A few kilometres north of Ponte da 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 is held over the second week in August and features the usual giant figures, folkloric entertainments and blazing riverside pyrotechnics.

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