Home to a magnificent granite monastery and a tiled town square, Arouca is a captivating city south of Porto. It lies within a UNESCO Geopark renowned for its geological heritage and home to the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge.
Things to do in Arouca
In the heart of Arouca is the Igreja do Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Arouca, a Baroque-style church elaborately decorated with an altar dedicated to Queen Beata Mafalda. It forms part of a Cistercian monastery that was established in the 10th century and is dedicated to St. Bartholomew the Apostle. Exquisite religious artefacts and artwork are exhibited at the Museu de Arte Sacra de Arouca.
If you’re interested in Arouca’s history, pay a visit to the Museu Municipal, where you’ll find interactive exhibits dedicated to the city’s archaeological, geological and ecological past. One of its most popular displays is “Memory of a Rurality”, which features vintage agricultural equipment. After exploring the museum, stretch your legs on the leafy walking trails of adjacent Parque de Arouca.
A short drive from the city centre is Arouca 516, a spectacular suspension bridge that extends for 516 metres above the Paiva River. Made from steel cables, it was designed by the Portuguese research institute, Itecons, and offers magnificent views across the UNESCO Geoparks of Garganta do Paiva and Cascata das Aguieiras. After crossing the bridge, you can hike the famous zigzagging wooden trails of the Passadiços do Paiva or go kayaking and rafting on the wild waters of the Paiva River.
Getting around Arouca
Arouca is around an hour’s drive from Porto and Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe, North Africa and North America. Buses connect from Porto to Arouca and the city centre is compact enough to explore on foot.