Between late February and early March, the Alto Douro is dressed in white and pink tones. It is the almond blossom that heralds the arrival of spring.
The Douro is an idyllic destination, with stunning landscapes all year round, but in the transition period from winter to spring, its transformation is such that it seems to welcome us in celebration! Between late February and early March, the valleys are dressed in white and pink tones, with almond trees in bloom and their sweet scent announcing the arrival of spring.
Only 15 to 20 days separates the beginning of flowering from the end, when the tree until then only with flowers, is covered with leaves.
We leave you with our itinerary to discover the almond blossom, where in addition to the natural beauty, you can visit historic villages and enjoy the rich heritage of Portugal. An unmissable tour, to do as a family or as a couple!
Pocinho – Vila Nova de Foz Côa – Freixo de Numão
Our trip begins in the village of Pocinho, municipality of Vila Nova de Foz Côa. In the 19th century, this settlement developed with the construction of the Pocinho train station that served as a commercial point of goods. Still active, the station is considered one of the most beautiful on the Douro Railway Line, thanks to its tile panels that depict scenes from agricultural life and wine production in the Douro.
Appreciating the landscape, where we can already see the first almond trees, we continue towards Vila Nova de Foz Côa. The “Capital of Almond Trees”, as it is called, has the highest density of almond trees in the Douro. It is also in this location that one of the most prestigious festivals in the region of the almond blossom takes place. At this time of year, in all 14 parishes in the municipality we can admire the extraordinary beauty of the almond blossom, which cover the hills and valleys of this region in white and pink. In addition to the almond, Foz Côa is world famous for its rock engravings with about 25 thousand years old, recognized by UNESCO as world heritage, and the Museu do Côa, which acts as a support structure and contextualization of the engravings and local history.
Then we left for Freixo de Numão, still in the municipality of Vila Nova de Foz Côa. Old population and full of history, here we can appreciate beautiful landscapes and archaeological sites, which date from the Neolithic period to the Roman occupation. In Numão, one of the best places to admire the splendor of the almond blossom is the Castle with the same name. Located at 704 meters in height, this castle offers a superb panorama over the region, with a sea of valleys dotted by almond blossom with the river on the horizon. It is also worth visiting the pillory in the central square of the parish, dating from the 18th century and classified as a Property of Public Interest, and the Museum of Casa Grande, a 15th century manor house consisting of a magnificent Baroque palace and a Rococo chapel.
Penedono – Marialva – Castelo Rodrigo – Barca d’Alva
Then, we leave the Guarda district behind and head to the medieval village of Penedono, in the district of Viseu. Famous for the chestnut, which dominates the panorama, Penedono is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal. In its triangular shaped castle, built in the 11th century at almost a thousand meters of altitude, we can witness the beauty of this medieval town and the imposing landscape, with strong and impressive contrasts.
Rich in built heritage, in Penedono you can also visit several secular churches and chapels, full of sacred art, and the majestic Solar dos Freixos.
From Penedono we continue to Marialva, one of the 12 Historic Villages of Portugal, located just minutes from the city of Mêda. Upon entering this village, we get the feeling that we travel through time, taking us to the deepest roots of Portugal’s history. At the top of its Castle, built on a hill at 613 meters of altitude, the panorama is composed of a vast diversity of landscapes, embellished by granite hills, spontaneous bush and fields of almond trees. Also within the walls, the square stands out, marked by the Pillory and the building of the old Casa da Câmara, the keep, the Church of Santiago with its magnificent painted ceiling and the Chapel of Misericordia, appreciated by the carved altarpiece.
We continue to another Historical Village of Portugal – Castelo Rodrigo, an old medieval village that is a historical reference in the defense of Portuguese territory. At the top of a hill, the small village of Castelo Rodrigo dominates the plateau that extends to Spain in the east, up to the deep Douro valley in the north. Surrounded by a walled waist, the village maintains its medieval layout, with an invaluable historical heritage, which was worth the distinction of one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal – Authentic Village”. Among the most important monuments are the old walls, the ruins of the palace of Cristóvão de Moura (built in 1590), the 16th century pillory, the mother church (12th / 13th century) and the medieval cistern.
From Castelo Rodrigo we leave until Barca d’Alva, the final destination of this adventure. Located in the heart of the Douro International Natural Park, where the rivers Douro and Águeda meet, Barca D’Alva is a village of many charms, with steep slopes full of olive groves, vineyards and almond trees. In late February, the village hosts the “Festa do Almendro”, a celebration that brings together Portuguese and Spaniards, and seeks to show a little of the region’s gastronomy and handicrafts, in which almonds are the main ingredient.
With its steep slopes colored by the almond blossoms, Barca D’Alva thus provides the perfect end to this itinerary to discover the Almond Blossoms.