VOUZELA, Portugal – Unforgettable Tips! (2022)

Vouzela is a place of singular beauty, gifted by nature with rivers, animals, mountains and leafy forests. Here history has unfolded since ancient times and is still told today in monuments, roads, streets and corners that are waiting to be discovered.

VOUZELA

Take your time because Vouzela invites you to stroll through its historic streets and through its nature. There are several options to discover this municipality. You have at your disposal nine well marked footpaths. The more sporty can choose between seven mountain bike paths. It is also possible to drive along the Megalithic Trail – Giants of Stone – which introduces you to the various prehistoric monuments in the county. After a nice ride, you can sit quietly and taste the typical dishes of the regional gastronomy. In Vouzela you will find a forest that harbors an enormous biodiversity. Also a combination of elevations and vegetation that result in landscapes of great beauty (examples are Mata da Penoita and Mata de nossa senhora do Castelo.

VOUZELA

It is also in Vouzela that we find a rare plant called “Loendro”. The largest concentration can be seen at the Ribeira de Cambarinho during the months of May and June. A perfect period to visit the county and stroll through this and other magical places in the surroundings.

WHERE IS VOUZELA LOCATED?

Vouzela is a town in Beira Alta, belonging to the district of Viseu, in the Lafões region. If you’re leaving from Lisbon, it will take you almost 3 hours to cover the 304 kilometers that separate the capital from Vouzela. If you live in Oporto, it will take you 105 kilometers and 1h06.

WHAT TO VISIT IN VOUZELA?

There are almost endless places to visit in Vouzela and its surroundings. In the Caramulo Mountain Range, which covers several councils, including Vouzela, you can fill your lungs with pure air and wash your body and soul with the purity and beauty of nature. The thermal springs of S. Pedro do Sul, less than 10 minutes away, are also a great proposal for a relaxing day. So that you can organize the sequence of your walks, we have prepared with the main attractions of Vouzela. We hope it will be useful to you!

VOUZELA’S HISTORICAL CENTER

In the center of Vouzela town, history tells itself through the streets. Here and there is a coat of arms and, from street to street, there is a building that tells us of another time. The Mother Church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, is an important National Monument, with traces of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The church is what remains of an ancient basilica or monastery from the 11th century. The most unique architectural structure of this building is the bell tower. Usually we find the bell towers integrated laterally in the facades, sometimes they are an independent vertical structure, which stands in front of the church, or next to it. However, this tower rises in a kind of wall, topped by two bells, a few meters from the facade of the church, hiding it completely.

VOUZELA MAIN CHURCH
VOUZELA MAIN CHURCH

In Praça da República, the Pelourinho, the Ameias house and the Misericórdia church stand out. This church is a beautiful example of Baroque art. It was built in the 17th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. On the facade, made of blue and white tiles, reigns in the central niche a beautiful stone image of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, with the moon under her feet.

CHURCH OF MERCY (MISERICÓRDIA) IN VOUZELA

It was built in 1593 and had a major renovation in 1647. The main facade stands out for its colors and beauty. A monument located right in the center of the village. Unfortunately we are not allowed to visit the inside of the church. Only the façade can be admired by those who visit.

CHURCH OF MERCY (MISERICÓRDIA) IN VOUZELA
CHURCH OF MERCY (MISERICÓRDIA) IN VOUZELA

VOUZELA’S PILLORY

Vouzela’s pillory dates back to the 18th century and consists of a base, column, capital and capstone. It stands on a stone base formed by three steps and is almost opposite the Misericórdia church.

VOUZELA'S PILLORY
VOUZELA’S PILLORY

On the street of São Frei Gil the Roman Bridge crosses the Zela River. Although it is known by this name, the bridge is probably much later than the Roman era. Either way, the truth is that it gives this street a romantic charm.

ROMAN BRIDGE IN VOUZELA
ROMAN BRIDGE IN VOUZELA

SÃO FREI GIL CHAPEL

The Chapel of S. Frei Gil, at Conselheiro Morais de Carvalho Square, is another landmark of the town’s historical center. It dates from the early seventeenth century and stands out for its adorned facade. Saint Friar Gil is the local patron saint, who was born and died in Vouzela. The chapel holds the lower jaw of São Frei Gil, a relic to be venerated by the faithful. A religious monument erected in the 18th century in honor of Vouzela’s patron saint (São Frei Gil, 1185-1190). A chapel with a particularly beautiful facade. Right in the historical center of the town. A place to visit for believers and non believers.

SÃO FREI GIL CHAPEL
SÃO FREI GIL CHAPEL

Vouzela, nest of enchantments,
You are not only beautiful and gentle,
You are also the cradle of saints,
The land of São Frei Gil!

VOUZELA MUNICIPAL MUSEUM

The Municipal Museum, in front of the Chapel of S. Frei Gil, occupies the building of the old court and jail, which still bears the bell of the hearings at the top of the facade. The oldest coat of arms of the Lafões region stands out over the main door. The museum’s permanent exhibition is dedicated to sacred art. There are also ethnographic and archeological exhibits, as well as a Toy Room, dedicated to antique toys.

VOUZELA MUNICIPAL MUSEUM

The Municipal Museum can be visited from Monday to Friday in the morning, between 9:30 am and 1 pm, or in the afternoon, between 2 pm and 5:30 pm (in summer) or 5 pm (in winter). On weekends, visits are only during the afternoon. The museum offers guided tours upon request.

TAVORAS’ HOUSE

Who has never heard the expression “bad luck for the Távoras”? Well, this house belonged to the ill-fated Távoras family. The one that was (unjustly and barbarically) executed in Belém (Lisbon), at the behest of the no less barbaric Marquis of Pombal. This house was (just) one more of the many houses and palaces that belonged to the Távoras family. Made of stone and located on Vouzela’s main street.

TAVORAS' HOUSE
TAVORAS’ HOUSE

RAILWAY BRIDGE

Over the river Zela stands the old railway bridge, an imposing construction, with fifteen arches, of great architectural beauty and a privileged landscape setting. In 1914, through this bridge, the railways arrived in Vouzela, bringing with it great prosperity to the town. In 1990 trains stopped passing through and the bridge was converted into a pedestrian way. The bridge crossing over the river gave way to a belvedere with a fantastic view. A beautiful steam locomotive stands in the vicinity of the bridge, holding memories of old times that many still remember.  The locomotive stands on a section of railroad track. It is so well preserved that it looks like it is about to leave again!

 RAILWAY BRIDGE, VOUZELA
RAILWAY BRIDGE, VOUZELA

VOUZELA’S HANDICRAFT

Vouzela’s traditional handicraft is distinguished by basketry, regional quilts and beautiful linen work. Every year, in August, the Handicraft Fair takes place, integrated in the Castle Festivities.

VOUZELA'S HANDICRAFT
VOUZELA’S HANDICRAFT

CAMBRA TOWER

In the parish of Cambra, in the municipality of Vouzela, between the rivers Couto and Alfusqueiro stands a medieval tower, known as Torre de Cambra. The architectural model was inspired by the towers of the medieval castles, however, it was not used for defense, but for housing the small rural nobility, which thus sought to assert its prestige. It must have been built in the XII or XIII century and inhabited until the XVI or XVII century. In Cambra you can also take the opportunity to visit the beautiful old 18th century parish church.

CAMBRA TOWER VOUZELA
CAMBRA TOWER

VILHARIGUES TOWER

The Torre de Vilharigues has a similar construction to the Torre de Cambra. It is also an interesting place to visit in Vouzela. Only two exterior walls remain, but it is possible to see the whole interior structure. This space was greatly enhanced by the intervention of requalification works.

VILHARIGUES TOWER
VILHARIGUES TOWER

PENOITA FOREST

The Penoita Forest is one of Vouzela’s natural assets. It has a vast wooded area where oaks, birch and chestnut trees predominate, providing a cool and inviting environment for a summer walk. In this space, those who enjoy picnics can count on a picnic park, sheltered under the shade of trees. Those who prefer to walk, have at their disposal a properly signaled trail, with two optional routes, one of 4 km and the other of 13 km. Some highlights of this trail are the Pia da Barca, a large stone shaped like a barge, the Dólmen da Malhada do Cambarinho (a prehistoric tomb monument), the village of Covas, typical of the region, built with stones and wood, and the menhir Bicão dos Conqueiros, another prehistoric monument. Between Dólmen da Malhada and Aldeia de Covas, the trail crosses some water lines, which, in winter, may require some caution. Although the fires of 2017 have considerably affected Mata da Penoita, there is a vast green area that remains, continuing to be an excellent area to get to know. 

PENOITA FOREST
PENOITA FOREST

NOSSA SENHORA DO CASTELO FOREST (REMAINS OF ANCESTRAL OCCUPATIONS)

The forest of Nossa Senhora do Castelo, which today imposes its beauty, is the result of a reforestation process. This process was the result of a popular initiative, which took place in 1908. At the top of the hill is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Castelo and, nearby, a fabulous viewpoint, from where you can see the Vouga river valley.

According to some medieval writings, crowning the hill, there would have been a castle, in the place now occupied by the chapel, also known as Ermida de Nossa Senhora do Castelo. However, no trace remains of the castle. The only archaeological evidence of a settlement at that location are two ancestral graves, possibly from the Middle Ages. The graves were dug into the granite rock and are located in the vicinity of the Chapel. To better explore this forest, you can follow the circular footpath, starting and ending at the Liberty Park in the center of Vouzela town. The peak of the walk is the summit of the Mount of Our Lady of the Castle. Along the way it is possible to see animals such as foxes, weasels, hedgehogs, lizards, frogs and many others. It is a medium difficulty route of about 7,5Km.

 NOSSA SENHORA DO CASTELO FOREST (REMAINS OF ANCESTRAL OCCUPATIONS)
NOSSA SENHORA DO CASTELO FOREST (REMAINS OF ANCESTRAL OCCUPATIONS)

LOENDRO IN VOUZELA (Cambarinho Botanical Reserve)

The Cambarinho Botanical Reserve, in the municipality of Vouzela, is home to the largest area of oleander trees in the country. Today the oleander is a rare and protected species, but it was once very common in the vegetation of the Iberian Peninsula. The Vouzela oleander is a shrub with dark green leaves and purple flowers, very different from the usual colors of the common oleander. Between May and June the blooming of the oleander is at its peak. This is the best time to visit the Cambarinho Botanical Reserve and enjoy the most beautiful nature walks.

LOENDRO IN VOUZELA (Cambarinho Botanical Reserve)
LOENDRO IN VOUZELA (Cambarinho Botanical Reserve)

VIRTUAL TOUR TO VOUZELA COUNTY

VOUZELA’S HISTORY

It is often said that all roads lead to Rome, but today I feel like saying that all roads lead to Vouzela. This, because in this village several Roman roads intersected, making Vouzela an unavoidable stop for travelers. In the Middle Ages, these roads were important routes for trade and local supply. Later, Vouzela became an intermediate stop for the courts of Lamego, when they traveled to Lisbon. Road goes, road comes, in the paths of time, Vouzela was being enriched with manor houses, either from illustrious travelers, or from some noble families of the land. The etymology (origin) of the word Vouzela has been a matter of discussion. The theory with more supporters claims that the word results from the fusion between Vouga and Zela. The place is inhabited since the Neolithic period (period between 10,000 BC and 3000 BC). To prove this theory, we can visit the Castro da senhora do castelo (a cluster of houses supported by defense constructions). There are written records that refer to this settlement in the year 1083. The county’s beginnings are related to the old Lafões county. In 1836, Lafões was divided and from this separation São Pedro do Sul and Vouzela were created.

WHAT TO VISIT NEAR VOUZELA?

Vouzela is a region of enormous natural beauty and there is much to see and enjoy there. But if you have some time left, then know that, reasonably close by, there are still other cities and towns you can visit to enrich your trip even more. Here is a map with 4 suggestions, each pointing to a different cardinal point.

sever do vouga
SEVER DO VOUGA (near Vouzela)

Sever do Vouga lies between rivers, hills, valleys and waterfalls that invite reflection and rest. A charming land that maintains its artisan traditions and the oldest flavors of its cuisine. There are more than 130 square kilometers of territory, crossed by rivers and affluents. A land full of interests where the rock art and the endless beauty of the many waterfalls stand out.

viseu
VISEU (near Vouzela)

Viseu is also called Garden City. A designation it has held since 1936 and that speaks for itself. The city has a universe of attractions to offer to those who visit. Lush gardens, very interesting museums, squares and museums that call for reflection and tranquility. And if you have a particular interest in gastronomy and street art, then you have found the perfect place, Viseu!

TONDELA
TONDELA

The Caramulo mountain range is the maximum exponent of the Tondela county. A region where green spaces, rivers and paths predominate, where you can walk or cycle. If you like hidden villages, with soul, history and a magnificent and ancestral gastronomy, start organizing your visit to Tondela now! If you go there, be sure to drink a glass of Dão wine!

CASTRO DAIRE
CASTRO DAIRE

Castro Daire has a unique charm! A place that takes you to the most remote history of our planet. Castro Daire combines mountains, valleys, plateaus and rivers. A place that arouses curiosity and adds knowledge to those who visit it. If you like idyllic landscapes this is the place to spend your next vacations.

VOUZELA’S GASTRONOMY

You can’t know a land without sharing its table, and Vouzela has a lot to share. The Sopa Seca is an emblematic dish, typical of the parish of Alcofra. It is a respectful meal, with Alentejo influence, inherited from ancient times. The ingredients are stale bread and boiled water and it is made in a clay pot rather than a pot. Restaurants serve this dish only by order. Save a meal to indulge in Veal of Lafões. It can be prepared in countless ways, but it is always tender and tasty. The secret is the quality of the meat, which comes from animals raised by family farms in the Lafões region, to which Vouzela belongs.

VITELA DE LAFÕES
VITELA DE LAFÕES

In sweets, the Pastel de Vouzela reigns, to eat and cry for more! It has a very thin, crispy and delicate dough, filled with egg jam. You can try it for breakfast, for a snack, or if your stay is short in these parts, enjoy a Pastel de Vouzela whenever you feel like it.

Pasteis de Vouzela
Pasteis de Vouzela

The Folar de Vouzela is another delicacy of regional sweets, originating from a convent in the city of Porto. This folar is a sweet bread, with a filling made with sugar and butter.

RESTAURANTS IN VOUZELA

MARGARIDA RESTAURANT

2-digit restaurant (out of a maximum of 3). It has over 400 comments on google and an overall rating of 4.7 stars (out of a maximum of 5). The most complimentary comments refer to a very welcoming atmosphere and extreme friendliness of the staff. As for the food, the highlights are the golden veal, homemade feijoada, meat rice in the oven and mushroom rice.

MARGARIDA RESTAURANT
MARGARIDA RESTAURANT

HOTELS IN VOUZELA

There are many good lodging options in and around Vouzela. We have chosen to suggest two possibilities. The first option is a magic option at a slightly more expensive price (without being absurdly expensive). The second option is a truly low cost solution, the Vouzela campsite.

PAÇO DE VILHARIGUES

Over 170 reviews and a 4.7 star rating (the highest among all the accommodation options we investigated). The accommodation is located in the middle of nature, a perfect option for a weekend (or for a longer period). If you need to relax and get close to nature, this is the perfect place! It is a 6 minute drive from the center of Vouzela. It has a magnificent pool! We must also mention the friendliness of the staff and the extreme cleanliness.

PAÇO DE VILHARIGUES

VOUZELA CAMPING PARK

The Vouzela Camping Park is located on the hill of the Nossa Senhora do Castelo forest. It has a very beautiful natural environment and great facilities, which include an excellent swimming pool. As it doesn’t have its own site, we leave here the contacts of the park: T. (+351) 232 740 020 | parquecampismo@cm-vouzela.pt

VOUZELA CAMPING PARK
VOUZELA CAMPING PARK

IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE YOU WILL ALSO ENJOY…

VILA NOVA DE CERVEIRA
VILA NOVA DE CERVEIRA

Vila Nova de Cerveira was born and grew up next to the Minho River. A land with a very old history. A green and beautiful place. A place with soul, history and culture! The most difficult thing in Cerveira is to choose the attractions to visit.

MONDIM DE BASTO
MONDIM DE BASTO (click here)

Mondim de Basto lies between hills and valleys, next to the beautiful Tâmega river. Senhora da Graça is one of the most famous places in the region. It is there that the most famous stage of the Tour of Portugal by bicycle ends! There is much to see and see in this region, but perhaps the beautiful Alvão park is the highlight of Mondim’s beauty!