourite landscapes in Portugal.
Pinhão is a lovely village situated on a valley and surrounded by mountains with vineyards on the step slopes. The village is bathed by River Pinhão (actually it is named after the River) where it meets River Douro.
Major highlights of this village are the train station which is classified as Portugal's most beautiful train station and also the metallic bridge built in the 19th century.
I loved our visit to Pinhão, although weather wasn't on our side. Its people are friendly, the wine very good (Porto sweet wine) and the landscape is breathtaking, both the green mountains and the quiet River.
Pinhão is situated about 30km from Vila Real.
For further information see my Pinhão page.
Sabrosa is a lovely village on the Douro region with beautiful manor houses, some of them dating from the 15th century. Strolling around such an enchanting village situated in the Douro region was a pleasant discover to all of us. The manor houses are classified as National Monuments, as well as the Parish Church.
Also, the magnificent mountains that surround the village provide a breathtaking scenario. The region's big annual event is the grapes' harvest, to produce the worldly famous Porto sweet wine and also the Douro wines.
Sabrosa is situated about 20km from Vila Real.
For further information see my Sabrosa page.
Serra do Marão
Serra do Marão is a beautiful mountain on the outskirts of Vila Real. I’d recommend a visit to this imposing mountain as it provides breathtaking landscapes, both when driving (or hiking) through it and when stopping at one of its view points.
This area is off the beaten path even for Portuguese people, so you will surely enjoy the quietness of this mountain. Weather may be a bit of an “uncertainty factor” – you may get sun on one side and then while going up or down weather would change drastically and get cloudy.
Régua is a pleasant town to visit, bathed by River Douro. The history, development and customs of this town are marked for centuries by the trading and producing of Porto sweet wine and Douro wines. It has some nice architecture to see, but mainly the wine related customs are the highlight of this town, on my opinion.
It is also a good starting point to explore the Douro vineyard region, which is classified by Unesco as protected landscape. Don't miss the rabelo boat, a typical wooden boat associated with the transportation of the wine.
Régua is situated about 20km from Vila Real.
Amarante doesn't often show on touristic guides about Portugal. And they are so wrong!! It is one of the prettiest towns in Portugal, bathed by River Tamega. It has a charming ambiance, it's hard to describe it, and the only thing I may say is that I felt in love with this town the first time I visited. My friend that visited Amarante for the first time with me mentioned that she found it the prettiest town in Portugal. I wouldn't go that far, but Amarante is definitely high ranked on my preferences.
While in Amarante enjoy the architecture (it has some beautiful churches), the quietness of the town, the magic of the river. And be sure to taste the gastronomy, mainly the sweets, they are divine!!
Amarante is situated about 30km from Vila Real.
A cruise on River Douro
Cruising the River Douro is one the best options to explore the breathtaking views provided by the slopes of the mountains covered in vineyards and bathed by the River. I did a day cruise and even though it was raining it was simply amazing. I imagine how marvelous it should be on a sunny day. I will definitely return there some day, hopefully next time weather will be on my side!!
There are several options to cruise the River, concerning departure and arrival towns, as well as duration of the trip, which can vary from a couple of hours to a week, although this later might tend to be boring on my opinion.
My trip was booked with operator Douro Azul (www.douroazul.pt) but there are other operators offering packages for this destination. With Douro Azul everything went perfectly ok, so on my next trip I will contact them for sure.
I think the cruises can, sometimes, be a rip off though. Prices are not that cheap, …. We did a cruise which started at 12.30pm and ended around 5.30pm, and it included lunch. Each adult paid 50euros for that (May 2004) and even my 3 yo son had paid 25euros (children aged 3 to 11 pay half the price).
S. Dinis Church, S. Brás Chapel and Cemetery
Address: Largo de S. Dinis.
At the end of Avenida Carvalho Araújo, behind the City Hall, walk a few minutes along Rua de S. Dinis. From there, there is a beautiful view of the surroundings.