The Minho Region is Portugal's second most popular holiday region after the Algarve. Unlike the Algarve, however, there are no Fish 'n' chip shops, no amusement arcades or theme parks. Everything is rather more discreet, more natural . People come here to relax in a quiet rural setting.
The area is bounded by the Costa Verde in the west (a hundred kilometre stretch of wide sandy, clean and safe beaches), the wilderness of the Peneda-Geres National Park in the east and the Spanish border to the north.
A lot of visitors tour around, seeing he historic sites, the small market towns and villages, the rugged landscapes and the quiet empty beaches and the house is in a great location for that. Others come to lose themselves in a terrain that is still largely unaffected by modern European development and amongst a people who still live a simple life. Traffic jams here are more often than not caused by an ox drawn cart.
These are small remote village but they have a life of their own. centred on the cafes that stay open until the last customer leaves; visitors are really welcomed and its easy to quickly feel a part of the village.
There are golf courses, water sports, fishing and hunting, kart racing, canoeing, horse riding, 4 wheel drive trekking, ten pin bowling...or you can simply relax by the the pool and enjoy the warm fresh air with a good book.
Over the other side of Serra de Arga is Caminha the lively nightspot of the North, and the place to be. The seaside resorts of Vila Praia de Ancora and Moledo, 15km away, are great for families with great wide beaches and the European Union's blue flags for cleanliness and safety. Afife is famous for its surfing- although like many beaches in Minho, it is exposed to the the full Atlantic (next stop New York, via the Azores) and the sea can be on the chilly side but great in the summer particularly late in the afternoon when the sea is a little calmer and filled with Portuguese swimming silently as the sun sets.
There is a thriving regional folklore tradition - singing and dancing, various handicrafts, markets, processions, fireworks, fairs and evening feasts. Many of these take place between July and September. A little like British village Fetes as they may have been hundreds of years ago!
At night there are wild boar and owls hunting and during the day plenty of black squirrels and jays, hoopoes and red kites (and harmless lizards of course).
The regional cuisine of Minho is famous all over Portugal and there are many great (and cheap) restaurants with great wines. Minho is where the Vinho Verde comes from and is next door to the Douro valley the home of Port Wine; actually Portugal's wines are one of the world's best kept secrets and they are available locally. We provide a full restaurant guide when you arrive.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
The family seaside resort of Vila Praia de Ancora is 15km away and either side of it, along a 0km stretch are the many safe, clean beaches of the Costa Verde - surf beaches, sandy, rocky, wide, discreet, family, romantic beaches - you can try a different one each day to suit your mood. There are also warm, sheltered river beaches on the River Lima, within 8km.
*Access to the whole of the 'Costa Verde'
*Peneda-Geres National Park (camping equipment provided at the property if you fancy a longer adventure), further away the Douro Valley.
*Serra d'Arga (784m) and the waterfall and natural bathing pool at Pincho (very close)
SPORTS AND TOURIST ACTIVITIES
*Surfing in Afife, canoeing in Lanhelas or Ponte de Lima
*Karting at the International Race Circuit near Viana do Castelo
*Ten-pin bowling and paintball in Viana do Castelo
*Lagos nature reserve at Bertiandes
*Theatre, cinema, concerts, museums, nightlife in Viana do Castelo, Ponte de Lima and Caminha.
*Casino at Povoa de Varzim
*Fishing and hunting on the River Lima and in the Geres National Park
*Horse riding at the Equestrian Centre in Ponte de Lima
*Historic towns of Ponte de Lima, Ponte de Barca Barcelos, Braga, Viana do Castelo, Arcos de Valdevez and more within 50 kilometres.
Ponte de Lima (20km) part of a bucolic scenery of mountains, vineyards and fruit gardens. Park 71, 6005m, including Portugal's longest hole at 622m (par 5)
Estela (50km) built on a 3km stretch of sand dunes on the beautiful Costa Verde.
Quinta da Barca golf resort (35km) an excellent 9 hole course with stunning views over the Cavado River. Par 31, 2012m.
Weather-wise, summer temperatures are usually in the high 20's to mid-30's and rain is quite rare between May and September. In the winter, it can be very wet (hence the lush green hillsides) and temperatures can go down as low as 3 at night.
You will find Portugal noticeably cheaper than at home - a beer is around 85 cents, a normal meal between 8 and 25 euros (including wine).
Have a great stay