I've always known that I would fall head over heels in love with Portugal. Some of the most amazing people I have ever known are Portuguese, and some of the best food I have ever eaten was Portuguese. And, they make really good wine. So it wasn’t hard deciding where to spend the last dreamy days of our summer, the difficult part came when we had to figure out how to squeeze as much of this beautiful country into just over one week.
We eventually settled on flying into Porto and renting a car to drive along the coast, then weaved our way inland through tiny villages until finally we climbed our way up into the mountains.
After a very short drive from Porto, our first stop was the beautiful city of Viana do Castelo. The city’s origins date back to before the Christian era, and in the 16th century its port was one of the main entry points for Portuguese explorers and traders. So many of the beautiful and historical buildings were constructed during this time, and you can almost feel the history come alive as you walk through the side streets and squares.
We spent a couple of days exploring this beautiful coastal town, with trips to Cabedelo Viana beach, long walks along the Atlantic Ocean, and even longer lunches of fresh seafood and local wine.
About a ten minute drive from Viana do Castelo was our beautiful apartment, Quinta da Bouca D’Arques. A 300 year old converted manor house, that felt as though we had the entire place to ourselves.
Each morning we would take a swim, or a walk in the private woods and come back to a basket waiting for us full of homemade breads, local cheeses, fruits and fresh juices.
We were truly sad to leave this place behind, but excited for the drive to our next destination. Winding through small village roads that turned into vast freeways that curved through the mountains, with the windows down and the radio turned up, well - they’re the kind of memories you don’t expect to mean that much but end up meaning the most.
After a three hour drive, we pulled up to the tiny hilltop village of Marialva, with narrow cobbled streets and a few locals to wave us in. With a population of just 30, we met most of the village in the first few minutes. As one of Portugal’s historical villages, that once was the frontline of battle between Spain and Portugal, it’s packed full of history and artefacts and we spent hours walking through the ruins. You can read more about it here and here, if you’re interested.
We choose to stay at Casas do Coro, which is located right in the heart of the village. The houses have been slowly restored over the years and ours had the most breathtaking view over the village and surrounding hills. But the main event here was the food. Every night the candles and lanterns were lit as the sun went down, and we feasted on a four course menu and local wines.
And then, we spent the days recovering by the pool.
After being so well fed and feeling a little zoned out, we drove up into the mountains for a dose of fresh air and some (very light) hiking.
On the way, I couldn’t resist visiting the Burel Factory in the village of Manteiga. They work with the traditional fabric of the local wool industry, burel, and focus on sustainable and unique pieces that aim to make use of the region’s natural resources and the know-how of the village weavers. The designs are modern, creative and full of tradition.
We then checked into Casa das Penhas Douradas, which was worlds away from anywhere else that we had stayed so far. With floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the valley, contemporary design and packed with mid century Danish furniture it felt cosy and modern, with a very Scandinavian touch.
As soon as we had checked in we were shown around and had the option to relax by the pool and sauna, or they offered to pack us a lunch and map out a light walking trail for us. It was one of those moments where you know what they right thing to do is, but the idea of a sauna and swim felt like heaven. (un)luckily I have a husband who likes to be outdoors, so a packed lunch and hike it was.
Two days later, and we were all hiked out and ready to head to Porto for the weekend. This trip was short, but very sweet and I can’t wait to go back and explore more.
I’d love to hear any of your recommendations for our next trip! xx