Amarante is a small town in the north of Portugal, between Porto and Vila Real. There are those who say it is one of the most beautiful cities in the country by the symbioses between the river Tâmega and the city that make the views so special and wonderful.
Amarante was a place of passage or the hometown for several Portuguese artists, such as the painter Amadeu Souza-Cardozo.
The northern region of the country where the city of Amarante lies is occupied by man since the prehistory because the soils there are very fertile. With the river, the landscapes have always become green and very pleasant to be appreciated. The city began to have more importance with the arrival of Saint Gonçalo.
Each place of this city transpires art and culture, as well as a Roman atmosphere for its architecture and materials used in the construction of the various buildings. The streets of the city are special and make Amarante a city to visit by foot, explore the buildings, traditional trade and the various streets in traditional granite.
In exploring the city, it is unmissable to explore the unique places in Amarante, such as the convent and church of Saint Gonçalo, the imposing stone bridge and the landscape of the river with the city as scenery, the churches of Saint Pedro and Saint Domingos and the Solar dos Magalhães. It is undoubtedly a city that you should explore on foot because it is worth it.
In addition to the most historical and cultural part of Amarante, there are also sites that provide moments of leisure, such as the forest park, the sports complex and some very close beaches by the river.
How to get to Amarante
You can get to the city of Amarante by car (through A4 highway), by train (in the line that starts in Porto and continues to Régua) or by bus.
If your goal is to just visit Amarante, we advise you to use the train to get to the city, since you do not need a car to explore it. However, the train only arrives at Livramento, Marco de Canaveses, and the rest of the way, about 10km, will have to be made by car or taxi.
Otherwise, the network of highways connect the main cities in the north, and also connect to other highways of the country, being very easy and quick to reach Amarante.
If you come by bus, the companies that operate in the area are Rodonorte, Valpi, Transdev, and Internorte.
For those coming from outside of Portugal, it will be a better option to fly to Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, and then take the metro that will connect you to the train network in the center of Porto or rent a car.
Where to stay in Amarante
In Amarante there are hotels and rural tourism units, however, there was a hostel that sparked our curiosity, the Hostel Des Arts.
After 8 years, Francisca Fonseca and her family decided to move forward to renovate the old family hotel and make it a place that could honor the great artists of Amarante. This was the first hotel in the city and in the region, having its building more than 100 years. Now it is renovated but still belongs to the same family.
This hostel on the banks of the river Tâmega has as its theme the artists that are part of the history of Amarante. Comfort combined with history creates a unique and very welcoming place. Each of the 15 suites is a tribute to an artist, and just as they felt that Amarante was their home, the hostel provides that you feel at home too. In addition to the suites, the hostel has very modern dormitories and bathhouses with excellent conditions, all considering the convenience of those who visit the Hostel Des Arts
We stayed in one of the suites, allusive to Teixeira de Pascoaes, the literary pseudonym of Joaquim Pereira Teixeira de Vasconcelos. The décor of the room emphasizes detail, comfort, and simplicity, creating a warm and relaxing atmosphere. The bathroom in the bedroom has a nice touch of having the sinks in traditional painted chinaware.
Breakfast is served daily in the communal kitchen and consists of simple, local and very tasty products.
This space, available to all guests, allows you to prepare your own meals, using the facilities and utensils available on the spot. As in the rest of the hostel, the attention to detail here is remarkable.
The Hostel Bar is the meeting point of the guests with the local community. The decor of the bar represents the history of this place and the terrace overlooks the city views over the river. Here you can taste local products, but also more than that. There are also excellent cocktails and some more modern snacks. We had lunch here on one of the days, and it was all very tasty. We highlight the Des Arts brownie which is absolutely divine.
What to do and see in Amarante
- Municipal Market – Wednesday and Saturday
- Bridge of Saint Gonçalo
This stone bridge is a must-see in the city. It connects the two main areas of the city and it is impossible to go unnoticed by its imposing and wonderful landscape framing.
- Church and Convent of Saint Gonçalo
- Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso
In this museum, it is possible to find part of the work of this artist from Amarante.
- Church of Saint Pedro
- Solar dos Magalhães
- Taste a “tool” from Saint Gonçalo in a street vendor or in one of the city’s patisseries
Tradition says that in the parties of Saint Gonçalo in June, boys should offer a “tool” (traditional pastry in a phallic form) to the girls they want to conquer. Traditionally these cakes were sold on the street, but in recent years they began to be available in the patisseries of the city, where there are already some variants with softer dough and with filling.
- Ecopista da Linha do Tâmega
- Amarante Water Park
- Watch the sunset at the Des Arts bar overlooking the river
This terrace overlooking the river and the city is indeed special. Apart from being part of the city’s hostel bar which has historic and eclectic decor, the place is great to spend some time.
- Have a beer in Até Jazz
Where to eat in Amarante
In the area of Amarante, meats such as veal, goatling roasted in the oven and cod are almost mandatory in all menus of traditional restaurants. In the historic area of the city, there are several taverns serving sausages, cheeses and regional wines.
The sweets of Amarante are a point that can not and should not pass you by. Conventual confectionery, originating in the Convent of Santa Clara, is divine and makes you beg for more with the
In the city, there are several patisseries specializing in these sweets, but there are two of them that caught our attention, Confeitaria da Ponte and Tinoca. In this last one, it is possible to find two special delicacies of the region: the tools of Saint Gonçalo with a softer batter and a golden slice, which is a slice of cake, watered with a syrup of sugar and egg custard.
Largo do Paço and Canto Redondo Restaurants
The gastronomy of Amarante is not only made of traditional food. Here it is also possible to find the restaurant Largo do Paço, which has been awarded a Michelin star. From the same chef and in the same place, there is also Canto Redondo restaurant that serves gourmet dishes based on local cuisine and regional products. We had the opportunity to try the latter, and both the ambiance and the dishes were enjoyable, however, for a restaurant included in a 5-star hotel, we expected the service to be more attentive.
Try one of the traditional restaurants and taverns
In the historical area of the city, you can find several restaurants and taverns serving traditional dishes, cheese, sausages and the famous wines of the region. We highlight Zé da Calçada, Lusitana, Tasca do Adérito, Taberna Don Rodrigo and Kilowatt.
In these traditional establishments, you should expect that the affection of the people of the north coupled with the traditional flavors, will make your experience unique and memorable.
Living in a small country like Portugal, which has so much to see and do, allows us to make these getaways during the weekend and choose different places each time. Amarante is definitely an excellent choice for a weekend getaway. The city is very pleasant and has enough points of interest for two days of visiting. If you come to Amarante, do not miss checking Hostel Des Arts and its bar, because it is very worthwhile.
If you still have time…
Footbridges of Paiva
They are a complex of footbridges by the river Paiva, in Arouca, that allow you to make a walk with more than 8 km. At the end of the way, you can go back or take a taxi to take you back to the beginning.
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