The Rio Vez, a tributary of the Minho, is overlooked by the hillside town of ARCOS DE VALDEVEZ, 5km north of Ponte da Barca, another useful point of departure for the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. With its pedestrianized centre it makes an attractive and lively base, especially during the fortnightly Wednesday market, held to the southwest of town near the river.
The old town stretches uphill beyond the old bridge across the Rio Vez. A seventeenth-century fire destroyed many of its older buildings, though a few survivors are worth seeking out: the Baroque Igreja da Lapa, on Largo da Lapa, and – just to the south – the Capela da Nossa Senhora da Conceição which features Manueline carving and an early fifteenth-century relief. Look out, too, for the unusual spiral Manueline pillory in the Praça Municipal. The town also wraps round neat riverside gardens – there are some lovely walks along here as well as a river beach, where young people cool off in the river in summer.
Try and coincide a visit with the three-day Festas do Concelho, held over the second week in August, featuring giant figures, red-caped drummers, horse races and fireworks.