Things to Do in Vilela-Fornos Portugal

things to do in VilelaFornos Portugal

Fuel up on coffee and pastries at the charming Saudade cafe. This cozy spot on Avenida Doutor Miguel Bombarda serves delectable baked goods and sips of ginja (berry-infused alcohol).

Wander around the medieval walls of Obidos, then spend some time at Biblioteca Joanina. This 18th-century library is an ode to the arts, with intricately carved bookshelves and motifs.

1. Take a Day Trip to Douro Valley

The Douro Valley is a popular day trip destination from Porto, as it offers the chance to experience a more rural countryside landscape and try plenty of port wine. There are several ways to get there, from driving to taking the train or even organising your own tour with a guide to book vineyard visits and other extras.

The best way to see the Douro Valley is on a small group tour like this one that includes a scenic river cruise, wine tasting and lunch. It’s a more relaxed and convenient way to explore the region, while also benefitting from an expert guide to tell you more about the history and culture of the area.

You can also rent a car and drive yourself to the Douro Valley, but unless you’re confident in driving on winding mountain roads I recommend taking a tour.

2. Explore the University of Coimbra

The UNESCO-listed University of Coimbra is the most impressive attraction in the city, a sprawling complex perched on a hill overlooking the Mondego River. The oldest university in Portugal, it was founded in 1290 and moved to its current location by King Joao II in 1537.

Its showpiece center is the vast Patio das Escolas, or University Patio, a courtyard surrounded by majestic 16th- to 18th-century buildings including the Paco das Escolas, Torre da Universidade, Capela de Sao Miguel and Biblioteca Joanina. Admission tickets, available at the office outside Porta Ferrea, include a tour of the university’s most noteworthy buildings.

Students give the university its vibrant personality. They rush around street corners and stand in groups in front of buildings dressed in their famous black capa e batina, a uniform that unequivocally marks them as students.

3. Visit Biblioteca Joanina

Located within the University of Coimbra, Biblioteca Joanina is an 18th-century Baroque library dedicated to the memory of Queen Joan. It’s also one of Europe’s most important libraries, housing a wealth of books from the 16th to 18th centuries covering a broad range of topics.

Wandering inside, your eyes will feast on the intricate carved wooden shelves, which are adorned with hand-painted motifs. Then take note of the ceilings—a painted panel masterpiece that took three years to complete.

When you’re done admiring the opulent grandeur of The Noble Hall, snap a photo with the monarch’s portrait at dead center. Then treat yourself to a pasteis de Belem—Portugal’s beloved custard tart—at the nearby cafe. You’ll be glad you did! Bats take their preservation duties very seriously here—they flutter over the first edition of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Homer’s “Opera Omnia” each night, consuming insects that could damage the manuscripts.

4. Visit Casa da Musica

The new home of the Porto National Orchestra is a dramatic performance venue that attracts a diverse audience. Its polyhedral form was the result of a design competition, and it houses two auditoria—a 1,300-seat Grand Auditorium modeled after a traditional “shoe box” and a 300-seat multi-use hall.

The structure sits on a new public square in the historic Rotunda da Boavista district. It has a distinctive faceted form, made from white concrete, that remains solid and believable in an age of many icons.

The Grand Auditorium’s corrugated glass facades open the hall to the city, converting Porto into a dramatic backdrop for performances. The building reveals its program without being didactic; at the same time, it casts the city in a new light. It’s a stunning sight.

5. Visit Serralves

If you’re in the mood to see a bit more art, this awe-inspiring day trip from Porto offers plenty of culture. Serralves is home to a contemporary art museum, pink Art Deco house, and park with treetop walkway.

On one side of the house stands a garden featuring elegant topiaries, regimented lawns and pergolas. On the other is a high-profile art museum with rotating exhibitions from past and modern luminaries.

After your time in the museum, take a stroll around the gardens. It’s a unique, protean cultural space that’s unlike any other in Europe. There are also workshops, a farmhouse and even a bookshop. You can’t help but be impressed by its architecture, innovation and passion. It’s definitely a must-visit.

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