Portugal Part 7 – Driving North from Lisbon

View from Talasnal

We woke up on our last morning in Lisbon a bit worse for wear after two bottles of wine the previous evening. We got on the road by about 8:30am and headed north into the central Portuguese mountains.

There are several different ways to get from Lisbon to the Douro Valley/Porto area. For our trip north, we chose to stop at Talasnal, one of the Schist Villages, 27 stone villages made of schist or slate that are scattered throughout the mountains of central Portugal that date back to medieval times. They were recently restored and provide a unique opportunity to see a part of Portugal’s history that’s very different from the famous cities and beaches.

The highways in Portugal are in great shape, but expensive. They have lots of toll booths and automated toll gates. It’s absolutely critical to have a toll transponder in your rental car. Also, unlike in the US, people know how to drive. Pass on the left, drive on the right. If you stay in the left lane, you will get honked at (but not shot at so that’s a bonus).

Once we got off the highway and headed into the mountains, the drive was really pretty (and only a bit scary). There were some viewpoints to stop as well.

It took about 2.5 hours to get to Talasnal. Once we figured out where to park, we walked around and took some pictures of the village and the views.

We grabbed a cold drink at the café and then continued our drive north. We drove on to Amarante, which took about another 2.5 hours.

Tamega River near Amarante

We checked into the Casa da Calcada around 2:30pm. I’ll have a full review of that hotel in the next post. Amarante is a cute town on the Tamega River about 30 minutes north of the Douro Valley and 45 minutes east of Porto.

There is a bridge dating to the 1790’s that connects the two main streets of the historic center. There also is a church that was built beginning in the 16th century (and rebuilt over the centuries since).

We had a nice walk around the town and along the river. I wouldn’t say there is a ton to do or see in Amarante, but we found it a great place to base ourselves without having to stay right in the Douro Valley at a winery or one of the hotels in Regua or Pinhao.

Later that afternoon, I walked on some of the peaceful 6km river trail that has been built alongside the town.

Along the river trail

We ate late lunch and dinner in Amarante and the food was decent, if not spectacular. The views from the restaurants along the river on the side facing the church were great.

Pitcher of Sangria and ‘bifana’ sandwich for lunch

Overall, we had an enjoyable day driving through central Portugal and seeing some areas of the country that many tourists skip.

Up next: a review of the Hotel Casa da Calcada.

If you enjoyed this post (or have questions), let me know in the comments or send me an email at emptynestermiles@gmail.com. If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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