What to do and visit in Arouca

With the beginning of its territory a couple of kilometers from Cimo da Vinha, the Arouca Municipality has more than enough arguments to justify your visit from the Freita Mountain and its idyllic hills and river immensity (with geological phenomena of international interest, such as the Breeding Stones) to mountain villages, adventure sports, historical heritage and irresistible gastronomy. Currently, the visit to the Paiva Walkways is more than mandatory but Arouca really has much more to offer.

What to do and visit in Arouca:
(ordered by the proximity to Cimo da Vinha)

Paiva Walkways

Distance to Cimo da Vinha: 7 km (Espiunca entrance)

All year (Spring and Autumn are milder and less crowded seasons than Summer)

Paiva Walkways
© photo by Público newspaper

The Cimo da Vinha, a Castelo de Paiva resort located near the border with Arouca, in Real, is just over 10 minutes away from Espiunca, one of the entrances to the Paiva Walkways. Since its inauguration in 2015, the Walkways quickly conquered the Portuguese and have also become an International attraction due to the wild charm of its 8km of constant discovery, with its suspended boards meandering the left bank and escarpments of the Paiva River.

Click here to read our detailed article on the Walkways.

Harvest Fair

Distance to Cimo da Vinha: 9 km

Date: September

© photo by Aquiearouca.pt

It is a long tradition that on the last weekend of September, the historic center of Arouca gets full of life and visitors to celebrate yet another Harvest Fair. Since 1944, this event promotes the best regional delicacies, handicrafts and folklore. Many traditions, dances and songs have been kept alive, over the decades, by the ethnographic dynamics that the fair promotes.

Click here to read our detailed article about the Fair.


Distance to Cimo da Vinha: A 9 km | B 14 km | C 28 km

All year

Museum of Sacred Art © photo by CulturaNorte.gov.pt

In addition to the Municipal Museum, the village of Arouca has a set of museums and study centers of undeniable interest . A) Monastery and Museum of Sacred Art: in the historic center of Arouca, the stunning monastery with origins in the 10th century, where D. Mafalda Sanches de Portugal (ephemeral queen of Castile) lived, is linked to the Museum of Sacred Art which holds a very rich collection of paintings, sculpture, jewelery, furniture and various religious objects. B) Trilobite Museum: the various fossils exposed here tell the story of our planet, including some of the largest trilobites in the world collected on slates from the surrounding area where in the past (465 million years ago) there was an austral sea. C) House of the Breeding Stones: this Interpretation Center intends to answer, through science and research, to the enigma behind these rocks, which the people call “breeding”, which are a unique phenomenon.

Traditional Villages

Distance to Cimo da Vinha: A 20 km | B 27 km | C 28 km | D 30 km | E 45 km

All year

aldeia Drave
Drave © ohiti by Wikipedia

Isolated by the mountains or on the river bank, the vast Arouca territory displays old villages that almost seem immune to the passage of time. Some of our favorite. A) Paradinha: on the bank of the Paiva river, this charming and well-kept village with recovered paths connecting all the schist and slate houses has an atmosphere of true fable, with the chapel in the foreground . In August it usually hosts classical music concerts, the Sounds of Water. B) Rio da Frades: It is speculated that this settlement was founded by Jesuit friars who, during the Pombaline era, seek refuge there during the extinction of various religious orders. During the Second World War, the Germans transformed this area into an industrial operation for extracting tungsten and one of the tunnels of these abandoned mines is now a passage route that connects the forest to a magical entrance to a series of spectacular waterfalls. C) Cabreiros: Although hidden in the mountains, this village has a strong historical legacy with links to the Order of Malta and part of the “black gold” race map during the World War II. D) Meitriz: Surrounded gracefully by the Paiva river, between the mountains of Montemuro and Arada, this is perhaps the village that has captivated the imagination of visitors to the Arouca interior for the longest time due to its enormous natural beauty. E) Drave: this isolated and uninhabited village has a unique image, as if coming out of a fantasy film due to the fields that, crossed by the river, are meticulously grazed and trampled by herds. Without an easy access, to get there it is necessary to walk along a 4km trail that leaves from Regoufe, where you can also visit the abandoned tungsten mines.

Freita Mountain

Distance to Cimo da Vinha: Frecha da Mizarela 27 km

All year

Frecha da Mizarela
© photo by VidaAtiva.pt

From the top of its 1100 meters splendor, the Freita mountain fascinates visitors with its beautiful mantle of vegetation, villages lost in time and the secrets it hides, with 17 of the Arouca Geopark geosites to be found there. We highlight here a breathtaking place, the Frecha da Mizarela, a dizzying waterfall in the middle of the granite rock, at an altitude of more than 900 meters, with a height of 75 meters fed by the Caima river, being one of the highest in Europe.

Arouca Geopark

Distance to Cimo da Vinha: several locations

All year

Arouca Geopark
© photo by Arouca Geopark

With an incredible extension of 328 km2 and created in 2009, this geopark included in the UNESCO network was the second to exist in Portugal. 41 geosites of enormous interest are mapped for their rich geological heritage, including Ichnofossils, Breeding Stones and giant Trilobites. The geopark also includes basic sites such as the Paiva Walkways, the Arouca Monastery or the Trilobites Museum.


Distance to Cimo da Vinha: several locations

All year

Doces Conventuais de Arouca
© photo by DocesDeArouca.pt

In this chapter, in Arouca, one can start at the end due to the enormous notoriety of its conventual sweets. Inheritance from the times when nuns still inhabited the Monastery, you will not be able to resist to sweet chestnuts, nun bellies, almond cigars or tp sweet black pudding. The Arouquesa breed cows are raised free and graze in the mountains, which gives a unique flavor to their tender meat. Veel or the famous Alvarenga steaks are mandatory delicacies, as well as the equally delicious Gralheira lamb, in the wood oven. All accompanied with a good regional Verde Wine.

River and Adventure Sports

Distance to Cimo da Vinha: several locations

All year

Rafting no Rio Paiva
© photo by Odisseias.com

Owner of an extremely generous geography, Arouca has a panoply of rivers with great characteristics for the practice of several adventure sports. The Paiva river, in its courses of white water, is an international destination for the practice of Rafting and Kayak, being this second modality, solo, practiced in the rivers Paivô and Frades. A more multifaceted modality, the Canyoning allows you to swim, jump, slide and rappel down rivers and its rough canyons and waterfalls, with 9 circuits in Arouca. Out of water, Mountain Biking and Climbing are the kings of the mountain.

cover photo © Agroportal.pt