Barroso Tour

A tour that can afford two days, amid the charm of the spa and the charm of villages lost in time, amidst mountains and lakes.

Start this tour at one of the most charming and elegant spas in Portugal: the Vidago. Reopened in 2008, after an extensive refurbishment, it's worth knowing the vast spa park. There are two marked walking trails, one of them a little longer and going through a viewpoint where you can have an overview of the spa, hotel and village. Another, shorter, it unfolds with no ups and downs, and goes through the main points of the park, including the three main sources and health resort. If old trains speak to your heart, do not miss the old Railway station, in the main street that runs through the town, near the Palace Hotel, and have a relaxing walk around a section of about 1.5 km to the old Campilho railway station. To the south, about 20 km, the platform of the old Corgo Line was transformed into a cycleway, a stretch of six kilometers, so far, between Vila Pouca de Aguiar and Pedras Salgadas, but there is a plan to extend it southwards to Vila Real and northwards to the border, to ensure the connection with the Spanish network "Rutas Verdes", in a total length of 33 km. Then, head up to Chaves to see the Roman bridge, still operating many centuries after its construction, as well as the spa where the warmer waters of Europe flow from. In the historic area, visit the remains of a medieval castle with a dungeon. Since the plain of Chaves is one of the points of the Portuguese territory the more exposed to an invasion, here were built two strongholds, after the Restoration: the São Francisco (now operating as a boutique hotel and São Neutel. Do not leave Chaves without tasting the famous meat pies, as well as the local sausages. If you like military architecture, you can still see, eastward, on the road to Vinhais, the castle of Monforte do Rio Livre, with beautiful views over the plain. From Chaves, take the road to Boticas, getting ready to enter the Barroso lands. About 7 km after the town and at a point where EN103 borders the Tâmega river, see to the left the old Tâmega station (now a private residence) and about 1 km ahead, a sturdy stone bridge where the train arrived coming from Vidago. From Boticas proceed in the direction of Salto on a well rehabilitated road, with nice sightseeing (EN311). But be sure to take a short detour to the left to visit Termas de Carvalhelhos well as the Iron Age hill fort that lies nearby and which will have wonderful views from its top. Return to the road and proceed with care not to lose the deviation, on the left, to Covas do Barroso. It is a very interesting town, still with some community facilities such as the oven and washbasin and an extraordinary Romanesque church that is worth to visit, adjacent to the rectory. Go back to take the detour to Alturas do Barroso and Vilarinho, two other villages to visit. The first has a small rural museum and a curious church where there are still visible burials in the churchyard, while the second seems a true compendium of popular architecture. Proceed towards Montalegre, passing along the reservoir of Alto Rabagão (Pisões) and taking the EN103 until the left shift to Montalegre. Here you should not miss the medieval castle, still with a series of well-preserved elements, such as the keep and some sections of wall. You can also complete this tour, possibly the next day, with a small visit into the eastern edge of the Peneda-Geres Natural Park. Exit Montalegre southwards in the direction of Braga by EN308, turning in Covelães to Pitões das Júnias and Tourém. Very old village communities, they are really worth of the detour. In Pitões there are still the remains of the Cistercian abbey of Santa Maria das Júnias (eleventh century), next to a wonderful stretch of the river, with its waterfalls, just downstream.

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