Down by the riverside
The River Homem is about 5 kms from the house to the east of Vila Verde. There is a river beach here and a couple of cafes and ice-cream stalls. Take a picnic and while away the afternoon in this pretty and peaceful spot.
Bike around Braga
There's plenty to see and do in the beautiful old city of Braga, Portugal's 3rd largest city after Lisbon and Porto. A good way to get around is to hire a bike - visit 'Go by Bike' in Rua de Sao Marcos, near the central plaza. Or if you prefer take one of the Yellow Bus Tours around the town to see the best sights.
Have a drink on the terrace of one of the beachfront cafes in Esposende
a chaming seaside town, popular with the Portuguese and blessed with a lovely dune-backed beach of fine white sand.
Nearby Vila Verde is known for the very high quality of its handicrafts, especially pottery and wickerwork. Also, the traditional lover’s handkerchief (lenço de namorado) is made by local women - this is a love token that girls give to their would-be husbands to attract their attention..
Sample the local Vinho Verde wine
particularly the Alvarinho, a style of wine unique to this area. Then stock up with supplies at the wine co-operative in Ponte de Lima. The Adega Cooperativa is in Rua Conde Bertiandos (near the hospital).
The village of Lindoso near the border with Spain has two claims to fame. One is the castle which is a National Monument and well worth exploring, and the other is its collection of more than 50 'espigueiros', grain stores dating back to the 17th century. Stop off for lunch at the restaurant at the bottom of the hill from the castle.
Visit the charming fortress town of Valenca
on the banks of the River Minho. Drive through the ancient archway that leads the way through the impressive town walls to discover cobbled streets and a delightful range of local shops selling the beautifully embroidered linen and towels for which the town is famous. Its very popular with Spaniards so to see it at its best stay till early evening when most visitors will have left.
Don't miss Peneda-Geres Park
For peace and tranquility amid beautiful surroundings try to visit the Peneda-Geres National park, the first protected area to be founded in Portugal and the only National Park in the country. Having once been the home of the brown bear and the mountain goat, Peneda-Geres is today one of the last refuges of the great predators, such as the royal eagle.
Walk in the footsteps of the pilgrims
up the steps of Bom Jesus do Monte, 3kms east of Braga. Set in the woods high above the city, this glorious ornamental stairway of granite is a monumental homage and is the object of devoted pilgrimage, where pentitents climb up the steps on their knees.
Spend a day in Ponte de Lima, one of Portugal's oldest towns.
Spreading lazily along the tree-line banks of the river Lima, this is a beautiful town, with fine buildings and pretty cobbled squares. Visit on a Monday morning and you may be fortunate enough to witness the local market, which is held on the sandy river beach every other week.
Water sports in the Caniçada reservoir
Try your hand at windsurfing or water skiing a just take a stroll around this picturesque reservoir. Head for Rio Caldo, the best base for the reservoir, a 50 minute drive from Barbudo.
Spend a day in historic Guimaraes
Walk around the medieval cobbled streets which are flanked by old houses whose balconies are covered in flowers. There are shops selling local pottery and the famous 'bordados de Guimaraes' the linen embroidered with a single colour of thread (black, red, blue or grey).Lunch in one of the restaurant terraces to enjoy the local specialities. The city was recently a European city of Culture and retains the cultural atmosphere today.
For a taste of the real Portugal, visit the Mercado Municipal. Located in the Praca do Comercio to the north of the city centre, the Mercado Municipal is open from 8am to 3pm Monday to Friday, and from 6am to 1pm on Saturday.It's the perfect place for meandering through the stalls, taking in the smells, sights and flavours of traditional Braga. Here you will find everything from Minho gastronomic specialities to regional costumes and embroidery.
The Ponte de Lima flower show..
From May to October, Ponte de Lima hosts the International Garden Festival on the north bank of the river. Every year there is a different theme and entrants are from all over the world. A really pleasant way to spend an afternoon...
Some of the best fishing rivers are in the North of Portugal. The River Cavado is close by or head upstream to Lake Canicada where trout is plentiful. Licences are available from local Town Halls.
Hire a bike
and cycle along the path which runs from Ponte de Lima alongside the Minho to the Bertiandos and S. Pedro de Arcos lagoons. This is a protected wetlands nature reserve with several trails to follow, either by bike or on foot.
Citania de Briteiros
One of the most impressive archeological sites in the country lies between Braga and Guimaraes, at Briteiros. It consists of more than 150 foundations for huts, two of which have been rebuilt in the style of the Celtic settlers. There is a network of paved streets, two rows of town walls, a bathhouse and even a public fountain all of which can be easily identified. Built on a hilltop, the site has great views over the surrounding area.
Museu dos Biscainhos in Braga
For an interesting glimpse of how Portuguese nobles lived in the 17th and 18th centuries, visit this museum in the Palace of Biscainhos. You can look around the chapel, stables bedrooms and kitchen and then explore the lovely gardens.
Make sure you visit the Thursday market in Barcelos, one of the largest in Europe. There are stalls which sell everything, food, ducks and rabbits, clothes, pottery and handicrafts. You will not come away without bagging a bargain!
Witness a miracle!
The little town of Moure just south west of Braga has witnessed two miracles. Every May 18th since 1996, the shadow of the top half of Christ appears in the church. On another occasion the head of Christ wearing thorns appeared on a communion wafer. It may be a trick of the light, but the church has become a minor pilgrimage centre ever since.
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