While it’s the Minho that gives the region its name, it’s the area’s other river, the Rio Lima, which puts heart and soul into the Minho. Its delightful valley – dotted with ancient towns and Romanesque churches, and draped in morning mists – is a byword for beauty in Portugal, and forms an obvious route from Viana do Castelo, where the river meets the sea, eastwards to the Peneda-Gerês mountains. There are minor roads along north and south sides of the river, connecting a cluster of peaceful little settlements on the banks of the Lima and its tributaries, though the fast highway from Viana takes you quickly to the standout town of Ponte de Lima, with its famous market held right on the riverbanks. For slower travel around the region, the “Ecovia” bike-and-hike track runs along the riverside between Viana do Castelo, Ponte de Lima and Ponte de Barca.Read More
- Ponte de Lima
- Ponte da Barca
Arcos de Valdevez
Arcos de Valdevez
A few kilometres north of Ponte de Barca, the Rio Vez, a tributary of the Lima, is overlooked by the hillside town of ARCOS DE VALDEVEZ. It’s at its best – no real surprise – along the river, flanked by neat, wooded gardens and with a summer beach (praia fluvial) located a few hundred metres downstream from the old four-arched bridge. The old town, such as it is, stretches uphill behind the bridge, culminating in an unusual spiral Manueline pillory in the Praça Municipal. It’s very much a traditional shopping town – a bucket, some wellies, a length of hosepipe and a kilo of peaches, no problem, designer clothes not so much. The peak of the town’s activity takes place every other Wednesday, when the fortnightly Arcos market springs into action. Its major annual bash is the Festa do Concelho, held over the second week in August, featuring the usual giant figures, folkloric entertainments and blazing riverside pyrotechnics.