Vila Real Travel Guide

Discover the culture, natural beauty, food scene, and more in Vila Real, Portugal. Plan your trip with our comprehensive guide and explore this stunning destination!

Introduction to Vila Real

Vila Real is a charming city situated in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region, Northern Portugal. It is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful landscapes. With its well-preserved old town, impressive museums, and numerous outdoor attractions, it’s no wonder why Vila Real is quickly becoming a favorite destination for travelers. Whether you’re looking to explore the local culture, embark on outdoor adventures, or simply relax and soak up the ambiance, Vila Real is the perfect destination.

List of Places to Visit in Vila Real

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Mateus Palace: Built in the 18th century, Mateus Palace is a stunning example of baroque architecture. The palace boasts beautifully landscaped gardens, impressive interiors, and a fascinating history. Visitors can take guided tours and learn about the palace’s ornate decorations and its connection to the Mateus wine brand.
  • Casa de Diogo Cão: This 15th-century house is one of the oldest buildings in Vila Real. It served as the residence of Diogo Cão, a Portuguese explorer who is credited with being the first European to set foot in Angola. Visitors can explore the house and learn about Cão’s voyages and contributions to Portuguese history.
  • Memorial to the Aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral: This striking monument honors the aviators who completed the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic in 1922. The monument features a replica of the plane used in the crossing, as well as exhibits detailing the history of aviation in Portugal.

Natural Attractions of Vila Real: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Alvão Natural Park: This expansive park is known for its gorgeous vistas, tranquil streams, and diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can hike, bike, or ride horseback through the park’s many trails and get up close with nature.
  • Corgo River: The Corgo River winds through Vila Real, offering plenty of opportunities for water-based activities like kayaking and fishing. Along the river’s banks, visitors can enjoy picnics, take leisurely walks, or simply enjoy the stunning views.
  • Miradouro de São Leonardo: This lookout point offers breathtaking views of Vila Real and its surroundings. Visitors can sit back and relax while taking in the city’s skyline and the rolling hills beyond.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Vila Real

Vila Real offers several excellent hiking and biking routes for visitors to explore. These routes take travelers through some of the region’s most stunning landscapes, from rugged mountain trails to quaint country roads. Some of the most popular routes include:

  • Montesinho Natural Park: This park is a must-visit for nature lovers. Its vast expanse includes lush forests, scenic valleys, and majestic mountains. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, which range from easy strolls to challenging treks.
  • Caminho Interior de Santiago: The Caminho Interior de Santiago is a historic pilgrimage route that runs through Vila Real. The route is punctuated by numerous landmarks and attractions, including stunning churches, ancient bridges, and quaint villages.
  • Quinta da Pacheca: This wine estate is home to some of the region’s most picturesque vineyards and is the perfect destination for nature lovers looking to combine their adventures with a little bit of wine tasting.

Best Things to Do in Vila Real: Activities and Tours

Vila Real offers plenty of activities and tours to keep visitors entertained during their stay. Here are some of the best things to do in Vila Real:

  • Wine tasting: Vila Real is known for its excellent wine, and there are plenty of opportunities to sample some of the region’s best. Visitors can explore local vineyards and wineries, taking part in wine tastings and learning about the winemaking process.
  • City walking tour: Take a guided tour of Vila Real’s historic city center and learn about its rich history and culture. Along the way, visitors can explore the city’s many landmarks and attractions, including historic churches, charming squares, and impressive museums.
  • River Cruises: Take a leisurely cruise down the Corgo River and enjoy the stunning views of Vila Real’s landscape from the water.

Week-Long Itinerary for Vila Real

To help visitors make the most of their stay in Vila Real, we’ve put together a week-long itinerary. This itinerary includes some of the area’s best attractions and offers a good mix of cultural and outdoor activities:

Day 1: Historic city center

Explore Vila Real’s historic city center, including its many churches, museums, and squares. Don’t miss the Mateus Palace and the Casa de Diogo Cão.

Day 2: Wine tasting

Take a wine tasting tour of Vila Real’s vineyards and sample some of the region’s best wines.

Day 3: Alvão Natural Park

Explore the stunning scenery of Alvão Natural Park, taking part in hiking or biking tours.

Day 4: Miradouro de São Leonardo

Take in the breathtaking views of Vila Real and its surroundings from the Miradouro de São Leonardo.

Day 5: River Cruise

Take a leisurely cruise down the Corgo River and enjoy the stunning views of Vila Real’s landscape from the water.

Day 6: Caminho Interior de Santiago

Explore the historic pilgrimage route that runs through Vila Real, taking in ancient bridges, historic churches, and quaint villages.

Day 7: Quinta da Pacheca

Visit Quinta da Pacheca, a wine estate that is home to some of the most picturesque vineyards in the region.

Food and Drink Scene of Vila Real

Must-Try Dishes

When in Vila Real, be sure to try these local dishes:

  • Cozido à Portuguesa: A traditional Portuguese stew made with meat, vegetables, and beans.
  • Arroz de Cabidela: A hearty rice dish made with chicken and blood.
  • Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá: A classic Portuguese dish made with salt cod, onions, and potatoes.

Local Beverages

Vila Real is known for its excellent wine, including the region’s famous Mateus rosé. Visitors should also try the local brandy, known as aguardente.

Where to Stay in Vila Real: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Vila Real offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from quaint guesthouses to upscale hotels. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Casa Agricola da Levada: This charming guesthouse is located just outside of Vila Real and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Hotel Miracorgo: Located in the heart of Vila Real, this upscale hotel offers comfortable rooms and easy access to all the city’s attractions.
  • Pousada de Vila Real: This historic hotel is situated in a converted 17th-century manor house and offers guests a luxurious stay in a beautiful setting.

What to Buy in Vila Real: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

When visiting Vila Real, be sure to take home some local products and souvenirs, including:

  • Mateus wine: This renowned rosé wine is produced in the region and makes the perfect souvenir or gift.
  • Handwoven textiles: The region is known for its beautiful handwoven textiles, including blankets and rugs.
  • Olive oil: The region produces some of the best olive oil in Portugal, which makes a great gift or addition to any kitchen.

Local Culture and Customs of Vila Real

Vila Real has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors should take the time to learn about the region’s customs and traditions. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Respect for religion: Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, and visitors should respect the region’s religious customs and traditions.
  • Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory in Portugal, but it is appreciated in restaurants and cafes.
  • Siesta: Portugal has a tradition of taking a midday break, or “siesta,” so visitors should plan accordingly when visiting shops or attractions.

Best Time to Visit Vila Real

The best time to visit Vila Real is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller. Summers can be hot and crowded, while winters can be chilly and rainy.

Do’s and Don’ts of Vila Real


  • Try the local wine: Vila Real is known for its excellent wines, and visitors should be sure to sample some of the region’s best.
  • Explore nature: Vila Real is home to some of the most stunning natural scenery in Portugal, and visitors should take the time to explore it.
  • Visit historic landmarks: Vila Real has a rich history, and there are plenty of landmarks and attractions to explore.


  • Forget to bring sunscreen: Portugal’s southern location means that it gets plenty of sun, and visitors should be sure to wear sunscreen to protect themselves from the rays.
  • Disrespect religion: Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, and visitors should respect the region’s religious customs and traditions.
  • Litter: Vila Real’s natural scenery is one of its main draws, and visitors should help keep it clean by properly disposing of their trash.

Safety and Health

Safety in Vila Real

Vila Real is a safe destination for travelers. Visitors should take the usual precautions to ensure their safety, such as staying alert, keeping track of their belongings, and avoiding unlit or isolated areas at night.

Health in Vila Real

Portugal has an excellent public healthcare system, and visitors should have no problems receiving medical care if needed. Visitors should also be sure to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before their trip.

Getting to Vila Real: Transportation Options and Logistics

Vila Real is easily accessible by various transportation options, including:

Airports Near Vila Real

The closest airport to Vila Real is Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which is about a 1.5-hour drive away.

Bus Stations Near Vila Real

Vila Real has a central bus station that connects the city to other destinations in Portugal and Europe.

Other Options

Visitors can also rent a car or take a taxi to reach Vila Real from other parts of Portugal.

How to Get Around in Vila Real

Visitors can easily get around Vila Real on foot, by car, or by public transportation. The city is also bike-friendly, with rental options available for those looking to explore on two wheels.

Where to Go Next from Vila Real: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Vila Real is located in the heart of the beautiful Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region, making it the perfect starting point for exploring nearby destinations like:

  • Porto: Portugal’s second-largest city is just a short drive from Vila Real and boasts a rich cultural heritage and stunning architecture.
  • Guimarães: This medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features stunning historic architecture and charming cobblestone streets.
  • Douro Valley: This scenic valley is home to some of Portugal’s most stunning landscapes, as well as numerous vineyards and wineries.


Vila Real is a hidden gem, offering visitors the chance to explore Portugal’s rich cultural heritage while also enjoying its stunning natural scenery. Whether you’re looking to hike through scenic parks, sample delicious wines, or explore the region’s impressive historic landmarks, Vila Real has something for everyone. Start planning your trip today and discover one of Portugal’s most beautiful destinations!