Amarante is a beautiful city in Northern Portugal, and a popular pilgrimage destination. Amarante sits on a hill overlooking the bucolic river Tamega. In the distance stands the gorgeous mountain, serra do Marão.
Amarante (uh-muh-RUHN-t(ih), /ɐ.mɐ.ˈɾɐ̃.tɨ/) has a city population of over 11,000 (2011), with over 56,000 residents in the entire municipality. Since 2017, it has been a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for music.
The most convenient airports for Amarante are (in order of distance):
- Aerodrome of Vila Real (VRL IATA) - The small airfield in the neighbouring city of Vila Real receives some domestic flights.
- Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport - Porto - Porto is served by Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO IATA) (☏ ) - which receives frequent flights from major European cities, including London, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels, as well as some destinations within the country, such as Lisbon and Madeira/Funchal. TAP also has a daily direct flight from São Paulo and another one from Rio de Janeiro.
- Portela Airport - Lisbon, the largest Portuguese airport, has air connections with the main cities in Europe and some in North and South America, Africa and Asia.
There is no train.
The bus station is about 3 minutes from the city centre. There are buses arriving from various destinations across the country and departing for as many.
Twice a day, every week, Rodo-norte (☏) operates a bus service between Lisbon and Amarante, one at 11:00 and the other at 18:00, for the price of €18. In addition to these buses, Rodonorte also has buses from Porto (5 times a day, at 07:00, 14:30, 16:30, 18:00 and 21:20; price: €6.40) and Viana do Castelo (Monday to Friday, at 08:30); price €10.80), among other destinations. See the website for more information.
The best way to drive to Amarante is using the A4 motorway if you are coming from Porto or the IP4 Expressway if you are coming from the north or Spain. Just take any exit towards Amarante and you will be 5 min from the city centre. The city is about 1 hour from Porto and 5 hours from Lisbon.
Amarante is a small town and you can easily see all its monuments on foot - in addition, cars cannot enter most streets in the historic centre, and you can see the city much better on foot.
Driving is a bad idea in Amarante. At some times of the year, Amarante is invaded by visitors, who fill the streets, creating an impossible traffic, and occupy the car parks, of which there are only a few. Nor is it necessary to take the car, as the city is so small that it can be covered entirely on foot.
- 1 Mosteiro de São Gonçalo, Praça da República. Before the monastery existed, here was a chapel, erected by São Gonçalo de Amarante. In 1540, it was transformed into a large monastery with the construction of a Dominican convent in honor of São Gonçalo, with authorization and help from D. João III and his wife, Rainha Dª Catarina. The construction of the Church and the Convent ended in the time of Philip I, before 1600. The construction of the portico and the Balcony of the Kings began on October 12, 1683. In the church, the tomb of São Gonçalo stands out, a magnet for several pilgrims.
- 2 Ponte de São Gonçalo, Praça da República. True symbol of the city, it connects two Largo de Amarante, including Praça da República, where you can find the monastery, another symbol. Before this bridge, a national monument, there was another one, dating from the 13th century and which was destroyed by a flood of the Tâmega River. In the middle of the bridge there was a cruise, taken an hour before the tragic event, which can still be seen in one of the windows of the Monastery of São Gonçalo. The current one was built in the 17th century. In 1809 it was the stage for the heroic Defense of the Amarante Bridge, an episode resulting from the French Invasions. In memory of this event, there is a commemorative plaque on the north side of the bridge.
- 3 Casa da Cerca (Biblioteca Municipal Albano Sardoeira, Albano Sardoeira Municipal Library), Alameda Teixeira de Pascoaes, ☏ . The Municipal Library is the result of the former Santa Clara Convent, perhaps built in the 13th century. The most likely date, however, will be 1383, when D. João I granted the letter of protection for religious women. It was set on fire in April 1809 during the French Invasions. It was later transformed into the building that today is seen by an emigrant from Brazil - not without prolonged archaeological research, which exposed many artefacts. Nowadays it is the Municipal Archive and Library of Amarante.
- 4 Museu Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Alameda Teixeira de Pascoaes (in the cloister of the Monastery of São Gonçalo), ☏ . Closed Mondays and holidays; open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 17:30. It was founded in 1947 by Albano Sardoeira to gather materials from the history of Amarante. Over the years, he specialized in contemporary art, bringing together one of the most important collections in the country, which includes works by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, António Carneiro, Jaime Isidoro, Nadir Afonso, Rui Pimental and Cargaleiro. €2.50 for an adult ticket.
- 5 Igreja de São Domingos, Rua Frei José Marante (go up the stairs from Praça da República; if you prefer to take a less inclined and less crooked path, you can do it despite being longer: go up Rua 5 de Outubro, continue through Teixeira de Vasconcelos and go up Rua Frei José Marante, passing through Largo de Santa Clara and going down the street to the church).). Next to the monastery, at the top of a gigantic staircase, you can find a small church dedicated to the Lord of the Afflicted. It is better known as Igreja de São Domingos, because it was built at the behest of the Order of São Domingos at the beginning of the 18th century. Baroque style, in the 17th-century style, it has a beautiful chancel covered with gilded woodcarving.
- 6 Igreja de São Pedro, Teixeira de Vasconcelos Street/Largo de São Pedro. Once the site of a small chapel dedicated to São Martinho, the Church of São Pedro belonged to the Brotherhood of Clérigos de São Pedro. It has a beautiful chancel from the 18th century, by António Gomes. The altar has a very rich gilt carving, with columns that frame the images of São Pedro and São Paulo. At the top of the tower are the papal cross and tiara.
- 7 Solar dos Magalhães, Largo de Santa Luzia. These are some ruins of the 18th century, set on fire in 1809 by Napoleon's armies, during the French Invasions, as a reprisal for the prolonged resistance of the Amarantines. Once a majestic manor house, it sits on a row of arches, topped by a colonnade.
- Romaria de São Gonçalo First weekend in June. The city's visiting card, it is celebrated in honour of São Gonçalo, a matchmaker saint whose cult is associated with fertility and who lived in Amarante. It is customary for single women to embrace the saint and ask him for a husband. At the same time, there is an annual fair, a folklore festival, a competition for drums, bullfights, livestock competitions, a festival and fireworks held simultaneously.
- Parque Aquático de Amarante, Rua do Tâmega, nº 2245 4600-909 Fregim (if coming from A4 or IP4 towards Amarante, take the Amarante Oeste exit; go through the roundabout, going straight, and from there follow the signs). Jun-Sep: 10:30 to 19:00. Glide on one of the many slides or other diversions in the only water park in the north of the country! An adult ticket costs €10 on weekends and €8 on other days.
- Dê uma tacada no Amarante Golf Club, Quinta da Deveza, Fregim. Tuesday to Friday from 09:00 to 19:00, Saturday and Sunday from 08:00 to 19:00. A magnificent mountain course with 18 holes and a course, located on the outskirts of the city. From its position, 600 m above sea level, there is a magnificent view of the Serra do Marão and the Tâmega River. The weekend price for the 18 holes is around €75.
- A beautiful view of the city. Cross the bridge to the south side (for reference, the monastery is on the north side) and go to the river bank. From here you have a great view of the bridge, the monastery and the houses that are on the river bank. If you prefer a more "aerial" view, go up the stairs to the Church of São Domingos, from where you enjoy a beautiful view of the monastery, the river and the opposite bank, and go along Rua Frei José Amarante until the Santa Clara square, from where he enjoys the best view of Amarante, seeing the south bank of the river, a good part of the north bank, and the entire monastery, including the cloisters, where the Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso Museum is installed.
- Pedal boats: On the river bank (go down Alameda Teixeira de Pascoaes until you reach some pedestrian walks; go down until you reach a strange looking building, the market; go to the back of the market and go to the river bank) you can see a series of pedal boats that you can rent, and that offer a great view of the river and the bridge. It doesn't have a good view of the city, but you can still see some of its buildings, like the monastery. A good way to pass the time.
There are no shopping centres in Amarante. These are your options.
- The historic centre of Amarante is full of shops, mainly in the area around the monastery. Throughout the centre you can find shops and traditional drugstores that are quickly disappearing in big cities.
- Market 1st Saturday of each month. Here you can find a little bit of everything, mainly clothes, but also fabrics, food and all kinds of trinkets, depending on the day you go.
- Rua do Capitão Augusto Casimiro. A beautiful modernist building, surrounded by trees, where you can find various types of food, but little else.
The geographical location of the city, between the Minho/Douro Litoral and the Trás-os-Montes (although officially belonging to the Douro Litoral) directly influenced the Amarantine gastronomy, which contains characteristics of all these provinces. Nowadays, the Amarantine cuisine is based on hypercaloric dishes (bad destination if you are making a fortune or if you are vegetarian) such as the mountain goat, the arouquesa and maronesa veal, the feijoada, the tripe, the Portuguese stew, the cod, etc.
Particularly famous is the codfish from Zé da Calçada and Custódia, which were once the two most important restaurants in the city, vying for customers and trying to present the best cod. (Custody cod is no longer known by that name). Also common is chicken rice, whose main ingredients are chicken, rice and chicken blood. Amarantine sweets are also famous, namely egg sweets, which combine very well with Douro wine, produced not far from the city. Throughout the city, you can see pastries filled with delicious sweets, such as the papos-de-Anjo, the rockets, the lilies and the breezes of Tâmega. Also on the edge of the monastery, on small stands you can find typical sweets from the region, including phallic sweets, which (supposedly) serve to encourage young people to seek love,
- 1 Casa Silva, Rua de Larim 177, Gondar (Out of town, on the N15 road between Amarante and Vila Real), ☏ . A little out of hand, but it's worth it. It is a restored cellar with a beautiful view of the foothills of Serra do Marão. It is very popular with meat dishes. €15-30.
- 2 Largo do Paço, Largo do Paço 6, ☏ . Daily 12:30–15:00 & 19:30–22:30. An excellent charming restaurant, with great Portuguese food with a touch of modernity. The dishes on the menu vary according to the season and the products characteristic to this season. In 2005 he was awarded a star by the renowned Michelin Guide.
- 3 Restaurante da Lama, Vila Meã (Out of town), ☏ . Tu–Su 10:30–22:00, closed M. Dine in an old olive press, transformed into a rustic restaurant. It stands out in traditional Portuguese food, mainly the lagar and the cod with migas. €18.
- 4 Adega Kilowatt, Rua 31 de Janeiro 99, ☏ . Tu–Su 09:00–19:00, closed M. House of traditional Portuguese snacks, specializing in ham and sausages. €10.
The city is full of cafes and pastries filled with delicious sweets typical of the region.
- Spark, Avenida Alexandre Herculano, Amarante. Located in front of the Tâmega River, it has a young atmosphere, despite being frequented by people of several generations. Bar with background music, very well frequented.
- Spázio Ciber Café, Rua Cândido dos Reis, Sao Gonçalo de Amarante. Good music in a bar with internet available to customers and great air with a great atmosphere.
- 1 Pousada de Marão - Hotel São Gonçalo (IP4, between Amarante and Vila Real,20 km from Amarante), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. In the heart of Serra do Marão, with great views of the mountains and the river. It has a heated pool and spa, and plans to include a ski slope. Double room: €150.
- 2 Casa da Levada, Monte Travanca, ☏ . A good hotel for those who want to spend a peaceful holiday away from the city, with beautiful gardens of camellias and rose gardens, close to Casa de Mateus, on the outskirts of Vila Real , and the Natural Park of Alvão.
- 3 Parque de Campismo Penedo da Rainha, Rua Pedro Alveollos, Gatão, ☏ , email@example.com. Surrounded by a forest, the Penedo da Rainha Camping Park is a place of great natural beauty. It is 1 km from Amarante, on the banks of the Tâmega River. Animals are not allowed. It has a bar, hot showers, foot washer, washing machine, dishwasher, and sinks with hot water.
- 4 Hostel des Arts, Rua Cândido dos Reis, 53, 4600-055, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00 – 24:00, check-out: 09:00 – 12:00. hostel
- 5 Monverde Wine Experience Hotel, Castanheiro Redondo, 4600-761 Telões AMT, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00 – 24:00, check-out: 07:00 – 12:00. 4-star rural hotel.
- 6 , Rua António Carneiro, 84, 4600-012, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: From 15:00, check-out: Until 12:00. 3-star hotel. A few minutes walk from the centre, on the south bank, Hotel Navarras offers 58 rooms, in addition to a pleasant living room with bar, as well as banquet and conference rooms.
- 7 Hotel Casa da Calçada, Largo do Paço, nº 6, 4600-017, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: From 15:00 hours, check-out: Until 12:00 hours. A 5-star hotel on the south bank of the river Tâmega, in the city centre and great views of the river. A peaceful hotel with large gardens. It has a swimming pool and restaurant.