Portugal City Travel Guide: Amarante
Amarante, one hour east of Porto by bus or car, is a popular getaway for residents of Portugal's second city and increasingly finding favour with foreign visitors. Amarante, with a population of around 11,000 people, is attractively situated on both banks of the Tâmega River, a tributary of the Douro.
Much of the history of Amarante is associated with the 13th century hermit, later saint Gonçalo.
The picturesque Ponte São Gonçalo that spans the river is named after him as is the Igreja de São Gonçalo, built on the site of his hermitage, north of the Tâmega.
During the Festas do Junho, phallus-shaped St Gonçalo cakes are sold in Amarante as a good-luck charm for young couples in a ritual said to date back to Celtic times.
Other attractions in Amarante include the Museu Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, adjacent to the Igreja de São Gonçalo, which displays the avant-garde work of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (1887-1918), who lived and painted in Paris.
The Igreja de São Domingos has an unusual carving of Christ suspended upside-down on the Cross. The church dates from the 18th century. Views from the church are spectacular. The Igreja de São Pedro is Baroque in architectural style and has 17th century azulejos tiles within.
The Solar dos Magalhães is an interesting historical ruin near Rua Candido dos Reis that serves as a reminder of one of the dark periods of Portuguese history, the Napoleonic invasions. Formerly a manor house belonging to the Magalhães family, it was burned by French forces in 1809 and the empty shell of the building stands as a symbol of resistance to the invading French army.
Wednesday and Saturday are market days and draw the most visitors.
Amarante Tourist Office
Amarante Tourist Office.
Alameda Teixeira de Pascoaes.
Tel. 255 420 246.
Getting to Amarante
Amarante is no longer connected by railway but from the former train station the recent Ecopista da Linha Tâmega is a cycling/hiking track running 9km to the former station at Chapa, along the picturesque river valley through pine and eucalyptus woods.
Take the A4/IP4 highway from Porto to Amarante.
Amarante has regular bus connections from the bus terminal south of the river at Avenida Primeiro de Maio to Porto (1 hour), Braga (1 hour, 20 minutes), Vila Real (1 hour, 40 minutes) and Guimaraes (50 minutes).
Amarante has a number of good places to stay including the 3-star Hotel Amaranto, the Hotel Casa da Calcada Relais & Chateaux, located in a 16th century manor house, the Hotel Navarras by Tamega Clube and the Madalena, located 2km from the city centre.
See here for a full listing of hotel accommodation in Amarante.
The luxury, 5-star Hotel Casa da Calçada Relais & Chateaux, Largo do Paço, 6, 4600-017 Amarante, Portugal.
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Most of Amarante's cafe's bars and restaurants are located on the banks of the Tâmega River including the recommended Confeitara da Ponte right next to the bridge.
Here you can sample the famous sweets (doces) of the local cuisine once made by Amarante's nuns. Largo do Paço (Tel: 255 410 830) has a Michelin star and the chef serves up wonderful modern versions of the traditional favorites.
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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