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4 days at the Arouca Geopark and in Paiva

AGA_Associação Geoparque Arouca

We offer you a nature filled programme to live good experiences from the first to the last day of your visit. The charm of the Unconquered City (Porto), where it all begins and ends, is combined with sites of geological interest and the Portuguese villages of Arouca, together with the gangways of Paiva, and a thrilling water sport: rafting.

We shall traverse two of Portugal's most amazing rivers: the Douro and the Paiva.

Day 1 | It all starts in Porto

Come and spend the first half day of your trip in Porto's historic centre, classified as a World Heritage Site.

Step right in to what is considered one of the world's most beautiful train stations, São Bento, and feel the heartbeat of history through the lovely panels of blue and white tiles in the lobby. From there, head to the café Majestic and enjoy a Cimbalino (coffee) accompanied by sweet French toast, a house speciality.

Along the way, admire the architecture of the buildings and the modern shops on the pedestrianised Rua de Santa Catarina, and check the time up on the Clerics Tower clock face. Climb up to the Garden of Virtues and take in the view over the Douro on the lovely lawn there. There isn't time to see everything, but we have reserved part of the last day for you to get to know this fascinating city better. And before heading off into the interior, enjoy the Unconquered City's most famous dish: the Francesinha.

Heading for the Arouca Geopark

Between Porto and the Arouca Geopark, the trip takes around an hour, by motorway and nature. When you arrive at your destination, you will be close to the river, where the trees provide shade and the fresh air lets you breath deeply.

You are surrounding by a rich biodiversity, 41 sites of geological interest, extreme sports, romantic experiences and routes through the stillness of the traditional villages. Located on the slopes (Drave, in Covelo Paivó), the ridges (Meitriz and Cabreiros) and agricultural terraces (Janarde), these villages cohabit perfectly with the existing flora and fauna and provide time to spend an evening in a mountain fashion.

There are six rivers (Paiva, Paivó Friars Caima, Arda and Urtigosa) and two hills (Freita and Montemuro) in the geopark, which boasts abundant vegetation, cliffs and waterfalls that invite you to go canyoning, and mystery which makes you want to discover it on foot. Park the car and enjoy the nature that surrounds you. Let's go to Paiva.

Day 2 | Along Paiva's Gangways

The R326-1 motorway offers all of its visitors an ideal route for cars. But if you prefer to walk surrounded by nature, the extensive wooden gangways show you the landscape up close and take you farther and closer to the river and the cliffs that surround it. Entry costs just 1 euro, and gives you the right travel several kilometres, whether between Espiunca-Vau (4 km) or Areinho-Vau (section to be recuperated).

The Paiva is a mountain river that has its source on Nava Plateau, in Moimenta da Beira, and unites multiple small rivers and streams over its 110km. It flows into Castelo de Paiva, on the south bank of the river Douro and passes the districts of Aveiro and Viseu, crossing diverse heritage that is worth a visit. Religious, geological and natural references, rural villages, windmills and watermills, bridges and viewpoints will delight you during your walk. This is the considered one of rivers with the best environment in Europe.

And here you can fish, enjoy the Areinho and Espiunca river beaches, and have a picnic on “Lover's Island” ("Ilha dos Amores" - ilhota do Outeiro), close to the river Douro. A little boat takes you there.

Day 3 | Rafting on the river Paiva

Since life is better when it is filled with unforgettable emotions, we shall take you to the ideal place to do water sports (rafting, canyoning, kayak and playboater). Have you ever dreamt of being a river? Imagine rushing through expanses of water freely, overcoming “obstacles” like whirlpools, rocks and narrows that speed you up without warning. Inside a raft (an inflatable boat), you will be like a river running alongside a group of similarly courageous people, guided by a certified instructor who will lead you down the river to safety.

This activity is called rafting and can be done on several rivers in the north, including the river Minho or the river Tâmega; but trying it out on the river Paiva means living extreme moments that switch between the calm and fury of the waters, when the banks narrow and then water runs “rapidly”. The difficulty level varies according to the section travelled (Espiunca-Travanca or “Garganta do Paiva”), the time of year, and the consequent speed of the river, with conditions best between November and May.

As these days of adventure surrounded by nature will surely increase your appetite, try fried trout or boga, the beef, the lamb, the Portuguese stew and the salpicão rice. The convent sweets include sweet chestnuts, almond doughnuts, barrigas de freira, cavacas and sponge cake.

Day 4 | Trip to the river Douro estuary

On the way back to Porto, take the chance to get to know this lively city better. A calm trip on the tram through its most iconic regions is a good choice. On line 1, you will go from the historic centre (meeting point in Largo de São Francisco) to the Jardim do Passeio Alegre, always following the river Douro, until it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

If you still have time, embark on a cruise of the bridges, with a subsequent visit to the Port Wine Cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Enjoy this trip to the fullest.

We want to make sure that your visit is unique, and we have many places to take you. Contact us whenever you need our help.

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