Pack your things, today we’re taking you on a tour around Arcos de Valdevez. It’s a small and quiet town located in the Alto Minho region in Northern Portugal. It sits on the banks of Vez River, and at the foot of Peneda-Geres National Park. It was founded in 1515, and despite the passage of time, it has retained its charm and traditional architecture. Arcos de Valdevez might not be as popular or even beautiful as nearby towns like Ponte de Lima, Ponte da Barca or Viana do Castelo, but it’s definitely a great destination for a one-day trip while in the area. Ready? Let’s go discover the best things to do in Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal.
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Best Things To Do In Arcos De Valdevez, Portugal
We’ll start our tour from the Vez River surroundings and then will move to Arcos de Valdevez Old Town.
Bridge of Arcos de Valdevez
Bridge of Arcos de Valdevez (pt. Ponte dos Arcos de Valdevez) is a beautiful four-arches stone bridge built in the 19th century, between 1876-1880, to replace previous medieval construction. It crosses the Vez river, connecting two parts of the town. While there, be sure to cross the bridge, and take a good look at great views over Arcos de Valdevez Old Town. On that side, you’ll also find the 18th-century Church of São Paio (pt. Igreja de São Paio), with beautiful outside stairs and azulejos on the front facade.
In our opinion, the most beautiful views of the Bridge of Arcos de Valdevez are from two nearby green areas: Jardim do Campo do Trasladário and Jardins da Alameda de Arcos de Valdevez.
Valdevez Tournament Monument
Valdevez Tournament Monument (pt. Monumento ao Recontro de Valdevez) commemorates an important episode in Portugal’s history, the Battle of Valdevez, which took place in 1140 or 1141 between the Kingdom of León and the Kingdom of Portugal. It was the definitive battle that allowed Portugal to become independent of Castille. We don’t want to bloat this post with too much of history, so if you are a history fan, learn more here.
You can find a Valdevez Tournament monument by the Vez river, close to the Bridge of Arcos. It was created by the sculptor José Rodrigues, and it depicts two knights on (legless) horses armed with long spears.
Interesting fact number one: the town has a rhyming motto: “Arcos de Valdevez, Onde Portugal se Fez”, meaning “Arcos de Valdevez, Where Portugal was Made”.
Interesting fact number two: in São Bento railway station in Porto you’ll also find a commemorative azulejo mural of the mentioned battle.
Arcos de Valdevez Old Town
Now, we’re moving from the riverbanks to the Arcos de Valdevez Old Town. It’s quite small, and you can see it all, in an hour or two. During strolling among the streets you’ll find points of interest like the Church of the Misericórdia e Cruzeiro, Arcos pillory and municipal square, Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa, Water Clock, Casa das Artes, or Main Church of Arcos de Valdevez. Yes, you see right – there are a lot of churches (and that’s not all of them)! Let’s go and take a closer look.
Church of the Misericórdia
Church of the Misericórdia (pt. Igreja da Misericórdia de Arcos de Valdevez) is located just a few steps from Ponte de Arcos. It was built in the end of the 16th century, and later completely rebuilt in the 18th century.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa
Continue along the same street and you’ll reach the square, Largo da Lapa, where you’ll find the Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa (pt. Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Lapa). This very small, and unique-looking oval church was built in the 18th century.
In the same square, you’ll find a fountain that is actually a… water clock (pt. Relógio de Água), which works perfectly. Such a cool idea!
Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição
On the side, in an inconspicuous street behind the Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa, you’ll find the oldest building in town – Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (pt. Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição. This tiny and simple funerary chapel has been there since about the 14th century.
Pillory of Arcos de Valdevez & Municipal Square
The next stop on our route, just a few steps from the chapel, is a big Municipal Square with buildings like Town Hall, or Palace of Justice, but most importantly, with the Pillory of Arcos de Valdevez (pt. Pelourinho de Arcos de Valdevez). This stone pillory was built here in the 16th century, moved closer to the riverbanks in 1700, and finally came back to its original spot in 1998.
Igreja Matriz de Arcos de Valdevez
On the top of Municipal Square, you’ll find the town’s main church, the Church of Arcos de Valdevez (pt. Igreja Matriz de Arcos de Valdevez). It was built at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, on the remains of older, probably medieval temple.
Church of the Holy Spirit & Baroque Interpretive Center
It’s almost the end of the tour around Arcos de Valdevez, but we still need to explore the area behind the town’s main church. There you’ll find a small Centennial Garden (pt. Jardim dos Centenário). stunning views over the town and the surroundings, and the House of Arts (pt. Casa das Artes) located in a beautiful 18th-century building. At the end of the road the Church of the Holy Spirit is located, a 17th-century building, currently hosting a Baroque Interpretive Center (pt. Centro Interpretativo do Barroco).
How to get to Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal?
Arcos de Valdevez is located about 7km from Ponte da Barca, 20km from Ponte de Lima, 55km from Braga, and 45km from Viana do Castelo. The most convenient way to get to Arcos de Valdevez is by car or by bus.
Where to park in Arcos de Valdevez?
You can leave your car for free in this parking lot right next to the Arcos de Valdevez bridge.
Airports near Arcos de Valdevez
The closest airport to Arcos de Valdevez in Portugal is located in Porto (100km away). Other ones are located in Spain, in Vigo (80km away) and Santiago de Compostela (180km away). From each airport, you can get to Arcos de Valdevez by bus. To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website.
To Arcos de Valdevez by bus
You can quite easily get to Arcos de Valdevez by bus. For example, the journey from Ponte Da Barca will take only about 10min (€1-5), from Porto 2h (€6-10), and 2h20min from Viana do Castelo (€6-16). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Arcos de Valdevez by train
Unfortunately, you can’t reach Ponte Da Barca by train. But for example, you can take a train from Porto, Lisbon, or even Albufeira to Viana do Castelo, and then take a bus from it to Arcos de Valdevez. Here you can check out a map of Portugal train connections.
Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal – Summing up
We don’t think that Arcos de Valdevez is the most interesting or charming town in the Alto Minho region, but while in the area it’s worth taking a look and wandering around a bit. If you are a fan of Portugal’s history or want to see plenty of churches in a small area it will be perfect for you!
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Arcos de Valdevez?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Arcos de Valdevez:
Where to sleep in Arcos de Valdevez?
Ribeira Collection Hotel
Ribeira Collection Hotel is a modern and elegant hotel located in town of Arcos de Valdevez. It offers comfortable and spacious rooms with stunning views of the Lima River and the surrounding mountains. Guests can enjoy delicious local cuisine at the on-site restaurant, relax at the spa, or explore the nearby Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Quinta da Imaculada
Quinta da Imaculada is a charming holiday home located in Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal, with breathtaking views of the river and mountains. The property boasts a beautiful garden and patio, along with a fully equipped kitchenette, flat-screen TV, and free WiFi.
Solar do Requeijo
Experience a luxurious stay at Solar do Requeijo, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, indoor pool, hot tub, hammam and spa centre. Guests can enjoy delicious meals at the on-site restaurant or relax with a drink at the bar. The 5-star hotel also offers free WiFi, free private parking, a garden, terrace and 24-hour front desk for the comfort and convenience of its guests.
Quinta dos Caseiros do Paco de Giela
Quinta dos Caseiros do Paço de Giela is a peaceful countryside retreat that offers comfortable accommodation with stunning mountain views, free WiFi, and free private parking. Guests can enjoy the terrace, BBQ facilities, fully equipped kitchenette, and private bathroom. The property is perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com