Best Things to Do in Barcelos
Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Minho, along the serene banks of the Cávado River, Barcelos beckons you with its enchanting blend of tradition, innovation, and nature. If you're wondering about things to do in Barcelos, rest assured that this city offers much more than meets the eye. From its breathtaking natural panoramas and delectable Portuguese cuisine to its rich historical tapestry, Barcelos has a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Join us as we unveil the top activities to do in Barcelos, each adding to the list of compelling reasons to visit this enchanting city.
What are the best things to do in Barcelos?
1. Immerse in Barcelos Weekly Market
No visit to the Minho region is complete without a trip to Barcelos' weekly market—a dazzling spectacle unrivalled in Portugal. Held every Thursday, this open-air extravaganza transforms the city's grandest square into a vibrant tapestry of popular arts and crafts. Delve into a world of pottery, embroidery, weaving, basketry, and wood carving. Don't forget the bountiful vegetable section, where local farmers display their garden-fresh produce and an array of delectable regional delicacies. Our morning spent exploring the market culminated in acquiring delightful local souvenirs.
2. Galo de Barcelos Painting WorkshopFollowing our market adventure, we embarked on a must-do experience in Barcelos: painting our own Barcelos Rooster. Under the guidance of local artisan Rosália Abreu in a medieval tower, we delved into the artistry that defines Barcelos. This one-hour workshop unravelled the intricate process of adorning clay roosters with patterns. It was both educational and fun, allowing us to create our very own rooster masterpieces.
3. Horseback Ride Amidst Nature
A mere 20-minute drive from Barcelos lies the tranquil village of Areias de Vilar. At the Irmão Pedro Coelho Equestrian Center, Sofia welcomed us to a horseback adventure through scenic vineyards. Fear not, even if you've never ridden a horse—this experience is for everyone. Riding Janete, a graceful mare, through nature's splendour was an exhilarating, unforgettable experience.
4. Explore São Salvador de Vilar de Frades Convent
Adjacent to the equestrian centre stands the Convent of São Salvador de Vilar de Frades, boasting over a millennium of history. This Manueline architectural marvel showcases an awe-inspiring church interior adorned with exquisite details, making it a must-visit.
5. Ascend Paço dos Condes de Barcelos
With over five centuries of history, the former castle, now known as Paço dos Condes de Barcelos, offers some of the region's finest vistas. It's the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Barcelos Rooster legend while enjoying panoramic views of the Cávado River. Additionally, the Archaeological Museum of Barcelos calls this place home, making it an ideal spot to unwind and watch the sunset after a day of exploration.
6. Dive into the World of Chocolate
For all you chocolate lovers, Barcelos has a delightful surprise. The renowned national chocolate brand has a factory and museum in Durrães, a nearby village. Explore the chocolate-making process, delve into the history of chocolate, and even participate in a workshop to learn the art of tempering and moulding chocolate.
7. Embark on the Caminho de Santiago
Barcelos is part of the traditional Caminos de Santiago route, offering a serene and scenic journey through the region's rural heart. In Balugães, discover the Tábuas Bridge, a historical gem with a charming riverside beach—an idyllic relaxing spot on sunny summer days. Hikers and nature enthusiasts can also enjoy part of the Santiago route, immersing themselves in the region's natural beauty.
8. Visit Nossa Senhora da Aparecida Sanctuary
Less than a 5-minute drive from Tábuas Bridge, you'll find a beautiful sanctuary offering spiritual solace and breathtaking views over the Neiva Valley and its surroundings. Visiting in the late afternoon is a serene way to conclude your second day in Barcelos.
9. Stroll Through the Historic Heart of Barcelos
Barcelos' impeccably preserved city centre is a portal to the past, with a medieval ambience that transports you through time. Exploring the charming streets adorned with traditional figurines is a delightful experience. The well-maintained city centre gardens provide the perfect setting to savour delectable regional pastries and relax.
10. Savor Panoramic Perfection
The Medieval Tower of Barcelos, nestled in the city's heart, offers free access and one of the most breathtaking vistas overlooking the city and the Cávado River. You'll find regular exhibitions showcasing local craftsmanship, culminating in a panoramic view from the top floor.
11. Unearth the Mysteries of Barcelos Pottery Museum
Barcelos holds a special place in UNESCO's network of creative cities thanks to its rich popular crafts and arts tradition. Discover the roots and evolution of these cherished traditions at the Barcelos Pottery Museum. The museum offers free admission and provides fascinating insights into the origins and artistry of some of the region's most celebrated ceramic artists.
12. Discover 'Senhora da Franqueira'
A visit to 'Senhora da Franqueira' is a serene journey into Barcelos' spiritual heart. Located just outside the city, this sacred sanctuary offers a tranquil escape into nature. The chapel, though modest, radiates an atmosphere of devotion with its religious icons and candles. The 'Senhora da Franqueira' pilgrimage fills the air with vibrant processions and traditional music in August.
13. Wine Tasting at Quinta do Tamariz
Delve into the heart of Minho's viticultural heritage with a visit to Quinta do Tamariz. Mr. António Vinagre, our gracious host, welcomed us to this historic property, sharing its decades-long story. Following a captivating historical narrative, we indulged in a wine-tasting session, sampling local wines and other regional delights. The warmth and knowledge of the owners added an extra layer of richness to this visit, leaving us with the flavours of Minho lingering in our mouths and hearts.
14. Riverside Rendezvous by the Cávado
For those seeking tranquillity and serene beauty, the Cávado riverbanks offer a haven. As you cross the medieval bridge to Barcelinhos, you get a breathtaking view of the city's castle and access to scenic walking paths along the river. These riverbanks provide a serene escape, perfect for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts.
15. Discover the Flavors of Traditional Cuisine
Barcelos is renowned for its rich and authentic traditional cuisine, from succulent roasted lamb to the irresistible "cabidela" rice. However, no visit is complete without savouring the signature dish, Roasted Rooster in the Oven. Make your way to the "Pedra Furada" restaurant, a multiple-time winner of the region's best Roast Rooster contest. Our first taste of this local delicacy left us utterly delighted. The tender rooster, accompanied by delectable fillings and sides, is a gastronomic wonder that demands a reservation at least two days in advance.
16. Marvel at Festive Traditions
Barcelos is a city that knows how to celebrate, and Festa das Cruzes is a great example of that. Plan your visit to coincide with one of the many local festivals and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture. Festa das Cruzes, celebrated in the end of April showcases colorful processions and traditional dances and it is a sight to behold. Streets come alive with music, dance, and delectable street food. These festivals offer a unique window into the city's traditions and lively spirit.
17. Explore Nearby Coastal Escapes
Barcelos is ideally situated for day trips to some of Portugal's most beautiful coastal destinations. Head to the stunning beaches of Esposende, Apúlia, Viana do Castelo, or Póvoa de Varzim, where you can bask in the sun, take refreshing dips in the Atlantic Ocean, and enjoy the vibrant beachside culture.
18. Savouring Culinary Delights with a Scenic Finale
Our Barcelos adventure culminated in a remarkable dining experience set against what we believe to be the town's most breathtaking vistas. We chose Turismo restaurant for our lunch, where the gracious host warmly welcomed us. The decor, impeccable service, and mouthwatering dishes left us an indelible impression. Each dish was served distinctively and intriguingly, elevating our gastronomic journey.
This is undeniably a must-visit destination for those seeking an exceptional culinary experience while basking in the mesmerizing views of the Cávado River.
Barcelos Travel Guide
Barcelos is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered. Each visit reveals new facets of its rich culture, history, and natural beauty, ensuring that you'll want to return again and again to this captivating Portuguese gem.