The Roman bridge and the thermal baths are the business cards of this city in Trás-os-Montes, in the district of Vila Real. But Chaves, or "Aquae Flaviae" as it was called in Roman times, is much more than that. Chaves is a charming and harmonious place, captivating at every step, with its alleys that cross the Historic Centre and end on the banks of the River Tâmega. It is the rich and ancient history evident throughout the city and its surroundings. It is a generous and lively table, where there is no shortage of the best meats and wines. It is the authentic smile and the charismatic accent of its people, which steal the hearts of all who visit it. Embark on this itinerary by All About Portugal, designed for a passionate weekend in the region of Trás-os-Montes.
Castle of Chaves
9 am: Take a stroll in the gardens of the Castle of Chaves and climb up to the Keep
Start the day in the heart of the Historic Centre, at the Castle ofChaves, of which only the keep and the respective walls remain. The beautiful surrounding gardens, with panoramic views over the city, set the tone for a day well spent. Go up to the Keep to visit the Military Museum, where you can see an interesting military collection, from the Middle Ages to the present.
10:30 am: Eat a Pastel de Chaves at Pastelaria Maria
Right in front of the Castle, we find the pastry shop Pastelaria Maria, with its colourful and flowered balconies, the ideal stop to taste the famous Pastéis de Chaves, filled with minced meat, a delight that you cannot miss!
11 am: Discovering Praça de Camões
A few meters away, we come across Praça de Camões. Key point of Chaves, there is a panoply of buildings of architectural and historical interest here, such as the City Hall, the Church of Santa Maria Maior, the Church of Misericórdia and the Museum of the Flaviense Region. They all deserve a careful visit.
12:30 pm: Walk down Rua Direita
Take a stroll through Rua Direita (Straight Street, which is anything but straight), with its colourful wooden balconies and typical shops. Do not miss the opportunity to do some shopping in the traditional shops that have resisted over the years, and check out first-hand the friendliness of the natives.
1:30 pm: Have lunch at Taberna Benito
At the end of Rua Direita, continue straight towards the Roman Bridge. Immediately before reaching it, we find Taberna Benito, a good place to have lunch and taste regional delicacies, such as the Posta Barrosã (rib steak) and the Alheira (traditional sausage). Be sure to order a plate of smoked ham starter!
3 pm: Take a walk along the riverside area and the Roman Bridge of Trajano
After lunch, go for a walk along the famous Roman Bridge of Trajano and the riverside, a spacious and pleasant leisure space, following through the Garden of Tabolado. If you feel adventurous, you can take advantage of the stepping stones that cross the river, once the only link with Bairro da Madalena, on the other bank, to make the crossing.
5 pm: Cross the bridge and be introduced to Bairro da Madalena
If you are not convinced by the stepping stones, go back to the Roman Bridge and cross over to see the beautiful Bairro da Madalena, an enchanting neighbourhood with narrow alleyways, much like the Historic Centre. This is where the Public Garden is located, a very pleasant green space with views over the Tâmega River.
8 pm: Dinner at Leonel Restaurant
In the region of Trás-os-Montes, it is not difficult to find a good restaurant, but among so many good options, we suggest the Leonel, a restaurant whose speciality is roasted pork shank.
Hotel Casino Chaves
11 pm: Overnight at Forte de São Francisco Hotel or Hotel Casino Chaves
When choosing and accommodation to spend the night, there are also many quality options, among which we highlight the Forte de São Francisco Hotel, built in a fortification classified as a National Monument, in the city centre, or the Hotel Casino Chaves, a modern and luxurious space, located just outside the city, just eight kilometres from the Spanish border.
Termas de Chaves
9 am: Relaxing at Termas de Chaves
We start the second day with a very relaxing programme at Termas de Chaves, appreciated since Roman times, according to history. In the medical-thermal aspect, its waters are indicated for musculoskeletal, digestive and respiratory pathologies, while the Spa and Wellness area is dedicated to preventing and curing contemporary ailments, such as stress, tiredness and anxiety.
11h: Tasting the Folar de Chaves at João Padeiro - The King of Folar de Chaves
With a relaxed body and mind, it's time to satisfy your hunger at the famous João Padeiro - The King of Folar de Chaves. Here you can taste and purchase the famous Folar de Chaves (traditional Portuguese bread stuffed with various enchidos or meats), which is distinguished from the folares of the rest of the country for its saltiness, made with the best meats and in the traditional way.
Nadir Afonso Museum of Contemporary Art
12 pm: Visit the Nadir Afonso Museum of Contemporary Art
We continue on to the Nadir Afonso Museum of Contemporary Art, located on the right bank of the Tâmega River, next to the São Roque Bridge. Discover the genius of the native painter Nadir Afonso, and don’t forget to admire the building that houses the museum, a unique work of world prestige, by the architect Siza Vieira.
1:30 pm: Have lunch at Restaurant Carvalho
When lunch time arrives, this time we suggest the Restaurant Carvalho, in front of the Garden of Tabolado. With over 25 years of history, great traditional dishes are served here, with emphasis on the veal loaf with smoked rice, the alheira, the kid goat roasted in the oven and the grilled cod.
3 pm: Discovering Vidago
The last stop is at the spa town of Vidago, known for the properties of its thermal waters and the mythical Vidago-Palace Hotel, which reopened in 2010 after years of profound remodelling. Whether to extend your stay and spend the night here or just to visit the Vidago Natural Park that surrounds the hotel, this majestic place is worth visiting. This centenary park, with an impressive botanical diversity, surrounds the hotel as if it were a protective mantle, creating a magical setting.