Take a moment to read our opinion about what to visit in Arouca!
When it comes to Arouca, it is almost impossible not to think about the Paiva Walkways ( Passadiços do Paiva), which gave to the whole region a national and even international notoriety that was extremely important to create wealth and opportunities, but the truth is that the region has much more to offer, trust us.
Arouca is the entrance to the beautiful Freita Mountain Range (Serra da Freita), one of the most beautiful in the country, magic for the eyes, due to its endless landscapes, breathtaking viewpoints and villages of extreme historical and cultural importance. Among which are noteworthy, Paradinha, Janarde and the fantastic village of Drave, between the mountains of Montemuro and Arada you can also find the mythical village of Meitriz.
The historic center of Arouca is an attraction on its own. With is Convent named Santa Maria de Arouca and of course the large and notably important Arouca Geopark which in itself has the Mother Bearing Stones, a unique geological phenomenon in the region and extremely rare in other parts of the world, the incredilble waterfall of “Frecha da Mizarela” and the immense ichnofossils that can be found throughout the region.
Here you will find, as connoisseurs and lovers of the region that we are, the “highlights” of Arouca.
Consisting of 8km of wooden walkways, built on one of the banks of the Paiva River, the walkways are the region’s ex-libris.
A 20min drive from the historic center of Arouca and 1h from Porto, as we enter more and more into the mountainous areas of the interior, its roads filled with twists and turns, are a complete visual experience, for us and for the ones that we take there so often.
When you reach the walkways, all you have to do it’s enjoy these magical 8km, there is no set rhythm, each one does it in their own way, slower… faster…. taking pictures… or simply contemplating everything that surrounds you.
Don’t miss this “must do”.
Freita Mountain Range (“Serra da Freita”)
With an indescribable beauty and located 25 minutes from the historic center of Arouca,the Freita Mountain Range will make your eyes shine.
This is where you do some of our Canyoning tours, home of endless landscapes, you can walk through its chameleon-colored plateau, which change according to the time of year and the position of the sun.
Its magic can be seen and felt throughout the day, while its features are hidden and revived by the appearance and fading of the light and the shadows.
In this mountain you can visit several elements of Geological importance, the so-called geosites and fantastic viewpoints, which allow you to see for kilometers.
Among them we recommend the Viewpoint of “São Pedro Velho” and also the “Detrelo da Malhada” one of the most beautiful panoramic views in the country.
Mizarela Waterfall (“Frecha da Mizarela”)
This is the largest of the waterfalls in Portugal, it is 60 meters high and very impressive!
Another treasure that you can find while visiting Freita Mountain Range … the waterfall “Frecha da Mizarela”.
As if hiding among the valleys, remains a hidden treasure. On the slopes that make up its sides you can see the shades of green of the endogenous vegetation of these mountains.
Meeting point for the more adventurous, there you can take baths in nearby crystal clear waters and practice canyoning as we have done so many times, accelerating the hearts of the ones that we take there.
Not to be missed!
Monastery of “Santa Maria de Arouca“
This is undoubtedly the most historic site in Arouca.
The Monastery of Arouca was major stronghold of Christian power in the region for hundreds of years.
The building we can visit nowaday was first built in the 17th century, being enlarged several times, until it reached the magnificent size with which Arouca welcomes its visitors in the rpesent day.
When we enter through its maingate, we have the clear idea of how big it is.
Inside, you will find a large cloister with a beautiful garden, you will feel as if you were in another age, equipped with huge halls and kitchens where nuns once did their tasks, as well as a chapel of unimaginable value.
Due to its wealth of heritage, the Museum of Arta Sacra was created inside, with pieces that date between the 12th and 13th centuries, another of the city’s highlights.
Mandatory stop for anyone visiting the region.
Traditional Schist Villages
Schist is one of the most abundant types of rock in the region.
It has become an important and indispensable element in the construction of houses, for this reason there are villages with hundreds of years completely built with this stone of black and brown tones.
Among which, we would like to highlight four of them.
The village of “Drave“ where at the bottom of the village beautiful streams come together to create the river with the same name as the village.
“Paradinha”, hidden in the middle of the valleys , on the banks of the Paiva river where many of our rafting descents begin. When you arrive at this village you will instantly return hundreds of years ago, most of the village is very well maintained and with accommodation for overnight.
Another superb example is “Janarde” again, a schist village on the banks of Paiva, which seems to be looking steadily at the river as if it were a watchman.
Finally, “Meitriz”, the first of the villages in the region to be considered “Aldeia de Portugal”, a class attributed to villages of historical and cultural importance. Located between the Serra de Montemuro and Arada, is undoubtedly a true paradise, where the local population continues to use the old trails, and work on the agricultural terraces… life with calm, stillness and a stunning green.
Museu das Trilobites
Although small in size and not very well known, it isn’t a common museum.
When in a quarry right next to where it is now located, the “Pedreira do Valério”, workers started to find perfectly preserved huge specimens of trilobites, it was decided that it was very important to build a museum.
It opened its doors in June 2006, as an example of cooperation between industry, education and science.
This was one of the main reasons for Arouca to become a Geopark!
It allows us to glimpse beings that roamed the earth long before us. More than 500 million years ago, when the entire region was located on the South Pole completely submerse by an immense ocean.
Hard to believe we know… so see it for yourself!
For those who live there, this… is the Capital of the World!
The locals take time to engrave it it on the road signs that have its name.
Land of ancestral traditions and a beauty that will certainly not leave you indifferent, Alvarenga is known for being the land of beef.
This recognition make their inhabitants quite proud, they claim that they have the best meat and watch it if you go there saying otherwise!
The quality of the meat lies in the way the animals are treated in the meadows that abound there, they say that the love that we give to the animal is returned to us in the form of the meat we eat.
And believe us… we already had there the greatest of the lunches, bringing it flavors to the taste buds from different parts of the world.
But quality is not just about meat. From the bread, to the olives and vegetables, it all takes the necessary amount of love so that quality is not lost.
But not everything is food, before or after the meal, take 15 minutes, jump into a car and go up to the “Chapel of Senhora do Monte”, which will provide you with a panoramic view over the village and Paiva river.
Here are our recommendations for what to visit in Arouca, a land of traditions, history, beautiful people and endless landscapes!
Soon… a new nature atraction will be open for visitation… we are talking about Arouca 516 Suspension Bridge!
We are preparing one article just for this occasion!
This is Arouca! Take a Detour!