Best Things to do in Amarante Portugal

15 Best Things to Do in Amarante Portugal

Amarante, Portugal, is a charming and picturesque town on the Romanesque Route between Porto and the Douro Valley. 

The best things to do in Amarante, Portugal take advantage of the idyllic location along the Tâmega River that sets the stage for a variety of activities and attractions. 

Our trip was luckily timed with the São Gonçalo festival, one of the top Amarante Portugal things to do, which features the unusual Bolos de São Gonçalo pastries shaped like male anatomy that this town is famous for.

This hidden gem in Portugal is well worth a visit any time of year for its rich history, stunning architecture, and captivating natural scenery. 

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Planning your trip to Amarante, Portugal last minute? Here are the tours and hotels we recommend. Here’s more helpful information on the Coolest Porto Boutique Hotels, the Top Hotels in the Douro Valley, and a Day Trip from Porto to Braga.

Best Things to Do Amarante Portugal

Location & History of Amarante, Portugal

Amarante is located in Northern Portugal, with the Serra do Marao mountain range and the Douro Valley at its doorstep.

It’s also just 45 minutes outside of Porto, so it’s easy to visit as part of a day trip or weekend getaway from the city.

Like much of the north of Portugal, Amarante is very historic, inhabited since at least the 4th century BCE.

Legend has it that Amarante was founded by Saint Gonçalo, a local saint known for his miracles and acts of kindness. The town’s famous bridge, Ponte de São Gonçalo, is named after him as well as a church and even a quirky pastry.

Best Time to Visit Amarante

  • Spring & Fall: These two seasons are very mild and a lovely time to visit. The temperatures range from 50°F to 68°F (10°C to 20°C) with occasional rainy days. Plus, the lush green landscapes and flowers add to the charm.
  • Summer: This is peak season with long, warm days. Temperatures stagger around 68°F to 86°F (20°C to 30°C), making it perfect for cycling, canoeing, and enjoying the town’s walking paths. Many people visit Amarante in summer as part of a Douro Valley trip, so it will be busier. Bring a light jacket for the evenings.
  • Winter: Winter is cool but not typically freezing. Temperatures usually range from 41°F to 59°F (5°C to 15°C), but there are festive holiday markets and activities that keep the town thriving.

Festas de São Gonçalo in June

June is a lively time to visit Amarante for Festas de São Gonçalo. This 3-day festival, of course, honors the town’s patron saint São Gonçalo.

There will be lively street parties, colorful processions, traditional music and dance performances, and local food and drink markets. The fireworks show at midnight on the 2nd day attracts thousands of people from nearby towns.

The dates are different every year, so check online before planning a trip to Amarante, Portugal in June.

Igreja de São Gonçalo & Mosteiro de São Gonçalo Amarante Portugal

Is Amarante Portugal Worth Visiting?

Portugal’s Amarante is absolutely worth visiting for its charming old town, stunning natural landscapes and winding river, rich history, and proximity to the Douro Valley wine country.

Whether you’re interested in exploring historic churches and monuments, indulging in local cuisine, or simply enjoying the picturesque scenery along the Tâmega River, Amarante has plenty of cultural and outdoor experiences that are suitable for families, couples, and solo travelers.

It’s a little off the beaten path, and that’s part of what makes it such a special place to visit in Portugal, just 45 minutes outside of Porto.

Best Things to do in Amarante Portugal

Rio Tamega Amarante Portugal
Ponte de São Gonçalo

Ponte de São Gonçalo

Amarante, Portugal is known for this iconic bridge, originally built in the 13th century. It stands tall with beautiful stone arches as it crosses over the Tâmega River.

The oriignal bridge was built in the 13th century, but later collapsed during a flood in the 18th century. It was built a handful of years later and now stands as one of best example of Baroque architecture in the area.

The bridge is named after Saint Gonçalo, one of the region’s most famous saints. According to legend, Saint Gonçalo performed a miracle on the bridge, which helped to solidify his status as a revered figure in the area.

Now it’s one of the top photo spots in the city, and easily one of the first places to see when checking out the best things to do in Amarante.

There are walking paths below it that offer a picturesque perspective of the bridge. Otherwise, you can walk across it and enjoy views of the city and river.

Igreja de São Gonçalo Amarante Portugal
Igreja de São Gonçalo

Igreja de São Gonçalo & Mosteiro de São Gonçalo

This is a Catholic church and monastery just across the bridge of the same name. It has a beautiful Renaissance doorway, a quaint courtyard, and old-world artwork and frescos throughout.

The ornate High Altar is one of the parts of the church and it holds the tomb of the 13th-century priest Gonçalo de Amarante and the pipe organ. 

It’s free to enter and the views onto the river make it one of the loveliest places to explore with one day in Amarante, Portugal.

Igreja de São Domingos Amarante Portugal
Church of São Domingos

Church of São Domingos (Igreja de São Domingos)

Just up the hill from the bridge, you’ll find the Church of São Domingos, or Igreja de São Domingos with its intricate façade with tons of ornate details. As a Baroque church, it was built in the early 1700s.

As you approach the exterior, you will see carvings of Christ, Mary Magdalene, and John the Evangelist juxtaposed onto the stone.

It’s also free to enter and now houses a small museum dedicated to sacred art.

Museu Municipal Amadeo De Souza-Cardoso Amarante Portugal
Museu Municipal Amadeo De Souza-Cardoso

Museu Municipal Amadeo De Souza-Cardoso

Attached to the back of Igreja de São Gonçalo, Museu Municipal Amadeo De Souza Cardoso is actually one of the most modern places to visit in Amarante, Portugal thanks to its collection of contemporary art.

The museum is located in a renovated part surrounded by former cloisters. It’s interesting going from the historic exterior into rooms of colorful modern art and white-washed walls.

Tickets are €4 and it’s open every day except Mondays from 9 AM TO 5:30 PM.

Amarante Portugal River Walking Path
Stroll along the Tâmega Riverbank and under the Ponte de São Gonçalo.

Walk Along the Tâmega River

While you should definitely walk across the city’s pedestrian bridge, it’s also lovely to take a stroll along the riverbanks below.

There are stairs in the center of town that lead down to a path that winds along the river.

Swan Boats Amarante Portugal
Cruise around the Tâmega River in one of Amarante’s colorful swan boats.

Take a Cruise in a Colorful Swan Boat

If you’re looking for a fun activity for families or couples, check out the adorable swan boats. You’ll get to experience Amarante from a different perspective by taking a ride along the Tâmega River.

There are also canoe rentals and guided river cruises available if the swan boats aren’t your thing.

Mirante do Fontanário Amarante Portugal
Mirante do Fontanário

Mirante do Fontanário

Portugal loves its viewpoints or miradores and mirantes (viewpoints and overlooks), and Amarante is no exception.

Find a lovely pavilion overlooking a small fountain and mural at Mirante do Fontanário. The view overlooks a lush part of the town facing toward the river.

Enjoy a Meal at One of the Best Restaurants in Amarante

Enjoy a delicious meal at Casa Heredio, a picturesque restaurant with a romantic balcony overlooking the Tâmega River.

Other restaurants to try include Tasquinha da Ponte, with its emphasis on northern Portuguese dishes.

Lunch at Adega Kilowatt is another good choice. They do amazing cuts of meat and sandwiches in an authentic atmosphere. Keep in mind they only accept cash.

We also liked Terrassa which serves health-focused contemporary food in a cozy setting.

Indulge in the Special Pastries of Amarante

During your day in Amarante, Portugal, treat yourself to some local Portuguese pastries at Confeitaria da Ponte or one of the bakeries along the same street.

Confeitaria da Ponte is the city’s most famous bakery, known for having top-notch quality pastries and local specialties.

Try sweet treats like Lerias, which are small sweets made with egg yolks, sugar, and almonds, or the very odd Bolos de São Gonçalo (also called Doces Fálicos).

These treats are unique as they are undoubtedly shaped like the male anatomy while celebrating a local saint.

Bolos de São Gonçalo are covered in powdered sugar and sometimes filled with cream. It’s hard to forget these quirky pastries, and definitely worth trying!

Besides Confeitaria da Pont, Confeitaria O Moinho is another bakery in Amarante with delicious choices.

Wine Tasting in Amarante

Amarante is located halfway between Porto and the Douro Valley wine region, so you’ll find plenty of wine tasting options here.

However, the town is surrounded by vineyards that produce Portugal’s famous vinho verde, literally meaning “green wine” but more accurately translates to “young wine.”

These wines are released within a few months after the grapes are harvested and can be red, white, or rosé.

The nearby Quinta da Aveleda is one of the best places to try vinho verde, but it is a 20-minute drive outside of Amarante. Otherwise, you can sample wine at one of the bars or restaurants in town, such as 100 Rolhas – The Wine Experience.

Shopping in Amarante

Despite being a smaller town in Portugal, Amarante offers a nice bit of shopping with local boutiques and unique finds.

The best area to go are the streets of Rua 31 de Janeiro and Rua Cândido dos Reis. Take a walk down either of these streets and find everything from boutique clothing and local wine shops to gourmet popcorn and home decor stores.

Ecopista Trail in Amarante Portugal
JCNazza, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ecopista Trail

For some added adventure on your trip to Portugal, Amarante actually has its own paved bike path that stretches 40km and connects to the nearby town of Arco de Baúlhe.

It follows an old railway line and navigates past rolling hills of vineyards and forestland.

You have tons of options here; pass by quaint and picturesque towns, excellent wineries, and even some castles along the trail. See some of the various routes of the Ecopista Trail here.

Romanesque Route

The Romanesque Route comprises 58 landmarks in Northern Portugal, in the middle of a triangle formed by Porto, Guimarães, and the Douro Valley.

The Romanesque Route in Amarante, Portugal, is a beautiful journey of medieval history, and the drive weaves through the picturesque countryside of the Amarante municipality.

There are ten remarkable Romanesque buildings, including three monasteries, six churches, and an old-world bridge. You could spend an entire day in Amarante, taking in the sites of this route.

Two of the best places to stop are the Mosteiro do Salvador in Travanca, with its fortified bell tower, and Santo André for its incredible vestibule design.

Amarante Water Park
Joseolgon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take the Kids to the Parque Aquatico de Amarante

For a fun-filled day with the family in Amarante, visit the Parque Aquático, where you can enjoy water slides, pools, and various attractions for all ages during the warm months.

It also has picturesque hillside views and places to sit and have a picnic in the grass.

Tickets cost €14.90 for kids 5-11, €23 for those 12+, and free for children under 5 years old.

Parque Florestal de Amarante

For a bit of nature,  Parque Florestal de Amarante is a sprawling forest park just slightly down the river from the center of town. 

The woodland creates a very scenic walk, but one of the best reasons to visit is for deer pen and aviaries. For those looking for family-friendly things to do in Amarante, there are also playgrounds and flower-filled areas.

Where to Stay in Amarante

If you are planning an overnight trip, here are some of the best hotels in the Amarante area. We stayed for a full weekend and loved slowing down in such a lovely area.

    • Monverde Wine Experience Hotel (9.1) – Located just a short drive from Amarante surrounded by vineyards. This 4-star hotel is perfect for wine lovers with Vinho Verde produced locally here. There’s also a spa, outdoor swimming pool, and rooms with scenic views.
    • Peso Village (9.6) – One of the most picturesque places to stay with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking lush terrain and in-room hot tubs.
    • Casa das Lérias (9.2) – A modern and airy hotel in the center of Amarante with an onsite cafe and outdoor pool.

How to Get to Amarante Portugal

Getting to Amarante from Porto, Portugal is relatively easy by car, bus, or train. 

We highly recommend renting a car in Portugal. Our first trip to Portugal was without a car and after renting cars on subsequent visits and then moving to Portugal, we realized how much we missed. 

Some of the best things to see in Portugal are in small towns that have very slow public transportation options. 

  • Guided Tour: Douro Valley Wine Tour with a Stop in Amarante
  • Rental Car: The easiest way to get to Amarante is by car. It takes approximately 50 minutes on the way to the Douro Valley from Porto on the A4 motorway. Discover Cars has great prices in Portugal.
  • FlixBus: The bus service between Porto and Amarante has a journey time of approximately 1 hour. 
  • Train: The train is also an option, with regular services running from Porto’s São Bento station to Amarante’s train station, with a journey time of approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Overall, there are several options for getting to Amarante from Porto, making it a convenient day trip or weekend getaway.

Best Places to Visit Near Amarante

Amarante is a charming town in Northern Portugal that offers a plethora of exciting activities and attractions; however, you’ll also find some amazing spots nearby worth exploring.

Best Boutique Hotels in Porto Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Most likely, you’ll be visiting Amarante on a day trip from Porto since it’s just an hour away. We highly recommend spending at least 2 days in Porto and then taking a day or two to explore the surrounding area.

Porto is famous for its historical center with steep hills and its mix of architectural styles – Neoclassical, Baroque, and Modern.

Other distinguishing features include the picturesque riverside Ribeira district and multiple bridges spanning the Douro River, including the emblematic Dom Luís I Bridge.

From a culinary perspective, Porto is filled with fantastic restaurants, traditional food like the Francesinha (not my favorite), and of course the world-famous Port wine.

Best Hotels in the Douro Valley Portugal

Douro Valley, Portugal

Another gem near Amarante is the enchanting Douro Valley. Known for its picturesque landscapes, lush green hills, and terraced vineyards, the Douro Valley will captivate any nature lover.

A Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Tastings & River Cruise is the perfect way to see the area.

Don’t miss out on the wine experiences offered in the region, where you can explore the vineyards and enjoy a traditional Portuguese lunch.

If you’re looking for an extra touch of luxury, consider going on an optional riverboat cruise to witness the breathtaking scenery and idyllic waterways.

Serra do Marão

Lastly, nature enthusiasts will relish hiking and exploring the beautiful mountain range, Serra do Marão. Just a short drive from Amarante, the area offers unforgettable views, inviting trails, and an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature.

The Serra do Marão is perfect for a day trip, where you can escape from urban life and soak up the tranquility of the lush forests and mesmerizing viewpoints.

These fantastic spots near Amarante provide a wide range of activities and attractions suitable for a variety of tastes.

Whether you’re a city explorer, wine aficionado, or nature lover, you’re sure to find something that catches your interest and enhances your visit to this charming region of Portugal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Amarante

Many people have questions about visiting Amarante, Portugal. So, here are some frequently asked questions to help them make the most of their trip.

How do I get to Amarante? Amarante is easily accessible from Porto, the closest major city. Visitors can take a bus from Porto, which takes about an hour, or drive through the picturesque Douro Valley, enjoying the stunning views along the way.

What are the top attractions in Amarante? Amarante has plenty of beautiful sights to see. The iconic Ponte de São Gonçalo bridge is a must-see, as well as the historic Igreja de São Gonçalo church. Visitors can also enjoy strolling through the charming streets, admiring the traditional Portuguese architecture.

Is Amarante a good destination for families? Yes, Amarante is a great destination for families. There are a variety of outdoor activities such as walking tours, painting classes, and sporting events that cater to all ages. Furthermore, the town is small and easy to navigate, making it perfect for a family getaway.

Are there any local delicacies in Amarante? Amarante is known for its delicious Portuguese cuisine. Some local favorites include the famous “doces conventuais” (convent sweets) such as papos de anjo, toucinho do céu, and brisas do Tâmega. In addition, travelers can enjoy tasting the local Vinho Verde, a refreshing and slightly effervescent white wine produced in the Minho region of Portugal.

When is the best time to visit Amarante? Amarante has a mild climate year-round, making it a beautiful destination at any time. However, the months of May through September typically offer the warmest temperatures, perfect for enjoying outdoor activities and exploring the town.

Final Thoughts About Amarante Portugal Things To Do

Amarante is a quaint town that encapsulates the essence of Portugal’s beauty and hospitality. Enjoy the beautiful historic center, museums, Tâmega River, and delicious riverside restaurants.

Offering a myriad of experiences to unwind in the serene ambiance, Amarante is an ideal destination for a day trip from Porto or a weekend getaway.

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Amarante Portugal Things To Do

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