Beautiful Villages near Porto
Wine tour in Douro Valley
I have already told you about the best cities in Portugal close to Porto and the best day trips from Porto, but I thought you could also use a list of the most beautiful villages near Porto too.
Most of them are within 30 minutes / 1h driving distance from Porto and hence they make a great getaway from the city. I hope you enjoy it!
These are the most beautiful villages near Porto:
Quintandona is a hidden gem just half an hour driving distance from Porto. This is one of the beautiful villages near Porto where the amazing beauty of its typical shale houses captivates us from the first glance.
In Quintandona there is not much to do besides walk its little streets and wonder how it would be to live in the past. You will be able to see the public pillory, a centenary chapel, some typical stone structures called canastros, where farmers used to store their corn, and even a public place where women used to wash their clothes called lavadouros.
And, in my humble opinion, to be able to check how people used to live in ancient times is one of the best things to do in the beautiful villages near Porto.
Once in Quintandona: There is a tapas place called WineBar Casa da Viúva. I wasn’t particularly fond of the tapas itself (then again I love proper food, so it is probably a matter of preference!) but its wine list is simply superb.
Where to Stay in Quintandona: in this village I am completely in love with Casa Valxisto, it is such a lovely place! 🙂
Afurada is a tiny fishermen village in Vila Nova de Gaia, just 3km away from Cais de Gaia (where the Port wine cellars are located).
This beautiful village near Porto was renovated recently and now it is such a joy to walk among its colourful houses, in between humble restaurants where they serve delicious grilled fish.
I have already told you about the best things to do in Afurada. Besides eating grilled fish and watching the ropes where old ladies still hang their clothes, there is one activity that I particularly enjoy: going on a private cruise in the Douro river!
On this 2h private boat cruise you will have the opportunity to see not only Ribeira, the picturesque riverside neighborhood of Porto but also Foz, where the river meets the ocean. In the middle of the ride you will be surprised with an amazing tasting of Portuguese sausages and cheeses and a glass of Portuguese sparkling wine.
If you want to have a similar experience just email our sailor, Tomás, on firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to use the code PORTOALITIES5 to claim your 5% discount on any experience provided by him. I am sure you will not regret it as I am surely looking forward to my next trip there!
How to get there: if you like walking you can simply walk from Cais de Gaia, but my recommendation is to rent a bike – this way it is much faster, and after visiting Afurada you can continue your bike ride to the beaches of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Once in Afurada: you should have grilled fish at one of its many restaurants. I am not going to lie to you – the fish in Afurada is better than in Porto but it pales in comparison to Matosinhos’. However, it is part of the experience! 🙂
Viana do Castelo
I just couldn’t leave Viana do Castelo out of this list because I have to tell you about the absolutely delicious Bolas de Berlim that I tasted there. (I’m a sweet tooth, what can I say?)
While Bola de Berlim, a type of custard doughnut, can be found everywhere in Portugal, the best that I have ever tasted are from Manuel Natário Bakery. They’re so good that they have been recognised internationally – even getting an article in the english newspaper The Guardian. I couldn’t agree more and if you ever find yourself in Viana do Castelo, eat one or two. Maybe three. 😉
On your visit to Viana do Castelo, one of the most beautiful villages near Porto, you should plan to spend some of your time in Santa Luzia Sanctuary, famous for its unmatchable view of the region. Perched upon the Santa Luzia mountain, this monument offers a 360º view of the surrounding area.
Another thing you can’t miss is the Gil Eannes Boat Museum. An old ship that is today a museum of its own history and that, while it sails no more, it still stands in the waters of the Atlantic. To visit the museum, you have to go aboard the ship and through its many rooms you will get to know its many lives as a hospital, mail boat, rescue boat and ice breaker. A rich and fascinating history you can’t miss!
Where to stay in Viana do Castelo: you could stay at Hotel Laranjeira, an intimate but spacious hotel, right in the centre of the city and 500m away from the Atlantic Ocean. If you prefer, you can stay in Cantinho da Matriz, a cozy apartment in the centre of the historical area. Alternatively, you can board in a hostel and I recommend Albergue de Peregrinos, which is a few meters away from the Santa Luzia Sanctuary.
I have only been to Santo Tirso a couple of times but it was enough to catalogue it as one of the most beautiful villages near Porto.
Santo Tirso is particularly famous for its convents, such as São Bento monastery.
It is also home to an unusual open air museum dedicated to contemporary sculptures, that are spread across town. You can find more information about this project on the MIEC museum, which was designed by the famous architects Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura.
Santo Tirso also has a great urban park called Sara Moreira, which consists of a forest of cork and oak trees overlooking the Ave River.
How to get there: the best way to get to Santo Tirso from Porto is to take a train at São Bento train station (direction: Guimarães). The trip takes around 40 minutes.
Once in Santo Tirso: do not forget to try Jesuítas and Limonetes (two very famous pastries from this village near Porto) at Confeitaria Moura.
Santa Maria da Feira
Santa Maria da Feira is a relatively small city that became very famous for organising an impressive Medieval Fair during the first two weeks of August. It is definitely the best time to visit Santa Maria da Feira as you will be able to watch recreations of medieval events (such as tournaments) and street performances, eat “medieval”ish food and buy tematic souvenirs.
If you are not able to attend the Medieval Fair in Santa Maria da Feira worry not, there is still a lot to do in this beautiful village near Porto!
I suggest you to visit the castle of Santa Maria da Feira and the Lóios Convent. If you are into history like I am, visit the roman ruins of Romariz Archeological Site. If you just want to spend a relaxed day, then head to the river beach of Mamôa. 😉
How to get there: Unfortunately there is no train connection from Porto to Santa Maria da Feira. Fortunately it is a short 25 minutes drive from Porto so you can just rent a car on RentalCars or AutoEurope. You can also take the bus from Campo 24 de Agosto or from Hospital de São João.
I already mentioned Fafe as one of the best day trips from Porto. Fafe, one of the most beautiful villages near Porto, is worth a visit not only because it is completely off the tourist radar but also because is has been shaped by the return of Brasileiros Torna Viagem (Portuguese emigrants that went to Brasil, made a fortune and decided to come back to Portugal).
In fact, these returned Portuguese migrants were so fundamental in the economical and cultural development of Fafe that there is a small but rather impressive museum solely dedicated to them called Museu das Migrações e das Comunidades.
Once in Fafe, do not forget to visit the Cine-Theatre as it is a superb concert house.
For nature lovers, I suggest you to visit Aldeia do Pontido and take a 2h walk from there, all around the secluded lake close by. Indeed, Aldeia do Pontido is also one of the beautiful villages near Porto.
Ponte de Lima
Another great day trip from Porto is Ponte de Lima, an ancient village at the heart of the Green Wine Region. In fact, Ponte de Lima is so very proud of being the oldest village in Portugal that it refused to be turned into a city. True story. You cannot find a more beautiful village near Porto!
What I particularly enjoy about Ponte de Lima is its deep connection to nature. In fact, besides visiting its cute little historical centre (I reckon you can do this in a couple of hours), you can dedicate a lot more time walking by the riverside or by the lagoons of Bertiandos and S. Pedro d’Arcos.
Another great place to walk is the protected landscape of Corno de Bico, just half an hour driving from Ponte de Lima. If you are not so much into walking, consider appreciating the view from Santo Ovidio Viewpoint, it is stunning.
How to get there: Unfortunately there is no train connection from Porto to Ponte de Lima. You can there by bus or you can rent a car – check the best car rental prices on RentalCars or AutoEurope.
Once in Ponte de Lima: you must dare to try Arroz de Sarrabulho (various types of meat with rice, cooked with pork blood and cummins) at Restaurante Alameda. It is. So. Good!
Where to Stay in Ponte de Lima: in this city I am completely in love with
Quinta do Ameal – Wine & Tourism Terroir and Carmo’s Boutique Hotel, even though they are both terribly expensive, staying there is one of the best things you can do in Portugal! A good B&B is Casa das Neves. For apartments I suggest Casa do Carvalho. In terms of hostels I suggest the old Village Hostel.
Póvoa de Varzim
With an enviable coast line and appealing beach sands, Póvoa de Varzim is proud to be considered one of the best summer destinations. It is one of the most beautiful villages near Porto and, it has a vast fishing tradition and boasts its delicious grilled fish, freshly plucked from the ocean by the local fisherman straight to the table.
The best way to enjoy your time in Póvoa de Varzim is by walking the length of the coastline boardwalk and its unmatched view of the ocean. After the end of the boardwalk, you can continue your walk into Passeio Alegre, or Happy Walkway, which goes right to the centre of town.
There you can shop in Rua da Junqueira with its myriad of stores and coffee shops, grab the opportunity to catch a music show in Cine-Theatre Garrett, a building inaugurated in 1876 or visit the local star shaped fortress.
If you need a place to relax, take a breather at the mythic Diana Bar, which, apart from being a café built upon the sands of the beach, is also a centre for culture and art.
To finish your trip, try your luck in the Póvoa de Varzim Casino accompanied by a wonderful dinner with the best fish the town has to offer and live music.
How to get there: the best way to get to Póvoa de Varzim from Porto is to take the metro from line B to the last station (destination: Póvoa de Varzim). The trip takes 40 minutes and costs around 5€.
Where to stay in Póvoa de Varzim: right next to the Casino, you can find Grand Hotel da Póvoa, a 4 star hotel located by the sea front (5 minutes from the metro station on foot). It’s got excellent service, and I urge you to have breakfast in the private room verandas, with a stunning view of the Atlantic ocean.