Figueira da Foz

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About Figueira da Foz

Translated the town’s name means Fig Tree at the River mouth. The population of this lively beachside town swells to almost double its size in the summer months of July and August when Portuguese and Spanish holidaymakers descend on Figueira da Foz to lie on Europe’s widest beach and enjoy the sights and nightlife of the town. Out of season, moderate temperatures, a beach so vast and uncluttered with people it is practically private and great swells rolling through the two main surf breaks make Figueira an appealing year-round destination.

Still relatively undiscovered by UK holidaymakers, Figueira da Foz maintains its distinctively Portuguese atmosphere and has not succumbed to the rising prices and Anglicised menus that you’ll find further South in the Algarve.

With enough bars, restaurants and beach to satisfy the most demanding tourists the town also boasts surf breaks, such as Cabedelo and Buarcos, which are some of the best in Northern Portugal an ideal combination for new and experienced surfers who want to use their vacation time to its full potential.

Photo of Figueira da Foz beach

Photo of Figueira da Foz at night

What to do in Figueira da Foz

The wide beach and sweeping pine forests around Figueira da Foz provide a scenic back drop to your stay. Discover the sights and cultural hotspots in and around the town, including:

Serra da Boa Viagem, drive to the end of the main beach and continue up the mountain for breathtaking views as far as the eye can see.

Praia de Quiaios, about 10k North of Figueira da Foz (accessible by bus or car) this sleepy beach town is like taking a step back in time.

Museu Municipal Dr Santos Rocha, a modern museum in the heart of Figueira da Foz houses a weird and wonderful collection of local and African artefacts. Also houses rotating art exhibits.

Palácio Sotto Mayor, Figueira’s palace surrounded by well-kept, beautiful gardens is free to tour.

Photo of Serra da Boa Viagem

Photo of Palacio Sotto Mayor

What to eat Figueira da Foz

The seafood in the Sea of Figueira, especially shrimp and stone crab is considered the one of the tastiest in the world, not to mention its exceptional nutritional value. It is usually consumed fresh, that is, cooked and seasoned oil and vinegar.

When it comes to meat, the veal and lamb are the most consumed in Figueira da Foz but, there is a growing trend to include the pig. The suckling pig and kid, not so traditional, are increasingly having a significant deployment.

In the sweets area, Figueira never held, a creative place of great importance.

Photo of Aperitifs

Photo of Seafood


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About Seixal

Seixal presents a riverside zone with cultural, economical and social potentialities for tourism. Ther city has available a several activities always connected with the history and is fantastic to take a walk near river and have fun with family.
Seixal is privileged, located on North of Setubal Península and inside the Lisbon Metropolitan Area has transportation by boat, train and amazing roads to the capital or to South of the country.

Photo of Seixal

Aerial photo of Seixal

What to do in Seixal

The walks are an enjoyment. Do not forget to take the paths and the small streets around Seixal village. The pretty houses are interesting, the friendly people who appreciate a good morning or a good afternoon.

Take the trip up to “Chão da Ribeira”. You can walk up the valley, or you can drive up. There are two roads, one just entering the village from “São Vicente” side and the other just enter the village from “Porto Moniz” side.

Coming up into the valley, follow the road to the end. Pass two small bridges, and either follow the path to the right into the forest, or take the one to the left, pass the trout farm along the river and into the forest. This is the old, endemic laurel forest of the island, a UNESCO World Heritage.

The presence of several yacht clubs in the region, allows for canoeing in the environment of living with nature.
You can make a boat trip through River Tagus on the river on traditional boats.

Besides the expositions, the local museum has its own investigation of local habits, specially from Tagus River.

You can visit Quinta da Fidalga . Founded on XV century had agricultural and recreational functions. This space is mostly connected to Vasco da Gama brother (Paulo da Gama), that stayed in this farm to follow the construction of caravels which Vasco da Gama used to discover the Maritime Route to India.

You can also visit wonderful historic churchs from XV century till XIX century construction.

Known as folk art is part of the local culture and is an identification of local people. Strong local traditions with excellent artificies, are characterized by their ability to build ships in miniature. They made amazing local products like tiles, ceramics, pottery, basketry, in wood, textiles, decorative arts and much more.

Photo of Quinta da Fidalga

Photo of Church Nossa Senhora da Conceição

What to eat in Seixal

The local cuisine was historically dependent on agriculture, fisheries and livestock. by creating specific feeding habits that have lasted to this day. Amazing local plates : “Feijoada de Choco”, “Caldeirada”, “Massa de Peixe”, “Enguias Fritas” and “Ensopado de Enguias” are traditional. For desert we suggest you “Pastelinhos de Santa Marta”.

Photo of Feijoada de chocos

Photo of Pastelinhos de Santa Marta

Caldas da Rainha

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About Caldas da Rainha

Caldas da Rainha is a city in western central Portugal. The city serves as the seat of the larger municipality of the same name and is the seat of the Comunidade Intermunicipal do Oeste (West Intermunicipal Community). The city is best known for its hot springs and pottery.

The city was founded in the 15th century by Queen Leonor, who established a hospital at the site of some therapeutic hot springs. The Hospital Termal Rainha D. Leonor is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the world, with five centuries of history. The city’s name means “Queen’s Hot Springs” or “Queen’s Spa”.

Caldas da Rainha is home to many arts-related institutions. There are numerous museums in the city, mostly related to ceramics and sculpture. The city is home to a major arts and design school, as well as a school of ceramics. In 2008, the municipal government inaugurated a new cultural center.

Photo of Caldas da Rainha

Another photo of Caldas da Rainha

What to do in Caldas da Rainha

The spa of Caldas da Rainha gradually developed round the Free Hospital which was founded by Queen Leonor in 1485. Today it is an important fruit growing region and a centre for the production of traditional ceramics. A pleasant town with a wooded park and boating lake in the centre.

It is a traditional retreat for the Portuguese escaping the heat of the city of Lisbon. Popular for it’s spa, clean air, and nearby beaches. Caldas is a working and regional market town, with three markets every weekday. It has city status and was founded by Queen Leonor who formed the thermal hospital at the springs.

The daily fruit market is central to the activity, it sells fruit, vegetables, nuts, cheese, some basket wear, flowers and ceramics.Walk through the pedestrian precinct from the fruit market. You will pass a bakery on your right which sells fresh bread in the mornings.

Every Monday there is a massive market just out of town. This market sells everything from Tractors and chickens, to shoes and furniture. Barbecued chicken is served in the tent style restaurants.

Parque D. Carlos I is a large park in the center of town. The José Malhoa Museum sits in the middle of the park. The park contains a doughnut-shaped pond with a small island in the center. Visitors can rent rowboats on the pond.

Praça da República (Republic Plaza) is a public square in the center of town. The plaza, also known as Praça da Fruta (Fruit Plaza), hosts Portugal’s only daily farmers’ market. The plaza is surrounded by buildings, most containing shops, banks, and cafés on the ground floor.

Praça 5 de Outubro (October 5 Plaza) formerly hosted the city’s open-air fish market, which has since moved to an indoor location (Mercado do Peixe). The plaza is now used for outdoor café seating and free cultural events. A parking garage sits underground below the plaza.

Several museums are located in Caldas da Rainha. The Centro de Artes (arts center) hosts three museums of sculpture: the Museu-Atelier António Duarte, the Museu-Atelier João Fragoso, and the Museu Barata Feyo.

The Museu de Cerâmica exhibits ceramic works of art, as does the Casa-Museu de São Rafael.The Museu do Hospital e das Caldas features exhibits related to the thermal hospital and the city.The Museu José Malhoa is an art museum located in Parque D. Carlos I.

Photo of D. Carlos I

Photo of the fruit plaza

What to eat in Caldas da Rainha

Caldas da Rainha is also rich in gastronomy, with prominence for the bivalve ones, eels, robalo and linguado fishes of the lagoon, accompanied by the delicious white wines of the hillsides of Alvorninha.

The most famous sweets of Caldas da Rainha are Cavacas das Caldas. Cavacas das Caldas are a small-bowl-sized, shell-shaped confection of flour and eggs, with a crunchy sugar covering. In June 2005, a 26 meter pyramid of cavacas was erected on Praça 25 de Abril in front of the city hall. Beijinhos das Caldas are similar, but are smaller and round.

Photo of Cavacas da caldas

Photo of linguado

Ponte de Lima

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About Ponte de Lima

Ponte de Lima is a market town on the south bank of the Lima River facing a magnificent Roman bridge with low arches. Its setting, together with a laid-back atmosphere makes it one of the loveliest small towns in Portugal.

It was founded on the site of a Celtic settlement and developed by the Romans, who believed the Lima was the Lethe, the mythical River of Oblivion (visitors who crossed it would forget everything and stay forever).

Photo of Ponte de Lima

Photo of the Ponte de Lima square

What to do in Ponte de Lima

Across the river is the 15th century Saint Anthony Convent with an interesting Manueline portal, and adjacent to it stands the 18th century São Francisco Church housing a museum of sacred art.

The old streets in the center are lined with elegant buildings and are a delight to wander in, particularly on market days, every other Monday. Among the most distinguishing buildings are the 14th century Parish Church and Palácio do Marquês, a 15th-century fortress-palace now functioning as the Town Hall.

In the main square, Largo de Camões, is an 18th century fountain and several pleasant cafes with outside tables.

In and around Ponte de Lima are some great manor houses or solares, several of which date from the 16th century and are now guesthouses. Staying at one of them is reason enough to visit Ponte de Lima.

Photo of Palácio do Marquês

Photo of the Saint Anthony convent

What to eat in Ponte de Lima

The most typical dish of Ponte de Lima is called Arroz de Sarrabulho, and it is rice mixed with a variety of meats (beef, chicken, pork) and pork blood. The effect was simply of rice that had been cooked in some kind of very savoury broth, and highly seasoned with ground cumin. To accompany the rice, you can also order a platter of various meats and sausages, including morcela (blood sausage), chouriço (smoked cured pork sausage), alheiras (another type of sausage typical of the north and usually not made of pork), and chunks of pork and tripe.

Photo of Sarrabulho

Photo of Alheiras


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About Tomar

Located 100 km north of Lisbon in the most fertile region of Portugal (Ribatejo), Tomar is a historic city worth to visit.Tomar inhabitants are called “Nabantinos” as the ancient Roman city in this exact location was called “Nabantia”.After the conquest of the region from the Moors by the Portuguese, the land of Tomar was granted to the Order of the Knights Templar in 1159. In 1160, Gualdim de Pais, the fourth Master of the Knights Templar, started to build the Castle and the Monastery. The medieval town was built inside these walls, under the protection of the Castle. Centuries later, the town expanded outside the walls from the top of the hill to the banks of the River Nabão.

Tomar is a charming and historically outstanding town on the banks of the Nabão River. It is dominated by a 12th-century Templar castle containing one of the country’s most significant and impressive monuments, the Convent of Christ (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO).

Photo of Tomar

Photo of the rooftoops of Tomar

What to do In Tomar

The most outstanding monument to be seen is Tomar is the Convent of Christ, which is a historical description of the Portuguese architectural styles from the 12th to the 18th centuries, with special emphasis on the late gothic and the unique style of Manueline. This style diversity offers the visitor an opportunity to enjoy a unique architectural itinerary through history.

The gothic church of Santa Maria do Olival dates back to the early 13th century, and is said to have been built on the site of 7th century Benedictine monastery. This church was considered as the Mother Church of the Templar in Portugal and here was originally the pantheon of the Order of the Knights Templar. Inside still are the graves of the past Templar Masters. The church has a detached square tower facing the main façade with a triple archivolts portico and the church has three naves.

The Manueline church of Sâo João Baptista is the main church of Tomar, located in the main square (Republic Square) and was built in 1510 during the staying of Manuel I in Tomar. The main façade has two entrances and exhibits a flamboyant Gothic portal. A three storey Manueline tower with a 16th century clock completes the main side of the church. The church has three naves with decorated capitals in the inner columns, and a set of 16th century panels by the Portuguese artist Gregório Lopes may be admired, specially a “Last Supper” painting.

The 17th-century church of São Francisco houses a Match Museum (“Museu dos Fósforos”) in its former cloisters. It is quite an unique Museum of this kind with the largest collection in Europe, exhibiting over 43,000 matchboxes from 104 countries.

The Synagogue of Tomar is actually the best-preserved medieval synagogue of Portugal. The synagogue was built in the mid 15th century, between 1430 and 1460,and has four towers and a Gothic vaulted ceiling and columns with classic capitals. Since 1939, the synagogue houses the small Jewish Museum Abraão Zacuto, a famous 15th century astronomer and mathematician, which exhibits an interesting set of pieces related to Jewish history in Portugal.

Near Tomar, just about 20 km south, is located the Templar Castle of Almourol, built on a little island in the middle of the Tagus River. The castle was established on 1171 by Gualdim Pais, the fourth Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. The towers and wall are quite well preserved and its possible to visit it taking a small boat. The location of the castle inspired a number of legends. One tells about the ghost of a princess that haunts the castle sighing for the love of her Moorish slave.

Photo of the Castle of Almourol

Photo of the Convent of Christ

What to eat in Tomar

In Tomar it is possible to taste a variety of flavours visiting several excellent restaurants.

The main dishes are roast kid, rice morcela with vegetables, lamprey with sauce made of its own blood. Especially in the winter, lamprey and kid are the main dishes in the restaurant menus. Between February and March, restaurants compete for the best lamprey dishes. The kid is a Easter tradition in Portugal and it is usually roasted with potatoes, sprinkled with almonds and spring greens.

Since 1997, in the middle of May, Tomar has held a Soup Conference, where the visitor may teste a variety of soups presented by local restaurants.

Traditional sweet dishes are among the magnificent delicacies, such as Slices of Tomar, Fresh Cheese Pudding, Nuts of Eggs, Sweet Cheese, “Kiss me Quick”, and Cakes of Bed.

Local red wines produced by the local cooperative vinery (Adega Cooperativa de Tomar) are of excellent quality. White wines are also produced in the region.

Photo of Lamprey

Photo of slices of Tomar


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About Valença

Valença is situated in the far northwest of Portugal, on the left bank of the Minho River, from which the Minho district takes its name. It is essentially a frontier town – the river acting as a natural border between Portugal and Spain.

Valença do Minho, as it is often called, is an historic town which hasn’t succumbed to the shabbiness often associated with a border town. It has a clearly defined area, delineated by stout double walls dating from the 17th century, which cast no doubt on Valença’s historically defensive role, a function which served Portugal well during her chequered past with neighbouring Spain. This fortification is a focal point of the town, with its four well-preserved gates and twelve ramparts.

An early 12th century name for Valença was ‘Contrasta’, translating as ‘opposite’ a clear reference to the settlement facing Spain across the water.

Photo of Valença

Aerial photo of Valença

What to do in Valença

Valença, like so many European towns and villages, was subject to many invading occupations and suffered at the hands of Romans, Barbarians, Moors, Asturian Spanish, and Napoleon’s French armies. Today Valença’s invaders are more likely to be tourists or day-tripping Spaniards looking for bargains on market day.

Most of these visitors enter Valença via the old road and rail bridge which crosses the Minho River. It’s a quaint way to enter another country, somewhere halfway across the complex steel structure, the traveller goes from Spain into Portugal. There is a new bridge a little south of the old one, but the Gustave Eiffel-inspired crossing, constructed in 1879 has a special magic all of its own.

The town inside these impressive walls is an attractive, busy place with a variety of shops, four good restaurants, and plenty of accommodation, notably the Hotel Pousada de Valença or Pousada São Teotónio.

The hotel is situated in the highest part of the town, which provides its guests with magnificent views over the Minho valley and Spain.

São Teotónio figures greatly in Valença. He was born in Ganfei, not far from Valença and was the confessor of the first King of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques. He was the first Portuguese person to be canonised, and is the town’s patron saint.

Because of Valença’s unique border position it makes an ideal base for exploring both Northern Portugal and Galician Spain.

Photo of the Bridge in Valença

Photo of hotel pousada São Teotónio

What to eat in Valença

Indulge yourself in the distinctive flavours of the Portuguese kitchen. Valença local gastronomic specialties include arroz de sarrabulho (rice stewed with pork meat and blood) and bacalhau à Gil Eanes (codfish with milk and potatoes). Sample a bottle of the local vinho verde (literally, “green wine”) grown only in the Minho region.

Photo of Arroz de Sarrabulho

Photo of Bacalhau Gil Eanes


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About Viseu

Viseu is both a city (capital of Viseu District) and a municipality. The Greater Metropolitan Area of Viseu is also one of the Greater Metropolitan Areas of Portugal with 354,162 inhabitants.Viseu has undergone a considerable economic growth, especially in the areas of telecommunications, industry, trade and education. Located in Portugal’s northern-center the city is a crossroads linking the seaport of Aveiro in the Atlantic coast to Guarda near the Portuguese-Spanish border and then on to Salamanca, Spain.

The city is noted on the arts scene due to the Grão Vasco Museum and the Teatro Viriato. Wine making (Dao wines) is an important activity in the region. In ancient Portuguese history, Viseu is noted as one of the major urban centers in the area where Viriathus, a legendary warrior and national hero, lived. With three higher education institutions within its limits, the city has played a role as a regional educational center. Its business community is among the largest of Portugal’s interior countryside.

Photo of Viseu

Photo of the historic quarter of Viseu

What to do in Viseu

The city name goes back to the end of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages where its name is derived from the Roman term “viso”, which means a good view. This was in accordance with the place where the original settlement was formed in Roman times, that was its highest point.

Viseu has a statue of Viriathus (? – 139 BC), the Lusitanians’ leader who fought the invading Romans for the freedom of Lusitania, made by the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure (1862–1947). In 714 AD Viseu was taken by the Moors who held it for almost a century.

The city’s fine Romanesque/Gothic cathedral dates from 830 AD. It was captured by Alfonso II of Asturias in 791 but was recaptured by Moors in 930. It was finally captured by Ferdinand I of León on expense of the Taifa of Batlabus in 1058.

When Alfonso II of Asturias conquered Viseu a grave was found with the following inscription: ‘Hic requiescit Rudericus rex gothorum ‘ (Here lies Rodrigo gothic king). Rodrigo was the last Visigothic king before the Muslim invasion of Iberia, and he was supposed to have died in the Battle of Guadalete, but his body was never found.

Viseu was the birthplace of one of the greatest Portuguese painters of the sixteenth century, Vasco Fernandes (1475–1540), known as Grão Vasco, who today lends his name to a museum that houses most of his paintings (the Grão Vasco Museum), a hotel, a school, and even a wine label. The museum, installed in the old episcopal palace, shows some of his masterpieces and paintings of other painters of the period known as the School of Viseu.

The city of Viseu is rich in churches, convents and chapels and has a fine historic quarter (Centro Historico) with narrow cobbled streets, hidden alleyways and intriguing flights of steps. In addition to its important cathedral there are six major churches, four chapels, two convents, and the bishop’s palace. There is also a sacred art museum in the cathedral.

Photo of Viriathus

Photo of Grão vasco museum

What to eat in Viseu

Rich and varied, the traditional gastronomy of this region is one of its main attractions.

The flavours of the Beira soup or “Caldo Verde”, “Migas à Lagareiro”, shrub rice, “Rancho à Moda de Viseu”, Roast Veal “à Moda de Lafões”, roast codfish and Octopus “à Lagareiro”, Roasted kid, catfish rice, trouts from the Paiva river, duck rice, smoked ham, sausages (black-pudding, smoked pork sausage, pork sausage made of flour) are the delight of those who seek them.

Photo of Migas á lagareiro

Photo of Rancho á moda de Viseu

Viana do Castelo

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About Viana do Castelo

Situated close to the mouth of the river Lima, 65 kilometres to the north of Porto and 50 kilometres from the Spanish border at Valença, Viana do Castelo was founded in the thirteenth century by D. Afonso III, the king of Portugal, under the name of Viana da Foz do Lima.

The sea was always the main reason for Viana do Castelo existence: at one time it had 70 merchant ships and, in the period of the Discoveries (in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries), carracks and caravels set sail from the shipyards of Viana to follow the sea routes to India and North and South America, returning laden with sugar, ebony, ivory and other exotic goods. A native-born son of Viana, João Álvares Fagundes, pioneered the navigation route to Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. Without knowing it, he was to pave the way for the beginning of the cult of the many different ways of cooking cod in Portugal.

Photo of Viana do Castelo

Photo of Praça da República

What to do in Viana do Castelo

There are fine buildings around the vast main square, Praça da República. In the center is a Renaissance fountain, and facing it is the former 16th-century Town Hall (now used for exhibitions) with three wide Gothic arches, and the Renaissance Misericórdia Church and Hospice built in 1598.

From the square, Rua Sacadura Cabral leads to the 15th-century Parish Church (also known as the “Sé”), with a Gothic doorway with reliefs of the apostles.

The Municipal Museum is housed in an 18th-century palace and holds a fine collection of rare ceramics, furniture from Portuguese India and Moorish Spain, and archeological finds.

Standing on the Hill of Santa Luzia is the massive domed Neo-Byzantine Santa Luzia Basilica, modeled on the Sacré Coeur in Paris. Three rose windows illuminate the interior and frescoes, and there are exceptional panoramic views from the top.
On the same hill are also traces of a Celtic settlement and a pousada with a beautiful view of the sea.

Viana do Castelo is especially popular in the summer for a splendid beach nearby, the beach of Cabedelo, reached by ferry from Avenida dos Combatentes, the town’s main avenue. Also popular is the beach of Vila Praia de Âncora to the north.

Photo of Santa Luzia Basilica

Photo of the beach of cabedelo

What to eat in Viana do Castelo

Indulge yourself in the distinctive flavours of the Portuguese kitchen at restaurants along the riverside esplanade. Viana do Castelo local gastronomic specialties include arroz de sarrabulho (rice stewed with pork meat and blood) and bacalhau à Gil Eanes (codfish with milk and potatoes). Sample a bottle of the local vinho verde (literally, “green wine”) grown only in the Minho region.

Photo of Arroz de Sarrabulho

Photo of Bacalhau Gil Eanes


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About Amarante

Although its origins are yet unknown, the city of Amarante has become an enchanting and truly inspirational destination for travellers who have been lured by the natural beauty and genuine character of this northern city. Located in Porto’s district, Amarante is a city where landscapes guide your eyes from site to site, where a tranquil river flows at your every step and a place that instantly welcomes you with its untouched charm and intimate mood.

Despite not knowing exactly how Amarante was founded, it is believed that this city was discovered and named after the Roman centurion, Amarantus. However, Amarante gained its relevance in the country due to the Benedictine monk, St. Gonçalo, after returning to Amarante from his pilgrimage to Italy and Jerusalem during the 13th century. Today, St. Gonçalo remains as a highly praised and respected figure amongst the northern Portuguese population and is honoured every year with an emblematic religious/folklore festival, showing Amarante’s profound connection with the Catholic religion and customs.

Photo of Amarante

Aerial photo of Amarante

What to do in Amarante

Aside from the overwhelming scenery, including a view of the immense Marão mountain range, Amarante holds several interesting landmarks, places to visit, regional restaurants, shops, and always, a breathtaking view. In the historical centre of town, you will find the famous St. Gonçalo Church and St. Gonçalo Bridge, both considered to be the most significant attractions and national monuments in town. This bridge is viewed as strong symbol in this city, being an important icon of Portuguese resistance towards the French invasions during the beginning of the 19th century. Underneath the bridge, travellers can admire the peaceful flow of the Tâmega River that will eventually lead you to a number of pleasant cafés that align the splendid riverside.

Marvellous churches such as the Baroque influenced S. Pedro Church and the S. Domingos Church, both constructed during the 1700’s, are definitely fabulous monuments to be appreciated by curious travellers. The Amadeo Souza Cardoso Museum pays homage to the acclaimed Portuguese artist and Amarante native, Amadeo Souza Cardoso, being a fantastic way to get to know the genius works of this late artist. Also, you may visit the house where Teixeira de Pascoaes lived, one of the greatest 20th century Portuguese poets and writers of all time.

Photo of the St. Gonçalo bridge

Photo of St. Gonçalo church

What to eat in Amarante

While in Amarante, the gastronomy will surely receive your highest complements due to its rich cuisine and delicious sweets. Thanks to the numerous cultural and regional influences left in this city from generation to generation, tasting Amarante’s cuisine will certainly be a new experience for visitors. Mostly meat and bacalhau based dishes, be sure to accompany these marvellous meals with a glass of the heavenly Vinho Verde. While in the city, you can expect to receive an inviting feeling from the locals, as well as a profound understanding of their way of life.

Harmonious and blissful, there is something rare about Amarante that has made it such a cherished experience and special destination for all of its visitors.

Photo of the gastronomy of Amarante

Photo of the pastries of Amarante

Póvoa de Varzim

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About Póvoa de Varzim

Póvoa de Varzim is a Portuguese city in the Norte Region and sub-region of Greater Porto, with a estimated population of 67,105. It is located in a sandy coastal plain, just south of Cape Santo André, halfway between the Minho and Douro rivers.

Permanent habitation in Póvoa de Varzim dates back to around four to six thousand years ago, around 900 BC, unrest in the region led to the establishment of a fortified city. The ocean has played an important part in its culture and economy, through maritime trade, and later through fishing, leading it to acquire a Foral in 1308 and to become, in the 18th century, the main fishing port in northern Portugal. Since the late 19th century, its beaches have helped it become one of the main tourist areas of the region.

Póvoa de Varzim is one of the few legal gambling areas in Portugal, and has significant textile and food industries. The town has a rich seafood cuisine, and retains ancient customs such as the writing system of siglas poveiras and the masseira farming technique.

Photo of Póvoa de Varzim

Another photo of Póvoa de Varzim

What to do in Póvoa de Varzim

Nossa Senhora da Conceição Fortress (Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceição), mostly known as Castelo da Póvoa (Castle of Póvoa) is a Portuguese fortress in Póvoa de Varzim rebuilt in the reigns of Peter II and John V (between 1701 and 1740) to defend the town from privateers, in the site of an earlier fort known as “Forte de Torrão”. It is considered a listed property of Public Interest in Portugal.

The Nossa Senhora das Dores church is located in a small hill where, prior to the 18th century, the Senhor do Monte (Lord of the Hill) was celebrated in an ancient chapel.
The alteration in evocation occurred on July 24th 1768, when the archbishop granted authorization for the placement of the Senhora das Dores icon in the chapel to a group of Latin Grammar students studying in a school in the square. These students where devotees of Our Lady, and were helped by some residents to achieve that goal. From then on the renovation of the chapel started and extended throw time, the chapel name was renamed to Capela da Virgem Santíssima Senhora das Dores (Chapel of the Holly Virgin Lady of Pains) and became very popular. The brotherhood had its statutes approved in 1769.

Casino da Póvoa (Póvoa Casino) is a casino located in Póvoa de Varzim, near Porto, in Portugal. In 2006, it kept its growth at a more modest pace, only suppressed by the opening effect of Casino Lisboa, with 53.825.372 euros of profit in 2006, it became the second largest casino.

Lapa Church, officially Igreja Paroquial de Nossa Senhora da Lapa (Parish Church of Our Lady of Lapa) is a Parish church in the Portuguese city of Póvoa de Varzim. It was built in 1772 by the local fishermen community. Despite its simplicity it has some interesting features and cultural interest such as its old lighthouse, once a link between the church and the fishermen at sea.

Photo of Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceição

Photo of Casino da Póvoa de Varzim

What to eat in Póvoa de Varzim

Póvoa de Varzim is well-served by good restaurants where distinct gastronomic traditions meet: on one hand, the Minho’s cooking based upon meat and, on the other hand, the Póvoa’s traditional cooking, this one, naturally, honouring fish as the special guest in every recipe: “Pescada à poveiro” (Póvoa’s boiled whitefish), “Caldeirada de Peixe” (different fishes stewed together), “Arroz de sardinha” (sardine’s rice). When served with the good wine of this region “vinho verde”, these typical meals are simply delicious.

For dessert, “Rabanadas à poveira” (Póvoa’s golden toasts fried in milk and eggs with sugar) should be served with a glass of Port wine.

Photo of Pescada á poveiro

Photo of Rabanadas á pouveira