A winding, undulating 43km route from Vouzela heads over the 1000m peaks of the SERRA DA FREITA to Arouca, via a beautiful, terraced landscape littered with dolmens, crumbling villages and waterfalls. Vines grow on precipitous slopes, while the roads snake through pine forest and then high across the heather-dotted moorland. A regional map available from Arouca turismo details all the local sights and attractions, as well as several breathtaking hikes, and you could easily spend a day or two touring and walking in the hills.
AROUCA itself is a handsome little town which – though largely unbothered by tourists – is a real gem. It was probably established by the Romans, though nothing of the period remains; today, the town is famous for its monastery – the vast, medieval Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Arouca, whose imposing walls loom over the main road that cuts through town. The central square holds a couple of pavement cafés, and the medieval backstreets are great for a bit of aimless wandering, with some beautiful old houses bedecked with wisteria.