In this article I’m going to tell you how my trip to the interior North of Portugal was, more specifically to the beautiful towns of Boticas, Montalegre and Chaves, located between Peneda-Gerês National Park and Montesinho Natural Park. Don’t miss this adventure and enjoy every moment like I did!
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My weekend in this Portuguese region began in the beautiful town of Boticas where I had planned my stay, away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.
This town with few inhabitants and located in the countryside of Northern Portugal can be found between hills and valleys and stands out because it is in perfect harmony with nature, offering to those visiting it the most beautiful landscapes all year long.
After lunch, I took the opportunity to stroll through the streets of Boticas and explore the points of interest of this town – soon after, I found Ribeiro de Fontão Leisure Park.
This beautiful park is perfect for you to relax or even make some exercise since there is a fitness track. Apart from that, you will also find one of the symbols of this region, the water mill – one of dozens present in this area.
Next, I went to one of the new and most important points of interest in Boticas and North of Portugal – Centro de Artes Nadir Afonso (Nadir Afonso Arts Centre).
This arts centre was inaugurated in 2013, honouring one of the most important Portuguese contemporary painters. There, we could admire the exhibition Eros, one with amazing paintings where the human body in general and the feminine figure in particular are the main focus.
However, Nadir Afonso was also an architect and worked with people like Le Corbusier and Óscar Niemeyer, among others.
Built in Boticas, the town where Nadir’s mother was born, the Arts Centre is a unique building and is worth your visit.
Aside from stimulating tourism in Northern Portugal, this infrastructure plays an important role in the school community and in socio-cultural institutions, fulfilling the mission of Nadir Afonso Foundation in “disseminating the life and work” of this personality.
Just 5 km away from Nadir Afonso Arts Centre, you’ll find the beautiful Boticas Parque. If you want to go for a hike, have a picnic, have a good time with friends or family, this is definitely the place to go.
This 60-hectare area joins nature and biodiversity perfectly together. At this park, one of the best and more complete parks in Northern Portugal, you’ll have the opportunity to admire Beça river, that flows alongside the park, and go for a hike through the beautiful trails and paths while you enjoy the surrounding nature.
Apart from that, at this park you’ll find a huge variety of fauna and flora and, if you love to fish, know that you can also find here a Park for Recreational Fishing, a unique place where you can relax and enjoy each moment.
- Site: www.boticasparque.com
After having spent some pleasant time in the town and in Boticas Parque, it was time to continue my itinerary in the countryside of Northern Portugal – next stop, the beautiful town of Montalegre.
We drove along some great roads that, in part, accompanied the beautiful landscape of Alto Rabagão reservoir dam. From this reservoir to Montalegre was just another 6-km drive.
When I got to Montalegre, I realised that it was another beautiful town, just 9 km away from Galicia, in Spain, and 10 km away from the wonderful Peneda-Gerês National Park.
When I planned this weekend, one of the places I wanted to visit was the castle of Montalegre. However, I soon came to the conclusion that there was much more to see, such as the beautiful streets in the historic centre and the medieval church just a few metres away from the castle.
The medieval church was the first place I visited before arriving to the castle – this church stands out from many others because of its bell tower with two bells isolated from the rest of the church. This was the main church in Montalegre before a new one was built 750 metres away.
Built in the 13th century, the castle of Montalegre is constituted by four towers and, in the centre, you’ll find a deep cistern; connecting the towers, you can admire the walls that remain from the time when the castle played an important role in defending the Portuguese kingdom.
Before you leave Montalegre, you can enjoy a walk in the streets of the historic centre and, if you have time, you can also visit the Ecomuseu de Barroso – Espaço Padre Fontes; apart from that, take the opportunity to admire and relax for a moment in the beautiful Parque do Rio Cávado (Cávado River Park).
Returning to Chaves
After having visited Chaves in 2016, it was time to return to this wonderful city and visit some other points of interest where I haven’t been before – the amazing Nadir Afonso Contemporary Arts Museum and the beautiful Trajano Bridge.
When I visited Nadir Afonso Arts Centre in Boticas, and having loved the Eros exhibition, I was informed that this centre had only a small part of Nadir’s work – if I wanted to admire more paintings from this author, I should visit the amazing museum built in Chaves.
Built in the city where Nadir Afonso was born, the building was designed by the well-known architect Siza Vieira and was inaugurated in 2016. Apart from being a museum, this place is also the headquarters for Nadir Afonso Foundation.
Much like the arts centre in Boticas, the primary goal of this museum is to stimulate tourism and to promote culture in the North of Portugal and, of course, to disseminate the life and work of Nadir Afonso.
At the museum I had the opportunity to admire several works of art from the various periods of Nadir Afonso’s artistic life, among which the Egyptian period, the fractal period and the organicist and anthropomorphic period (also present in the arts centre, in Boticas).
If you go to Chaves, this is definitely a museum you must visit!
- Site: www.nadirafonso.com
My visit to Chaves ended with a stroll through the typical streets of the city. I finally had the chance to cross Trajano Bridge and admire the beautiful Tâmega river and the imposing façade of the church Igreja da Madalena, located on the other side of the river.
If you want to know more about this beautiful city, please read the article on the 4 reasons why you should visit Chaves, one of the oldest cities in Portugal.
Where to sleep?
To enjoy this wonderful weekend, I’ve chosen Boticas Hotel Art & SPA to stay. Here, Françoise Machado gave me a warm welcome and showed me the hotel and Nadir Afonso Arts Centre.
In fact, it is next to the arts centre that you’ll find this magnificent four-star hotel strongly marked with the painter’s work.
Because of this, you won’t be surprised by the fact that, in the hotel, his presence is all around: the hallways, leisure areas and bedrooms decorated with paintings and even the hotel employees wore personalized handkerchiefs and silk scarves.
Overlooking the town of Boticas, the hotel offers to its guests all they need to enjoy some amazing and relaxing days.
The rooms are very welcoming and are equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, mini-bar, a beautiful bathroom and large and comfortable beds.
At the synthetic-grass terrace you’ll find an amazing pool where you can go for a swim and, at the same time, admire the beautiful landscape of this region. Apart from that, you can also sunbathe and ask for a refreshing drink at the bar located on site.
The hotel has at your disposal a multifaceted SPA and wellness centre where I can point out the interior pool, the sauna, the Turkish bath, the jacuzzi and the fitness centre where you can burn all the calories from previous meals.
To have a pleasant meal, you don’t have to leave the hotel – enjoy a meal in the Restaurante Abstrato. Apart from the attractive prices, you’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the typical food from this part of Portugal. From appetisers to dessert and main course, the food is great – you should definitely go to this restaurant!
To conclude, I must say that my stay at Boticas Hotel Art & SPA was great and I must also point out the professionalism and readiness of all the staff – from front desk to the restaurant, they were amazing at what they did.
Do you want to spend some quiet and relaxing days and discover Boticas, Montalegre and Chaves?
Important information: I want to be clear and say that I wasn’t paid to promote this hotel. I have decided to promote it because I had a great time and a warm welcome; furthermore, the hotel has a great location!
Are you going to visit Boticas, Montalegre and Chaves? Then don’t hesitate to book a car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!