Vila Pouca de Aguiar was born in a valley between the Padrela and the Alvão mountains. Who visits it can count on a luxuriant nature, with the magical park of Pedras Salgadas and a magnificent gastronomy. If you need to regain your strength, you found the right place!
VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR
The history of the last century of Vila Pouca de Aguiar is inevitably associated with the park of Pedras Salgadas. In 1920, 30, 40 and 50, the hot springs of Pedras Salgadas were visited by thousands of tourists who came here to regain energy and cure their digestive ailments. For this dynamic also contributed a lot the spa casino, an imposing palace with ballroom and gambling (although illegal it was a common practice at the time).
WHERE IS VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR?
Vila Pouca de Aguiar is located right in the center of the district of Vila Real. If you leave from Oporto, count on a 121 kilometer trip that can be covered in 79 minutes. If your starting point is Lisbon, count on a journey of 402 kilometers (4 hours and 4 minutes of travel).
Regardless of your starting point, know that road access has long ceased to be a problem to get there. Here are the main road connections to Vila Pouca de Aguiar.
WHAT TO VISIT IN VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR?
It is not currently a place of great tourist demand, but it is still a very beautiful place and an excellent travel destination! There you will find many interesting things to do and visit. In order to organize your tours more efficiently, we have prepared a map for you. We hope it will be useful!
VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR’S DOLMEN
As soon as we arrive in Vila Pouca de Aguiar we come across a megalithic monument in the middle of the traffic circle. A legacy of prehistory among many others in this region of the country. The dolmens are one of the oldest traces of human presence on the planet.
VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR’S CENTER
Vila Pouca de Aguiar is a very small village that can be visited quickly. I suggest you walk a little and visit the tourist office. If you do, you will not only get to know a little bit of the “center” of the village but also get some brochures of the main attractions of the region.
PEDRAS SALGADAS SPA & NATURE PARK
It takes 10 minutes by car and a distance of 6.9 kilometers between Vila Pouca de Aguiar and Pedras Salgadas (one of the county’s parishes). Built in the second half of the last century, it is probably the most beautiful park in the region. There are 20 hectares of a very rich flora and fauna that make the park a magnificent place for a refreshing walk.
Swimming pools, walking paths, and a large lake are the park’s main attractions that invite you to go for a walk or a bike ride.
There are several heritage elements in the park. Highlights are the casino and the thermal bathhouse that was requalified by the architect Siza Vieira.
The various hot springs, including the magnificent Pedras Salgadas spring, is something not to be missed!
The first time I visited the Pedras Salgadas spring was in 1986 (I was 9 years old at the time), accompanied by my late grandmother who was from there. The power of the spring water has stayed in my memory. It is incredibly more carbonated than the water we have access to in the water bottles in the rocks. An experience that endures in my memory through the passage of time.
The quality of the water from the salt stones was discovered early on by the locals. Water with healing powers that was used for the problems that tormented those who lived there. Already during the 19th century, its unique characteristics were known beyond borders. Anyone suffering from gastric problems, in Portugal or abroad, would seek out the Salted Stones in the hope of finding a solution to their ailments.
In 1873, at an exhibition in Vienna, the water from the stones is finally awarded. This recognition gave an important impulse to the construction of a thermal spa. In 1879, the Baths of the Stones open their doors and receive numerous illustrious personalities of the time. In 1884, new springs were discovered.
As time went by and the healing powers of the waters were fully recognized, more and more people sought out the hot springs. This growing affluence of health tourism opened space for the construction of three hotels inside the Park. In 1907, with the arrival of the railways (from Corgo to Pedras Salgadas), another impulse is given to the tourist development of the region.
From the 1990s onwards, its history is similar to the other springs groups operated by this company, being transacted between the Sousa Cintra, Jerónimo Martins and finally Unicer groups (in 2002). It was in 2009 that the Spa Termal de Pedras Salgadas was reborn, a classic example of Portuguese architecture, now modernized by the mastery of Siza Vieira.
PEDRAS SALGADAS ECO HOUSES
The implementation of the first Eco houses, whose authorship was in charge of the architect Luís Rebelo de Andrade, gives the Pedras Salgadas Park innovation and modernity, reflecting the architectural evolution of the current era. Thus, in 2012, a new 4 star tourist complex emerges, with the name “Pedras Salgadas spa & nature park”.The implementation of the first Eco houses, whose authorship was in charge of the architect Luís Rebelo de Andrade, gives the Pedras Salgadas Park innovation and modernity, reflecting the architectural evolution of the current era. Thus, in 2012, a new 4 star tourist complex emerges, with the name “Pedras Salgadas spa & nature park”.
The castle was built between the 9th and 10th century and is based on a gigantic granite boulder. It is the result of a combination of the geographical conditions of the region and human skill. Access to the castle is good and its belvedere (at the top of the fort) offers a magnificent 360 degree view. If you want to visit the Aguiar castle, you can do it on your own. Just go there and enjoy!
8 minutes by car and only 5 kilometers are between Vila Pouca de Aguiar and the Falperra dam. The dam is also called Lagoa do Alvão. It is part of the “site of community interest Alvão/Marão” that was created under the Rede Natura 2000 project. A project that intends to preserve the fauna and flora of the region. At the dam you will find a recreational park in the middle of an intensive grove of trees. Throughout the area you will find huge boulders (technically called fragas) scattered around the lake. It is also perfect for those who enjoy hiking. Here you will find several hiking trails that are ideal for combining rest, leisure and health.
OLD MOTHER CHURCH OF VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR
A Catholic temple built in 1744. It is simple, discreet but beautiful. It has a sober facade and a tower with four bells. Inside there is a painting that alludes to the four evangelists. Its side arches are made of granite and lend grandeur to the church.
VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR RAILWAY STATION
A station that belonged to the closed Linha do Corgo and that served the town of Vila Pouca de Aguiar. It was inaugurated in 1907 and closed in 1990. In January 2021, the Vila Pouca de Aguiar City Hall announced an investment of 700 thousand euros in the station’s recovery, which will be transformed into the region’s new tourist attraction! Great news! This is how the “new” station will look like that will bring more people and more tourists to the region! An investment that can recover and develop the town’s economy and the Pedras Salgadas park.
MUSEUM MUNICIPAL PADRE JOSÉ RAFAEL RODRIGUES
Since 2007 the museum is inside the old County house. The Vila Pouca de Aguiar Municipal Museum will give you a historical perspective of the region’s evolution. During your visit you will understand the relationship of the locals with the natural resources of the area. Throughout history, these resources have always been a present and essential element in the region’s development. At the museum, you will also have the opportunity to observe archaeological remains that have been collected over the past decades.
CAPELA DO SENHOR (Vila Pouca de Aguiar)
An 18th century chapel consisting of a tower, a chancel, a nave and a sacristy. The facade is simple but beautiful. The interior of the chapel has a high altar, a white carved main altar and two side altarpieces.
NOSSA SENHORA DO MINHEU VIEWPOINT
It is in the Alvão mountain range, 5 kilometers from Vila Pouca de Aguiar, that we find the Minheu viewpoint. It rises to 1200 meters and offers to those who visit it one of the most impressive views of the region. There, we can also admire the sanctuary of Our Lady of Minheu, a place where the faithful regularly gather to celebrate mass.
SAGRADO CORAÇÃO DE JESUS CHAPEL (Bornes de Aguiar)
Bornes is located 8 kilometers from Vila Pouca de Aguiar. A short distance to admire a 17th century chapel with a simple facade. It has a nave and a main chapel. It has a baroque and mannerist style. Inside we can see two chapels (on the sides) that face each other and are ornamented with gilded carving. There is also a high choir inside the temple.
OLA ROMAN BRIDGE
The Roman bridge of Ola is in Bragado, 17 kilometers and 17 minutes from Vila Pouca de Aguiar. It is, in our opinion, the most beautiful Roman bridge in this region. Until today no one has been able to identify exactly when it was built. It has 3 arches.
It is a 12-minute drive and 8 kilometers from Vila Pouca de Aguiar. An equestrian farm where you breathe calm and tranquility. Perfect place to spend a different day walking or riding. The farm has classes for adults and for children. The space also has an activity park and a cute wooden bar. The animals are very well taken care of and all the staff is very friendly and competent. Camping is also possible.
TRESMINAS ROMAN MINING COMPLEX
16,6 kilometers and 23 minutes (by car) separate Vila Pouca de Aguiar from the parish of Tresminas. The Roman mining complex of Tresminas was, in Roman times, a very important gold exploitation. The first two centuries after the birth of Christ were characterized by intense mining activity (gold, lead and silver). This intense activity produced a large number of shafts and underground galleries. Its good state of preservation earned it the classification of property of public interest (won in 1997). Currently, it is possible to visit the galleries and follow the signposted trails. The visit is made by a tour guide (advance booking required).
TRESMINAS INTERPRETIVE CENTER
The village of Tresminas is 22 minutes (16 kilometers) from Vila Pouca de Aguiar. It is located in the heart of the village and those who visit the center get to know in depth the “technology” used by the Romans in gold extraction. The center has indoor and outdoor exhibition areas. A real trip back in time, very interesting!
HIKING IN TRESMINAS
If you like to hike you will like to know that in Tresminas there are 3 marked trails. Walking around here will give you the opportunity to see and feel the forest, to see beehives on the hillsides and to visit places with enchanting landscapes. Here are two suggestions for trails:
It is the least demanding and is 1000 meters long. If you do it you will have the opportunity to pass through the Corta da Cova and the Corta da Ribeirinha, two places where gold extraction used to take place.
CORTA DA RIBEIRINHA TRAIL
A 1400-meter trail that can only be hiked with a guide, since the route goes through the Gallery of the Enlargements, a mine accessible only to tour guides.
TRESMINAS MAIN CHURCH
A very beautiful and ancient Romanesque church (i.e. influenced by Romanesque architecture). It is inserted in a very quiet and pleasant space. It has only one nave and inside we can see wooden ceilings and a baroque altarpiece (baroque is an artistic style that emerged between the sixteenth and eighteenth century).
VIRTUAL TOUR TO VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR
HISTORY OF VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR
It was known as the lands of Aguiar de Pena. It is believed that the word pena was related to the old castle that had the same name, Pena, which was located on a huge rock. The word Aguiar would be related to the possible cluster of eagles that lived there. The occupation of this area is very old. Already in the megalithic period (2400 ac), men inhabited this region. There are several archaeological remains (dolmens and graves) that make this hypothesis robust. At the end of the third century BC begins the Roman occupation of this territory. Later, it was the Barbarians (Suevi and Visigoths) and also the Muslims who lived here. It was in 1515 (don’t forget that Portugal was founded in 1143), that Dom Manuel granted the first charter to Aguiar de Pena.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR?
In Vila Pouca de Aguiar and its surroundings there are a great number of interesting things to visit and do. Three days won’t be too long to see with calm and tranquility the best things to admire in this region. If you choose to stay a little longer, you can also visit other places a little further away but close enough to be on your list. Here are 4 suggestions and a map to help you organize your tours efficiently. Have fun!
From Vila Pouca de Aguiar to Mondim de Basto is 47 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 43 minutes. A trip to deep Portugal and to the Portugal of breathtaking landscapes. If you accept our suggestion, among other things, be sure to see the Alvão Natural Park, the granaries in the village of Travassos, the waterfalls of Bilhó and, of course, the Senhora da Graça, the mythical place where the main stage of the Cycling Tour of Portugal ends.
27 minutes and 31 kilometers separate Vila Pouca de Aguiar from Vila Real. The city of Vila Real is located 450 meters above sea level on a plateau of great beauty. If you visit the city center you will find unique houses, where the aristocratic style predominates. Its natural beauty is its main tourist attraction, but Vila Real has even more to offer: traditional neighborhoods, natural parks, forest parks and an intense cultural activity. Not to be missed!
1 hour and 67 kilometers separate Vila Pouca de Aguiar from Montalegre. A divine beauty, that’s how we can define Montalegre! Lakes, waterfalls, luxuriant vegetation and a village that hovers over the water. But there is much more to see! Castles, churches, monasteries, bridges and many other surprises! If you want to know everything about Montalegre click on the picture! Absolutely unmissable!
79 kilometers and 56 minutes separate Vila Pouca de Aguiar and Mirandela. A town on the banks of the Tua river in Northern Portugal. It is there that we can see the Távoras Palace or the palace of the counts of Vinhais. In the whole municipality of Mirandela you can find prehistoric vestiges such as castros and megalithic monuments. The gastronomy is also one of the strong points of the city with special emphasis on the alheira of Mirandela.
HOTELS IN VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR
There are many accommodation options in vila Pouca de Aguiar. We have chosen to recommend you the one that has, according to Google data, the best relation between quality and price.
It is only a 1-star hotel but has over 160 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.8 stars (the highest of all accommodations in the area). Customer praise mentions large rooms, a cozy atmosphere and very friendly staff. Excellent quality / price ratio. It is located in Bornes de Aguiar, just 11 minutes and 8 kilometers from Vila Pouca de Aguiar.
RESTAURANTS IN VILA POUCA DE AGUIAR
RESTAURANT COSTA DO SOL
Restaurant rating of 2 ciphers (out of a maximum of 3). Overall rating of 4.3 (out of a maximum of 5 stars). Over 200 reviews on the internet. Restaurant with a cozy atmosphere and a nice view of a garden and pool. Maronese meat is often mentioned in google reviews.
RESTAURANT TOCA DA RAPOSA
Over 360 comments on Google and an overall rating of 4.2 (out of 5). The francesinha is highly praised among the reviews. Rated with a dollar sign (out of a possible 3), it seems to have an excellent price to quality ratio. The friendliness of the staff is also often cited.