In the region of Vila de Rei you will find landscapes of infinite beauty and villages where time does not pass. An oasis where pine trees and fresh air dominate. It is a perfect place to relax and reflect. There are many and varied attractions in Vila de Rei. Natural pools, footbridges, waterfalls, viewpoints and gastronomy are some of the many attractions of this place.
Table of Contents
VILA DE REI
Vila de Rei is a peninsula with very diverse landscapes. Despite the diversity, the mountains dominate the landscape, reaching altitudes of 600 meters (Melriça Mountains). To the north the boundary is the Ribeira da Isna, to the south we find the Ribeira do Codes and to the west the magnificent Zêzere. A tourist destination of choice and still little visited and known by the Portuguese and foreigners. If you decide to visit Vila de Rei you will find a fantastic place for the practice of sports and walks in nature! The fluvial beaches are another of Vila de Rei’s charms, and these have already been discovered and fill up in the summer. It is a destination that you can not miss!
If you live in Lisbon and will travel by car, get ready for 170 kilometers that are covered in 1h45. If you live in Porto, you will need 2h04 to cover 204 kilometers. A small effort for a big reward!
WHAT TO VISIT IN VILA DE REI?
The list is long! To make it easier for you to read, we have divided the attractions into 4 blocks of attractions: 1-WATERFALLS, 2-RIVER BEACHES, 3-PEDESTRIAN ACTIVITIES AND TOURS, 4-CULTURAL HERITAGE. Below is a map with the location of the main attractions to help you organize your tours! Have fun!
WATERFALLS IN VILA DE REI
To help you organize your visit to the waterfalls we have prepared a map for you!
It is easy to find the signage that will lead you to the Poios waterfall. But be prepared for a long and demanding walk. It is a waterfall of great beauty, one of the largest in the county. It is difficult to access. It is not within the reach of people with reduced mobility and even for children we do not consider it suitable. You can visit it with the help of a guide. If you do so you will learn all about the fauna and flora of the region. It is part of the waterfalls trail.
The Escalvadouro waterfall is part of the waterfalls trail. If possible visit it in the spring to have a better chance of seeing it with water. If you do it in the summer it is possible that it will be dry. To get there you have to do a good hike for which you should be well prepared and equipped. Along the way you will find other smaller but also beautiful waterfalls. The surroundings of this waterfall are particularly beautiful! The water comes from the Lavadouro stream.
FRAGAS DO RABADÃO Waterfall (Cascata do Penedo Furado)
Access to this waterfall is via the Penedo Furado walkways. The Rabadão waterfall is perhaps the greatest attraction of the river beach at Penedo Furado and the entire region. There are several footpaths that make their way over this bridge/waterfall. The surroundings and the waterfall form an idyllic setting! Must-visit!
The Pendal waterfall is part of the Bufareiras trail (I like the name!) and is perhaps its biggest attraction. This waterfall stands out for its large size and the beauty of the surroundings! Along the trail you will have the opportunity to see other waterfalls but none with the same grandeur.
RIVER BEACHES IN VILA DE REI
Here follows a map of the fluvial beaches in Vila de Rei.
BOSTELIM RIVER BEACH
The fluvial beach of Bostelim is inserted in a very quiet area and has the titles of “accessible beach” and blue flag beach. If you visit Vila de Rei in the middle of summer, you can be sure that you will take many dips in these waters. The heat gets tougher in July and August! Bostelim beach is surrounded by a very green and beautiful landscape. It is close to the Bostelim rural camping site (where you can start the 9,5km Bostelim route). A final note to mention that the water plane is prepared (in terms of safety), to receive children and people with some physical limitations.
FERNANDAIRES RIVER BEACH
The river beach of Fernandaires is another major attraction of Vila de Rei. It offers to those who visit a wide surface of water that originates in the dam of the castle of Bode. Embraced by mountains and hills where the maritime pine is king, it is a perfect place for a swim and to relax. It has a floating pool for children and adults (due to the depth of the water). It is also supported by changing rooms, a bar and a large area where you can park your car. The beach has a GOLD classification awarded by QUERCUS.
RIVER BEACH OF CARDIGOS
18 kilometers (25 minutes by car) from Vila de Rei, you will find one of the best fluvial beaches in the country: the fluvial beach of Cardigos! A magnificent place with a grass area with natural shadows and an area with sand and sun hats. This beach holds the title of Star of the Middle Tagus in the category of Fluvial beach (natural patrimony). The beach is supported by a shower area, changing rooms, toilets, bar and picnic area (with 2 barbecues). If you are traveling by motorhome, you should know that there is a park for your vehicle. The beach is supervised during the bathing season. Perfect for a family day or with a group of friends. GPS Coordinates: 39°42’32.1″N 8°00’49.4″W
PENEDO FURADO RIVER BEACH
The fluvial beach of Penedo Furado is a paradise! Crystal clear waterfalls and good support infrastructures make this the most frequented beach in the municipality (the water quality is classified as excellent). Perfect for a family day out as the water is shallow and safe for children. It is a popular spot for camping enthusiasts. But Penedo Furado is also a good choice for those who enjoy sporting activities. Hiking, climbing, rappelling, canoeing and slide are options for the more active tourists.
If you climb to the highest point, you will find a huge rock that houses the Penedo Furado viewpoint. From there you can see the landscape in shades of green that characterize the hills and mountains of the region. You can also see the Ribeira de Codes, the dam’s reservoir and some remote villages surrounding Penedo Furado. Finally, you can recharge your batteries at the bar or by having a picnic on site.
PEGO DAS CANCELAS RIVER BEACH
Because it is a little further away from the towns, it is (generally) a quieter place and less frequented by vacationers. It has several beach facilities: a bar, a picnic area and a place to park your car. It is a magnificent option to rest, reflect and take a dip. It has a lot of shadows. Its waters are clear and full of fish. There you can see bogas, bordais and barbels (with a little bit of luck you can even take home dinner)! A beach embraced by the green of the mountains. Absolutely not to be missed!
PEDESTRIAN RIDES and OTHER ACTIVITIES IN VILA DE REI
There are 8 pedestrian trails in the region of Vila de Rei. From these 8 trails we suggest 4, the ones we think are the most interesting in the region. We hope you enjoy them!
It is the most famous trail in Vila de Rei because it is small and goes through several waterfalls. It offers magnificent views to those who walk there! It is a short trail that starts and ends in Vila de Rei. A circular trail that goes along the Ribeira do Lavadouro, the Ribeira do Vale Feito and the Ribeiro da Vila. Along the trail, you can observe a multitude of animals and plants in their natural habitat. Spectacular!
It makes the connection between Vila de Rei and the beach of Penedo Furado. One of the exponents of the trail is the Vila de Rei cross, a place that offers a magnificent view of the county. Along the way you will find several waterfalls and very curious landscapes that are a consequence of the rock formations in the region. The Pendal waterfalls deserve a special mention for being especially beautiful and one of the top symbols of the region. The trail was recently renovated and wooden walkways were created to make the trail more pleasant, faster and safer.
A small circular trail that starts at the Bostelim campsite. A trail that goes in the company of the Bostelim stream and the Isna stream, leading you to the Várzea Carreira bridge. A very nice trail enriched by several shadows and the permanent proximity of the streams.
THE GREAT SILVER AND GOLD ROUTE
A trail that makes the connection between Sardoal and Vila de Rei in a distance of 28 kilometers. Along the way we can admire beautiful scenery and a very varied and beautiful fauna and flora. This variety is due to the fact that the Great Silver and Gold Route makes the connection between the hills of Santiago de Montalegre and the water tables of the reservoirs.
PENEDO FURADO WALKWAYS
The footbridges establish the connection between the river beach and the waterfall areas. There are 532 meters of walkways that include a bridge at the end of the walk, a viewpoint and areas to rest. This infrastructure provides greater accessibility, speed, and safety to all who seek this paradisiacal place. They are an integral part of the famous “pedestrian trails of the region.
CABLE PARK, ESTÂNCIA DE WAKEBOARD
If you like water sports you will like to know that in Fernandaires there is a wakeboarding resort called “cable Park”. It is an innovative structure since there you will find two towers that replace the usual boats that usually pull the practitioners. The most correct name for this activity is “cable wakeboard”. The “blue” lake where the activities take place is “embraced” by an environment in shades of green forming a very pleasant scenery!
CULTURAL HERITAGE IN VILA DE REI
Here is a map of cultural heritage attractions in Vila de Rei!
ÁGUA FORMOSA VILLAGE
In 2002, the village had 4 (!) inhabitants. It is the most famous village in the municipality of Vila de Rei. It is located on a hillside and is formed by xisto houses. The village owes its name to a spring of pure water that can be found there. Be sure to visit this village. You will be welcomed by the tranquility and the sound of the streams. We recommend a long walk! You must visit the fountain where you can (and should) taste its pure water. A mandatory stop at the pedestrian bridge so you can see the village from a different perspective. In the last 15 years the village has been reborn! Today it has an accommodation unit and an interesting number of people visiting the village on weekends and vacations.
You will find the church of Misericórdia right in the center of Vila de Rei. Although some doubts remain, it is believed that the first set of dwellings have arisen around this religious temple. The church was built in the 17th century. It has a simple facade, only one nave and a chancel.
FORMER MOTHER CHURCH (Santa Maria church)
It is also known as the church of Santa Maria and its probable construction date is the 13th or 14th century (during the time of Queen Santa Isabel). Its original version was more imposing (taller and with a higher artistic note). In 1807 it fell victim to the barbarism caused by the French invasions (like so many other monuments in Portugal). In 1899 the church was rebuilt and suffered its last intervention in 1992 giving it the appearance it still retains today.
Going to PENEDO FURADO and not seeing the famous “BICHA PINTADA” is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope! It is a fossil over 480 million (!) years old.
The grooves you can see (pictured above) are said to have been produced by a bug called trilobites (pictured below).
Penedo do Furado is a place where beauty, legends and mysticism have merged into a single element. There are many popular stories that the locals tell about this mythical place that you can’t miss.
SÃO MIGUEL DE AMÊNDOA CASTRO
By definition, a “castro” is a cluster of stone houses from Neolithic times (from the 10th century b.c. to the 3rd century b.c.). São Miguel is located on the county’s border and holds the title of national monument. To get there you have to go through a terriola called Ladeira and then climb a forest path up to 493 meters.
GEODESIC CENTER OF PORTUGAL
Just 2 kilometers from vila de Rei you will find the geodesic center of Portugal. A geodesic mark that was built in 1802 and is located in Picoto da Melriça. It is urgent to clarify the concept of Geodesy. Geodesy is the science that studies the shape and size of the planet Earth and other bodies in the universe. If you visit, know that you will be exactly in the center of mainland Portugal. It was built at an altitude of 600 meters. Visitors enjoy a 360 degree view. From here you can see the Lousã mountain range, and, on a cloudless day, you can even see the Serra da Estrela mountain range (which is about 90 kilometers away from here). If you have a particular interest in Geodesy-related issues, then be sure to visit (on site) the museum. There you will find instruments and information related to these subjects and you can even ask for a visiting diploma! If you get hungry, take advantage of the picnic area that is available on site.
It is located in the geodesic center of Portugal (next to Picoto da Melriça). It opened its doors in 2002. Inside the museum we have access to an exhibition room where we find a permanent exhibition made of panels. The museum also has a small auditorium and an area where you can buy some souvenirs of the museum and of Vila de Rei.
FIRE AND RESIN MUSEUM
It was in late summer 2013 that the museum of fire and resin opened its doors to the public. Its goal is clear: to make the secrets of fire known! How? By clarifying its importance in the development of civilization through a trip back in time to a distant past. Although the theme of the museum is very old (fire), the space is affirmed as a space of memory where innovation reigns! It is right in the center of Vila de Rei and the visit is well worth it!
It is in the former residence of the grass captains that the village museum (a private institution) is located today. There, in addition to a restaurant that is highly praised by customers, we will also find various objects from rural agricultural life. A collection that makes us travel in time and glimpse life in the villages in a more or less recent past. Near the museum, you will have the opportunity to see some farm animals in their natural habitat and in full freedom.
VILA DE REI MUNICIPAL MUSEUM
A very interesting ethnographic museum (created by the municipality), which is located right in the historic center of Vila de Rei. The space recreates a farmhouse from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. A space where you can observe different objects related to rural life and the professions related to it. A trip back in time with free admission! Attached to the museum, we can also visit an old jail that recreates the prisoners’ cubicle.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO VILA DE REI
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS IN VILA DE REI
At any time of year, in Vila de Rei the animation is… KING! There are many parties and events that take place throughout the year. Here is a list so you can choose the best time for your visit. January: festival of Almeirão, new olive oil and homemade bread. February: Folklore in the center. February/March: Carnival parade. March/April: gastronomical festival of codfish and olive oil and soups and appetizers festival. May: medieval market and feast of Queen Santa Isabel. June: Rock in the village. July/August: sausages, cheese and honey fair. August: São João Batista and Santa Margarida festivities. September: concertinas festival. October: Achigã gastronomic festival. November: distilled products festival. November and December: fortnight of theater.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR VILA DE REI?
Vila de Rei has many charms and a vast number of tourist attractions. In order to get to know the most interesting places of this region, we suggest that you spend (at least) 3 full days there. If you have time, you can also visit Ferreira do Zêzere and the Sanctuary of Fátima. To help you organize your tours, we have prepared a map for you. We hope you find it useful!
16,5 kilometers and 17 minutes separate Vila de Rei from Ferreira do Zêzere, a magical place! There is much to see and know in this idyllic place: incredible and relaxing landscapes, nautical activities and a gastronomy to taste and cry for more. If you take our suggestion be sure to see (among other things) the Dornes peninsula (pictured), the Dornes tower and the river beaches in the region.
57 minutes and 69,9 kilometers separate Vila de Rei from the Sanctuary of Fátima, the most important religious place in Portugal. A temple built in 1919 and visited every year by millions of believers (and non-believers). If you want to know in detail the 3 secrets of Fatima and all the monuments and places of the shrine, click on the image and read our article!
HISTORY OF VILA DE REI
In Vila de Rei several vestiges and fossils have been discovered that make us believe that many ancient peoples (prehistoric) have inhabited this area. But, in an organized way and for a long period of time, have been the Celts and then the Romans, the first people to stay in this region. The first written record of Vila de Rei is found in the charter of Dom Dinis in 1285. The charter was renewed by Dom Manuel I in 1513. During the 14th century, the Order of Christ and the Order of the Templars were very important in the defense and development of the region (process of the Christian reconquest). More recently (2005-2015), the region has benefited from an important number of public investments (bridge over the river Zêzere, educational, sports, and cultural infrastructures, among others). This investment has brought more wealth and development to this beautiful area of Portugal
VILA DE REI FIRE (2019)
In July 2019, a fire of great proportions hit Vila de Rei. It was the worst fire of the year… It burned 9249 hectares (1 hectare is equivalent to a soccer field…). The burned area in this municipality corresponded to 22% of the total burned area in the country. Reforestation and recovery of the area began immediately after the tragedy. The recovery of the natural beauty of this region is underway.
GASTRONOMY IN VILA DE REI
The region’s gastronomy is considered cultural heritage. This title is related to the historical heritage that the gastronomy of the region insists on keeping alive. Cooking in Vila de Rei is an art that evokes and integrates the past, present and future. Among the delicacies of the region are: honey cornbread, sausages, cheese, honey, cozido à vila de Rei, fine cakes, rice pudding from vila de rei, tigeladas, pudding from vila de rei, roast kid, cod to the snake, roast kid, stuffed bucho and cod to vila de rei.
RESTAURANTS IN VILA DE REI
TASQUINHA DA VILA
More than 730 reviews on GOOGLE, only 1 dollar sign (€) for the price and an overall rating of 4.4 (out of 5 stars). The compliments among the online comments are many and highlight the quality of the food, the friendliness of the staff and the excellent price/quality ratio.
HOTELS IN VILA DE REI
ESTALAGEM LAGO AZUL
The Lago Azul Inn is on the edge of Castelo de Bode and “glued” to Vila de Rei. 4 star hotel, more than 385 customer reviews and an overall rating of 4,5 (out of 5). Quiet, with a magnificent view, charming, clean, stylish, great breakfast, the compliments are many and varied.